An Overview of Common Types of Massage Techniques
To the uninitiated, all massage strokes and techniques probably look somewhat the same, with some being gentler and some more forceful. In fact, there are many different types of strokes and accompanying philosophies that all fall under the massage umbrella. We’ve broken down four of the most common techniques below for you.
- Swedish massage therapy. The most popular and widespread type of massage therapy, Swedish massage is generally offered in gyms, health clinics, and salons. This is usually a gentle form of massage that uses prolonged strokes, kneading, and tapping to revitalize your musculature. Swedish massage differs from traditional Asian techniques in that the former focuses on anatomy while the letter is more about energy levels.
- Generally Swedish massage focuses on as much of the body as possible, beginning with broad strokes and then focusing on other smaller areas, always focusing on the blood in the direction of its return to the heart to increase oxygen levels and improve circulations. Swedish massage stroke techniques are often supplemented with heated, scented oils and lotions as forms of aromatherapy or heated stones.
- Sports massage therapy. Sports therapy often uses strokes similar to those found in the Swedish massage category, but masseuses will work with their clients to develop a plan. Sports massage is hugely beneficial to athletes or any people involved in physical activities, and it aims to prevent or treat injuries. This form of massage therapy is a great way to prevent the types of muscle strain and overuse that would necessitate physical or occupational therapy or other types of medical attention.
- Specially designed sports therapy can improve stamina, reduce fatigue, and help the body and mind be prepared for optimal performance. Even if you aren’t an athlete, this type of therapy can be particular helpful if you have weak muscles or problem joints.
- Trigger point massage therapy. This is a more specialized form of massage that focuses on trigger points, which are areas of tightened muscle fibers that can form in your muscles as a result of overuse or injury.
- Although trigger points are localized to one point in the body, the pain often radiates to other location, so trigger point massage takes this into account to help relieve the pain from these areas.
- Deep tissue massage therapy. This massage technique uses slower, stronger strokes to reach the deeper layers of connective tissue. Deep massage is often used to help with muscle damage from injuries. This is especially useful for chronic, concentrated muscle pain. Engaging the muscles in this way releases oxytocin and serotonin, hormones that function in mood regulation, helping you feel as calm as possible for a prolonged period after your session.
We encourage you to bring up any questions and concerns you may have with a professional massage therapist and/or your primary care physician. It’s also a good idea to research the many other types of massage therapies in more detail to decide which could be right for you.