Massage Therapy is the manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue using various techniques, to enhance function, aid in the healing process, decrease muscle reflex activity, inhibit motor-neuron excitability, promote relaxation and well-being, and as a recreational activity. Massage involves working and acting on the body with pressure – structured, unstructured, stationary, or moving – tension, motion, or vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids.
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, while in amateur settings a general purpose surface like a bed or floor is more common. The massage subject may be fully or partially clothed or unclothed.
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What to Expect
The massage therapist will review your health history and ask questions. Because massage can affect multiple body systems, such as the cardiovascular and nervous systems, be honest with the massage therapist about your health. The therapist will ask about any pharmaceutical drugs or botanical medicines you are taking, because massage can enhance or reduce the effect of pharmaceutical drugs, such as blood pressure medication.
Draping: Generally, you will lie on a massage table, covered by a sheet or large towel. Make sure you are comfortable and let the therapist know if you are not. A professional massage therapist will never expose genitals or breasts, or any other areas you identify. Only the area the therapist is working on will be exposed.
Music: The therapist may play music, but be sure to tell your therapist if you would prefer a different type of music or if you would like quiet. Typically, you can also bring your own music to play during the session.
The massage therapist will apply hands-on manipulation of muscle tissue, sometime involving light stretching, Experience varies depending on the the training of therapist and is intended to relax muscles, relieve stress and eliminate toxins in the body. Some typical techniques you might experience include the following: gliding, kneading, friction, holding, percussion, pumping, vibration, compression, direct pressure, cross-fiber friction, rocking, skin, rolling, stretching and traction.