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Systematic, scientific manipulation of body tissues with the hands to relieve pain and reduce swelling, relax muscles, and speed healing after strains and sprains. It has been used for more than 3,000 years by the Chinese. Early in the 19th century, the Swedish physician Per Henrik Ling (1776–1839) devised a massage system for joint and muscle ailments, which was later extended to relieve deformities of arthritis and re-educate muscles following paralysis. Manipulations include light or hard stroking, compression (kneading, squeezing, and friction), and percussion (striking with the edges of the hands in rapid alternation). In acupressure, a style of massage derived from China, pressure is exerted on Chinese acupuncture points for healing effects. See alsophysical medicine and rehabilitation.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on massage, visit Britannica.com.