Massage Therapy

The manual manipulation of soft body tissues to enhance a person’s health and well-being.


What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is recognized as one of the oldest methods of healing, with references in medical texts nearly 4,000 years old. In fact, Hippocrates, known as the “father of medicine,” referenced massage when he wrote, in the 4th century B.C.: “The physician must be acquainted with many things, and assuredly with rubbing.”

Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing and manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Massage may range from light stroking to deep pressure. There are many different types of massage, including these common types:

Swedish Massage: This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize you.

Deep Tissue Massage: This massage technique uses slower, more-forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries.

Therapeutic/Sports Massage: This is similar to Swedish massage, but it’s geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.

Manual Therapy:

Trigger point Massage: This massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.

Joint mobilization: Joint mobilization is a manual therapy technique in which the therapist manually applies pressure to a joint to help improve that joint’s mobility and range of motion. It is used to treat patients experiencing stiffness or pain in their joints. For example, a patient with golfer’s elbow or tendinitis in their shoulder may benefit from the relief that joint mobilization offers.

Soft tissue mobilization: Soft tissue mobilization is a manual therapy technique in which the therapist physically stretches and applies pressure to the muscles and ligaments. Soft tissue mobilization breaks up the muscle tissue, which can help relieve tension and reduce inflammation. It can also improve flexibility, so much so that it’s often used to restore mobility in joints that lost mobility.

Strain-counterstrain therapy: Strain-counterstrain therapy, often called positional release therapy, is a type of manual therapy designed in which the therapist holds your body in a series of strategic positions for 90-second intervals. It’s beneficial because it allows the sensory receptors within the muscle to relax in a position that’s both comfortable and natural but that the body might not otherwise be positioned in. It’s a gentle but effective technique for relieving tension in the muscles.

Myofascial release: Myofascial release therapy is a manual therapy technique that specifically targets the fascia, which is the thick tissue that coats all the bones and muscles in our body. The physical therapist feels around for stiff or tight spots in the fascia and manually manipulates them to restore pliability. This technique relieves the joints and muscles of any pressure placed on them. It is repeated on each trigger point until the therapist can no longer identify any tension in the body. It is often used to treat back pain, sciatica and other forms of chronic pain.

Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM): nstrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a manual therapy technique that involves the use of tools (instruments) to mobilize the muscles and joints. These tools vary in shape and size but are contoured to various parts of the body, giving the physical therapist extra leverage with which to apply pressure to the body.

Dry needling: Dry needling is a physical therapy modality that involves the use of thin needles inserted into the skin to break up stiff sections of muscle fiber called trigger points. The goal is to relieve muscle tension, decrease pain, increase blood flow and restore mobility. Dry needling sounds like acupuncture but it is in fact very different. Whereas acupuncture aims to short-circuit pain patterns, dry needling targets muscles currently experiencing pain. Like other manual therapy techniques, it is most effective when used as part of a larger treatment plan that involves therapeutic exercise and other forms of treatment.

In addition to “rubbing,” massage therapy, often referred to as bodywork or somatic therapy, refers to the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the body that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding, vibration, rocking, friction, kneading and compression using primarily the hands, although massage therapists do use other areas of the body, such as the forearms, elbows or feet. All of the techniques are used for the benefit of the musculoskeletal, circulatory-lymphatic, nervous, and other systems of the body. In fact, massage therapy positively influences the overall health and well-being of the client.


Massage Accompaniments
*Not all accompaniments performed by all therapists

CBD TreatmentHot Towel TreatmentPre-Natal
Hot StonesScalp MassageTMJ Therapy
CuppingBiofreeze TreatmentAromatherapy


Physical and Mental Benefits

relaxes the whole body loosens tight musclesrelieves tired and aching musclesincreases flexibility and range of motion
diminishes chronic paincalms the nervous systemlowers blood pressureowers heart rate
enhances skin toneassists in recovery from injuries and illnessstrengthens the immune systemreduces tension headaches
reduces mental stressimproves concentrationpromotes restful sleepaids in mental relaxation


Massage is generally considered part of complementary and integrative medicine. Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension and may also be helpful for:

AnxietyHeadachesSoft tissue injuries
Digestive disordersInsomnia (stress related)Sports injuries
FibromyalgiaMyofascial painTMJ pain


What you can expect during a massage

You don’t need any special preparation for massage. Before a massage therapy session starts, your massage therapist should ask you about any symptoms, your medical history and what you’re hoping to get out of massage. Your massage therapist should explain the kind of massage and techniques he or she will use.

In a typical massage therapy session, you undress or wear loose-fitting clothing. Undress only to the point that you’re comfortable. You generally lie on a table and cover yourself with a sheet. Your massage therapist should perform an evaluation through touch to locate painful or tense areas and to determine how much pressure to apply.

Depending on preference, your massage therapist may use oil or lotion to reduce friction on your skin. Tell your massage therapist if you might be allergic to any ingredients.

A massage session may last from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the type of massage and how much time you have. No matter what kind of massage you choose, you should feel calm and relaxed during and after your massage.

If a massage therapist is pushing too hard, ask for lighter pressure. Occasionally you may have a sensitive spot in a muscle that feels like a knot. It’s likely to be uncomfortable while your massage therapist works it out. But if it becomes painful, speak up.

Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often produces feelings of caring, comfort and connection. Despite its benefits, massage isn’t meant as a replacement for regular medical care. Let your doctor know you’re trying massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have.