Being a licensed massage therapist for the past 10 years, I have heard a lot from people on what they think massage is like and how it benefits the body/mind. Some of the information is spot-on and some of it is most definitely lacking.
For instance, far too many people associate massage with this luxurious service that only pampered, rich people (who don't need it) can afford to get. Well, they're right that it can be luxurious, but it's not just for the spoiled set.
Massage therapy is highly beneficial for relieving the effects of every day stress. Whether that stress load comes from work or family obligations, ill-health, relational difficulties or any other situation, massage can effectively reduce (and relieve) the body and mind with the very first session. Why is this important? With stress linked to nearly every disease known to man, keeping it to a minimum may be a "secret" to a longer, healthier life.
Beyond stress relief, massage is frequently used for pain control, to release muscle tension and speed injury rehabilitation. When used regularly, it is effective for headache, shoulder and back pain relief.
Massage works on all the systems of the body, not just the muscles. It rejuvenates the entire body by increasing the blood and lymph circulation. Oxygen is much more effectively distributed and utilized as well.
The skin brightens and internal organs become more toned. Certain massage techniques benefit the digestive tract and may curb constipation or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The nervous system is positively impacted and a release of "feel good chemicals" is allowed to flood the body.
Now, with all that said....is massage therapy a panacea for every ailment out there? No. It does not suit all conditions, nor does everyone respond well to it.
However, it IS another tool to use to increase the quality of your life. Give it a try. Your body and mind will thank you.