Touch is among the very first senses to develop. Babies need the feel of another’s hands to thrive. Mothers bond with the baby through touching and stroking. Lovers cement their relationship with sensuous flesh-to-flesh contact. A handshake is a way of sealing a contract and patting on the back shows a myriad of emotions while expressing more. From birth onwards, people enjoy the feel of favored hands lightly touching flesh. Stroking, stimulating touch is a welcoming sensation for most people. Massage takes the instinctive urge to touch, mould and rub the body’s flesh a step further. Massage is the manipulation of the body’s soft tissue. It involves stroking, rubbing, kneading, tapping, rolling, jostling pressing and slapping the muscles and connective tissues. Most commonly, fingers and hands put into play these motions. Yet, in certain types of massage, the digits and palms, joined by elbows, knees, feet and other body parts, exert this pressure. In massage, particularly massage therapy, various parts of the body of the practitioner work to ensure the comfort, relaxation and improved health of the client or patient. Unlike mainstream massage or that promoted in body-rub parlors, massage therapy is about promoting the health and well-being of the client. It is an alternative form of medicine. Its intent is to help a person through the physical rubbing, stroking or pummeling of the flesh to achieve improved physical, psychological and even spiritual states of being. Claims associated with massage therapy vary. Most, however, state it has a positive affect upon the overall state of health. There are stated benefits to massage therapy. These range from specific health effects to a general sense of well-being. Therapeutic massage, according to its supporters and some experimental data, reduces stress, relieves pain and speeds-up the healing process. It can lower blood pressure and the heart rate. Massage therapy may control chronic pain, help heal burns, rashes and other skin conditions. It will help in the elimination of bodily fluids. Therapeutic massage also claims to increase the flow of lymph fluids, decrease the effects of depression and boost sugar level in diabetic children. Furthermore, massage therapy may possibly increase the functioning of an immune system in people suffering from cancer or HIV. Beyond the physical, there are the emotional and spiritual aspects of therapeutic massage. The practice can help with low self-esteem. It may help people increase their body awareness. In coming in tune with their body, people may become aware of possible health problems and circumvent them. Massage therapy can also help people get in touch with their spiritual side. The specific purpose of therapeutic massage improvement depends upon the type of practitioner. There are more than 80 different types of massage therapy. This number increases when you consider the hybrids. Basically, you can divide the practices into two types: Oriental and Western. Within each of these two major categories, you will find two subcategories: traditional (or classical) and modern. There are also practitioners who combine traditional and modern with Oriental and Western. This is a truly eclectic form of alternative medicine. The Oriental type of massage therapy includes some well-known practices. Asian Massage Therapy includes acupressure, Japanese Shiatsu, An-mo, Tui Na, Thai Massage Therapy and Jin Shin Jyutsu. Western versions of massage therapy are Swedish Massage, Bowen Therapy, Deep Tissue Massage, Esalen Massage, Functional Integration, Hellerwork, Hot Stone Massage, Jin shin Do bodywork Acupressure, Manual Lymph Drainage Massage, Myofascial Release, Myotherapy, Neruromuscular Massage, Reflexology, Rolfing, Therapeutic Touch, the Trager Approach and Trigger Point Massage. As is the case with Oriental therapeutic massage, there are many crossovers, modernizations and variations. While some massage therapists stick closely to a specific type, they may integrate other techniques or approaches. The Esalen Massage, for example, is an outgrowth of Swedish Massage and Acupressure. Esalen combines both Western and Asian approaches to therapeutic massage. It is up to you to decide what practice or technique best serves your own needs. There are thousands of practitioners from which to choose. Do so with care. Consult the literature on the different types. Talk to your doctor and see if he knows or can suggest someone in this complementary and alternative form of medicine (CAM). Speak to friends. They might have a suggestion or two. You should also look in the respective and respected guides provided by the various massage therapy associations. These can provide you with information on practitioners in your area. At the same time, this will assure you these are well-trained professionals. Once you have the information. It is up to you to go, experience and reap the benefits of massage therapy.