Massage therapy may help the body in many ways. Massage can relax muscle tissue, which may lead to decreased nerve compression, increased joint space, and range of motion. This may lead to reduced pain and improved function.
Massage therapy may also improve circulation, which enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells and helps remove waste products. These circulatory effects of massage may have value in the treatment of some inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or edema (an excessive accumulation of fluid in body tissues, which may be reduced using manual lymph drainage).
Massage therapy is also thought to induce a relaxation response, which lowers the heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure; boosts the immune system; and generally decreases the physical effects of stress.