With Swedish massage, the practitioner uses a system of long strokes, kneading, and friction techniques. With these, the practitioner massages the more superficial layers of the muscles. The massage is combined with active and passive movements of the joints.
Oil is usually used to facilitate the stroking and kneading of the body, thereby stimulating circulation. The massage therapist applies pressure and rubs the muscles in the same direction as the flow of bloodreturning to the heart.
In deep-tissue massage therapists use greater pressure than is used in Swedish massage. In so doing, they target the deep layers of muscle. Using a series of slow strokes and direct pressure, the therapist will strive to release chronic patterns of muscular tension. Sometimes, the therapists use their elbows or thumbs to push hard into the deepest grain of the muscle to reduce tension.
Neuromuscular massage combines the basic principles of ancient Eastern treatments, such as acupressure and shiatsu, with specific hands-on, deep-tissue treatment. The goal is to reduce chronic muscle or myofascial (soft-tissue) pain.
Massage is one of the complementary therapies that is most highly rated by people with fibromyalgia. Limited research has shown that massage can help reduce pain, elevate mood, decrease the need for pain medicines, and increase the quality of life for some fibromyalgia patients.