Whether you’re seeking a brief moment of relaxation, reduce muscle tension caused from overuse or injury, or relieve the pressure of chronic pain, massage therapy can be a great way to maintain a healthy body and mind. But if you’ve never gotten a massage before, it can be a little intimidating to see all the different types and styles of massage that are available.
When you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s hard to know what would be best for you. While all types of massage will offer basic medicinal and therapeutic benefits, specific kinds of massage techniques will produce specific results – sometimes even catered to particular ailments.
Check out these different types of massages and their benefits so you can decide which kind would work best to address your health concerns and fulfill your needs.
Using five basic strokes, massage therapists can help loosen muscles, relieve pain, and reduce stress. The strokes that make up this “classic” massage technique include gliding, kneading, tapping, cross fiber friction, and vibration or shaking. This is one of the more popular types of massage, and is often what people think of when they think of this kind of therapy.
This complex, intricate practice finds its roots in the traditional Eastern medicine systems, combining pressure and stretching to help relax the body in a deeper way than most other massage techniques. While there is no universally-accepted method for practicing Thai massage, it generally involves lying on a mat on the ground while the masseuse positions your body in a number of yoga-like poses, while applying gentle, rhythmic pressure on energy lines throughout the body.
The light, gentle strokes of a lymphatic massage won’t be helpful for someone who needs an intense massage to loosen up tense muscles – instead, this technique aims to stimulate the lymphatic system, helping your body pump fluid through your vessels and lymph nodes. This style of massage is most beneficial to people looking for detoxification, or to help reduce swelling after suffering an injury or undergoing surgery. A lymphatic massage can also provide relief from symptoms of conditions like sinusitis, bronchitis, or ear infections.
- Deep tissue
Using slow friction and deep pressure on specific parts of the body, this style of massage targets areas of chronic muscle tension, pain, or aches. People who suffer from extended or chronic issues with certain muscle groups, like the back, neck, or shoulders, can benefit from this type of massage. It can also be combined with other styles for a more balanced massage experience. This kind of massage is used often by athletes, as it provides specific treatment for particular issues or concerns.
The spiritual practice of Reiki involves using energy and hands-on positions to relieve pain and stress on vital organs and nerves. This kind of therapy is generally thought of as a “new-age” technique, but this traditional Japanese practice is a valuable tool for individuals who deal with substantial stress. Using either intuitive or systemized hand placements, Reiki can help both the mind and body heal and maintain a sense of balance. The greatest benefit Reiki offers is relaxation, which stimulates the body’s natural healing processes and allows your body to actively begin healing itself.
- Myofascial release
This type of massage promotes the relaxation of the “fascia,” the thin layer of tissue overtop of your muscles. When this tissue is too tight, it can keep your muscles from relaxing fully, leading to stress and chronic tension. The soft-tissue therapy of myofascial release improves the function of a number of bodily systems, including the skeletal, arthodial, vascular, and lymphatic structures. Generally, this kind of massage will involve a number of techniques to promote muscle relaxation – including applying the knuckles or forearm to the body, pressing into the soft tissue, and even dragging the fascia along the skin.
Getting a massage is supposed to be relaxing, not a chore that just causes you more stress. Now that you’ve got a better understanding of the different types of massage that are available and the unique ways they will benefit your physical and mental health, you’ll be able to choose the right style for you and your body.
Thank you to Sam Socorro who wrote this article. Sam is a guest author from Steam Shower Store and is a respected and expert voice in a plethora of health related subjects with over 10 years of writing under her belt.