The Most Popular Types of Massage Therapy

There are over 100 different types of massage practiced in today’s society. Each one uses different techniques, strokes and instruments throughout the massage to accomplish the ultimate goal of healing. For each different type of massage there is a specific training, hands on hours and state licensing test before the masseurs are able to practice their craft. The different massage techniques are similar in their philosophy that massage therapy is the manipulation of muscles, ligaments, tendons, skin, fascia, and joints of the body.

Although every massage therapy session has a specific goal related to each individual patient, the benefits of massage therapy are widespread.  The benefits of massage therapy are not only physical but mental and spiritual as well. Massage therapy is a relaxing experience that can raise your spirits and brighten your day. Massage therapy boosts the immune system, relaxes the muscles, reduces anxiety, alleviates pain, reduces blood pressure and heart rate, increases endorphins, improves circulation, and increases range of motion. Every technique has a different level of intensity depending upon the depth of tissue that is being manipulated. Not everyone likes the same intensity and therefore different types of massages will be necessary for different patients.

Depending upon the type of medical office, spa, or clinic setting will determine what types of massage therapy is offered. In chiropractic offices therapeutic massage, sports massage, and deep tissue massage are the most commonly offered massages because the patients are there to reduce pain, recover from injury and eliminate disease. A spa or salon type setting would more likely offer Swedish massage, relaxation or hot stone massages because the clientele is looking for more of a relaxing, and stress free environment.

Here is a list of the most popular massage therapy types used all over the world today. Other massages not listed here include Shiatsu, Craniosacral therapy, pregnancy massage, infant massage, Sports massage, Acupressure, Ayurvedic massage, Manual lymphatic drainage, Reiki massage, Rolfing, and many, many more.

Swedish Massage

When most people think of massage they are thinking about Swedish massage. It is the most common type of massage therapy and includes the basic strokes required for all massage. The four main strokes used during a Swedish massage are effleurage, petrissage, tapotement and vibration.  Most Swedish massages start with superficial strokes in the direction of the blood circulation to warm up the muscles then move to deeper tissues. The overall goals of Swedish massage include relaxation, muscle health, and the removal of toxins from the body through circulation. 

Aromatherapy Massage

This massage is mainly used for relaxation or stress reduction. The difference is that Aromatherapy massage uses essential oils to relax, energize, balance, or reduce stress. One of the most common essential oil used with this type of massage is lavender, however the masseur will determine which types of essential oils to use based upon the patients medical conditions. Normally at the end of a session the unused oil is given to the patient to take home.

Hot Stone Massage

This massage is Swedish massage combined with the use of heated basalt lava massage stones. Hot stones are placed along meridians to loosen tight muscles for approximately 20 minutes. Then the massage therapist applies gentle pressure to the stones and uses the stones to massage the body. Hot stone massage relieves muscular tension and reduces stress.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is targeted toward the deeper muscles and connective tissues to break up adhesions, decrease pain from injury, repetitive strain and postural problems. Deep tissue massage usually includes slow strokes and friction as well as techniques such as trigger point, neuromuscular and myofascial release. Deep tissue massages are normally used in a medical or athletic setting. Deep tissue massage implies a deeper intensity than normal massage and can leave the patient sore for a couple of days. This is normal to remove toxins, increase range of motion and eliminate muscle tightness.

Therapeutic Massage

This is the type of massage that you would normally receive at a medical office such as a chiropractor, pain clinic or rehab facility. Therapeutic massage is typically used for people with chronic pain. The massage therapist focuses on correcting a problem that is causing the patient pain. Therapeutic massage can be used to treat various types of musculoskeletal disorders and conditions. Several different types of techniques can be used to accomplish this task.

Reflexology

Although commonly known as a foot massage, reflexology is based upon the theory of zone therapy. This means that parts of the body correspond to areas on the foot. This also includes the ears and hands as well as the feet. A reflexologists applies pressure to different parts of foot to relieve corresponding problems within the rest of the body. Although the pressure is firm, reflexology is very relaxing and people normally feel great after treatment.

Thai Massage

Thai massage is much like shiatsu massage in that it uses gentle pressure along the meridians of the body to balance the system. However, Thai massage is different in that it combines acupressure with yoga stretches.  Thai massage is based on Ayurvedic principles of unblocking energy pathways in the body through compression and stretching.  The therapist moves the patient’s body through specific stretches to loosen and relax tight muscles.