There are many styles of massage and lots of different massage techniques. When it comes to relaxation, relief and restoration the most effective techniques are based on releasing myofascial tissue. Myofascial tissue is connective tissue in the body that basically surrounds all your different muscles so that your muscle is able to move or glide within this protective sheath.
Have you ever stretched and even after you stretch you still feel tight? This is typically due to the myofascial tissue sticking to the muscle. Stretching is
meant to help release the muscle from the myofascial tissue and allow the muscle to elongate. However, most often the myofascial stays stuck and simply stretches with the muscle not allowing it to release. Therefore, you still feel tight or constricted. A good example of this is if I were to wrap you up in Saran Wrap (that thin plastic film). You would probably feel pretty constricted and unable to move inside. Once the myofascial tissue is released the muscle may move freely inside and you experience the feeling of being loose again.
The different techniques most notably known for this is deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, active release technique (A.R.T. which some chiropractors know) myofascial release (obvious), and sports massage. These techniques given during a massage help to release the myofascial tissue and increase circulation. The increase in circulation helps to clean out the soft tissues (muscles) getting rid of toxins (lactic acid etc.) and bring nutrients as well as other necessary elements for healing and restoration.
Massage therapy helps facilitate our bodies natural tendency for healing. In essence it helps to accelerate the bodies ability to restore itself. Therefore, if you are suffering from an injury it can help you heal quicker by cleaning up scar tissue and promoting healthy tissue development. If you are training or working out, massage helps to accelerate your bodies ability to recover from your workouts thereby reducing the likelihood of injury from muscle fatigue. Did you know that almost 80-90 percent of injuries are due to fatigue?
In addition, since you are recovering faster you tend to get better rest and therefore have a better supply of energy. Not to mention that everything that you are consuming will have a better chance of getting to the areas that need it most. Imagine if you are constricted and it is hard to move around. If your muscles are tight and you have to much tension and stress your body will have a harder time of moving nutrients in your body to the required areas.
As a bonus, massage helps boost the immune system by increasing the presence of white blood cells and releasing endorphins that are beneficial in the prevention of disease. In summary, massage helps to accelerate our bodies ability to recover by increasing circulation, cleaning up the soft tissues (muscles).