The facts

Massage techniques vary, but the basic element remains the same: touch and pressure are applied to the muscles and soft tissues with the aim of releasing tension, healing injuries, relieving pain, and enhancing overall well-being.

In Swedish massage, a therapist uses gentle, long strokes along with kneading, tapping, and rolling vibration. Deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage, but its therapists apply a slower, more vigorous pressure in order to access deeper layers of muscle and fascia (layer of fibrous connective tissue).

Acupressure, shiatsu massage, and tui na massage employ the pressure points of acupuncture and various degrees of finger and hand pressure. Some massage therapists make use of heat to warm up the muscles, such as placing hot stones at different points on the body.

Other complementary bodywork therapies incorporate elements of massage, including Rolfing and reflexology.

A word of caution

Check with your doctor before scheduling a massage if you fall into the following categories: pregnant women; those with bleeding disorders or blood clots; and people with joint, skeletal, or connective tissue disorders.

Keep reading here for more information about what you might expect during a massage therapy session.