The human body is like a machine with several components that work together to perform at an optimal level. But sometimes, the body experiences glitches. This could be a result of injury, stress or a more complicated health condition. Regardless of the reason, getting a good massage can boost your health and speed up your performance.
Massages can help reduce stress and keep your health in good condition. Experts have hinted that massage can be a powerful tool to help you gain absolute control over your health. This article will talk about the most popular types of massages and the one that is most suitable for you.
Before diving right into the various types of massages:
What Is A Massage?
A massage is a systemized practice of rubbing and kneading soft tissues, bones and muscles in the body. It is administered using hands, fingers, elbows, forearms or a device. The purpose of a massage is to treat body pain or relieve stress. It can be very therapeutic and relieving as it eases the body of any form of pain or discomfort.
Origin of Massage
Massage therapy is not a recent practice. It started thousands of years ago. Archeological evidence of massages have been found in several ancient civilizations. This attests to the fact that ancient cultures from around the world placed a premium on wellness. Massage is a form of natural therapy. It could heal injuries, relieve pain and cure illnesses. Massage therapy was also used as a tool to reduce stress and induce relaxation among ancient people. Over the years, the practice has evolved to the level where it is today.
Ancient massages were administered by traditional healers of the time. Available evidence traces the origin of massage to ancient China, India and Egypt. The Chinese were credited for publishing the first known text on massage therapy around 2700 BC. The text was titled, “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine.” This book is still in use to date. It was translated to English in 1949. Since then, it has remained a huge reference book for therapy training. It’s also an essential resource material to teach other forms of alternative medicine. This includes acupuncture, herbology and acupressure.
Massage therapy was also part of the Egyptian medical tradition. This was revealed by several Egyptian tomb paintings. Egyptians are renowned globally for pioneering reflexology. Their studies and traditional medicine have influenced many people.
Indians did not stand on the sideline either in the practice of massage. As a matter of fact, they get credit for documenting the first ever known written massage therapy traditions. They used a practice known as Ayurveda to heal the sick and injured. Ayurveda is loosely interpreted in English as “life science” or “life health.” It combines meditation, relaxation and aromatherapy. Ayurveda is still very much in vogue to date.
Types Of Massages
Per Henrik Ling was a Swedish doctor, gymnast and educator. He came up with a method of movement in the early 1880s known as “Swedish Movement System.” He based his system on some notable ancient forms of touch and massage. His discovery is often regarded as the origin of the powerful Swedish massage that is common in the West today.
What is Swedish massage? And how is it done?
Swedish massage is a soothing type of full-body massage. It is common in clinics, spas, and wellness centers. You will be asked to remove your clothes. Although you can decide to keep your underwear on. Massage therapists apply lotion or oil on your body. They cover your body with a sheet while you lie down on the massage table.
The massage therapist removes the sheet to uncover the areas that need to be worked on. They usually begin with general strokes. Then, they transition to specific strokes to address the problem areas. It is ideal for people who are new to massage. People who have a lot of tension or people that are sensitive to touch.
Swedish massage is particularly helpful for people who are recovering from injuries. There are five distinct strokes in Swedish massage therapy. They include:
- Effleurage: this involves long smooth strokes.
- Petrissage: this has to do with kneading, rolling and lifting.
- Friction: this has to do with wringing or small circular movements.
- Tapotement: this entails percussion.
- Vibration: this stroke embodies rocking and shaking movements.
Aromatherapy massage is another variety of Swedish massage. This type of massage combines soft touch and pressure with the use of scented plant oils. These oils are popularly known as essential oils and are added to the massage oil. Essential oils like lavender and rose offer a pleasing scent. They are believed to promote healing and relaxation. Your massage therapist will decide which oil is suitable for you. Meanwhile you can let them know if you have a preference for a particular oil.
Aromatherapy massage can help relieve health conditions like:
- Back pain
- Digestion disorder
It can also be used to boost mood, reduce stress and relieve muscle tension. Most times, massage therapists focus on your neck, shoulders and head.
This type of massage is very soothing and highly effective. To get the greatest benefit, it is important to be sure you are not allergic to any of the plants used in producing the essential oil. If you are, it may lead to a skin reaction.
Hot Stone Massage
Are you suffering from muscle pain or tension? Do you simply want to relax? Hot stone massage is the best for you. As the name implies, hot stone massage makes use of warm stones. The massage therapist places warm stones on specific points. They hold a heated stone as they massage different parts of the body using Swedish massage techniques.
The warmth coming from the stones loosens tight muscles. This enables the massage therapist to reach the muscle tension easily. Hot stone massage improves blood flow, relieves pain and promotes relaxation. It is also possible to use cold stones to achieve the same purpose.
Hot stone massage may be more effective than Swedish massage in relieving muscle tension. It is also more expensive than the two types of massages listed before. This type of massage is not ideal for people with medical conditions like:
- High blood pressure
- Heart diseases
- Varicose veins
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is a more concentrated type of massage that targets deeper layers of the muscles. This type of massage applies more intense pressure than Swedish massage. It is an ideal option for people that are suffering from chronic muscle problems like soreness, bone injuries, or imbalance. It is also a perfect remedy for repetitive strain and postural defect. As a matter of fact, it is effective in treating injuries or chronic pain that inhibits proper mobility.
During deep tissue massage, your massage therapist combines slow strokes and deep finger pressure. They do this to ease tension from muscle knots and other observed problem areas. While it is true that deep tissue massage is more intense. You don’t have to feel any pain or soreness while undergoing it. People that are sensitive to pressure should avoid this type of massage.
Sports massage is designed for athletes. It helps in treating repetitive injuries to any part of the body. Sports massage is usually aimed at achieving flexibility and improved athletic performance for athletes of all abilities. In fact, many athletes use this type of massage to prevent any injury when preparing for sport events.
The massage is done to manipulate the body’s soft tissues while focusing on certain muscle groups. This normally depends on what sport the athlete plays. The strokes are generally smoother and faster. But, your massage therapist can combine soothing strokes and deep pressure depending on your needs.
Apart from using sports massage to prevent and treat injuries, it can be very effective and useful in relieving pain, anxiety, and muscle tension.
You can have a sports massage whether you are clothed or not. If you are wearing clothes, make sure it is thin and loose to allow your therapist to access your muscles. Effective sport massage can last for 60-90 minutes.
Shiatsu massage is a form of Japanese bodywork. It involves the use of pressure using the therapist’s fingers or hands. The fingers or hands are applied in a rhythmic sequence along the body. The goal of shiatsu is to stimulate acupressure points on the body. This practice improves the flow of energy and helps regain balance. Shiatsu massage is ideal for people who want to feel relaxed. You can also use it to relieve pain, stress and tensions. It promotes emotional and physical calm and relaxation. It may also relieve depression and headaches.
No oil or lotion is used in this type of massage. The massage can be done on a mat, the floor or on a low massage table. You may decide to go naked or put on loose clothing. The most important thing is for your therapist to access the problem areas. They may need access to the whole body depending on your needs.
Studies have shown that shiatsu massage may be potent in treating back pain, neck pain and insomnia. It also helps to reduce stress and protect your body against stress-induced health issues.
Thai massage is ideal for people that want a more energizing massage. It combines the features of assisted yoga, stretching and pressing massage movements. It has more of the characteristics of yoga, except there is no actual work done. The therapist moves and stretches your body in a sequence of postures. They do this on the mat or on the floor.
Thai massage promotes increased flexibility, blood circulation and energy levels. It can work the whole body using a sequence of movements that are like yoga. Massage therapists use their palms and fingers to apply firm and deep pressure to your body. You will also be twisted and stretched into different positions. This practice loosens tight muscles and easily relieves the body of pain or tension.
Thai massage is effective at reducing muscle spasticity and back pain. More recent studies have shown that it is also useful in treating balance problems and can suppress migraine symptoms.
It is done fully clothed and can last for 60-90 minutes.
This is also known as pregnancy massage. It is a form of massage that is designed for an expectant mom’s relaxation needs. This type of massage can reduce body pains and stress as well as swollen ankles, especially in the later months of the pregnancy. Prenatal massage is relatively safe. It is the most effective way to get relief without using medication. A Prenatal message is not advisable for pregnant women in the first trimester.
Prenatal massage uses gentle pressure like Swedish massage. The massage therapist focuses on lower back, hips and legs. A pregnant woman could be partially or fully undressed while receiving the massage. You could be asked to lie on your side or on a table that’s customized to your needs to ensure comfort and safety.
Prenatal massage therapists are trained professionals certified in prenatal massage. They are equipped with relevant expertise to make you have a great experience during and after the massage. Due to high tendency of complications, massage therapists alter their techniques to avoid certain parts during massage. You may have to consult your healthcare provider before going for prenatal massage.
Reflexology focuses on the reflex areas on body parts like hands, feet and ears. The therapist combines gentle and firm pressures on different parts of the body that need massage. It uses systemized techniques such as kneading and rubbing to promote relaxation and healing in your body. This type of massage is ideal for people that want to relax or have their natural energy level restored. It does not work the entire body: your therapist only works on specific parts.
Reflexology is a healing and relaxation technique used a long time ago in ancient civilizations. It became popular in the United States after Eunice Ingram, an American physiotherapist refined the practice in the 1930s. Reflexology is highly therapeutic. It induces relaxation and restores comfort to painful parts of the body. You can have clothes on during the massage. But, it has to be loose, comfortable clothing that allows easy access to your legs.
Couple’s massage is a type of massage you have in a shared room with your partner, friend or family member. It includes all the benefits of regular massage and also gives you access to the spa’s saunas, hot tubs and other facilities.
Meanwhile, the couple’s massage does not imply that you must have the same massage as your partner or friend. You may decide to go for different massages, depending on your preferences. Your tables are placed side-by-side. And you can engage in conversation while your therapists work on your bodies.
Massage can be a great way to relax and reduce stress. It’s not like decades ago when massage was a treatment reserved for the wealthy. Massage is now available in relatively affordable spas, health clubs, clinics, hospitals and airports. So, get yourself a massage soon!