Massage is a manual soft tissue manipulation designed to improve the structure and functioning of the body. This hands-on therapy employs basic movements such as kneading, stroking, finger pressure, and friction to reduce muscle tension and increase circulation. Massage has been shown to decrease pain in arthritis, decrease stress hormone levels, and improve immune function in immune-compromised patients. Subsets of Swedish massage include massage for cancer patients, deep tissue massage, pre-natal and postpartum massage and reflexology.
Contraindications to massage include febrile disease with a temperature above 100 degrees, intoxication, psychosis, and the first 24 hours after scuba diving. Local contraindications include skin lesions, local edema, varicose veins and hernia. If the therapist does not feel that massage can be done safely for any reason, a referral to a physician is indicated.