The art of massage has existed for thousands of years—at least since the days of the Pharaohs in Egypt. And for good reason. It feels great—and it's good for the mind and body. Massage therapy can help to decrease pain and muscle aches, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote overall wellness and relaxation.
Even a short, 15-minute massage is enough to boost alertness, providing a wave of energy that’s similar to a runner’s high, say researchers at the Miami School of Medicine. Another study, carried out by the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle, Wash. found that massages are able to better treat lower back pain and injuries than chiropractic therapy and acupuncture.
During a typical massage—the word comes from the Arabic word for "press gently"—a massage therapist uses his or her arms, hands, fingertips, or elbows to press into the muscle, tissue, and joints of the body. Massages may target injured muscles or fascia, the sheath covering the muscles, or use special props like hot stones or warm pools of water, to relax the body. Some, like acupressure, may improve conditions as varied as osteoporosis and depression.