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.

  • Expertise and experience. Mayo Clinic's Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program combines conventional medicine with complementary and alternative medicine to promote physical, mental and spiritual wellness. Doctors and certified massage therapists at Mayo Clinic work together to coordinate a massage therapy treatment plan for an injury or condition as part of your care plan.
  • Latest tools and techniques. Mayo practitioners offer numerous specialized massage techniques, tailored to your treatment needs.
  • Evidence-based approach. Mayo doctors recommend treatments based on research that demonstrates the effectiveness of certain complementary and integrative medicine therapies. Mayo researchers conduct studies to constantly improve treatments.

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Massage therapy is given by certified massage therapists in complementary and integrative medicine at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. You'll need a referral from a Mayo Clinic doctor or other Mayo provider.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Research is key to developing and evaluating evidence-based complementary treatments, including massage therapy. Mayo Clinic researchers conduct numerous clinical studies involving complementary and integrative medicine. Read more about Mayo's Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program and see a list of Mayo research projects.


See a list of publications by Mayo doctors on massage therapy on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Oct. 28, 2011