Which Massage is Right for You?

Massages are one of life's simple pleasures, but with so many different varieties, it can be difficult to know which type would be best for your needs. A good massage can offer many health benefits, but there are more than 200 different techniques and types of massages. Here are 10 of the most popular types of massages to meet your varied needs. Swedish massage is the father of modern massage therapy.

Accredited to Johan Georg Mezger, this modality includes stretching and classic massage techniques, such as petrissage, effleurage, friction, vibration and tapotement. In the United States, most massage therapy students are first trained in Swedish massage and then presented with other modalities after they have learned a basic routine. This type of massage is ideal for relaxing, relieving muscle tension and improving circulation and range of motion. The Eslaen massage combines more familiar elements of traditional Swedish massage techniques, such as stretching and long, gentle stroking, with a focus on the client's psychological well-being.

Energy exchange, which refers to the massage therapist working in sync with the breath and purposefully stopping at certain intervals, is another important component of the Esalen massage. In essence, Esalen Massage emphasizes the nourishing power of touch and how fundamental it is to human health on an emotional, spiritual and physical level. While you will experience a relief of tension in your body with this modality, you will also come out feeling more “complete”. Deep tissue massage is one of the most commonly misunderstood forms of massage therapy.

Many massage therapists will say that they offer deep tissue massages and end up using Swedish massage, with its long movements and stretches, with firmer than average pressure. In reality, deep tissue massage is a sometimes aggressive modality that involves deep and deep penetration of muscle tissues and the fascia to relieve pain. In particular, therapists can spend an extended amount of time in a single area to effectively release tension. Trigger point therapy may provide relief if you have problems with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, tension headaches, back or hip pain, and even arthritis.

As you can see, the wellness options when it comes to massage are almost limitless. And this is by no means a complete list of all the types of massages you can choose from. The most common type of massage is Swedish massage therapy. It involves gentle and long kneading movements, as well as light, rhythmic and tapping movements, in the upper layers of the muscles.

This is also combined with joint movement. By relieving muscle tension, Swedish therapy can be both relaxing and energizing. And it can even help after an injury. Sports massage uses a variety of approaches to help athletes train before, during or after sporting events.

You can use it to promote flexibility and help prevent injuries or it can help relieve muscle strains and aid healing after a sports injury. On site chair massages are performed while seated fully clothed in a specially designed portable chair. They usually involve massaging the neck, shoulders, back, arms and hands. Shiatsu massage uses varied and rhythmic pressure at certain precise points on the body called acupressure points which are believed to be important for the flow of the body's vital energy called chi.

Advocates say shiatsu massage may help ease obstructions at these acupressure points. During a Thai massage, the therapist uses his body to move the client to a variety of positions. This type of massage includes muscle compression, joint mobilization and acupressure. Reflexology or “zone therapy” is another non-traditional method of massage therapy which uses the body's natural reflections in the participant's hands and feet through a series of specific techniques for the thumb finger and hand without the use of oil or other balms.

Dora Peckens
Dora Peckens

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