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5-Minute Crafts

What Types of Massage There Are and How to Find the Right One For You

Massages have been in practice for a long time to heal different parts of the body, using various relaxation approaches. There are various types of massages ranging from classic Swedish to exotic Shiatsu or Thai. Understandably, it might be hard for those who are new to massage to decide which massage type is best for them.

5-Minute Crafts has rounded up a practical guide on types of massages for you to navigate.

❗ Important: All the information represented in the article is for informative purposes only, and before taking any action and trying massage, it’s strongly recommended you consult with your doctor first.

1. Swedish massage

Swedish massage, synonymous with massage therapy, is a full-body classic and gentle type of massage. It is done in soft, long, and gliding strokes and kneads. It also involves deep circular motions, vibration, rubbing, and tapping rhythmically.

Benefits: Full relaxation or managing minor pain as well as releasing muscle knots, stiffness, lower back pain, etc.

Try it if: you are new to massage, sensitive to touch, and have a lot of tension.

Duration: 60–90 minutes

2. Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage uses more pressure kneading techniques than a Swedish massage to reach the deeper tissues in the muscles and tendons under the skin. With slow strokes and deep fingers, pressure with firm movements on the skin, the tension in the deeper layers of the muscle and the connective tissue will be relaxed. Although this type of massage is more intense, no pain or soreness should be felt.

Benefits: Might help with pain and stiffness, relieve tight muscles, etc. It might fix the imbalance in the body, and lower stress and anxiety.

Avoid this type of massage if you’re overly sensitive to pressure.

Duration: 60–90 minutes

3. Hot stone massage

This is similar to a Swedish massage except that heated smooth stones are placed on specific points of the body. Hot stone massage may relieve more muscle tension than a Swedish massage because of the added heat. The stones used in this massage are the volcanic basalt stones heated between 40°C to 60°C (from 100°F to 140°F). In this type of massage, cold stones can also be used.

Benefits: May relieve stress, ease muscle tension, alleviate muscle pain, improve blood flow, and promote relaxation.

Try it if: You have trouble spots that are too tight to be loosened.

Duration: up to 90 minutes

4. Sports massage

Due to repetitive muscle use, while playing a sport, some people may be prone to injuries, stiff muscles, and painful joints. A sports massage can be done as a full-body, or, on certain parts of the body that need the most attention. Depending on the needs, soothing strokes will be followed by deep pressure to enable the proper stress release.

Benefits: May relieve pain, anxiety, and muscle tension, and might help active people gain a quick recovery from stress and injury, improve performance, and promote flexibility in the body.

Try it if: You are someone who plays sports or works out, then this massage type is for you.

Duration: 60–90 minutes

5. Aromatherapy massage

If you want to have an emotional healing component to your massage, then opt for an aromatherapy massage which relaxes the mind and releases the stress trapped in your body. It’s a combination of gentle touches of Swedish massage with the use of diluted essential oils applied to the skin. Along with scented essential oils, scented candles are also placed beside the client.

Important: Discuss with your massage therapist which essential oils to use. Don’t use this type of massage if you’re sensitive to smell or essential oils.

Benefits: It may boost your mood, and relieve pain and muscle tension.

Duration: 60–90 minutes

6. Pregnancy (prenatal) massage

Pregnancy may bring some unforeseen pain in different areas of the body, showing itself as swelling and stiff muscles. Prenatal massage is suggested after the first trimester to reduce any risk. The person either lays on her side or on a massage table with a cutout for her belly. Mild pressure is used in this type of massage.

Benefits: It reduces stress, pregnancy body aches, and provides gentle relaxation.

Try it if: your pregnancy is causing you back pain. It may improve your sleep quality and mood.

Duration: up to 60 minutes

7. Reflexology massage (zone therapy)

Reflexology massage is also known as zone therapy. It is a specialized form of foot massage based on the study of the body wholly, and it is linked with zones (points) on your hands, ears, and feet through which the body’s natural reflexes on precise points are stimulated.

Benefits: It might be good as a short-term solution for mild pain and tension relief brought on by wearing high heels or being on your feet all day.

Try it if: you’re curious as to how reflexology can reveal other issues with your health.

Duration: 30–60 minutes

8. Shiatsu massage

Shiatsu massage is a Japanese style of massage that originated from Chinese medicine. It focuses on emotional and physical healing. Soft movements, long strokes, or small quick ones are used on the body. To give a massage, elbows, hands, palms, the tips of the fingers as well as knees, and even feet are used.

Benefits: It may reduce headaches, muscle tension, and relieve stress in the body. It might promote good circulation and the production of oxytocin.

Try it if: you need to relax and get rid of stress, pain, or tension.

Duration: 60–90 minutes

9. Trigger point massage

Trigger point massage is focused on the areas of muscle tightness (knots), a.k.a. trigger points, which may cause discomfort in other parts of the body. It uses a combination of Swedish and deep tissue massage. Flowing strokes that are gentle and relaxing are combined with stronger, deeper pressure. By applying pressure to an area through sliding and pressing, your injuries might be relaxed.

Benefits: It may ease or eliminate pain caused by muscle cramps and spasms, or pain from different points in the body.

Duration: 60–90 minutes

10. Thai (yoga) massage

Thai massage (yoga massage), is an energizing or energy-giving way to work on the activation of the body. It is a massage that is focused on a series of intense stretches on a fully-clothed client. Different yoga techniques are also applied during the massage to raise the energy levels of the body.

Benefits: It might improve flexibility and relieve back pain. It may provide temporary relief from pain.

Try it if: you want to experience different yoga techniques to raise the body’s energy levels, help getting into deeper stretches, and like the idea of remaining totally clothed during a massage.

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