We may not have a magic pill for stress but we do have the gift that is massage therapy. When it comes to relaxation, nothing tops the list and puts you in the mood quite like a good massage. Having someone knead your flesh, ease the knots and release the tension while you slip into slumberland? Pure bliss!
You know what’s not blissful though? Having to decode the spa menu to decide if you want a good ol’ Swedish massage or venture into Shiatsu territories.
Ahead, we touch base with 10 different types of massage therapy and the benefits each one entails.
Aromatherapy massage includes all the benefits of a regular massage with the added use of aromatic plant oils and plant materials to alter your mood, psychological and physical wellbeing. Some of the essential oils that will be used in your aromatherapy session include lavender, chamomile and sage.
- Reduce stress
- Relieve anxiety
- Ease pain & muscle tension
One of the most common massage types is Swedish massage therapy. It involves the use of hands, forearms and elbows to knead and manipulate the topmost layers of muscles to relieve tension. Sometimes deep circular motions, and light tapping may be involved. It may involve active or passive movement of the joints. This massage is both relaxing and energizing at the same time.
- Relieve chronic pain
- Loosen tight muscles
- Improve blood circulation
Based on ancient Indian principles of Ayurveda, an Ayurvedic massage is about creating balance between the mind, body and spirit. Tapping, kneading and squeezing are par for the course as is using essential oils containing therapeutic oils to soak your skin. A focus on specific energy points in the body makes an Ayurvedic massage different from your regular body massage.
- Softer skin
- Improve sleep
- Elimination of impurities from the body
Sometimes referred to as “lazy man’s yoga, a Thai massage will see your massage therapist put you through a series of stretches that cover the entire body. Comfortable and loose clothing should be worn during the massage so as to allow room for your body to be twisted and stretched into different positions.
- Boost energy
- Relieve headaches
- Improve the range of motion
Shiatsu means “finger pressure” in Japanese and is a form of bodywork that implements rhythmic pressure on acupressure points of the body(known as meridians), to remove blockages and promote the flow of energy (qi).
- Relieve constipation
- Ease menstrual cramps
- Able to treat arthritis, joint problems and sciatica
A prenatal massage is similar to a full body massage. The massage therapist will focus on areas such as your lower back, hips and legs. Depending how far long you are in your pregnancy, you will either lie on your side or a table with a cutout for your belly.
- Soothe sore muscles
- Relieve edema (swelling)
- Reduce back pain
HOT STONE MASSAGE
The hallmark of a hot stone massage is the use of smooth, flat, heated stones placed on specific parts of your body for relaxation. Basalt stones are used for this type of massage as they are rich in iron and can retain the heat needed to soften tight muscles.
- Improve blood flow
- Ease muscle ache
- Release toxins & improve skin appearance
DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE
Similar to a Swedish massage, deep tissue massage is a massage technique used to treat musculoskeletal issues such as strains and sports injuries. Sustained pressure is applied using deep strokes to target the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia.
- Ease knotted muscles
- Loosen scar tissue
- Decrease inflammation
Your feet are the focal point of a reflexology massage. It’s based on a theory that your feet are connected and reflect the health of specific organs and body systems. Your reflexologist will apply varying amounts of pressure on your feet to remove energy blockages and promote health in the corresponding body part. For example, the tip of the toe represent the head, the low back and intestines are towards the heel and the heart and chest are at the ball of the foot.
- Improvement of nerve functions
- Eliminating toxins from body
- Boosting metabolism and energy level
TRIGGER POINT MASSAGE
Knots in your neck? You may want to get a trigger point massage. This is one massage that’s best performed by a certified physical therapist or in a doctor’s office. Trigger point massage therapy focuses on specific problem areas of the body (read: tight muscle that can form in your muscles after injury, overuse or stress.) Your therapist will pinpoint the problem spots before rubbing and pressing trigger points to loosen up the knots.
- Release muscle tension
- Improved nerve function
- Reduce headaches