In some of our previous articles, we discussed the benefits and possible contraindications of massage therapies, today we would like to unfold the mysteries of different massage techniques and how to find out what is the best massage for you.
We often ask ourselves: What massage should I have?
Massages have been practised for thousands of years. Today, you can chose between dozens of types, which can be very confusing. How are you to know which massage is the best for you? The article below tries to guide you through the main types so that you can benefit the most from them.
All massages involve pressing, rubbing and manipulation of the soft tissues, which includes but is not limited to techniques such as stroking, kneading and soft punching. Therapists use their hands, fingers, forearm, sometimes their feet or their elbows.
Before heading for a massage, you should decide,
- if you want a relaxing massage or to heal a particular part of your body
- if you prefer alternative massages or rather conventional ones
- if you feel more comfortable with the massage being carried out when you are naked or not
- if you prefer the treatment done with oil, lotion, powder or none of the aforementioned.
Obviously, this is not a scientific grouping as choosing a massage is so colourful and divergent, but reduces the possibility of variations.
Let’s see the guidelines for which massage to go for:
If you need some refreshment or want to leave the stressful daily routine behind:
Swedish Massage: This is the massage that most people think of when they hear the word ”massage”. It is the most commonly known and performed one. It targets the upper layers of the muscles to energize the body by stimulating circulation. Its 5 main movement techniques:
- Effleurage: long, sweeping strokes
- Petrissage: muscle kneading and rolling
- Tapotement: tapping, percussion
- Friction: deep pressure to particular points
- Vibration: quick shaking, rhythmic rocking
If you have never had a massage before you can feel comfortable with the Swedish massage.
Relaxing Massage: As its name indicates, instead of treating chronic muscle pains it relaxes the body and relieves it from stress and tension. It applies similar movements as the Swedish massage does and focuses on the improvement of general discomfort through the stimulation of the circulation.
Aroma Massage: Relaxing and refreshing massage; uses aroma oils to treat and vitalize the stressed body and combines the benefits of Aromatherapy with the sense of touch.
If you need uplifting and invigoration:
Hot Stone Massage: The masseur places the heated basalt stones on specific points of the body and gently massages you with them. As the hot stones move over your back all the nerves are alert so to speak, so the prickly feeling will not let you fall asleep. This treatment helps you to focus on your body and also to release tension.
If your overall well-being and rejuvenation is the most important: Go forAsian treatments, which use physical pressure to manipulate the energy flow of the body in order to reach balance.
Thai Massage: This treatment is based on the system of the 72,000 energy lines.
Performed with oils or traditionally in special clothes. It involves the usage of acupressure and reflexology elements.
Shiatsu: Sees the body as interconnection of meridians. If these energy pathways are blocked imbalances occur. The technique applies pressure and stretching, holding key points on the body to relieve blockages and pain. Performed in clothes.
Chinese Massage: Regulates the circulation of blood and chi. Uses rubbing, pressing, waving and mainly percussion movements.
Reflexology (Foot Massage): Is based on ancient Chinese knowledge. It can be applied as a curative treatment and also for prevention. As the soul mirrors our body’s health it serves as a kind of map. Manipulating specific areas of our feet corresponds to other parts and organs of the body.
If you are a very active person you should ask for a
Sport Massage: Mainly applied to prevent and treat sport injuries. Performed before sport to keep muscles flexible and to reduce rigidity. It is designed to enhance powerful performances. When it is performed after the sport the massage releases muscle tension and cleans out the lactic acids from the body, which is in most cases responsible for stiffness and sour muscles.
If you have specific pains in your muscles you should treat them with a
Deep Tissue Massage: Opposed to Swedish, it targets deeper layers. The therapist uses their knuckles and elbows to put pressure on the tissue and to reach the profound levels. Can sometimes be painful and not relaxing at all – however it works miracles to chronic muscular problems and is also used to treat inflammation.
If you never wanted to “fit in” or love rarities this is for you:
Lomi Lomi Massage: Polynesian treatment, which freely translates into “the art of touch”. It originates from Hawaii, releases tension and panic attacks, alleviates from negative feelings. Makes the entire body relax, including muscles and joints and harmonizes the metabolism.
Balinese Massage: Based on the 5 main movements of the Swedish massage, the Balinese massage uses crabbing, palming, forearm slide, chopping and even thumb walking. It is considered to be a calming and healing massage, which practices prayer and taking into consideration the existence of a higher power as an integral part of the healing session.
If you are convalescing after surgery or an accident this therapy is for you:
Remedial / Medical Massage: Usually prescribed by a doctor for rehabilitation, which most of the times is accompanied by other curative treatments.
If you want to detox:
Lymph Drainage: Targeting to clean out and lead away the cumulated fluids among cells. Supports the arterial and venous circulation.
If you want to try one of the superb:
Ayurvedic Massage: It is part of the Ayurvedic Therapy. Its main goal is to enhance the process of detoxing and regeneration. The body is vigorously massaged with large amounts of warm herb-infused oils, which are scientifically proven to have antioxidant properties. The massage is balancing and a deeply relaxing experience.
Despite of the fact that all massage types have similar techniques, I still dare say that each of them is unique in a way. Every therapist puts his or her “sui generis” fingerprint into it and develops an individual séance in the given moment, which is influenced by several other factors too. It used to be common practice that a certain massage type was assigned but if something does not work out according to our expectations we often do not return for the same type anymore. I would suggest not to give up on certain techniques or worse, the massage itself, but rather to try a different masseur and give the massage as such another chance. It will be worth it – once you have found the best massage for you!
Photo: © Spice Hotel & Spa, Turkey