is the practice of applying pressure or vibration to the soft tissues of the body, including muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and joints. A form of therapy, massage can be applied to parts of the body or successively to the whole body, to heal injury, relieve psychological stress, manage pain, improve circulation and relieve tension. Where massage is used for its physical and psychological benefits, it may be termed "therapeutic massage therapy" or manipulative therapy.
A Massage Therapist
assesses clients by conducting range of motion and muscle testing and propose treatment plans; treats soft tissue and joints of the body through soft tissue manipulation, hydrotherapy, remedial exercise programs and client self help programs; provides courses of treatment for medical conditions and injuries or wellness maintenance; maintains records of treatments given; and may work with other healthcare professionals as part of a team that facilitates an environment that promotes health and overall wellness.
In commercial settings, massage techniques involve the client being treated lying down on a massage table or in a massage chair, or on a mattress on the floor. Although the massage subject is generally unclothed, the body may be "draped" with towels or sheets. This also helps keep the client warm. In some jurisdictions it is required that certain areas such as the genitals on both genders and the breast/nipple area on women be draped at all times. Due to the necessary physical contact between the practitioner and the client, sexual arousal is not uncommon, although in most forms of massage this is unintentional. Massage can also be a part of lovemaking for many couples (see erotic massage), and often takes place in the context of sex work.
The treatment may start with the client face up or down for the first part of the session: the client then rolls over (draped by the towels or sheets) for the second half of the session.
is the use of massage techniques for erotic purposes.
For example, instead of draping the subject's body with towels, an erotic massage is usually conducted with the subject naked and undraped. Areas of the body such as the areas around the groin and intimate parts of the body, which are normally not touched in therapeutic massage, will be touched in ways that increase sexual arousal.
Erotic massage can be used as part of lovemaking, and its techniques can be used to enhance other sexual techniques.
Erotic massage may be utilized as a means of stimulating the libido, or increasing the ability of a person to respond appropriately to sensual stimulus. In some cases, erotic massage can be a form of foreplay without sexual gratification, intended to heighten the sensitivity of an individual prior to another engagement where sexual arousal and fulfillment is intended. In other cases, erotic massage may be used professionally to desensitize a man to the sensual touch of a woman, such that he may increase his sexual stamina and avoid premature ejaculation.
It is also offered as a service by some massage parlours (not to be confused with establishments that offer only therapeutic massage). In this case, erotic massage may be considered to be a form of sex work, or a form of sex therapy.
A sex worker is anyone who earns money by providing sexual services. Some use this term to mean only prostitution, although the term is more commonly used to refer to a wide variety of sex industry workers (e.g. adult film actors, nude models, exotic dancers, peep show performers, masseuse in parlours, phone sex workers, and to some extent waitresses in sexually-oriented businesses).
Recently, there have been several efforts to gain legal recognition for sex workers. In the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand and some Australian States, sex workers already enjoy recognition by their government. The term "sex worker" is primarily used among professional who support formal organizations in an otherwise left-alone industry. It is believed that such formal organizations are going to help lower the victimization rate of the workers also reducing and preventing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among these workers and their clients.
In practice the growth in sex tourism has led to a corresponding growth in the sex industry. Illegal sex tourism with under-age boys and girls has become a notorious problem in Costa Rica and Thailand, for example. Meanwhile a legal and consensual sex industry often makes a significant contribution to local economies. The Hamburg Reeperbahn is a licensed and taxed prostitution zone serving tourists from all over the world, whilst the sex industry has also tended to thrive around military bases. The British naval port of Portsmouth had a flourishing local sex industry in the nineteenth century for example, whilst until the early 1990s there were large red light districts near American military bases in the Philippines. The notorious Patpong entertainment district in Bangkok, Thailand, started as a R&R (Rest and Recuperation) location for US troops involved in the Vietnam War in the early 1970s.
The euphemism "service provider" is sometimes used for sex workers.