Understanding 6 Different Types of Massage



Everyone loves a soothing massage, but not all massages are created equal. Each type of massage is distinct, and knowing how they differ helps you choose the right one for your own body’s needs and preferences. Try one of the six types of massage we offer:

1. SWEDISH MASSAGE

Swedish Massage is the most common and best-known relaxing massage technique. The massage therapist uses oil or lotion and combines long, gliding and kneading strokes over the topmost layers of muscles. Pressure varies from light to firm. Often combined with manipulation and stretching of your arms and legs, Swedish massage relieves muscle tension, improves circulation, increases energy, and can help you heal after an injury.

A recent study1 found that a single session of Swedish massage resulted in a significant decrease in the hormone arginine-vasopressin (which plays a role in regulating blood pressure and water retention), and may have a positive effect on the immune system.

2. DEEP TISSUE

Deep tissue massage is an effective massage technique for releasing chronic muscle tension, and increasing circulation. In addition to hands, the therapist may use their elbows, forearms, and even feet to apply pressure. Deep tissue massage uses some strokes from Swedish massage, but movements are slower and pressure is heavier. Deep tissue focuses on reaching sub-layers of muscles, tendons, and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles, bones, and joints). When you have chronic muscle tension or an injury, adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) often develop in your muscles. Deep tissue massage can break down these adhesions to relieve pain, and restore normal circulation and movement.

A recent study2 found that deep tissue massage has a positive effect on reducing pain in patients with chronic low back pain.

3. SPORTS MASSAGE

Sports massage is a technique geared toward athletes of every kind, from professionals to the occasional exerciser. In addition to promoting relaxation and pain relief, it can help improve performance, prevent injury, and help the body recover from injuries associated with physical activity. Sports massage uses deep massage strokes combined with focused stretching to concentrate on areas of the body that are overused and stressed from repetitive and often aggressive movements. This can relax tight areas (often called “knots”) in your muscles that develop from small tears caused by overstressing, either through overuse or trauma.

A recent study3 found sports massage after exercise helped the quadriceps recover more rapidly.

4. PRENATAL MASSAGE

Prenatal massage is a safe massage technique for pregnant women that decreases stress and promotes deep relaxation. The therapist uses gentle massage strokes to relax muscles, soothe sore areas, and improve circulation and mobility. Prenatal massage incorporates positions, such as side-lying, and movements that are modified to address changes in pregnant women’s bodies. Prenatal massage can help ease many of the common physical and emotional discomforts of pregnancy, including headaches, back pain, nausea, fatigue, moodiness, difficulty sleeping, and swollen ankles and legs.4

A recent study5 found that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health.

5. COUPLES MASSAGE

Couples massage is when two people get massages at the same time, usually side by side. It promotes connection and intimacy, and helps a couple relax together. A couples massage can be for friends, family, or romantic partners. It’s a great way to introduce someone to the soothing benefits of massage therapy and makes a perfect gift for any occasion.

6. CHAIR MASSAGE

Chair massage is a great way to experience the benefits of massage in a shorter period of time. Chair massage focuses on the neck, back, and arms (areas of the body where we often carry stress and have the most tension). Having chair massages at events, such as birthday parties and spa days, is a unique way to treat people without taking up too much time.
 
Getting a chair massage at work, even just 15 minutes, can alleviate many of the aches and pains of sitting at a desk all day. People who get massage at work report an improved mood, more energy, increased productivity, and a greater sense of wellbeing. Employers also report reduced absenteeism. 
A recent study6 found that regular, workplace massage limited the need for doctor’s visits for many physical complaints and stress-related issues, resulting in lowered health-care costs.

References:

1. Rapaport, M.H., Schettler, P., Bresee, C. (2010). A preliminary study of the effects of a single session of Swedish massage on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and immune function in normal individuals. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(10). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20809811
2. Majchrzycki M., Kocur P., Kotwicki T. (2014). Deep tissue massage and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for low back pain: a prospective randomized trial. ScientificWorldJournal. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24707200
3. Boguszewski, D., Szkoda, S. Adamczyk, J. G., Bialoszewski, D. (2015). Sports massage therapy on the reduction of delayed onset muscle soreness of the quadriceps femoris. Human Movement, 15(4). Retrieved from https://content.sciendo.com/view/journals/humo/15/4/article-p234.xml
4. Field, T. (1999). Pregnant Women Benefit From Massage Therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mar 20(1). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10212885
5. Field, T. (2004). Massage Therapy Effects on Depressed Pregnant Women. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 25(2). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15715034
6. Baicker, K., Cutler, D., Song, Z. (2010). Workplace wellness programs can generate savings. Health Affairs, 29(2). Retrieved from https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/pdf/10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0626