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The aim of therapeutic massage is to induce physical and mental relaxation and promote well-being by stroking, kneading or pressing the soft tissues of the body. Cultures around the globe have used massage for centuries to relieve pain and anxiety, stimulate circulation and tonify body systems.
Massage induces relaxation and a sense of well-being by stimulating nerve endings in the skin. They in turn trigger the release of endorphins, the body's natural opiates or ‘feel good' chemicals and inhibiting stress hormones. It also acts on the circulation to supply more oxygen and nutrients to tissues and improve skin tone, and stimulates the lymphatic system, which carries away waste products that can cause pain and stiffness in muscles and joints.
A variety of techniques may be used to relax muscles, increase oxygen in the blood and release toxins from muscles. It can stimulate the circulation and flushes the tissues of lactic acid, uric acid, and other metabolic wastes, all of which help shorten recovery time after muscle strain.
Massage can be used simply as a treat or to help with specific problems. There is now a considerable body of evidence that shows the benefits of regular massage in the relief of stress and associated symptoms such as anxiety, depression, headaches and insomnia.
It can help relieve acute, painful conditions such as frozen shoulder, repetitive strain injury and sciatica. Massage works well alongside other therapies and can provide support throughout pregnancy and after giving birth.