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Different Types of Massage Techniques You Should Experience

There are various types of massage provided by professionals and each type works best for specific conditions.

There are different types of massage provided by individuals and clinics all over the world. Experiencing them would help you discover which type works best for your individual body.

In this article, we are going to discuss 10 most popular types of massage performed by therapists and their unique benefits.

What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage Therapy provided by a registered massage therapist is a hands-on technique involving therapeutic kneading, manipulation and movement of muscles, tendons and ligaments.

The massage therapist applies varying degrees of pressure using their hands to improve blood flow and tension in the involved soft tissues to assist in reducing muscular tension as well as facilitating the nervous system to relax for an overall mental and physical relaxation experience.

Certain types of massages that have a more therapeutic purpose are more commonly delivered by a RMT (Registered Massage Therapist) such as sports massage, prenatal massage and deep tissue massages.

Other massages that typically serve a more relaxation purpose in a spa setting are delivered by those that are not registered. However, this is a generalization and there are certainly exceptions.

One of the most popular types of massage is relaxation massage that helps reduce stress.

Benefits of Massage Therapy

A wide range of benefits are known for massage. However, we are going to discuss a few of them over here in this article and leave the rest to you.

You will find more information online by simply searching “massage therapy benefits”. Here are some of the known benefits of massage therapy:

  • Improving blood flow and facial glide.
  • Decreasing muscle spasm.
  • Improving function and range of motion.
  • Providing an exercise program to assist return to full function.
  • Improving sleep quality and mood.
  • Reducing stress and tension in the body.

Massage Therapy Types

For different individuals, various massage types can have different effects. It is good to learn about them and even experience a few to know which works best with your body.
Types of massages we will review today are:
  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Sports Massage
  • Swedish Massage
  • Prenatal Massage
  • Thai Massage
  • Reflexology
  • Medical Massage
  • Couples Massage
  • Hot Stone Massage
  • Trigger Point Massage

This article has been written under the monitoring of a registered massage therapist in Fulcrum Therapy health and wellness clinic.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massages are meant to be deep and intense. They are used for when you have old chronic muscle tension and pain or simply, if you enjoy a deep tissue massage and respond well to it.

This technique is used to break up scar tissue and muscle adhesions. Deep tissue massage helps pinpoint specific areas and uses broader strokes to target the deeper muscles and tissues.

Based on our clinical experience, deep tissue massage is not for everyone. Avoid if you have sensitive joints, inflammation or autoimmune conditions as the pressure may worsen some conditions.

Sports Massage

Sports massages are tailored towards treatment and assessment of certain sports related injuries. These types of massages are more commonly done by registered massage therapists with an orthopedic approach or those that have a passion for sports massage.

As an athlete, it is important to address your injuries as they happen and don’t “wait for them to go away”. A sports massage can both speed up your healing and prevent your injury from becoming chronic, interfering with your performance.

Massage therapy is an effective treatment for sports injuries and athletes.

Our registered massage therapist, Harold Keech has a passion for treating sports related injuries through an orthopedic approach. He has treated and healed many athletes over the years and is looking forward to seeing how he can assist you.

Prenatal Massage

A prenatal massage is like a regular massage, however with certain limitations and techniques in mind. Pregnant women often experience hands and feet swelling, joint pains, nerve pain and general tightness and tension as the body goes through hormonal changes.

An experienced therapist will be aware of these factors and will tailor their massage for the individual needs of the pregnant women. Furthermore, equipment such as a pregnancy pillow and a specialized treatment table will make the massage experience much more comfortable when you indicate for a prenatal specific massage.

Along with massage therapy, chiropractic care during pregnancy would also benefit both mother and baby. 

Swedish Massage

If you have ever gotten a massage before, chances are that you have experienced Swedish massage techniques. This technique involves using a gliding lotion or massage oil with broad strokes to improve circulation and work out any tension areas in the body.

Swedish massage is used a lot for an introduction or more general relaxation.

Thai Massage

A Thai massage is suitable for those that are looking for a more active form of massage. Thai massage is beneficial for improving flexibility, circulation and energy levels as the practitioner involves a sequence of body movements to stretch and twist in various positions.

Reflexology

Reflexology is the use of firm and specific pressures on the hands, feet and ears. It is believed and studied that specific points on our hands, feet and ears correlate with various functions of our body, in particular our visceral organs.

Reflexology is an alternative treatment which consists of putting pressure on specific points of the feet.

Reflexology has been shown in studies to be especially beneficial for anxiety, reduction of fatigue and sleep quality.

Hot Stone Massage

Certainly more of a spa massage experience, body workers can use correctly set temperature stones to help loosen tissues and be able to apply firmer pressure with less discomfort.

This massage is often in conjunction to a manual massage and is commonly not done exclusively on its own.

Trigger Point Massage

This massage technique involves more specific and deep pressure on certain points on the body that happen to hold extra tension or what some refer to as “muscle knot”.

A muscle knot is a painful or tender spot in a muscle. It feels tight and sore, and it often happens in the upper back or legs. They're not usually harmful, but they can certainly be uncomfortable. In rare cases, muscle knots are a sign of a long-term (or chronic) pain condition.

Knots can prevent proper circulation and cause pain and discomfort either when moving a specific muscle or even sometimes when staying still.

Trigger point massage is less broad strokes and more sustained deep pressure on painful areas until the practitioner feels the muscle knot release under their hands.

Usually, the practitioner will hold the pressure for up to 30 seconds or until the patient has informed the pain has gone down on the pressure scale and then will repeat until the tissue has completely released.

Shiatsu Massage

Derived from hundreds of years ago, the Chinese combined this type of massage with other healing techniques such as acupuncture and cupping to alleviate pain. 

Shiatsu massage is based on a psychosocial model involving emotional, physiological, and spiritual wellbeing. It can combine the use of feet and stretches similar to yoga for pain relief.

Aromatherapy Massage

Any type of massages described above can involve Aromatherapy, which is the use of pure essential oils on the body which serve different purposes on the nervous system.

Aromatherapy consists of using essential oils and massage therapy art as a treatment.

Some essential oils have calming effects and anxiety reducing effects such as Lavender, Vetiver and Neroli. Others can help with sore muscles like peppermint and pine.

Aromatherapy massage is a way to enhance your massage experience by adding the aspect of scent and benefits from the pure essential oils.

Medical Massage

A medical massage is an outcome based massage. It is the most common type delivered by RMTs as it involves an assessment and clinical evaluation of a specific condition.

This massage is best suitable for those that have a specific medical condition or sports injury and seek professional help to treat their condition. This massage has less of a relaxing nature and serves a more therapeutic purpose.

Couples Massage

A couple massage can involve any massage technique described above, however, both partners are present at the same time and they each have their own practitioner working on them.

This is a type of massage that can encourage romantic bonding between two partners and help them relax and take their minds away from everyday struggles.

Couples massages are predominantly offered at spas or relaxation type facilities and rarely seen delivered by a registered massage therapist.

Lymphatic Massage

Myofascial Lymphatic Drainage, also known as MLD is a specific massage technique that focuses on the lymphatic vessels that carry build up toxins that may build up from a cold or an inflammatory episode of the body.

MLD is used to boost the movement of lymph fluid in the body and help move extra fluid from an area that may be swollen or is at risk of infection. This massage involves gently applying pressure towards the lymph nodes and staying surface level to clear out manually.

Lymph is watery fluid that flows through your lymphatic system. Lymph (pronounced “limf”) helps your lymphatic system support your overall health, from providing nutrients to cells and tissues to protecting your body from foreign intruders like viruses, bacteria and cancerous cells.

MLD massages are excellent for improving the flow of lymph, which can become restricted and blocked from severe immune responses, for example, after dealing with a bad flu or an injury, such as bursitis/twisting an ankle.

The Takeaway

The takeaway is that when you seek care from a registered massage therapist, different types of massages are more targeted towards healing your specific injury or helping you maintain a pain free status. They can also serve a relaxation purpose.

Thai massage, Shiatsu massage, couples massage and aromatherapy are more commonly done in spa settings by bodyworkers that do not have the same training as a registered massage therapist does.

Although these massages are great for relaxation purposes, if you have an actual medical condition, it is best to seek care from a licensed professional massage therapist that can guide you through your injury via a medical massage.

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