messageThe power of touch is not completely understood, even by massage therapists and researchers. Massage can affect the musculoskeletal, nervous, and circulatory-lymphatic systems, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Science isn't exactly sure what happens in the body during a massage, but if done by a trained professional and used appropriately, there are few serious risks.

Here are the most common types of massage, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA):

  • Swedish—Considered the most common type, this involves long strokes, kneading, and other techniques on the more superficial muscle layers, along with active and passive joint movement. This type of massage is intended to relax and energize you.
  • Deep tissue—Designed to release tension through slow strokes and deep finger pressure. Deep tissue is so named because it focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue. The strokes and pressure either follow or go across the grain of muscles and tendons. It is commonly used for muscle damage from an injury, like whiplash or back strain.
  • Chair—This is massage of the upper body. It is done through your clothes while you are seated upright in a portable chair.
  • Sport therapy—Sports massage focuses on warming up an athlete to prevent athletic injury, keep the body flexible, or help rehabilitate injured muscles.