|This article is part of the branches of CAM series.|
|Complementary and alternative medicine Classifications|
|NCCAM:||Manipulative and body-based methods|
Massage is the treatment and practice of soft tissue manipulation with physical, functional, and in some cases psychological purposes and goals. The word comes from the French massage "friction of kneading," or from Arabic massa meaning "to touch, feel or handle" or from Latin massa meaning "mass, dough". (In distinction the ancient Greek word for massage was anatripsis , and the Latin was frictio.) An older etymology may even have been the Hebrew me-sakj "to anoint with oil."
Massage involves acting on and manipulating the client's body with pressure (structured, unstructured, stationary, and/or moving), tension, motion, or vibration done manually or with mechanical aids. Target tissues may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints, or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels, and/or organs of the gastrointestinal system. Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, forearm, and feet. There are over eighty different massage modalities. The most cited reasons for introducing massage have been client demand and perceived clinical effectiveness.
In professional settings massage involves the client being treated while lying on a massage table, sitting in a massage chair, or lying on a mat on the floor. The massage subject may be fully or partly unclothed. Parts of the body may be covered with towels or sheets.
United States: Massage started to become popular in the United States in the middle part of the 1800s and was introduced by two New York physicians based on Per Henrik Ling's techniques developed in Sweden.
During the 1930s and 1940s massage's influence decreased as a result of medical advancements of the time, while in the 1970s massage's influence grew once again with a notable rise among athletes. Massage was used up until the 1960s and 1970s by nurses to help ease patients’ pain and help them sleep.
Because it is illegal to advertise or offer sexual services in most of the United States, such services are sometimes advertised as "massage".
United Kingdom: Massage is popular in the United Kingdom today and gaining. There are many private practitioners working from their own premises as well as those who operate from commercial venues.
Massage in sports, business and organizations: The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta was the first time that massage was offered as a core medical service. Massage has been employed by businesses and organizations such as the U.S. Department of Justice, Boeing and Reebok.
Specialized massage tables and chairs are used to position clients during massages. A typical commercial massage table has an easily cleaned, heavily padded surface, and a horseshoe-shaped head support that allows the client to breathe easily while lying face down and can be stationary or portable. An orthopedic pillow or bolster can be used to correct body positioning. Ergonomic chairs serve a similar function as a massage table. Chairs may be either stationary or portable models. Massage chairs are easier for the practitioner to transport than massage tables, and clients do not need to disrobe to receive a chair massage. Due to these two factors, chair massage is often performed in settings such as corporate offices, outdoor festivals, shopping malls, and other public locations.
Ayurveda is a natural health care system originating in India that incorporates massage, yoga, meditation and herbal remedies. Ayurvedic massage, also known as Abhyanga is usually performed by one or two therapists using a heated blend of herbal oils based on the ayurvedic system of humors.
Champissage is a massage technique focusing on the head, neck and face that is believed to balance the chakras.
Lomilomi is the traditional massage of Hawaii. As an indigenous practice, it varies by island and by family.
Reflexology involves massaging, squeezing or pushing parts of the feet, hands and ears with a goal of encouraging health throughout the body. This theory is based on a perceived energetic flow of "meridians" in the body, and is considered pseudoscientific.
A stone massage uses cold or water-heated stones to apply pressure and heat to the body. Stones coated in oil can also be used by the therapist delivering various massaging strokes.
Known in Thailand as นวดแผนโบราณ (Nuat phaen boran, IPA ), meaning "ancient/traditional massage", Thai massage originated in India and is based on ayurveda and yoga. It was believed that the massage art was brought over to Thailand by Shivago Komarpaj over 2500 years ago. The technique combines massage with yoga-like positions during the course of the massage; the northern style emphasizes stretching while the southern style emphasizes acupressure.
Peer-reviewed medical research has shown that the benefits of massage include pain relief, reduced trait anxiety and depression, and temporarily reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and state anxiety. Theories behind what massage might do include blocking nociception (gate control theory), activating the parasympathetic nervous system which may stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin, preventing fibrosis or scar tissue, increasing the flow of lymph, and improving sleep but such effects are yet to be supported by well designed clinical studies.
Massage is hindered from reaching the gold standard of scientific research which includes placebo-controlled and double blind clinical trials. Developing a "sham" manual therapy for massage would be difficult since even light touch massage could not be assumed to be completely devoid of effects on the subject. It would also be difficult to find a subject that would not notice that they were getting less of a massage and it would be impossible to blind the therapist. Massage can employ randomized controlled trials which are published in peer reviewed medical journals. This type of study could increase the credibility of the profession because it displays that purported therapeutic effects are reproducible.
Pain relief: Relief from pain due to musculoskeletal injuries and other causes is cited as a major benefit of massage. In one study, cancer patients self-reported symptomatic relief of pain. This study, however, did not include a no treatment or placebo control group so these effect may be due to the placebo effect or regression towards the mean. Massage can also relieve tension headaches. Acupressure or pressure point massage may be more beneficial than classic Swedish massage in relieving back pain. However, a meta-study conducted by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign failed to find a statistically significant reduction in pain immediately following treatment.
State anxiety: Massage has been shown to reduce state anxiety, a transient measure of anxiety in a given situation.
Blood pressure and heart rate: Massage has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate as temporary effects.
Other: Massage also stimulates the immune system by increasing peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs). However, this immune system effect is only observed in aromatherapy massage, which includes sweet almond oil, lavender oil, cypress oil, and sweet marjoram oil. It is unclear whether this effect persists over the long term.
Pain relief: When combined with education and exercises, massage might help sub-acute, chronic, non-specific low back pain. Furthermore, massage has been shown to reduce pain experienced in the days or weeks after treatment.
Trait anxiety: Massage has been shown to reduce trait anxiety; a person's general susceptibility to anxiety.
Depression: Massage has been shown to reduce subclinical depression.
Diseases: Massage, involving stretching, has been shown to help with spastic diplegia resulting from Cerebral palsy in a small pilot study. The researchers warn that these results should "be viewed with caution until a double-blind controlled trial can be conducted".
Massage has been used in an effort to improve symptoms, disease progression, and quality of life in HIV patients, however, this treatment is not scientifically supported.
In the USA licensure is the highest level of regulation and this restricts anyone without a license from practicing massage therapy or by calling themselves that protected title. Certification allows only those who meet certain educational criteria to use the protected title and registration only requires a listing of therapists who apply and meet an educational requirement.
In Canada only three provinces regulate massage therapy : British Columbia, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador. The Canadian Massage Therapists Alliance (CMTA) has set a level of 2200 practice hours in Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador and 3000 hours in British Columbia. In India, massage therapy is licenced by The Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (India) in March 1995.
Because the art and science of massage is a globally diverse phenomenon, different legal jurisdictions sometimes recognize and license individuals with titles. Examples are:
People state that they use massage because they believe that it relieves pain from musculoskeletal injuries and other causes of pain, reduces stress and enhances relaxation, rehabilitates sports injuries, decreases feelings of anxiety and depression, and increases general well being.
In a poll of 25-35 year olds 79% said they would like their health insurance plan to cover massage. Companies that offer massage to their employees include Allstate, Best Buy, Cisco Systems, FedEx, Gannett (which runs USA Today), General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, JC Penney, Kimberly-Clark, Texas Instruments and Yahoo. In 2006 Duke University Health System opened up a center to integrate medical disciplines with CAM disciplines such as massage therapy and acupuncture. There were 15,500 spas in the United States in 2007 with about a third of the visitors being men.
The number of visits rose from 91 million in 1999 to 136 million in 2003, generating a revenue that equals $11 billion.