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Massage is the manipulation of superficial layers of muscle and connective tissue to enhance the function and promote relaxation and well-being. Massage involves acting on and manipulating the body with pressure – structured, unstructured, stationary, or moving – tension, motion, or vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids. Target tissues may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints, or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels, or organs of the gastrointestinal system. Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearm, and feet. There are over eighty different recognized massage modalities.
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. The massage subject may be fully or partly unclothed. Parts of the body may be covered with towels or sheets.

Beneficial effects

Single dose effects

  • Relief from pain due to musculoskeletal injuries and other causes is cited as a major benefit of massage.[6] In one study, cancer patients self-reported symptomatic relief of pain.[30][31] Acupressure or pressure point massage may be more beneficialin relieving back pain.

  • State anxiety: Massage has been shown to reduce state anxiety, a transient measure of anxiety in a given situation.[27]

  • Blood pressure and heart rate: Massage has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate as temporary effects.[27]

  • Attention: After massage, EEG patterns indicate enhanced performance and alertness on mathematical computations, with the effects perhaps being mediated by decreased stress hormones.

  • Other: Massage also stimulates the immune system[33] by increasing peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs). However, this immune system effect is only observed in aromatherapy massage, which includes sweet almond oil, lavender oil, cypress oil, and sweet marjoram oil. It is unclear whether this effect persists over the long term.

Multiple dose effects

  • Pain relief: When combined with education and exercises, massage might help sub-acute, chronic, non-specific low back pain.[34] Furthermore, massage has been shown to reduce pain experienced in the days or weeks after treatment.[27]

  • Trait anxiety: Massage has been shown to reduce trait anxiety; a person's general susceptibility to anxiety.[27]

  • Depression: Massage has been shown to reduce subclinical depression.[27]

  • Diseases: Massage, involving stretching, has been shown to help with spastic diplegia resulting from Cerebral palsy.