The combination of rubbing, kneading and manipulation of the body’s soft tissues, with particular focus on pressure points and muscles is referred to as a massage therapy. This therapy may be used on its own or as a part of physical therapy to help relax parts of the body where muscles are tight. In most cases, massage therapy focuses on pressure points of the body that are believed to give relief from pain or even health issues in some regions of the body.
Types of massage therapy
There are a number of massage therapy types that can be opted for. Here is a summary of some of the commonest:
1. Swedish massage therapy
This massage therapy type was developed in the early 1800s by a Swedish doctor. It is characterized by long, smooth strokes that stretch and presses the muscles. The massage therapy also employs a series of taps across the back and shoulders to ease tension on the muscles, inducing a state of relaxation while at it. The massage helps the body to release toxins, improving circulation while at it.
2. Hot stone massage therapy
The massage technique employs a number of smooth flat heated stones which are strategically placed on the back and the palms. The use of these stones dates back at least 2000 years, however, it only became popular after being reintroduced in the late 20th century. The heated stones relax the muscles, enabling the therapist to knead target area into a state of deep relaxation. They are also used to help release tension from the muscles, improve blood circulation and ease pain.
3. Deep tissue massage therapy
Also referred to as deep connective tissue massage, deep tissue massage is a massage technique that employs similar strokes to Swedish massage. However, it goes deeper as it targets connective tissues or the fascia between the muscles. Deep tissue massage can be uncomfortable since more pressure is applied; however, discomfort aside, the massage is more beneficial in that it generally squeezes out more toxins than all other types of massage therapies put together. The applied pressure is however reduced if the client becomes too uncomfortable.
This type of a massage therapy utilizes acupressure, using similar pressure points that are used in acupuncture treatment. The therapist presses on various points to treat conditions such as insomnia, pain and anxiety. Shiatsu is often used to induce a state of relaxation, improve blood and lymph circulation and release toxins.
This therapeutic massage technique concentrates more on a candidate foot. Points on the sole of the feet that correspond to different parts of the body are massaged. By thoroughly massaging these points on the sole of the feet, certain health conditions associated with these points can be eased. Reflexology sessions are usually very relaxing like in all other forms of therapeutic massages.
What type of massage therapy is right for me?
The wide range of available massage therapy styles can be somewhat confusing to a lot of people, especially first timers. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry as most of massage therapists integrate a number of techniques into one session. Here is how to go about it:
- General relaxation
For general relaxation however, the best type of massage therapy is the Swedish style. If the chosen therapist is good with his or her hands, you feel more relaxed and emotionally balanced with this style of a massage.
- Deep body massages
The best types in this regard are deep tissue, rolfing, lymphatic drainage and myofascial release. All these styles of massages incorporate much more deep muscle work and require extensive training in anatomy on the part of the therapist. Though mostly uncomfortable, clients reap maximum benefits with these styles of deep body massages.
- Spiritual concentrated massage therapies
These include massage therapy types such as reflexology, Reiki, craniosacral therapy and a number of other types of energy work. The guiding principle behind these forms of bodywork is rooted in Asian tradition. The therapist concentrates on searching for blockage, weakness and tension areas in the body. This form of massage therapy however is not common and is concentrated in spas that offer Asian styles such as acupressure, Shiatsu and Thai. After the massage session, the client feels an intense emotional release and often falls into a deep relaxation state.
Does the gender of the massage therapist matter?
Some people, particularly the women are uncomfortable with having a male massage therapist perform the therapy on them. They prefer a therapist of the same gender to work on them since a general body massage mean being exposed partially. The point is to remember that this is a medical therapy session and if you attend a reputable massage clinic, there is no need to worry about having a same gender or different gender therapist. However, if this bothers you so much that it will interfere greatly with your overall therapy experience, it is definitely alright to ask the massage therapy clinic to adhere to your special preferences.