When going in for a massage, it’s important to know what kind of massage you are looking for, as they each have their own unique characteristics, benefits and end-goals. Some massages may have longer, smoother strokes and some have more short, percussive strokes, some may use lotions, and some may not, some may be 5 minutes and some 2 hours. Believe it or not, you can actually choose from about 80 different massage therapy styles, all differing in variety of pressures, movements and techniques.
At this point you may be asking yourself, “Well, which massage style is best?” In which we would counter-question with “Is the massage for stress-control and relaxation or symptom relief?” By asking yourself that question, you can go to your massage therapist more prepared and they can help guide you to the style most suited for you depending on your age, condition, or any considerations they need to take into account or any goals you personally have. So let’s get into a few of the most popular massage therapy styles and what to expect from each.
The most common type of massage characterized by soft, long, kneading strokes and light, rhythmic tapping strokes on the top layer of muscles in the direction of blood returning to the heart. It’s designed to help enhance relaxation, increased blood oxygen levels and improve circulation, and some say it can be energizing. Movement of the joints is also a common practice in Swedish Massages.
Deep Tissue Massage
This technique is best for massaging out areas that are particularly painful, stiff, or trouble spots in the body. The therapist will use slow, deliberate strokes that focus the pressure deeper into the muscles, tendons and other tissues under your skin. Though less rhythmic its good for relieving chronic patterns of tension and assisting with muscle injuries.
This massage technique was developed to help with muscle systems used for a particular sport in order to help athletes in training before, after or during sports events. It can help to promote flexibility and prevent injuries or can also help with muscle strains after a sports injury. Many different movement and techniques are used in sports massages from Swedish style, rhythmic striking, vibration, gliding, stretching, percussion and trigger points.
Most people have seen this technique at an event such as a country fair, conference, music festival, etc or you may work for a company that offers 15-20 minutes massages as a regular benefit. These are done fully clothes while you are sitting in a portable, specially designed chair. The technique usually involves a massage of the neck, shoulders, back, arms and hands
This technique, meaning “finger pressure” in Japanese, uses a rhythmic varied pressure on certain points of the body called acupressure points. These pressure points are believed to be important in the flow of “chi”, the body’s vital energy. Although its not determined how it improves health, it may calm the sympathetic nervous system and stimulate circulation, reduce stress and soothe pain.
This massage is when the therapist uses their body to move the client into various positions, as well as includes muscle compressions, join mobilization and acupressure.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage
This is a gentle technique of the tissues to help increased the circulation of lymph fluid in the body. It’s usually performed with gentle, long strokes along the skin to increased the movement of lymph. This can help the lymph nodes filter impurities and toxins out of the body. Some health conditions that this massage is good for include lymphedema and fibromyalgia.
Hot Stone Massage
Dating back to ancient China and the South Pacific, a hot stone massage uses warmed stones on certain areas of the body, typically along acupressure points, and either used as a massage tool or temporarily left in place. This technique can be very relaxing while the stones emit the heat deep into the muscles and tissues.
This technique uses the hand, thumb, and finger techniques to stimulate certain areas of the feet. This is because they are believed to correspond to different parts of the body and therefore promote healing and overall well-being.
Since there are so many different techniques of massages that your local therapist can do, it’s important to discuss with them your goals, any issues you may be experiencing, and any other important information that you think they will need to help you determine your ideal massage type. If they do not specialize in the type of massage, you need don’t worry, there are many others you can choose from who can help! Just do your research and make sure to ask questions if you’re feeling hesitant to try something new.