When presented with the opportunity to give a back massage to a dancer with a shaved head wearing a velvet shirt, do not under any circumstances turn it down.

The variety of stimulating surfaces and textures can perpetuate interest indefinitely. Besides which, when you're done, you have the gratitude of a dancer (with above-named characteristics), something more valuable than its weight in porn.

Just watching them stretch afterwards made it all worth it.

martian = M = math-out

massage vt.

[common] Vague term used to describe `smooth' transformations of a data set into a different form, esp. transformations that do not lose information. Connotes less pain than munch or crunch. "He wrote a program that massages X bitmap files into GIF format." Compare slurp.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Torie was working points from the base of Vivi’s skull down in to her shoulder blades when Vivi began to sob. Torie was not alarmed; it was not the first time that a client had cried in her massage room.
Torie began to work Vivi’s shoulders. The touch was so sure, so utterly free that it released even more tears. Vivi’s body shook, and the massage therapist stopped briefly to hand her a Kleenex.
Torie began to lightly stroke Vivi’s back, and to rock her ever so slightly. Her hands were warm against Vivi’s skin, and as Torie stroked, Vivi could feel her own breathing start to steady. Sometimes she could not believe that anyone could touch her body like this, with such acceptance, such loving detachment, asking for nothing in return. There were places she still could not bear to be touched. Her belly, for one. Her belly stuck out too much, she was ashamed of it, could not accept the idea that it was anything but hideous. There were other spots, though—her legs, her neck, her head—which luxuriated in being massaged. There were moments during her sessions with Torie that Vivi could only describe as religious. Moments when she came home to her body in ways she never had before—moments when she felt its aches, varicose veins, and wrinkles so intimately and gently that she groaned with a happiness she could never describe. Fleeting seconds when Vivi knew that her body, in all its imperfections, was her own lived-in work of art. 1


Getting a professional massage is both a luxury and an luxurious experience, but the first time, it’s a bit daunting. Some of us have difficulty with the idea of being naked in a room with a stranger who’s going to touch us (I’m expecting to hear laughter from those of you to whom this sounds like heaven) and taking that leap of faith can be a downright scary, if ultimately rewarding, thing to do.

I have found, in my limited experience, that massage therapists are all about making you feel comfortable and relaxed. Usually, they will talk to you before the massage, asking any questions and doing their best to put you at ease. You will decide how long the massage will be—anywhere from an half hour to two hours, usually in half hour increments—and you can discuss just how naked you want to be. My first time, I filled out a form listing health concerns and what I was hoping to get out of the massage, and there was space to list any areas of my body I wanted particular attention paid to, or that I wanted left alone (and safely covered up). (Once, the masseuse started the massage by working on my feet. I like having my feet done, but next time I'll request that they work up to that--I was too ticklish, right off the bat.) During the massage, you are encouraged to provide feedback on issues related to your comfort: the temperature of the room, choice of background music, depth of pressure, type of lotion or oil being used, etc.

Once you have decided to take the plunge and get a professional massage, consider the following guidelines in order to optimize your experience:

  • Avoid eating directly before your appointment
  • Arrive early to give yourself time to meet the therapist and ask any questions.
  • A warm shower or time spent in the whirlpool (before or after) will enhance the effects of your massage

After the big event, make sure you drink plenty of water, to help flush out any toxins that the massage released from your muscle tissue, and enjoy the deep, sound night’s sleep that follows.

Many different types of massages are available. Here are some of the more popular types:

Swedish/ Western Massage

goals: relaxation and improved circulation, relief of tension, expanded range of motion techniques: client disrobes and lies on a massage table. Five types of manipulation are employed: effleurage (long strokes); friction (deep, circular movement); petrissage (kneading); tapotement (percussion); and vibration.

Sports Massage

goals: enhance performance, prevent injury, keep body flexible, heal injuries techniques: client’s muscle and joint movements are analyzed; any combination of deep tissue strokes, muscle massage, compression, or pressure point therapy are employed as needed.


goals: align chakras and bring healing energy to organs and glands; relaxation, healing of general ailments techniques: similar to laying on of the hands; passive touch produces warmth or tingling sensation in some clients.


(Japanese for finger pressure)

goals: reduce stress, eliminate fatigue, alleviate symptoms including back pain, headaches, constipation, or cramps. techniques: client is fully clothed, resting on a mat; using acupressure points, the practitioner works to balance the flow of yin and yang energies and life force in the body. See also Jin Shin Do ®

Deep Tissue Massage

goals: reshape and realign muscles and connective tissues; release chronic pain and tension; correct damage from injuries such as back strain or whiplash techniques: client disrobes; therapist works through muscle tension layer by layer, eventually reaching the deeper muscles. Feldenkrais ®, Rolfing ®, Hellerwork ® and Trager® are all varieties of deep tissue massage.

Orthopedic Massage

goals: relieve chronic pain, heal sports injuries; restore pain-free motion techniques: very medical in approach; therapist seeks underlying causes and pathology of condition, and utilizes stretching, myofacial* release, frictioning, and neuromuscular therapy. *myo=muscle and fascia=the elastic connective tissue which is wrapped around muscles; myofacial release involves applying gentle sliding pressure against areas of the body.

Craniosacral Massage

goals: improve nerve system functioning, reduce stress, muscular relaxation, support immune system techniques: client can be clothed or not; gentle movements of the bones and tissues of the head, thorax, and hips enhance the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, restoring balance to the body. (cranio=cranium, the bony part of the head; sacrum= the bony bottom of the spine).

Chiropractic Massage

goals: return to and maintain a maximum state of health techniques: client is clothed or partially clothed; gentle manipulations of the spine, muscle work, and work on specific organs may be included; part of a holistic approach to health care.

Aromatherapy Massage

goals: reduce level of harmful stress hormones, stimulate circulation of the blood; can be sedative or stimulating, depending on what essential oils are used techniques: client disrobes; therapist uses essential oils and long, flowing strokes (effleurage); environment often includes soft music and candlelight.

Stone Therapy / Thermotherapy

goals: soothes aching muscles; encourages deep relaxation, healing of body and/or mind techniques: client disrobes and lies face down; smooth hot and/or cold stones are placed on the spine and other key points of the body.

Seated Chair Massage

Lasts 5-15 minutes; often performed in a corporate or business setting. Client sits, fully clothed, in specialized chair; techniques include Shiatsu and Swedish massage.


In this w/u, I have attempted to provide a brief overview of what can be expected from different types of massage; I welcome any additions or corrections. Many of these techniques are covered in more detail in their own nodes.

1 Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, HarperTorch, 1996, pp. 301-302. Information gleaned from: ACAC (Atlantic Coast Athletic Club) Fitness and Wellness Center pamphlet: Therapeutic Massage http://www.palmettomassage.com/TypesOfMassage.htm http://www.mypleasure.com/education/sexed/massage_101.asp http://www.bodymindspirit.net/BodyTher.HTML

As a massage student (www.ewcha.com) I would like to just add a few things to your list:

There is another type of stroke used in Swedish massage: Compression. It can be Static (press and hold in one place, or press one place then another then another) or Rhythmic (press repeatedly in the same place). In Swedish massage, compression is used to warm tissue and improve circulation, whereas in Shiatsu and Thai it is used more often on Meridians and Accupressure Points. This technique works best if there is a bony structure deep to the tissue being compressed (sounds obvious in retrospect, I know.)

Effleurage is also usually defined as "long, gliding strokes" rather than just "long strokes". Effleurage can be deep or superficial, depending on the application. In Swedish, I use Deep Effleurage and Compression in some very pleasant combinations.

Friction does not necessarily have to be circular. There are also varieties like Longitudinal (with the direction of muscle fiber or connective tissue) and Cross Fiber (across the direction of muscle fiber or connective tissue) for several effects. Primarily in both cases, loosening myofascial adhesions and alligning collagen fibers is a goal, while tendonous cross fiber friction can relieve tendon pain associated with hypertonic muscles, and prolonged deep cross fiber friction can stimulate the immune response in an otherwise chronic, never-healing tendon injury.

Petrissage is indeed kneading, but it can also be lifting, rolling, and other methods of manipulation. Typically done with a muscle in shortened position, or with skin and subdermal fascia.

Vibration has many varieties, from coarse (shaking, rocking, jostling) to fine (fingertip and Qi), deep and superficial as well (placing a flat hand on the skin and just vibrating the hand as opposed to leaning an elbow into the accupressure point at the articulation of T12-L1 and shaking the hand). Vibration seems to be very effective in getting around psychological motion barriers, relieving hypertonicity, and resetting muscle spindles. But I'm still just a student so stand by for more information.

Another modality that is becoming popular in America is Thai Massage, which involves range-of-motion stretching, some muscle energy techniques (reciprocal inhibition, PNF, PIR), and I find it's easiest to describe as "two person Yoga with Shiatsu"... the last Thai massage I recieved involved the therapist drinking a cup of tea while holding most of his weight off my back with a crutch, grabbing my ribcage and illium with his toes to stretch my quadratus lumborum muscle, among other techniques. Much more conducive to conversation than Swedish, and performed fully clothed.

Since I'm new here, if anyone with a clue reads this and would like to show me how to put some of this information directly into the structure of this site rather than just ranting in badly formed paragraphs, I would be your friend forever.


Massage Dangers

Note: Some of the things in this node may seem strange and may not even apply to you if you are not into giving long serious massage. I assure you though, that if you getting into massage these things laid out here are real dangers.

The greatest danger in giving a massage is that while massage feels great it has much more powerful and systemic effects than most people take into account. The first few things you want to ask your subject is how they got the pain? Have they had any kind of trauma recently? Are they are on any kind of drugs, over the counter or otherwise? Do they have any serious medical problems? Even if they don’t think they have anything to do with massage it is important to find out.


If they are on anything sensation altering, like pain killers or muscle relaxants, then make sure you don’t go to deep as you could damage already injured tissue and make things worse with out them even knowing it. An excellent and very common example of this is: Them: “Oh my low back is killing me, you give such good massages would you give my back a rub” Your proper response: ”Ok, well are you taking anything for it” Them: “Ya, I’m on Tylenol and (Name of over the counter muscle relaxant)” Your Proper Response: ”Well I can do some really light stuff, but I can’t do a deep massage like you enjoy because I could hurt you more because you can’t feel properly and make things worse.” - -> Whining ensues. Keep in mind that to the person may have gone from, I can barely move (and they wouldn’t let you touch their back with a ten foot pole) too a deep ache that probably feels like a deep massage would do wonders. The underlying problem hasn’t gone away though and massaging it deeply in a way that is going to loosen up the muscles that are guarding the problem will just make things worse, possibly much worse. In fact as an amateur, if I were you, I would stay away from working on anyone that is taking anything, especially if it is a prescription or you don’t know of its exact effects of the drugs. Serious Medical Conditions The same goes for any kind of serious medical condition, especially if they are seeing a doctor for it. This is because a good full body massage can increase blood flow in the body up to three times by mechanically increasing return blood flow to the heart. Which then taxes every other system in the body. This is great if you are trying to say help the stiffness and soreness from a hard work out the day before. Through assisting the removal of lactic acid from the muscles. But it can be extraordinarily dangerous if your subject (or you receiving a massage for that matter) have any sort of serious medical condition such as heart problems, like angina, high blood pressure, or chronic congestive heart failure. Other systems that are already over taxed will be further stressed by the kind of deep muscle massage that most people like to get. So if a person has existing problems with there kidneys, pancreas, liver etc. like diabetes, hepatitis etc. It is best to explain the reasons why you can’t work on the person then not do it as it is better to be safe than sorry. Deep Neck Massage on Both Sides of the Spine Another thing I see a lot of, which has the potential to actually kill/cause serious brain damage to a healthy person is deep massage right under the base of the skull on both sides of the cervical spine (neck bones). The two main arteries that feed the brain run through here. So that person you think you just put to sleep by giving a really good deep massage too may in fact be blacked out and sustaining brain damage. No I am not exaggerating. As my sensei is fond of saying “the brain likes its blood”, in fact in Ju-jitsu we would call this a blood choke. This is especially the case if you have you have a good one handed grip, and aren't completely leaving off the pressure when you kneed. Or if the person is lying on there back and you are supporting their head below the base of the skull, deep in the top muscles and are working other areas with your opposite hand. Incidentally if you do have a person on their back and are doing a deep neck massage this is a good thing but just hold the back of the skull with one hand and work one side with your other hand. A towel can be useful at this point to keep greasy hands out of your friend’s hair too. But I digress.

Pregnant Women Not all dangers are this obvious though take for example working on the lower extremity of a pregnant person. One of the most common presenting complaints for these women looking for massage is sore feet and calves (You carry around with an extra 60-70 pounds for a couple of months and see what it does to you). Unfortunately pain deep in the calf is also the presenting complaint for a condition called deep vein thrombo phlebitis. With this issue It feels like a good deep massage is exactly what it needs. The danger here is that you can dislodge a thrombus (see: chunk of something in the blood stream). That can kill the woman or give her severe brain damage. Probably not a good call no matter how much she has been driving you nuts, sending you to the grocery store for weird food and playing guess that mood swing. We were taught a test called Homans sign to find out for sure whether it is safe to work on the subject. This was done by inflating a Blood Pressure cuff till it cuts off the circulation just below the knee and dorsiflexing (see pushing up on the balls of the feet so that it moves the toes towards the knee. If this produces pain deep in the calf Do not massage the persons feet/calf. Though I don’t recommend doing this test if you are an amateur. Your best bet is to get her to see a doctor and have him test for it. Now at this point if she has been to the doctor, make sure he tested for it (not just looked at her and said “ya, sure, your fine get a massage”) as while I was practicing I actually had patience show up with doctors note prescribing massage for this problem. Now I am not saying Doctors are retarded, but some are and many don’t understand massage and its effects and dangers, or don’t take them seriously. If your still not sure you’re better off facing the wrath of your subject than killing the love of your life and your unborn child. Remember deep pain in the calf of a pregnant woman. That really feels like massage would feel good is bad, bad, bad. Check with your doctor and make sure he administers a Homans sign test. Having your wife and unborn child die in your arms, because of your actions could fuck you up really, really badly for a very, very long time not to mention it would be bad for them.

Mas"sage (?), n. [F.]

A rubbing or kneading of the body, especially when performed as a hygienic or remedial measure.


© Webster 1913

Mas"sage (?), v. t. (Med.)

To treat by means of massage; to rub or knead; as, to massage a patient with ointment.


© Webster 1913

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