What Are the Different Types of Massage?

70% of people use massages as a form of therapy for relaxation and muscle pain relief. One of the biggest health benefits from massage is that it can reduce pain without the use of prescription medication.

Massage is a broad subject with many different definitions. Depending on who you ask, the term can refer to either massage therapy or deep tissue massage. Regardless of its definition, everyone should know about the types of massage and how they can benefit them.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is often synonymous with the term massage. There are many different types of Swedish massage, each with its own specific uses and techniques.

This is the norm in Sweden and is the most well-known type of massage in the West. It is often referred to as Swedish or “classic” massage, depending on where you are in the country.

It is characterized by using massage techniques such as long strokes with kneading to encourage improved circulation, to stretch tight ligaments, and to relieve muscle tension. Often massage oils are used (sometimes in conjunction with essential oils to add aromatherapy to the massage), to protect the skin from excess friction.

Deep Tissue Massage

A deep tissue massage is often times more intense than a standard massage. The human body has several layers of muscles, and deep tissue massage’s goal is to reach deeper layers of muscle tissue.

In comparison to a standard massage, a deep tissue massage uses more pressure, and you might feel a sting or pinch in the back or limbs when the therapist performs the massage.

It’s best for people that have lots of tension in their muscles, chronic pain, and limited mobility.

Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy massage is most closely related to Swedish massage with some variations to body positioning to keep both the expecting mother and child safe. It helps with swelling, pain, and recovery from the pregnancy, as well as the birthing process. If you choose this massage, ensure you call ahead about the requirements you must meet.

Some establishments won’t allow women that aren’t past a certain point in their pregnancy to receive a massage.

Sports Massage

Sports massage is very common and is often times used to help athletes relieve tension in tight muscles. One of the main benefits of sports massage is that it can promote quicker healing. Massage will increase blood flow in certain areas of the body, which can help athletes get back on the field quicker.

Sports massage therapists generally focus on more specific areas of the body, using a combination of deep tissue and Swedish techniques, to improve blood flow and prevent lactic acid buildup.

Sports massages cover a wide variety of types, but it depends on the needs of the athletes.

Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu is a Japanese medical massage therapy that is often times referred to as “shi” massage. The term shiatsu is often used in reference to Japanese traditional massage but can be applied to any form of massage.

This type of massage uses fingers, thumbs, and palms to apply pressure to specific points on the body.

Before you get any form of massage, don’t forget to explain your needs to the massage therapist providing the service.

Reflexology Massage

If you have an affinity for the feet, the body, or both, reflexology is the massage therapy for you. This particular type of massage uses tiny reflexes, or reflex points, on the skin to stimulate different body parts and can be very soothing.

Many spa facilities offer a variety of foot spa treatments, including the Swedish massage and the customarily named “heel massage.”

Hot Stone Massage

hot stone massage

If you have always wanted to try a hot stone massage but were put off by the idea of heated stones on your skin, fret no longer. Today, there are plenty of places to go in the US that offer this particularly relaxing form of massage.

The massage therapist places hot stones, which are a type of volcanic rock that retains heat, on various points on the body. Stones are typically placed along the clients spine, stomach, and chest. The stones can also be maneuvered by the therapist using the long stokes found in Swedish massage.

Chat-an-Asana Massage

These types of massage are typically combined with a workout such as yoga or strength training to give the client a complete body workout. The idea is to mix workout and relaxation techniques to maximize the benefit for the client.

A popular combination for chat-an-asana massage is yoga and steam. The focus of the massage is to combine stretches and yoga postures with the application of oils and other body treatments to create an extremely relaxing experience.

Acupressure Massage

If you have a history of joint or muscle pain or a condition such as arthritis, acupuncture may be a good fit. This type of massage uses special needles to penetrate the skin and work against the existing structure of your body to provide relief.

Your body has a natural structure made up of layers of muscle, skin, and connective tissue.

When your body is stressed, such as during exercise or certain medical procedures, the layers of your body are put together improperly, which can cause pain and inflammation throughout your body.

The Types of Massages You Need to Know

There are many different types of massage, and how they are performed can vary based on the individual massage therapist. Massage is an excellent way to relieve pain, increase mobility, reduce stress, and improve depressions.

In the 9 month Massage Therapist program at Great Lakes, our student learn many of the types of massage listed above. Our graduates are well prepared to take their licensure examination and to begin rewarding careers as professional massage therapists.

learn more about the massage therapist program