People have been practicing massage as a healing therapy for centuries. Massage is currently the most widely used muscular therapy, with an estimated 100,000 practitioners in the U.S. Today, the term “therapeutic massage” refers to a range of manual therapies involving the manipulation of the soft-tissue structures in the body. In most cases, massage relieves muscle tension, reduces stress, and evokes feelings of calmness. Varieties of massage range from gentle stroking and kneading of muscles and other soft tissues to deeper manual techniques. Some focus on one specific function of the body (see lymphatic massage below). Others, such as trigger point and myotherapy, seek to relieve muscle contraction in a target area. Most practitioners rely on a combination of techniques. Currently, few clinical trials examine the effects of massage. However, practitioners believe that the therapeutic benefits of massage are due, in part, to its ability to affect changes in the musculoskeletal, circulator-lymphatic, and nervous systems.