The Seven Most Popular Types of Massage
If you’re interested in massage, you may have gone looking for “massage near me,” only to learn that there are several different popular types of massage service. Terms like Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, trigger point massage, Ashiatsu, neuromuscular massage therapy (NMT), sports massage, and pregnancy massage can be confusing—and that’s to say nothing of popular massage add-ons!
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to make sense of these wonderfully diverse types of massage, known as modalities. Today we’ll learn about each type of massage service, demystify it, and help you figure out which one is right for you.
The Wonderful Default: Swedish Massage
Let’s start with the Swedish massage modality, which we’ll call the wonderful default because it is, in fact, the type of massage that most people think of when they hear the word massage. The chances are good that if you’ve done an online search for “massage near me,” some of the first results to pop up included Swedish massage, possibly in association with other massage services.
There’s a good reason Swedish massage is the default modality of massage service: it is deeply relaxing and feels wonderful. Swedish massage is good for beginners and massage devotees alike because it includes several different techniques: long, sweeping strokes over muscles; kneading muscles to yield deeper relaxation; rhythmic tapping; friction and rapid rubbing for warmth, and vibration to loosen tissue.
So, to summarize: Swedish massage is a versatile, deeply relaxing, general-purpose and very wonderful default massage service! If you’re looking into types of massage, this is a good one to start with.
The Deep Specialist: Deep Tissue Massage
If you’ve ever had chronic aches and pains, you might want to consider the deep tissue massage. We’ll call this massage service modality the deep specialist, because that’s exactly what it is: a more specialized type of massage than Swedish massage, deep tissue massage service is designed to address the kinds of aches, pains, stiffness, tightness, and soreness people tend to find deeply uncomfortable and painful.
People who have suffered from a very wide range of conditions, from lower back pain to tennis elbow to limited mobility to fibromyalgia have claimed to feel much better as a result of deep tissue massage.
Deep tissue massage techniques include lighter pressure at the beginning to warm up the muscles, followed by two main types of deeper techniques: stripping of knots in the muscle, which is characterized by deep, gliding pressure applied lengthwise to the muscle fibers, and friction, which is characterized by pressure across the grain of a muscle.
The Point Therapist: Trigger Point Therapy
Have you ever had a sensitive, painful feeling in one particular point, perhaps your back or neck? If so, you might want to consider trigger point massage, or trigger point therapy, which is essentially the point specialist of massage service modalities.
The term “trigger point” is used to describe sensitive, painful muscle knots which can develop in different parts of the body, but are particularly noted for their role in back and neck pain. We’re still not entirely sure how these points develop, but trigger point massage therapy can provide tremendous relief through rubbing and pressure-based techniques.
So, if you have that one painful spot that’s driving you crazy, try searching for “trigger point massage near me.”
The Japanese Barefoot Treatment: Ashiatsu Massage
If you’re looking for a deep massage, try Ashiatsu, a Japanese massage service known for its relaxing, deep pressure. The name itself means “foot pressure,” and that is exactly what Ashiatsu is: the therapist stands over you with the aid of a series of bars mounted across the ceiling, and carefully applies deep but gentle pressure to your muscles, stroking and kneading them.
Here we should emphasize that Ashiatsu does not entail your therapist walking on your back, but rather a very relaxing deep pressure treatment. By using their feet, your massage therapist can apply compressive pressure to soft tissue, releasing tension and dealing with muscle spasms.
The thing that many people like about Ashiatsu is that not only does it produce great results, it does so remarkably quickly. So, if you’re looking for deep relaxation now, keep Ashiatsu in mind when you look for massage services nearby.
The Lower Back Pain Specialist: Neuromuscular Therapy
If you have a particularly bad problem with lower back pain or other muscle spasms, try neuromuscular therapy. This is a massage modality designed specifically for very painful muscle spasms, and it works by using concentrated pressure to restore the flow of blood to a muscle.
When a muscle goes into spasm, it is no longer able to receive proper blood flow. This means it can no longer get sufficient oxygen, and a muscle that cannot get enough oxygen will start producing lactic acid. This is what causes muscles to feel sore after activity—but a spasm can produce the same effect at a level that is pathological and painful.
Neuromuscular therapy uses pressure to force the muscle to relax. A gentle warning: this may hurt initially, but it produces relief, and can save you a great deal of pain down the road.
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The Specialist: Sports Massage
Sports massage is for everyone, non-athletes as well as athletes, but it was originally developed for athletes and has a strong association with sports. This is because sports massage is massage for a specific area of the body that is giving someone pain or discomfort—and in practice, most of these cases involve an area of the body strongly associated with a sport, such as running, tennis, and golf.
Sports massage techniques are for the most part the same kinds of techniques used in Swedish massage, but your therapist may also use trigger point therapy. So, whether or not you’re an athlete, if you’re having trouble with a specific area of your body, try searching for a massage service near you and asking about sports massage.
For Mother and Baby: Pregnancy Massage
If you’re expecting, you may want to consider a pregnancy massage, also known as a prenatal massage. They’re great for expectant moms and their babies, as we’ve talked about before.
A pregnancy massage can have remarkable benefits for expectant moms. If you’ve ever been pregnant before, you probably know what it can entail: anxiety, depression, and aches and pains are common struggles. Pregnancy massage can relieve these feelings, and boost the hormones dopamine and serotonin, which will help you to feel better and can actually lead to fewer complications during the birth and for your baby.
In practice, most pregnancy massages are based on Swedish massage techniques. However, the term pregnancy massage is also used to describe any massage given to an expectant mom.
Bonus: Massage Add-Ons
Depending on what type of massage you’re getting, you may want to ask about massage service add-ons. We’ll briefly look at four.
Hot stones: A hot stone massage is exactly what it sounds like. Your therapist will place smooth, flat, heated stones on your body—don’t worry, they won’t be hot enough to hurt. The heat can help to relieve tension and pain. This form of add-on is often used with a Swedish massage.
Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy massage makes use of fragrant therapeutic oils, adding pleasant smells to the relaxing experience of a massage service. There are many different scents to choose from; popular choices include lavender, peppermint, rose, bergamot, and others.
Foot massage: Many people think of massage for the back, shoulders, and other parts of the body, but why not the feet? We do spend a lot of time walking around on them, after all! Ask your therapist about adding on a foot massage to your massage service.
Kinesio taping: Athletes suffering from sports-related pain may want to consider kinesio taping along with a sports massage. Kineso tape is a latex-free elastic tape, very stretchy, which is applied to particular areas of the body to ease muscle spasm and correct muscle function.
Here at About Touch, we use the power of massage to help you experience a better and healthier state of being. If you’ve searched for “massage near me” and you’d like to learn more about our services and maybe book an appointment, we’d be delighted to hear from you.