Massage is the manipulation of muscles and soft tissue, usually by hand, by rubbing, pinching, kneading, tapping etc. The purpose of massage is usually to relax, to relieve tension, to improve blood circulation and to alleviate muscular pains and discomfort.
Massage can be given on certain body parts only (such as the back), or full body. It can be light or deep tissue. Other than by hand, massage can also given by devices such as massage chairs or water jets.
The body parts to be massaged can be naked or clothed. Western massage is usually given without clothing and with the use of massage oil. Traditional Thai massage, on the other hand, is given fully clothed and without oil.
A padded massage table is useful to position the person being massaged in a comfortable lying position, at a convenient height for the massager, either face up or face down. Modern massage tables often have a hole in which the face is placed, such that the head is supported without twisting the neck and without obstructing breathing.
Due to the intense, sensual, person-to-person body contact and the active/passive roles of massager/massagee, massage can be sexually arousing, especially when it is done by, or to, a person one finds attractive. Sexual arousal can occur both in the person who is receiving and in the person who is giving the massage. Depending on the case and situation, an erotic side-effect can be undesired or desired.
Massage and spanking
In consensual spanking, a pre-spanking massage can be given to the spankee for relaxation and wellness, as a ritual of preparation, and/or for the sexual arousal of the partners. This is usually done in erotic spanking and sensation play, but not in disciplinary spanking.