The practice of massage therapy is the assessment of the soft tissue and joints of the body and the treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissue and joints through soft tissue manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, and relieve pain.
The purpose of this treatment is to manipulate superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to enhance and improve their function, aid in the healing process, decrease muscle spasm, inhibit motor-neuron excitability and promote relaxation and well-being.
Massage therapy involves working and manipulating the body with pressure – organized, stationary, or moving motion and vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids (suction cups). Targeted tissues may include: muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, joints and other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels (lymph draining massage), or organs of the gastrointestinal system (stomach massage to promote digestion). Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, knees and forearms.
In an in-home or office setting, a massage involves the client being treated while lying on a massage table or sitting in a massage chair. In the case of a senior citizen or patient who is bedridden the surface like a bed or floor is more common. The massage patient may be fully or partially clothed or unclothed depending on the areas being treated.