Do you fret and sometimes wonder which type of massage you should get for your sore back, a stiff neck, water retention or a cold that you’re trying to get over? We round up the 14 most popular massage styles to guide you on your spa journey
Are you overwhelmed and trying to cope with the stress in your life? Do you feel soreness, and pain, or do you have an injury? Or are you just wishing for a relaxing escape from your daily routine and are wondering what your options are? Treating yourself to a massage is often a good idea, but choosing the right type of massage and finding the right spa is no easy task. We gathered the most popular types of massages along with everything you need to know about them.
1. HOT STONE MASSAGE
With the help of volcanic basalt stones that are heated to about 60° C, this technique is performed with the main goal of warming tense muscles and hence relaxing them. Depending on the patient’s needs, the stones can be placed on different places of the body, along the spine, on the chest, on the palms or on the face. This massage is based on the theory of energy flow and thermoreceptors found in the skin. Sometimes the therapist can even perform Swedish massage techniques during the process; this includes a variety of movements such as long strokes, kneading or tapping. Cold stones can also be included to calm engorged blood vessels. The list of the hot stone massage benefits is long. It has a positive effect on the limbic system and reduces nervous tension. This can be explained as a result of the body’s response to the stone’s heat. Now, imagine such a treatment in the right atmosphere, accompanied with essential oils and relaxing music – it can only soothe the soul.
2. ACUPUNCTURE MASSAGE
Its fundamentals are based on the Chinese theory of Qi flowing through your body, as our energy circulates in the human body via specific pathways. These energy channels are called meridians, and the Qi can be activated and increased or lowered (depending on what you need) via acupuncture points where energy is concentrated and accessible. The ultimate goal behind this technique is to harmonize the flow of Qi and to nourish the tissues and organs, which leads to a healthy body. Acupuncture massage involves the insertion of tiny single use needles in the acupuncture points. This method is known for its multiple benefits when addressing muscle tension, stress, illness, and injuries, and helps you maintain a good energy balance and positively affects your overall wellbeing and health by helping you to relax and combat chronic pain.
3. AROMATHERAPY MASSAGE
This technique is the perfect combination for people who enjoy relaxation, aromatic scents and essential oils altogether at the same time. This technique was first initiated by Swedish people and has become very popular worldwide given its positive properties. During the massage, the patient inhales the oils or absorbs them through the skin. This guarantees a beneficial impact on both the mind and the body thanks to the positive influence on the nervous system. This technique is also used to reduce stress and restore the body’s balance. Some of the commonly used essential oils include lavender oil for calming and soothing, rosemary oil for energizing, and tea tree oil for decongesting.
4. FOOT REFLEXOLOGY MASSAGE
Again from ancient China and Egypt, this technique has been around longer than 4000 years. Reflexology is a technique that stimulates the energy flow zones throughout the whole body by stroking, massaging, or compressing receptors on the foot. Just like acupuncture, reflexology is not based on a purely scientific background, but many years of expertise and knowledge of the body’s energy. Feet are on the list of the most nerve-rich parts of the body, they have an estimated number of 200,000 exteroceptors per foot, and each area of the foot is connected to a part of the body. Thus, by practicing reflexology, we are addressing organs and regions of the body that are connected to it. The therapist might encounter abnormalities within the receptor such as pain, this usually means that the connected organ is not functioning properly. This technique helps to detect latent conditions and also stimulates the circulatory system that leads to positive effects such as the elimination of accumulated toxins, improvement of the nervous system through the greater amount of oxygen that gets into the organs, and elimination of migraine headaches, spine pain and stress.
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5. BAMBOO BODY MASSAGE
Although there are more than 1,200 types of bamboo species, this technique requires the usage of warm bamboo sticks from 4 to 15 inches to massage the body. The therapist starts the massage at the feet, then moves all the way up to the neck and returns to finish again at the feet. The bamboo stimulates deep tissue, eliminating accumulated tension and relaxing the patient’s muscles. Not only this, the massage also stimulates blood and lymph circulation, removes toxins that are the reason behind cellulite and relieves the body from fatigue.
6. LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE MASSAGE
This technique is a very gentle massage that is performed by applying the right amount of pressure and/or brushing techniques to encourage the movement of lymph fluids to circulate throughout the body. By repeating the movements of this massage, it warms the limbs and gets the blood flowing. The lymphatic drainage massage has a long list of positive outcomes. The first one is the fact that it reduces water retention. Furthermore, it eliminates swellings and shortens recovery time of bruises on the body, while removing unnecessary metabolic waste. It is also important to highlight that this treatment is highly popular among people who are seeking weight loss because the massage helps to accelerate the metabolism and therefore assisting the slimming process.
7. LYMPHATIC FACIAL MASSAGE
This technique is a special type of massage that is mainly designed to stimulate the lymphatic system by applying gentle brushing motions on the face. This kind of massage is highly recommended to people with oily skin and to people who have acne. The whole process starts with a deep cleaning of the face to remove all the toxins and dirt from the upper layer of the skin, then the patient goes through a face steaming to open the pores and optimize the cleanse. Only after these two steps the lymphatic drainage can start. The goal behind this massage is to push the lymph fluid accumulated under the skin to have a better and healthier skin appearance. When performed regularly, this massage prevents early formation of wrinkles, raises the level of facial elasticity and reduces dark circles.
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8. PREGNANCY (PRENATAL) MASSAGE
While this type of massage can only be performed during the second and the third trimesters of pregnancy, it is tailored to help a woman’s body adapt to the undergoing changes of the pregnancy. Because during pregnancy, the body’s center of gravity shifts outward, and some women start to suffer from sciatic nerve pain, or back and neck pain. This massage is designed to be a moment of mental and physical rest for the mother-to-be. It also reduces the formation of varicose veins and regulates the blood pressure as well as the lymph and blood circulation. You may not be pregnant yourself, but it often makes a great gift for any momma-to-be who will be very thankful for this thoughtful present.
9. SWEDISH MASSAGE
Using five major techniques – stroking, vibration, tapping, kneading, and rubbing – the Swedish massage is known to be one of the most classic and typical types of massages which aim to relax and calm the patient. Its techniques are designed to improve the function of the circulatory system and soothe the muscles. It also contributes to fighting stress and insomnia, as well as reducing back pain and headaches.
10. DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE
For people suffering from chronic pain and aches, this massage is designed to specifically relieve the pain or decrease its intensity. In order to warm up the muscles and prepare them for the massage, very light pressure is applied at the beginning and is followed by techniques that are similar to the ones used in the Swedish massage. The massage protocol requires the usage of forearms, knuckles and thumbs. These techniques allow the therapist to reach and treat specific areas. The deep tissue massage will be of great help for people who suffer from muscle tension, limited mobility, postural problems and other chronic pains.
11. SHIATSU MASSAGE
In Japanese, shirefers to “fingers” and atsuto “pressure”. This technique originated from ancient Taoism and is a popular one in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The Shiatsu technique’s main purpose is to correct the imbalances in the body. During the massage, a specific amount of pressure is applied on different points of the body with the sole purpose of promoting healthy energy flows and balancing disharmonies. Therapists who practice this type of massage are firm believers that one’s physical health is strongly linked to energy flows unbalancing the system in the body. Shiatsu’s benefits include stimulating the lymphatic and hormonal systems, soothing neck and back pain, in addition to reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
12. THAI MASSAGE
Thai massage is a technique that was initiated around 7,000 years ago in India. Its fundamentals are based on yoga, Chinese medicine, Buddhism and Ayurveda (a traditional non-conventional Indian medicine). Unlike the other types of massage, the person receiving a Thai massage participates actively in the process. So expect to engage with the therapist who will use his or her hands, feet, knees and legs to guide and stretch you through a series of yoga-like moves to purify your body and release all its negative energy. The technique includes rhythmic and slow pressing of key points on the body to develop physical and spiritual improvement. Thai massage also improves both blood and lymph circulation by ensuring a faster discharge of unnecessary metabolic waste, increases flexibility of tendons, muscles and ligaments, boosts energy, and relieves headache by applying pressure to specific energy channels. Not only this, Thai massage also reduces stress and slows down the aging process.
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13. TRIGGER POINT MASSAGE
This form of remedial massage therapy is performed by directly applying pressure on specific points and areas of the muscle to reduce its tension and relieve any existent pain. The trigger points, also known as the myofascial trigger points are very sensitive spots on the skeletal muscle, they are usually activated or “triggered” by muscle overuse, trauma, injury or repetitive strain. The muscles with trigger points tend to be weaker, but when they cannot perform their full range of motion, other muscles are forced to compensate and take over their function, which can lead them to develop trigger points as well if the original muscles are not treated in time. Trigger Point Massage can relieve back, neck, shoulder and knee pain, as well as headaches, and also help the person to relax.
14. AQUATIC MASSAGE
The aquatic massage is getting more popular and is practiced around the globe given its long list of therapeutic benefits. Embraced by the warm water during the massage (35° C), the patient experiences a great feeling of relaxation and slow heavy breathing. The techniques that the therapist opts for include moving the patient in waves, spirals and circular movements to release emotions buried in the subconscious mind and eventually heal trauma. This massage helps to find a mental, physical and emotional balance due to the relaxing, cocooned feeling it creates for the body when surrounded by warm water. In addition to this, the aquatic massage is beneficial to the people who suffer from insomnia, migraines or back pain. Not only this, but due to its therapeutic value, this massage is also recommended for pregnant women until delivery.
If you’ve already experienced numerous types of massages and want to try something else, body steaming offers similar results, relieving tension, improving circulation and cleansing the body.