There’s no doubt that massage is beneficial for both your physical and mental health.
As well as reducing post-exercise soreness by 30 percent, massage improves circulation, aids in lymphatic drainage, and promotes flexibility. Research also shows that massage helps to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 31 percent while providing a 30 percent increase in dopamine and serotonin levels.
But ‘massage’ is a broad term used to define a wide range of specific techniques. And as you’d expect, different massage techniques have different benefits.
Keep reading to find out more about different types of massage therapy and which of these could be more suitable for you.
If it’s your first time and you’re wondering, ‘what kind of massage should I get?’, then we’d recommend a Swedish massage.
Swedish massage is a gentle form of full-body massage that’s perfect for newbies or those who are sensitive to the touch.
You will need to take your clothes off for a Swedish massage, although you can keep your underwear on if you prefer. The massage will involve kneading, deep circular motions, and long strokes towards the heart. As such, Swedish massage is ideal for releasing muscle knots and promoting full-body relaxation.
Deep Tissue Massage
This massage style is like a Swedish massage but it uses more pressure to target tension deep in your muscles and tissues.
Deep tissue massage is a good option if you have more severe muscular problems such as injury, imbalance, or ongoing soreness. Its main benefits include relieving chronic muscle pain, tight muscles, and anxiety.
Your massage therapist will use deep finger pressure and slow strokes to target underlying tension. Although the sensation may be intense, you shouldn’t experience pain or soreness during or after the massage session.
Hot Stone Massage
Like Swedish massage, hot stone massage is gentle and a good way to promote relaxation while relieving muscle pain and tension. But one key difference is that this type of massage therapy involves heated stones, either as well as or instead of the therapist’s hands.
During a hot stone massage, the therapist places heated stones on different areas of your body. They may also use gentle Swedish massage techniques while stones heat other areas of your body.
While most massages last around an hour, hot stone massages often last around 90 minutes. This is because they tend to move at a slower pace as a way to promote total relaxation. Hot stone massage also improves blood flow, eases muscle tension, and relieves stress.
Unlike other forms of massage therapy which focus on releasing knots, Chinese massage aims to promote the flow of energy or ‘qi’ around the body.
Within Chinese massage, there are two different massage techniques. The first is ‘tui na’ which involves chopping, kneading, and stretching motions. Tui na aims to relieve energy blockages throughout the body. The second technique is ‘zhi ya’, which involves pinching and pressing the skin, as used in acupressure and reflexology.
Chinese massage is ideal if you want to restore a sense of balance to your body and mind through the release of physical and energetic tension. And, since the benefits of Chinese massage are cumulative, you might consider getting this type of massage on a regular basis.
Thai massage works the whole body by stretching and twisting it into positions that resemble yoga. As well as their fingers and palms, your massage therapist will use their knees and elbows to help ease you into these different positions.
This more active form of massage aims to reduce and relieve pain and stress by promoting flexibility and movement. Thai massage also helps improve energy levels and circulation. And, while most massage techniques work better with skin to skin contact, it’s typical to wear loose clothing during a Thai massage.
As such, Thai massage is ideal for those who want increased flexibility and reduced pain, but who are uncomfortable with nudity or having their skin touched.
Sports massage is ideal if you have a repetitive-use injury as the result of playing a sport or working a physical job.
Sports massage can be preventative, helping those prone to injuries to avoid future problems. It also helps promote flexibility and improve sporting performance. And, sports massage can be a good way to relieve muscle tension, pain, and even anxiety.
Sports massage may focus on the body parts and muscles that need more attention, or it can be a full-body massage. Depending on your needs, your therapist will use both deep pressure and soothing strokes throughout a sports massage.
And, you can have a sports massage clothed or naked. If you prefer to wear clothing, stick to thin, loose items such as gym shorts and a baggy tank top to provide better access to your muscles.
Shiatsu massage is a Japanese type of massage. It promotes relaxation, relieves stress and depression, and reduces muscle tension.
This style of massage is ideal if you want to achieve total relaxation, as well as emotional and physical calm and relief. Shiatsu massage can also help to relieve headaches and other forms of referred pain.
Shiatsu massage works the entire body, although your therapist may concentrate on certain areas that need extra attention. This form of massage involves pulsing and rhythmic pressure to relieve tension. And, like Thai massage, you can remain clothed throughout a Shiatsu massage.
Comparing Massage Techniques
As these massage techniques show, there are many types of massage therapy, all with specific benefits and outcomes.
At their core, different massage techniques will all relieve muscle pain and promote relaxation. But, if you have specific needs and preferences, this guide should help you choose the best type of massage for you.
For more information, feel free to contact us today!