Also found in: Dictionary, Acronyms.
massage therapyAny of a number of techniques in which the body surface and musculoskeletal system are stroked, kneaded, pounded and pulled. Massage has a time-honoured history in medicine that stretches back to ancient Greece: Hippocrates was an early advocate of massages, and recommended them on a daily basis to ease pain and prevent stiffness. Massages are intended to relax the body (and mind), mobilise stiff joints, improve the flow of blood and lymph, reduce muscular tension and chronic pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, and reduce tension and stress; they are believed by some to integrate the mind and body, improve skin tone, increase the flow of energy through the nervous system and wastes through the gastrointestinal tract, and enhance all the body systems.
Types of massage therapy
• Traditional European massage;
• Contemporary Western massage;
• Structural (functional/movement) integration;
• Oriental methods;
• Energetic methods;
General massage technique.
▪ Brushing—A superficial technique in which the skin surface is slowly, lightly and rhythmically stroked, often after a full massage.
▪ Connective tissue technique—Manipulation of connective tissues (e.g., fascia, ligaments and tendons of the musculoskeletal system), with the aim of enhancing circulation and, by extension, healing.
▪ Cupping—A technique in which the cupped hands are gently clapped on the skin surface, with the intent of increasing local blood circulation.
▪ Effleurage—A “soft tissue” technique that entails long, slow, rhythmic, light and heavy pressure strokes from the fingertips, thumbs, knuckles and palms, which may be combined with aromatherapy.
▪ Friction—A “soft tissue” technique that entails the use of small circular pressure strokes from the fingertips, thumb pads and palms, with the aim of freeing stiff joints and enhancing the circulation in tendons and ligaments.
▪ Neuromuscular technique—A technique in which pressure is applied to neural reflex and trigger points in a fashion analogous to that of shiatsu and acupressure, with the aim of enhancing neuromuscular interaction.
▪ Percussion (Tapotement)—A “soft tissue” technique that entails painless chopping and drumming motions delivered by the sides of the hands to “fleshy” regions (e.g., the back, buttocks and thighs).
▪ Pétrissage—A “soft tissue” technique in which fascicles of muscles are kneaded, lifted, grasped, squeezed, rolled and released, with the intent of stimulating locoregional circulation and relaxing contracted muscles.
▪ Stretching—The pulling of a body region or extremity away from its most anatomically neutral position, which may be active or passive (with or without the active assistance from the patient, respectively).
▪ Twisting—A technique in which the skin and soft tissus are wrung between the hands in opposite directions, which serves to stimulate the nerves and promote vasodilation.
▪ Vibration—A “soft tissue” technique that entails delivery of vibrating movement, often using an electrical device.
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.