Different Types of Massage

Need to unwind? A massage is just the ticket to melt away the stress from busy, everyday life.

From Swedish to Deep Tissue, Hot Stone to Shiatsu, there are many different types of massages, each focusing on different parts of the body or utilizing different techniques.

Massage is the practice of kneading and rubbing the body using the hands in order to alleviate pain and tension. During a massage, your qualified massage therapist will apply varying levels of pressure to the targeted area in order to help relieve achy muscles and joints. 

But, which one should you get? That’s where we come in. Whether you’re preparing for your very first massage and you’re wondering which one to get, or you’ve been getting Swedish massages for a while and if you’d like to branch out, here is a breakdown of the most popular kinds to choose from. 

The Different Types of Massage – all the Details You Need to Know!

Swedish Massage

A Swedish massage is a common choice for first-timers. It’s otherwise known as a ‘classic massage’ and is a whole-body therapeutic massage that targets the muscles and soft tissues to create an overall balancing effect on the nervous system. 

It’s the most basic of massage types and is designed to relax the entire body by gently rubbing muscles in long, flowing strokes, in the same direction of blood flow to the heart. 

During your Swedish massage, your massage therapist will use five different kinds of techniques including stroking, gliding, rubbing, tapping, and vibration.

Besides being totally relaxing, the Swedish massage can help to increase the level of oxygen of the blood, improve your circulation to reduce swelling, and even make you more flexible!  Plus, unlike a deep tissue massage, Swedish massage therapy uses softer strokes on the more delicate parts of the body, and stronger strokes where there is thick muscle mass. 

If you want to try a Swedish massage, it will probably last for around 60 or 90 minutes. Your therapist will give you time beforehand to undress privately and then lie down on the massage table where you may cover yourself with towels. You don’t have to be completely exposed at any point, and your therapist will one area of the body at a time. 

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Deep Tissue Massage

Just like the name suggests, a deep tissue massage is a type of massage technique that works on the deeper layers of your muscle tissue. Similar to a Swedish massage, a deep tissue massage harnesses the power of slower and firmer strokes, as well as applying deep finger pressure in order to concentrate on targeted areas.

By concentrating on the inner layers of the muscles and connective tissues, this type of massage helps to break up any scar tissue formed from injuries, as well as reducing tension and pain in the deeper muscle layers. 

During a massage, your therapist will use their palms and fingers to knead and manipulate your tissues, and may also incorporate the use of elbows and forearms to increase pressure at certain points. 

Besides offering physical benefits, it can offer psychological benefits, too! Just like a Swedish massage, a deep tissue massage can help you to unwind and release tension built up from everyday life or from working out at the gym. 

Also see how to reduce muscle soreness after working out

Aromatherapy Massage

An Aromatherapy massage is essentially the exact same as a Swedish massage, except it incorporates, you guessed it, aromatherapy!

If you’re looking for a massage that will make you feel luxurious, the use of essential oils will elevate your massage experience into a moment of total indulgence. 

Some of the most popular essential oils that are used in an Aromatherapy include:

  • Cedarwood
  • Chamomile
  • Bergamot
  • Lavender
  • Orange
  • Ginger
  • Geranium
  • Lemon
  • Eucalyptus 

‘Each essential oil that is used in aromatherapy is said to offer different properties. For instance, the lemon essential oil will make you feel refreshed, while chamomile will make you feel relaxed.

As it uses the same gliding hand massage techniques as a Swedish massage, aromatherapy massages are a popular choice for those who suffer from pain in their shoulders, neck, and back.

Please note, if you are sensitive to smell, have sensitive skin, or are prone to suffering from migraines, an aromatherapy massage might not be suitable for you. 

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Hot Stone Massage

If you’re looking for an authentic, indulgent massage experience, you’d be making a good choice to get a hot stone Massage! Great for people who suffer from muscle pain and tension, or for those who simply want to indulge in total relation, this type of therapeutic massage is similar to a Swedish massage, only the massage therapist uses heated stones in addition to their hands.

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It will ease muscle tension, improves blood flow, and relieve pain.

During your hot stone massage, heated stones will be gently placed on different areas around your whole body (primarily your bag or legs). Your therapist can also hold a stone as they massage different parts of your body using Swedish massage techniques. Usually, your message will last around 90 minutes.

This type of massage is intended for relaxation purposes, so may not be a suitable choice for people who would like a more intense massage. 

Thai Massage

If you’re interested in trying something a little different, you might be interested in Thai massage! Perfect for people who are interested in a more ‘active’ form of massage, a Thai massage helps to reduce pain and relieve stress, and focuses on flexibility, circulation, and raising energy levels. 

This kind of massage works by engaging the entire body using a sequence of movements that are quite similar to yoga. Your therapist will use their palms and fingers to apply firm pressure to your body while your body is gently stretched and manipulated into different positions.

During a Thai massage, you can wear loose clothing throughout the duration, and it will last for at least 1 hour. 

Prenatal Massage

Another type of massage is a Prenatal massage, which is a safe way for women to get a massage during their pregnancy. It can help to reduce aches, tension, and even reduce bloating. You can get a massage at any time during your pregnancy.

However, many massage therapists in the United States do not offer massages to women during their first trimester as there is an increased risk of miscarriage during this stage. 

Prenatal massage uses mild pressure similar to Swedish massage, and the therapist will focus on areas such as your thighs and lower back. You can be fully or partially undressed depending on what feels comfortable to you and,  during the massage, you’ll be carefully positioned on a special table with a cutout for your bully.

If the facility you’re at doesn’t have a table like this, your massage therapist will carefully position you on your side.  This massage is typically shorter than other kinds and will last around 45 minutes.

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Couple’s Massage

A couple’s massage is essentially a massage you can do with your partner or family member in the same room. The most common type of couple’s massage you can get is a Swedish, but many facilities offer different kinds, such as a hot stone massage.

This type of massage is often sold in a ‘package’ and will provide you with all the benefits of a massage, as well as access to the facility’s sauna and spa. In addition to this, other treatments such as facials are often included in this type of package, too. 

You and your partner will be able to get a different type of massage depending on your preference, and you will be side-by-side on different tables. You will each have your own massage therapist, and you will be able to talk to each other throughout the massage. 

Chair Massage

Chair massages are one of the most popular kinds of massage as they’re quick and can be done anywhere. They focus on alleviating pain primarily in the neck, shoulders, and back, and consist of a light to medium pressure.

During the massage, you will remain fully clothed and straddle the chair so that your chest is pushing into the back of the chair which will allow the massage therapist to have easy access to your back. You can remain fully clothed throughout the entirety of the massage, and it will last for around ten to thirty minutes. 

Many therapists offer mobile ‘chair massage’ services which allow you to get this kind of massage anytime, anywhere! Many people get a chair massage while at work during their lunch break, or from the comfort of their own home before a busy day.

This kind of massage is most suited to people looking for a pick me up throughout the day, or for those who want to alleviate tension in their shoulders, neck, and upper back. 

Wrapping Up – Massage Types

Massages are a wonderful way to feel better both physically and mentally. Always make sure to talk to your doctor before getting a massage if you have any health concerns, and remember, you can always communicate any requirements you have to your therapist who will be happy to accommodate you so that you’re comfortable. 

The only question left is: which massage are you going to get?

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