I absolutely love getting a massage — do you? But if you’re anything like me, you might be afraid to try some of the different types of massage.
For example, I was really afraid of getting a deep tissue massage. (The word “shiatsu” just sounds intense!) Little did I know, a deep tissue massage was exactly the type of massage I needed.
Whether it’s your 1st massage or your 50th one, knowing about the types of massages and which kind you should ultimately get will ensure that you have a relaxing and restorative session.
From Swedish to shiatsu to deep tissue, there’s a massage style for whatever your body needs. Certain styles help you with certain issues — like muscle strains, pregnancy, or just a long work week.
Following are 7 types of massage — to help you decide which style is best for you.
Swedish massages are great for first-timers. The long, gentle strokes help relax stressed muscles.
This type of massage doesn’t go too deep, although you can ask your therapist to apply more pressure if you want.
Almost every licensed massage therapist offers Swedish massage.
This video shows what you can expect during a Swedish massage.
Deep tissue massage refers to gentle yet sustained pressure targeting.
This technique involves the therapist using firmer pressure in order to reach these key areas and get them to release — which is why this particular massage is oftentimes recommended for people who are comfortable with a slightly more intense touch.
However, the belief that deep pressure equals pain is a myth.
I enjoy the relaxing effects of massage and was concerned that the deep tissue massage would be too intense for me. While talking to my massage therapist, I was able to explain exactly what I was looking for and she now offers me a combination of Swedish and deep tissue massage. She uses a sustained pressure approach — that really helps to release tension from my tight muscles, but it isn’t painful.
By the way, the results of my Swedish/deep tissue massages typically last about 2 weeks!
Almost any qualified therapist can perform a wonderful deep tissue massage. Some highly trained therapists can access deep muscles too — like the psoas, a long postural muscle that runs along the inside of the lower spine and connects inside the pelvis.
Ask your massage therapist about their specific training before requesting anything out of the ordinary.
This video shows what you can expect during a deep tissue massage.
The addition of hot stones makes a massage delightful!
Smooth, natural rocks are heated before your massage and placed either directly on your skin or wrapped in towels and placed along your spine. The stones hold heat, and the heat relaxes your muscles.
To prevent burns, you may want to ask to have a barrier (such as a towel or sheet) placed between the hot massage stones and your skin.
Also, check with your therapist to see how they heat the stones. A professional massage stone heater should be used. Never use stones that have been heated in a microwave, slow cooker, hot plate, or oven.
You can combine hot stones massage therapy with other types of massage — or just enjoy the soothing warmth and relaxation of the stones alone.
This video shows what to expect during a hot stone massage.
Sports massage is specifically for athletes. If you need a boost getting back into the gym or onto the field or court, this type of massage might be for you.
Just keep in mind, this style of massage therapy isn’t about relaxation!
The use of massage strokes are usually quicker than you’ll find in other styles of massage therapy.
Your therapist will probably help you with stretching, too.
This video shows what you can expect after a sports massage.
Shiatsu literally means “finger pressure” in Japanese. This bodywork type can also include massage of the palms or feet, too.
You may have seen a bar mounted to the ceiling in some massage establishments. This is for shiatsu massage work. Your masseuse walks on you — while holding the bar — so as not to apply too much pressure to your spine.
Be sure to ask about your therapist’s experience before letting them walk on your back.
This video shows what you can expect during a shiatsu massage.
Aromatherapy massages include essential oils to help balance chakras, alleviate pain or allergies, or uplift your mood.
The really great thing about aromatherapy is that it can usually be paired with any massage style you choose.
Usually these massages are either Swedish or deep tissue with aromatherapy added as an additional service. However, some therapists specialize in Ayurvedic massage — which concentrates on essential oils paired with specific strokes.
This video shows what you can expect during an aromatherapy massage.
Also known as a pregnancy massage, prenatal massage mostly involves modifications to Swedish or deep tissue massage techniques. These modifications keep the mother comfortable while she carries the extra weight of her baby and protects both the mother and baby from harm.
Always tell your therapist if you’re pregnant — even if you’re not showing or haven’t told friends or colleagues yet. They need to know in order to keep you (and your baby) safe! For example, certain massage strokes in certain body parts need to be avoided on pregnant women.
This video shows what you can expect during a prenatal massage.
Some massage therapists focus on just one specialty — like sport massage or shiatsu. But others can perform several modalities — like deep tissue, hot stone, cupping therapy, or Swedish massage.
Each of these styles can make you feel amazing — so consider what’s going on with your body and choose the one that’s right for you. It might even be fun to treat yourself to a variety of techniques with an experienced massage therapist!
In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some more resources to find a massage therapist near you:
I’m a health nut, a frugal mom, a dog lover, a DIYer, and a gadget girl. Personally, as a post-divorce, working single mom on a budget I have a lot of experiences that I enjoy sharing so others can learn from the things I wish I knew earlier! Professionally, I’ve worked full-time in a variety of marketing, sales, and editing jobs. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as Managing Editor at The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).
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