September 01, 2021

Massage therapy

A look at the benefits

If you're experiencing tension, stress or pain, a little bit of touch may be just what you need. Massage — a general term for pressing, rubbing and manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments — has been used for thousands of years in many cultures to heal, soothe and relieve pain.

Today, massage is being offered more frequently along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations. Mayo Clinic recognizes the value of massage therapy as an aspect of wellness and has been integrating massage therapy into the hospital setting for almost 20 years.

A massage may help you relax. But it can't cure everything that ails you. And if performed incorrectly, it could hurt you. Learning about massage before you have it can help ensure that the experience is safe and enjoyable.

What makes it effective?

Massage is effective for several reasons. First, muscles and tissues are being manipulated in a structured and purposeful way. This movement can help reduce pain, align the body and improve posture. Second, massage harnesses the power of human touch.

Environment also plays a role in the healing power of massage. For instance:

  • Massage usually occurs in a safe, quiet, pleasant space.
  • Aromatherapy is often used to assist in relaxation or address symptoms.
  • Relaxing, soothing music generally plays during a session.
  • Natural elements and plants also may be present, helping to promote thoughts of health and healing.

In most studies of massage therapy, researchers...