During a massage, a certified massage therapist or medical professional manipulates your body's soft tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and skin), using varying degrees of pressure and movement. Your massage therapy session will involve different types of strokes, of varying intensity, depending on your need.

You may benefit from massage therapy to decrease swelling and impaired joint mobility, ease muscle spasms and muscle tension, and improve circulation. Massage therapy also may help to reduce stress, anxiety and pain; improve your levels of alertness; enhance sleep patterns; and release your body's natural painkillers (endorphins). Some studies show that the relaxation response, induced by therapies such as massage, may enhance immune function.

At Mayo Clinic, massage therapy may be recommended to help people cope with the pain and stress of cancer, heart disease, stomach problems, fibromyalgia, nicotine dependence or other conditions.

Read more about massage therapy.

Oct. 28, 2011