Usually, people use massage for both relaxation and general well-being, or to treat certain conditions such as pain or limited mobility.
Massage therapy can help the body in many ways. Massage relaxes muscle tissue, which can lead to reduced nerve compression, greater joint space, and greater freedom of movement. This can reduce pain and improve functionality.
Massage therapy can also improve blood circulation, which increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells and removes waste products.
The circulatory effect of massage therapy can be useful in treating certain inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or edema (excess fluid buildup in body tissues which can be reduced by manual lymphatic drainage).
Massage therapy is also believed to trigger a relaxation response that lowers heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure which strengthens the immune system, and generally reduces the physical effects of stress.
This effect suggests that massage can be beneficial in a variety of conditions. Medical research shows that massage therapy can help boost the immune system by increasing the activity level of the body's natural "killer T cells" that fight viruses.
Pain can affect a person's quality of life and prevent recovery from illness or injury. Recent findings underscore the role of massage in treating pain. Elite and sports enthusiasts can benefit from massage therapy – it can reduce muscle tension, improve sports performance, and prevent injury.