Massage is the kneading and stroking of the body's soft tissues - the skin and muscles - with varying degrees of pressure, and is incorporated in a number of traditional health systems.
Gentle massage affects the nervous system through nerve endings in the skin, stimulating the release of endorphins, the body's natural 'feel good' chemicals, to help induce relaxation and a sense of well-being, to relieve pain and reduce levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline. It helps reverse the damaging effects of stress by slowing heart rate, respiration and metabolism and lowering raised blood pressure.
Stronger massage stimulates blood circulation to improve the supply of oxygen and nutrients to body tissues and helps the lymphatic system to flush away waste products. It eases tense and knotted muscles and stiff joints, improving mobility and flexibility.