What Are The Different Types of Massage?

While all massage involves rubbing or kneading the body using fingers, hands, knees or a device, there are more than eighty different types of massage and each has its own qualities and benefits. Some work on the whole body while some target specific areas. Some involve gentle pressure while others entail the application of strong pressure.   

It is good to know the different types of massages so you can know what form of massage therapy will benefit you most whether you’re looking for relaxation, pain relief or stress relief. Here is a list of the most common types of massage therapy, what they entail and the benefits they offer.

1. Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is the most common type of massage. It is actually referred to as classic massage. It is a full-body massage whereby the massage therapist uses long flowing strokes, circular movements, kneading, rolling, lifting and vibrations to apply gentle pressure on the body.  

Benefits: Swedish massage causes relaxation of the whole body including muscles and joints. It alleviates minor aches and pains as it eases tension in the muscles and releases muscle knots. It also boosts blood circulation and has stress relief benefits.

2. Hot Stone Massage

Hot stone massage is Swedish massage with the addition of heat therapy. In addition to Swedish massage techniques, the massage therapist places heated basalt stones on different areas of the body and also uses them to massage the body.   

Benefits: Thanks to the heat, this is an invigorating massage that is especially effective at relieving tension. It is the best massage to go for if you want relief from intense muscle pain. It also improves blood flow, reduces stress and has sleep benefits.     

3. Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy massage is a combination of Swedish massage and aromatherapy. The massage therapist will apply essential oils to your skin and then massage you using Swedish massage techniques as you inhale the pleasant scent of essential oils through a diffuser.

Benefits: This is the type of massage to go for if you need emotional healing. In addition to relaxing your body and easing muscle tension and pain, it reduces stress and anxiety and uplifts your mood. The soothing experience also helps with headaches, insomnia, and even premenstrual symptoms.

4. Deep Tissue Massage

As the name suggests, deep tissue massage is an intense type of massage that targets deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. The massage therapist will use slow strokes, friction and finger pressure to apply strong pressure in order to reach muscle knots and problem areas located deeper in the body.

Benefits: This is the best massage for chronic issues such as tension, soreness, repetitive strain postural issues, injury, imbalance and pain as it helps dissipate chronic muscle tightness and pain.

5. Sports Massage

Sports massage is designed for athletes, sports persons and those who work out a lot. The massage therapist uses a wide range of massage techniques including Swedish, deep tissue, pressure point, Shiatsu and more to stretch the muscles, dissipate tension, break down scar tissue, and boost circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids.

Benefits: Sports massage helps heal injuries that result from repetitive muscle use such as when working out or playing sports. It also helps improve performance and prevent future injuries by increasing flexibility and range of motion.

6. Trigger Point Massage

Trigger points are tender and painful spots that develop in the muscle tissues due to trauma. Trigger point massage is aimed at releasing trigger points to alleviate pain. The massage therapist uses flowing strokes to locate the points of tightness and then applies direct pressure with the thumb, knuckles or elbow to cause the points to release.

Benefits: This form of massage therapy dispels chronic tension and offers relief from intense pain caused by the trigger points. It is good for easing stiffness and pain in the joints, shoulders or neck.

7. Reflexology

Some points in our feet, hands and ears are believed to correlate to other organs and body parts. Reflexology involves stimulation of these points. The massage therapist applies gentle to firm pressure on reflex areas on the feet, hands and ears using the thumb, finger, and hands.

Benefits: Reflexology is a deeply relaxing form of massage. It alleviates tension and pain in the corresponding body parts such as the spine and neck. It also causes the release of feel good and pain relieving hormones such as dopamine and endorphins.   

8. Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage is an ancient Japanese massage technique that entails the application of pulsing or rhythmic pressure on pressure points. The massage therapist employs their fingers, hands, elbows, knees and even feet to apply pressure in rhythmic sequences. You can wear loose clothing as you receive this massage.

Benefits: If you need to relax and de-stress, Shiatsu is the best type of massage to go for as it promotes both physical and emotional relaxation, improves balance, boosts circulation and helps with insomnia and headaches. It triggers oxytocin production and relieves stress, anxiety, and pain.

9. Thai Massage

Thai massage is an active type of massage that is a combination of assisted yoga stretches and a wide range of massage techniques. The massage therapist uses their fingers, palms, knees, and feet to apply firm pressure on the body whilst stretching and moving the body into various yoga poses. You can wear loose clothing during the massage.

Benefit: Thai massage is relaxing and invigorating. The combination of massage motions and yoga stretches leads to improved flexibility, balance, and range of motion. It also boosts circulation, eases pain, reduces stress and boosts overall health.     

More Resources

Massage Techniques – Medial News Today

Get in touch with Higher Living Bodywork at (929) 500-2041 for a consultation on the best type of massage for your needs! I am a licensed massage therapist and can offer my therapeutic services at the comfort of your home or in our studio space in Williamsburg Brooklyn!

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