6 Different Types of Massage Techniques

Massages are an alternative therapy used to relax and heal the body. This practice has been used for thousands of years by countries around the world. Through the combined use of muscle and tissue manipulation along with rubbing, applying pressure, and adding heat, various health benefits can be experienced with massage.

The American Massage Association states that a regular massage provides the following benefits:

–         Relief from pain and fatigue caused by cancer

–         Decreased frequency of headaches

–         Reduction in elevated blood pressure

–         Relief from pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome

–         Improvement in alcohol withdrawal symptoms

These are just a few benefits of regular massage. Currently, there are approximately 80 known massage techniques out there. Each massage technique has its unique methods and benefits.

Here are six of the most popular types of massages:

1. Swedish Massage

This is perhaps the most widely used and known type of massage. Also called the “classic massage”, it was developed by Per Henrik Ling and Johann Georg Mezger. The Swedish massage uses five basic methods which are:

–         Gliding and sliding

–         Kneading

–         Shaking or vibration

–         Friction

–         Rhythmic tapping

With these five techniques, muscle pain ranging from mild to intense can be relieved. In fact, Swedish massage can alleviate the following:

–         Lower back pain

–         Osteoarthritis pain

–         Joint stiffness

–         Stress reduction

–         Neck tension

A typical Swedish massage may last up to 90 minutes.

2) Acupuncture or Acupressure

This is a type of trigger point therapy that relies on needles. It was developed as a part of Chinese medicine and was often used for pain relief. Acupuncture is often used to gain relief from pain in the shoulders, lower back, joints, and knees. This therapy is conducted in clinical settings and massage centers by skilled therapists. Acupuncture is a direct form of massage therapy. It delves into the deep layers of the muscles. A typical acupuncture session involves pinpointing the affected region and then gently inserting a needle into the affected area. This first increases and then alleviates the pressure.

The acupuncture needle is inserted in a swift movement to minimize the pain. The therapist will stimulate the needles to increase the tension in them to alleviate the pain. Also called “needle grasp”, you may feel slight tingling or numbness at the insertion site.

A typical acupressure session varies in length and depends on the number of needles inserted into the body.

If you’re interested in acupressure, you should definitely learn more about shiatsu massage.

3) Thai Massage Therapy

One of the oldest forms of massage therapy, this ancient technique combines Indian Ayurvedic treatments, yoga poses, and acupressure to alleviate pain and tension. During a session, the participant is required to wear loose-fitting clothing. The practitioner will stretch, pull, rock, and compress the affected areas.

In a Thai massage, body lines called “sen” are followed. Each massage session may last up to two hours. The therapist may use their feet and hands to position the participant. Using pulling forces on the ears, toes, and fingers, and even walking on the participant’s back, the therapist assists in alleviating muscle pain and stiffness.

4) Reflexology

Also called zone therapy, reflexology relies on the body’s reflexes in the feet and hands. Using a number of finger, thumb, and hand techniques, the therapist will use various massage techniques on the participant without the use of balms or oils.

In reflexology, the body is divided into ten zones: five for each half of the body. When pressure is applied on the feet, it travels to these zones via nerve signals. This alleviates pain and tension around the body. Reflexology massage can also help release feel-good hormones like endorphins and dopamine. A single session may last up to an hour.

5) Lomi Lomi Massage

This unique massage therapy was first introduced by Polynesian settlers in Hawaii. The term ‘lomi lomi’ translates to soothe, to rub, or to knead’. The term is repeated twice to place emphasis on its benefits.

A lomi lomi massage relies on the combined use of forearms, knuckles, palms, knees, elbows, feet, and fingers. The foundation of this massage form is based on martial arts because it uses several sweeping movements. Deep tissue massages and a range of motion techniques are also used. The therapist also recommends diet and mood behaviors. A single lomi lomi massage may last up to 90 minutes.

6) Hot Stone Massage

This is a derivative of the traditional Swedish massage. It uses a hot stone as a massage medium. Basalt stones are heated to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Then they are placed along with specific points of the body such as:

–         the chest

–         the spine

–         the stomach

–         the face

–         the toes and feet

Techniques similar to a Swedish massage are also used such as kneading, vibrations, long strokes, and tapping. This helps to release tension and stimulates the muscles. People who have tried hot stone massage often experience the following benefits:

–         Improvement in sleep quality

–         Better immunity

–         Reduction in anxiety and stress

–         Pain relief

Whether you’re seeking pain relief, stress relief, or a general sense of well-being, do try any of the massages mentioned above. There are a wide variety of massage chairs you can buy as well. These are great, because they can be done at home. We also spent time reviewing the different shiatsu home options too.