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19 Different Types of Massage (and Their Many Benefits!)

 Different Types of Massage

19 Different Types of Massage (and Their Many Benefits!)

The Good Body Updated: January 13, 2022 Pain ManagementWellbeing

Swedish massage

A Swedish massage should be top of your list if you’re looking for a way to relax, or if you want to experience your first treatment.

It’s all about using long strokes and light-to-firm pressure that will leave you feeling rejuvenated.

Typically your therapist will use five techniques: stroking and gliding, kneading, rubbing, tapping or pounding, and vibration.

If you’re looking to reduce tension or suffering from anxiety then definitely opt for a Swedish massage.

A study by the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program of Emory University, investigated the effects of Swedish massage on people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), but who weren’t receiving medical treatment.

Over six weeks participants were separated into two groups: one group received a Swedish massage twice a week, while the other only received light touch massage.

The Swedish massage group reported significantly reduced anxiety scores, with researchers stating it may be an effective treatment for the condition.

It’s great for circulatory issues too. Academics in Malaysia discovered a four-week course of the technique reduced the heart rate and blood pressure of women suffering with hypertension.

Sports massage

A sports massage is, as you’d expect, great for athletes or anyone with a physically demanding lifestyle.

Focus is on the impact of sporting activities on your joints, muscle groups, tendons, ligaments and soft tissues.

To ensure the therapist really hits the spot, you can expect an initial assessment so you get a tailored plan.

Lots of different movements are involved in a sports massage including: Swedish style massage, stroking, kneading, compression, friction, striking, vibration, gliding, stretching, percussion and trigger points.

The ultimate aim of a sports massage is to improve athletic performance. However, don’t rule it out if you’re not a sporty person!

There have been other reported benefits, including better sleep, increased flexibility and a greater sense of wellbeing.

Aromatherapy massage

Aromatherapy massage uses essential oils from plants to improve both mental and physical wellbeing.

Think Roman chamomile, geranium, lavender, tea tree, lemon, ginger, cedarwood and bergamot. Not only do they produce wonderful smells, but each one has a different chemical composition that affects how it’s absorbed and then impacts on our body.

A number of trials have shown how Roman chamomile can help to decrease anxiety.

One study, involving 58 cancer patients, tracked how participants felt before and after an aromatherapy massage.

Findings revealed that the treatment eased anxiety and also offered relief from depressive symptoms.

Suffering from menstrual cramps and looking for solutions?

A double-blind clinical trial discovered that the therapy is great for easing discomfort.

Participants found their pain level was reduced as well as the duration. In fact, the duration of the cramps decreased from 2.4 days to 1.8 days!

Hot stone massage

When you book a hot stone massage you can expect smooth, heated stones made of volcanic rock to be placed on certain parts of your body.

Typical places would be your spine, stomach, chest, face, palms, feet and toes.

Cold stones may also be used to soothe the skin and calm swollen blood vessels.

It’s an indulgent treatment and the perfect option if you want to gift someone a massage.

As well as sharing similar benefits with other forms of massage like relieving muscle tension and helping to promote better sleep, hot stone massage can treat painful conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Research conducted in Miami found that people with RA benefited from moderate-pressure massage like hot stone therapy.

Participants experienced less pain, greater grip strength and a more extensive range of motion after just one month of treatment.

Craniosacral massage (CST)

Despite not being as common as other types of massage, Craniosacral Therapy can be used to treat a variety of symptoms.

During your treatment you stay fully clothed, with soft music and low lighting used to help you unwind.

You can expect a gentle hands-on technique that is all about light touch to examine membranes and movements of the fluids in and around the central nervous system.

The Craniosacral Therapy Association says it’s suitable for everyone — from newborn babies to the elderly.

CST is thought to relieve compression in the head, back and neck, easing pain and releasing both emotional and physical stress and tension held in the body.

When reviewed as a therapy for individuals with moderate to severe migraines, CST was shown to be effective for reducing symptoms.

Watch the video below from the Craniosacral Therapy Association as they demonstrate the light touch that is the bedrock of this technique:

Trigger point massage

Wherever there’s muscle tissue, you could develop a small area of tension that feels like a knot or marble under the skin — this is a trigger point.

When someone applies pressure you will either feel absolutely nothing or significant pain!

Trigger point therapy is mostly rubbing and pressing on trigger points, which can relieve tension and feel amazing.

One common form of the treatment is acupuncture.

The underlying belief of acupuncture is that an illness is the result of blocked or interrupted ‘chi’ (similar to ‘Ki’ we mentioned earlier, but this is the Chinese spelling as acupuncture has roots in China). ‘Chi’ provides your body with healing energy.

Through acupuncture these blockages are eradicated and your energy flow can hopefully go back to normal.

You can expect fine needles to be inserted into certain parts of the skin as part of this process.

The Journal of Pain concluded that acupuncture should be recommended if you’re struggling with chronic pain.

Another way to treat trigger points is through the ancient Chinese therapy acupressure, a blend of acupuncture and reflexology.

During treatment the therapist will apply pressure to ‘acupoints’ and by doing so will stimulate your nerve center, boost your circulation and get the flow of energy moving around your body.

You can even enjoy acupressure at home by investing in an acupressure mat. When you lay on one, the plastic or metal points will replicate the treatment.

Head and scalp massage

A head and scalp massage is a pure sensory pleasure. You can sit there, close your eyes, relax and enjoy.

But did you know that besides placing you in a total zen-like state, this type of massage may ease headaches, cut down feelings of stress and even boost hair growth. Amazing, right?

Don’t just take our word for it, listen to the American Massage Therapy Association.

They have reported that a scalp massage may help decrease the intensity, duration and frequency of tension headaches.

If you’re experiencing hair loss or thinning then you need to hear this.

Scientific research from Japan has proven scalp massage can increase hair thickness.

As part of the process, cells within hair follicles are stretched. This, in turn, stimulates the follicles to produce much thicker hair.

Also blood vessels are dilated beneath the skin and this encourages hair growth.

That’s not all:

Another piece of research which tracked 340 participants suffering from alopecia, revealed twice-daily scalp massages improved hair loss for 69% of participants.

Myofascial massage

Myofascial release therapy is all about easing pain in the thick connective tissues that support your muscles, known as myofascial tissue.

Think of myofascial as being a network of tissues that connects muscles, joints and bones, as well as providing support to and keeping your organs in the right place.

Do not expect this to be gentle as it’s a very hands-on approach to pain management.

The pressure is applied with the therapist’s hands, elbows or a tool like a foam roller or ball.

Having regular therapy can improve the body’s natural recovery process, alleviate stress, cut down any soreness and help with overall relaxation.

In the video below, Massage Sloth Ian Harvey, demonstrates the basics of the technique and answers a number of frequently asked questions:


Compression massage

Compression therapy dates back to ancient times when it was used as a way to heal wounds and inflammation.

But what does it entail?

Compression therapy is all about using controlled pressure to increase blood flow in your legs, supporting your veins and decreasing swelling.

If you want optimum effectiveness then you need to combine compression therapy with movement.

When you move around, your calf muscles move and compression helps to pump blood back to the heart, reducing swelling.

It’s ideal for anyone that stands or sits for large chunks of time and works wonders for varicose veins.

Compression socks are great if you’re looking for support for your Achilles and arches or if you suffer with arthritis, muscular swelling or stress fractures.

In fact, even if you don’t suffer from these conditions, there are a number of compression products on the market designed for improving your sporting performance.

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