As massage grows in popularity – massage techniques and modalities continue to evolve. Here are 10 of the most popular types of massage sought by clients.
1. Swedish Massage – One of the most commonly taught and well-known massage techniques, Swedish massage is a vigorous system of treatment designed to energize the body by stimulating circulation. Five basic strokes, all flowing toward the heart, are used to manipulate the soft tissues of the body.
2. Aromatherapy Massage – The use of essential oils (extracted from herbs, flowers, resin, woods, and roots) in body and skin care treatments is known as aromatherapy. Used as a healing technique for thousands of years by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, essential oils aid in relaxation, improve circulation, and help the healing of wounds. Each oil has its own unique characteristics and benefits.
3. Hot Stone Massage – Heated, smooth stones are placed on certain points on the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centers in the body. Hot stone massage is good for people who have muscle tension but prefer lighter massage.
4. Deep Tissue – Deep tissue massage targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. The massage therapist uses slower strokes or friction techniques across the grain of the muscle. The muscles must be relaxed in order to effectively perform deep-tissue massage, otherwise tight surface muscles prevent the practitioner from reaching deeper musculature.
5. Shiatsu – Developed in Japan, shiatsu is a finger-pressure technique utilizing traditional acupuncture points. Similar to acupressure, shiatsu concentrates on unblocking the flow of life energy and restoring balance in the meridians and organs in order to promote self-healing.
6. Thai Massage – Thai massage has been taught and practiced in Thailand for approximately twenty-five hundred years. The technique combines massage with yoga-like positions during the course of the massage; the northern style emphasizes stretching while the southern style emphasizes acupressure.
7. Reflexology - Based on an ancient Chinese therapy, reflexology involves manipulation of specific reflex areas in the foot, hands, and ears that correspond to other parts of the body. Application of pressure to these reflex zones to stimulate body organs and relieve areas of congestion.
8. Sports Massage – Designed to enhance athletic performance and recovery. There are three contexts in which sports massage can be useful to an athlete: pre-event, post-event, and injury treatment.
9. Chair massage – Seated massage includes bodywork and somatic techniques, such as shiatsu and Swedish massage and focuses exclusively on the back (also neck and shoulders). We’ve got that one covered.
10. Pregnancy (Prenatal) Massage – Performed by a trained perinatal specialist, many methods of massage and somatic therapies are both effective and safe prenatally and during labor and postpartum periods of women’s pregnancies. Specialized, advanced training in the anatomy, physiology, complications, precautions, and contraindications is highly recommended, and many practitioners require referrals from physicians prior to therapy.