Getting a massage is not simply a matter of lying face down on a table and letting a therapist start working. There are many different types of massages, each designed to deal with different issues. The kind of massage you should request depends entirely on what you hope to get out of it, so we’re going to look at some of the most common types of massage, and what they can help you with.
Arguably the most well-known style of massage, the Swedish massage is essentially your introduction to the world of massages. It involves long strokes, from one end of a body part to the other, as well as kneading, and circular motions. This is recommended for people who are new to massages or are sensitive to touch, and it is mostly used to alleviate tension and release knots.
Although a reasonable amount of pressure can be applied during a Swedish massage, they are generally on the lighter end of the pressure spectrum. Deep tissue massages on the other hand use a lot more pressure, with slower strokes. During a deep tissue massage, the therapist will apply a lot more pressure not only to the palm and ball of their hands, but also to the very tips of their fingers. This allows them to release tension from the lower layers of the muscles, and is a great way to tackle stubborn or long-term problems, such as stiffness or sensitivity.
Trigger point massages are designed to tackle smaller, often harder-to-identify knots that can lead to pain in areas other than where the knot itself is located. A knot in your hamstring could lead you to experience lower back pain, for example. These kinds of knots can arise as a result of chronic conditions or acute injuries. The trigger points can be very sensitive, so these massages will often begin by using broad, gentle strokes around the problematic area. Once the patient is relaxed, they can start applying deeper and more focused pressure using thumbs, knuckles, and elbows.
As the name implies, a sports massage is most popular amongst people who play sports or are physically active. Sports massages are particularly beneficial for repetitive use injuries, and can be a full body massage, or focus on one area specifically. But the massages are not reserved for injuries, and it is very common for athletes to use them as a method of preparing for their sport. They are a great way to loosen up the muscles, promote the flow of blood and lymph, and encourage the dissipation of lactic acid. In comparison to other massages, a sports massage is not particularly relaxing, generally moves at a much faster rate, and involves the therapist moving different body parts to help stretch the muscles.
The above are just some of the most common forms of massage, particularly when it comes to physiotherapy. Depending on how much you want to distinguish between different types of massages, you could say that there are over 200 different types of massages. If you are a newcomer and have never had a massage before, the Swedish massage is probably the best place to start, but if you’re going in for a specific reason, your doctor or a qualified massage therapist will be able to best advise you on which type of massage would be best suited to help you achieve your goals.
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Massage may be a way for you to feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. Experiment with different types of massage and with different massage therapists to find the type and provider that is most ideal for you.
Always communicate your expectations and intentions with your massage therapist and speak up if there is something with which you aren’t comfortable. Talk to your doctor before getting any type of massage if you have any health concerns or conditions.
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