The term “massage therapy” includes many techniques, and the type of massage given usually depends on your needs and physical condition.

  • Massage therapy dates back thousands of years. References to massage appear in ancient writings from China, Japan, India, and Egypt.
  • In general, massage therapists work on muscle and other soft tissue to help you feel better.
  • In Swedish massage, the therapist uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration, and tapping.
  • Sports massage combines techniques of Swedish massage and deep tissue massage to release chronic muscle tension. It is adapted to the needs of athletes.
  • Myofascial trigger point therapy focuses on trigger points—areas that are painful when pressed and are associated with pain elsewhere in the body.
  • Massage therapy is sometimes done using essential oils as a form of aromatherapy.

What the Science Says About the Effectiveness of Massage

A lot of the scientific research on massage therapy is preliminary or conflicting, but much of the evidence points toward beneficial effects on pain and other symptoms associated with a number of different conditions. Much of the evidence suggests that these effects are short term and that people need to keep getting massages for the benefits to continue.