Massage is applying pressure or vibration to a part of the body, or successively to the whole body; objectives may be the good feeling, and/or to heal injury, improve circulation and relieve tension in the muscles or skin.

Due to the body contacts between the practitioner and the client or patient, some massage parlors provide more sexually oriented services (see erotic massage). It is not always obvious in advance whether a massage parlor provides authentic non-sexual massage by licensed practitioners or is actually a front for erotic massage or prostitution. However, establishments which offer erotic massage services usually provide hints at the services offered using a variety of innuendos, such as "VIP massage" or "full service". These innuendos are noticeable by their absence at establishments providing only therapeutic massage. This article is about non-sexual massage.

Where massage is used for its physical and psychological benefits, it may be termed remedial massage therapy. See manipulative therapy.

Table of contents
1 The massage session
2 Types of massage
3 Message therapist organizations
4 Mayan Uterine Massage
5 Watsu
6 Janzu
7 See also
8 External links

The massage session

Most massage techniques involve the client being treated lying down on a massage table. There are a few exceptions: see Thai massage, below, for an example.

Due to the necessary body contacts between the practitioner and the client or patient, care is taken to avoid inadvertent sexual arousal. Although the massage subject is generally unclothed, their body is "draped" with towels or sheets. This also helps keep the subject warm. Areas of the body such as the areas around the groin and intimate parts of the body are normally not touched at all in therapeutic massage.

The treatment normally starts with the client face down for the first part of the session, and they then roll over (hidden by the towels) for the second part of the session, which is carried out face up.

Types of massage

There are well over 150 different types of massage therapy. Various styles of massage have developed from a number of sources.

Swedish massage

This style utilizes long, flowing strokes. Pressure is mainly applied on the skin level. The main purpose is for relaxation by pushing around or kneading the muscle groups. Oil, cream, or lotion is applied on the skin to reduce friction and allow smooth pushing and pulling of the tissues. This style of massage is generally attributed to the Swedish fencing master and gymnastics teacher Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839).

Trigger point therapy

A trigger point is an area of a muscle that refers pain sensations to other parts of the body. Trigger Point Therapy applies pressure to these points leading to immediate release of tension and improved muscular functioning. This work is based upon the trigger point research and manuals of Dr. Janet Travell.

Sometimes this work is incorporated into other styles of massage therapy such as neuromuscular therapy (NMT).

Deep tissue massage

Pressure is applied on the muscles in order to reach deep muscle groups. It is allegedly effective for sport injury. The drawback is the surface pain afterwards resulted from pressing the skin too hard. Usually only a minimal amount of lubricant is used on the skin.

Chinese Tui Na massage (推拿)

Chinese massage (按摩) that is similar to Zhi Ya, but more on pushing, pulling and kneading the muscle.

Chinese Zhi Ya massage (指壓)

Chinese massage based on acupressure. It is similar to Tui Na massage except more on pinching and pressing at acupressure points.

Shiatsu (指圧)

Japanese massage based on acupressure. It is uncertain whether it originated from Chinese Zhi Ya.

Scalp massage

In some barber shops in Hong Kong, scalp massage often lasts 30 minutes to 45 minutes during shampooing of the hair.

Sole or Foot massage (also known as Reflexology)

This is generally practiced by the Chinese, as some believe that each spot on the sole of the foot corresponds to an internal organ. The theory supposes that an ailment of an internal organ will be associated with the nerve ending on the sole of the foot.

Before the massage, the patient's feet are soaked for about ten minutes in a foot bath, typically a dark colored of hot water and Chinese herbs. The massage therapist uses liberal amounts of medicated cream, to moisturize the foot and to provide lubrication. The knuckles on the therapist's hand are usually used to provide a hard and smooth implement for the massage.. As pressure is applied to the sole, theory holds that a healthy patient should not feel any strong pain. Painful spots, reflexolgists believe, reflect illnesses of other parts of the body. The practitioner rubs and massages the painful spots to break down rough spots and accumulated crystals and increase circulation.

The ailments are healed when the sore spots of the sole are treated and removed by massage. Based on this theory, some shoe liners are made with pressure points to stimulate the soles of the feet to promote better health of the overall body. The nature of these "crystals" has yet to be elucidated or demonstrated scientifically. Regardless of the actual correlation of reflexology to internal organs, many enjoy it for the mix of stimlulation and relaxation.

Ancient Thai Massage

This is often called passive or assisted yoga and is usually soothing because of its emphasis on stretching and loosening the body. It is also known as Ancient massage because its roots go back far into history, originating in India and then becoming popular in Thailand.

The patient changes into pajamas and lays on a firm mattress on the floor. (It can be done solo or in a group of a dozen or so patients in the same large room.) The practitioner leans on the patient's body using the forearm to apply firm rhythmic pressure to almost every square inch of the patient body. No oil is applied except sometimes to the patient's palms and soles. A full course of Thai massage lasts anywhere from one to two hours including pulling fingers, toes, ears etc., cracking the knuckles, walking on the patient's back, arching the patient's back in a rolling action etc. There is a standard procedure and rhythm to the massage. Sometimes in a large group massage, the practitioners do the procedures in unison.

Thai massage is a tourist attraction in Thailand and the practitioners are usually women.

In some establishments, they sit inside a room with a large display window, so clients can pick the girl they like by the number tag on them. Some say the young and pretty women usually give a poor massage because of lack of experience. A full massage in Thailand costs around US$17 (in 2001) depending on exchange rate and location (it may cost ten times more inside a five star hotel).

MA-URI massage

In its focus on health and healing, on personal empowerment and growth, MA-URI is a modern expression of an ancient medium. It was introduced and given name in 1990 by Hemi Hoani Fox and forever after this medium has been revealing new pathways and deeper layers of meaning through the combined efforts of Hemi and Katja Fox of the MA-URI Institute. It has its roots in ancient Polynesian principles that focused on a dynamic and creative approach to life where you developed the skills of mastering all aspects of your life. It uses basic Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi Nui dance movements to facilitate the energy flow within the body and the mind. Through the power of intent and breath these movements are then intensified by a Maori focus on action and effectiveness, accelerating a new range of movement not just within the physical body, but also within beliefs, memories and emotions, within relationships, finances and job situations.

Message therapist organizations


The AMTA is the largest professional organization of massage therapists in the United States, although there are other professional organizations.


The NCTMB is the only national certifying group of massage therapists. This is the test that professional massage therapists take in the US even if their states don't offer licensure, in an effort to demonstrate their knowledge. Over 25 U.S. states currently use it as a requirement for their state license as well.

See also

External links