Massage is a term used to describe the manual manipulation of soft tissue in an effort to improve health. It is a holistic therapy that is believed to affect all body systems.
Massage techniques have been practiced for thousands of years in many cultures. Practitioners mainly use their hands, but may also use their forearms, elbows, or even their feet in some methods. Swedish massage is the most commonly practiced form of massage. Other types of massage, such as sports massage, Esalen massage, and neuromuscular massage, are modified versions of Swedish massage. Another variation, aromatherapy massage, involves the use of essential oils during massage.
People use massage for many conditions, including aggression, alcoholism, Alzheimer's disease, anorexia, anxiety, asthma, athletic performance, itchy skin (eczema), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, back pain, balance and posture, bronchitis, burns, wounds, cancer, cerebral palsy, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), chronic pain, swelling in the colon (colitis), constipation, heart disease, critical illness, cystic fibrosis, dementia, depression, diabetic nerve pain, diabetes, diarrhea, swelling in the digestive tract, exercise-induced muscle soreness, fatigue, fibromyalgia, swelling in the stomach lining (gastritis), colon dysfunction, headaches, HIV/AIDS, high blood pressure, infant development, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lumbar disc herniation, heavy menstrual periods, mental alertness, multiple sclerosis, muscle cramps, muscle fatigue, muscle soreness, muscle strength, myofascial pain, nausea, neck pain, shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, pain, Parkinson’s disease, tearing from vaginal birth, pain from nerve damage, stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot, pressure ulcers, prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome, quality of life, pregnancy-related complications, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), preparation for surgery, levator ani syndrome, respiratory tract infections, restless legs syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, scarring, seizures, mental well-being, sexual dysfunction, sinus infection, skin care, sleep disorders, quitting smoking, spinal cord injury, sprains, surgical recovery, stress, temporomandibular disorder (TMD), tendonitis, weight loss.
Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate..
The effectiveness ratings for MASSAGE are as follows:
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of massage for these uses.
While there are many theories about how massage works, research is limited. Some suggest that massage might reduce swelling, increase the flow of oxygen into the tissues, soften or stretch scar tissue, reduce the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles, allow the muscles to relax, and stimulate the healing of connective tissue or damaged muscles. Many other effects have also been suggested.
People who support massage have suggested that massage therapy can transform nervous energy into a more steady state. This helps restore balance. Also, the nervous system might benefit from the repetition and tempo of a massage. Rhythms have meditative qualities that refresh both the patient and therapist.
Massage is LIKELY SAFE when used in most conditions associated with stress and pain.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Massage is LIKELY SAFE when used to improve mood and physical well-being during pregnancy and labor.
It is not known if this treatment interacts with any medicines.
Before using this treatment, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.
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