'Massage' is a French word that describes kneading [as in knee for bread]. And indeed that is basically what massage is. The kneading action is a way of pressing and manipulating muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, joints, and skin. Also manipulated are sometimes the lymph systems and organs.
Although most typically the hands, fingers and arms of the therapist are used, in other types of massage, even the elbows, knees, and feet can be applied. Sometimes other devices, such as vibrators are used and even stones. Oils and lotions are usually used to lubricate the skin and the person receiving massage is generally laid on a table, partly unclothed, and sometimes partly covered by towels.
In different parts of the world different types of crime have been developed and legislation and training varies greatly from country to country.
In Canada the qualification required for a trained therapist is called a 'Registered Massage Therapist (RMT)'. Only a few provinces regulate massage therapy in Canada. They are British Columbia, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador. Their standards, education and training are among the highest in Northern America.
Most US states require massage therapists to be licensed, but the type of qualification varies greatly according to the type of massage technique. There are more than a thousand different types of degree, diploma or certificate. So the regulations and requirements differ from state to state. However a move is now afoot to create an umbrella body with unified standards, and at present 13 states have joined this organization.
In some parts of Mexico prostitution is legalized and sexual massage services are sold legally. However, other types of massage are linked to faith and holistic healing. Massage with oils and lotions and sometimes combined with acupuncture are used to relieve digestive problems and pain.
In China, with exception of traditional Chinese medicine massages, most parlours are unregulated and some are fronts for prostitution.
In India The AYUSH Department is the body responsible for licensing massage therapists . They operate as part of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Japanese shiatsu is the form of massage that is regulated, but oil massage and Thai massage are unregulated. Some of these are used as fronts for prostitution.
South Korea is unique in that only visually impaired people are allowed to become massage therapists.
Although massage in New Zealand is not regulated, there are two recognized types of massage. One is aimed at relaxation and the other at orthopedic or remedial relief. Both types have required competency levels and registration, even though there is no governmental umbrella body of regulation.
In Europe, France requires a study period of three years and two examinations for qualification and a license in massage.
Germany is even more detailed in its requirements for professional massage therapists. In fact, a qualified massage therapist is trained in many medical skills and has a thorough knowledge of physiology and the body's range of movement, and needs only about eighteen months further study to become a fully fledged physiotherapist.