The opposite of the placebo effect, so to speak, is the nocebo effect. When someone expects negative side effects from a medication, even if the medication is a sugar pill, they often have those effects (such as nausea or pain).
This video from TheProfessorFunk comes to us from YouTube:
Massage, as with all therapies, can trigger a placebo effect. Is massage better than placebo? Massage studies are notoriously difficult to design because you cannot create a "sugar pill massage". Any touch could have an unforeseen effect. In addition blinding massage studies is impossible because the therapist must know what kind of massage they are delivering.
So then, is massage effective? Is it better than a placebo. There are certainly many myths that surround massage therapy. On the other hand, any massage therapist will tell you that they have sometimes seen amazing almost miraculous results from massage. Science will ask questions like how consistent are these effects or how long do the effects last?
As a massage therapist and a skeptic I often witness therapists making what I believe to be outrageous claims about massage (and other alternative medicines). Many massage "modalities" being promoted today are nothing more than good PR sometimes backed by very shoddy research. Much of what is promoted by massage educators is, at the very least, bogus. In my personal opinion, any therapy with someones name attached to it is more marketing than medicine.
In general, massage often feels good. I believe there is significant research to say that massage is relaxing to the body. In the end, massage may effect a person more mentally than physically. The jury is still out.