Massages are commonly used in sports and occupational health to relieve pain and aid healing after injuries. They also help the body to relax physically, mentally, and emotionally.
A massage involves rubbing and kneading different parts of the body using hands. The person who conducts the massage, known as a massage therapist, or masseuse if female, applies gentle to strong pressure at various parts of the body.
How many different types of massage are there?
There are many different types of massage, with techniques designed for specific therapies. Here are 10 of the more popular ones:
1.Hot stone massage
This type of massage involves the application of hot stones to certain areas of the body to relieve muscle tension and pain.
For this massage, therapists commonly use basalt stones. This volcanic rock has high iron content and heat-retaining properties. Before conducting hot stone massage, stones are heated in boiling water.
This is the most common type of massage offered in clinics, spas, gyms, and wellness centers. It helps in full-body relaxation, relieves muscle tension, and aids healing from muscle injuries.
A systematic review showed various health benefits of a Swedish massage. During a Swedish massage, using oil or lotion the therapist employs a combination of the following strokes:
Effleurage - long smooth gliding strokes,
Petrissage – kneading, rolling, squeezing, and lifting
Friction – wringing or small circular movements,
Vibration – rocking and shaking,
Tapotement – percussion.
3.Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage uses intense pressure to reach deeper parts of the body. Using a focused approach, the therapist targets adhesions (commonly known as muscle knots) and specific areas in the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.
This is a form of Swedish massage that uses fragrant essential oils. The massage is most helpful for mental and emotional relaxation.
In addition to relieving muscle tension and pain, aromatherapy massage also reduces symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety. It is most ideal for patients suffering from headaches, back pain, insomnia, digestive problems, and premenstrual symptoms.
Shiatsu is the Japanese word for finger pressure. It describes the type of massage in which a therapist uses fingers in rhythmic motion to apply pressure at localized areas of the body.
The massage’s focal points are called acupressure points. They are important for the flow of the body’s vital energy, which is called chi.
Shiatsu is mainly a relaxing massage that relieves stress and stress-related health conditions. It promotes emotional and physical relaxation and relieves pain and muscle tension.
With reflexology, the therapist uses hands, thumbs, and fingers to stimulate reflex areas of the hands and feet. With its roots in ancient civilization, this technique promotes health and wellbeing.
The reflex areas this massage targets are believed to correspond to various organs and different parts of the body.
An active form of massage, Thai massage uses a sequence of movements to move the body in a variety of positions. It is similar to yoga that involves passive stretching, muscle compression, joint mobilization, and acupressure by the therapist.
Thai massage helps to improve flexibility and range of motion. It also relieves back pain.
Self-descriptive, chair massage is done while seated on a portable, specialized chair for 10-20 minutes. It uses light to medium pressure to focus on the neck, shoulder, and back. It helps relieve stress and promote relaxation.
This massage is a good option for pregnant women. It helps expecting mothers to manage through the different physiological changes of pregnancy.
Specifically, pregnancy massage helps to relieve stress, lower back pain, decrease swelling on ankles, lower muscle and joint pains, and loosens muscle tension.
Massage therapists need to be trained and fully certified in pregnancy massage and be aware of what techniques should be avoided on pregnant women.
10. Sports massage
Sports massage helps to reduce pain and muscle tension experienced while playing sports. It also helps to improve flexibility and boost performance. In sports that involve repetitive muscle use, this type of massage helps in preventing muscle injuries.
There are many other types of massages, most of which provide more than one benefit. Depending on your needs, consult a massage therapist to choose the right massage for you. If you have any health concerns, consult your doctor first.