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MASSAGE THERAPY: FACTS AND TYPES

massage therapy

Massage therapy is the practice of kneading or manipulating a person’s muscles and other soft-tissue in order to improve their well being or health.

It is a form of manual therapy that includes holding, moving, and applying pressure to the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia.

They most often use their hands and fingers, but may use their forearms, elbows, or feet.

A massage therapist is a person trained in giving massages.

Read on to learn about the different types of massage and which type might be right for you.

TYPES OF MASSAGE

1. Swedish massage therapy

Swedish massage is a gentle type of full-body massage that’s ideal for people who:

  • are new to massage
  • have a lot of tension
  • are sensitive to touch

It can help release muscle knots, and it’s also a good choice for when you want to fully relax during a massage.

For this massage, you’ll remove your clothes, though you may choose to keep your underwear on.

You’ll be covered with a sheet while lying on the massage table. The massage therapist will move the sheet to uncover areas that they are actively working on.

The massage therapist will use a combination of:

  • kneading
  • long, flowing strokes in the direction of the heart
  • deep circular motions
  • vibration and tapping
  • passive joint movement techniques

Usually a Swedish massage will last for 60–90 minutes.

2. Hot stone massage

Hot stone massage is best for people who have muscle pain and tension or who simply want to relax. 

This type of therapeutic massage is similar to a Swedish massage, only the massage therapist uses heated stones in lieu of or in addition to their hands.

It eases muscle tension, improves blood flow, and relieves pain by using heated stones. Hot stone massage may help:

  • ease muscle tension
  • improve blood flow
  • alleviate pain
  • promote relaxation
  • relieve stress

During a hot stone massage, heated stones are placed on different areas around your whole body.

Your therapist may hold a stone as they massage different parts of your body using Swedish massage techniques using gentle pressure. Sometimes cold stones are also used.

3 . Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage uses more pressure than a Swedish massage. It’s a good option if you have chronic muscle problems, such as soreness, injury, or imbalance.

 It can help relieve tight muscles, chronic muscle pain, and anxiety.

During a deep tissue massage, your massage therapist will use slow strokes and deep finger pressure to relieve tension from the deepest layers of your muscles and connective tissues.

You can be naked during this massage or wear your underwear.

The massage will last for 60–90 minutes.

While deep tissue may be more intense, you shouldn’t feel any pain or soreness.

4. Aromatherapy massage Therapy

Aromatherapy massages are best for people who want to have an emotional healing component to their massage. This type of massage can help:

  • boost your mood
  • reduce stress and anxiety
  • reduce symptoms of depression
  • relieve muscle tension
  • relieve pain

Aromatherapy massages combine soft, gentle pressure with the use of essential oils. Your massage therapist will usually decide which essential oils to use, but you can let them know if you have a preference.

During the massage, you’ll be given a full-body massage while inhaling essential oils through a diffuser and absorbing them through your skin.

Sometimes an aromatherapy massage will only focus on your back, shoulders, and head. You won’t wear any clothing other than underwear, which is optional.

An aromatherapy massage is 60–90 minutes.

5. Trigger point massage

Trigger point massage therapy is best suited for people who have injuries, chronic pain, or a specific issue or condition.

Sometimes areas of tightness in the muscle tissues, known as trigger points, can cause pain in other parts of the body. 

Trigger point massage uses broad, flowing strokes that are gentle and relaxing combined with stronger, deeper pressure

The massage will include work on your entire body, though your therapist will focus on specific areas of your body that need to be released. 

You can wear lightweight clothing for the massage or be fully or partially undressed.

This type of massage will usually last for 60–90 minutes.

6. Reflexology

Reflexology is best for people who are looking to relax or restore their natural energy levels. It’s also a good option if you aren’t comfortable being touched on your entire body.

Reflexology uses gentle to firm pressure on different pressure points of the feethands, and ears. You can wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows access to your legs.

A reflexology massage lasts for 30–60 minutes.

7. Shiatsu massage

Shiatsu massage is best for people who want to feel relaxed and relieve stress, pain, and tension. It’s a Japanese type of massage that:

  • promotes emotional and physical calm and relaxation
  • helps to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression
  • may relieve headache
  • reduces muscle tension

  Shiatsu massage works the whole body, but your therapist may focus on areas of your body that need extra attention. 

During the massage, your therapist will use their hands, palms, and thumbs to massage certain points of your body.

Pulsing or rhythmic pressure is used. You can be fully clothed during this massage.

Shiatsu massages typically last for 60–90 minutes.

8. Thai massage

Thai massage is best for people who want a more active form of massage and want to reduce and relieve pain and stress. It can also help improve:

  • flexibility
  • circulation
  • energy levels

Thai massage works the entire body using a sequence of movements that are similar to yogic stretching. 

 Your therapist will use their palms and fingers to apply firm pressure to your body. You’ll also be stretched and twisted into various positions. You can wear loose, comfortable clothing during the massage.

Thai massage lasts for 60–90 minutes

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