Are your muscles achy or painful? Do you need to relax? Perhaps you feel you need a jolt of rejuvenation? A massage can be just the solution.
Massage involves working the body, usually via hand strokes or pressure, but some types involve using feet, elbows, or tools such as smooth, hot stones. Some massage techniques alleviate pinpointed pain, while others assist in relaxation or rejuvenation. Most full-body massages address all of these areas.
In order to make your decision about “Which massage?” easier, here is a guide to some of the most popular kinds of massages.
The most common type of massage is known as Swedish massage because it involves the most basic stroke, called effleurage, a French word for “lightly touch.” It is gentle and relaxing because it involves stroking only the superficial layers of muscle rather than the muscles. Swedish massage is a good one to start with if you’ve never had a massage before, and you’re not sure which type is right for you.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage, or petrissage, is targets muscles that are particularly tight or painful. It can help you recover from an injury or from repetitive strain, such as from slouching in front of a computer for hours at a time. It uses slower strokes than Swedish massage, aiming for the deeper layers of muscle rather than the skin alone.
Hot Stone Massage
It might seem strange to think of someone placing hot stones on your body, but the warmth can be comforting and soothing and really help loosen tight muscles. Smooth, heated stones are placed strategically along your body to warm the muscles and loosen them up.
Hot stones also help balance energy centers in your body – similar to acupressure. Your massage therapist might use the stones to apply some light pressure on your body. It will help relieve tension but it is gentle, so if the idea of a deep tissue massage sounds painful, a hot stone massage might be a better choice for you.
Shiatsu is a Japanese form of bodywork. Rather than using the whole hand to knead your muscles, a Shiatsu massage uses rhythmic finger or foot pressure on acupressure points to help your energy flow smoothly and your body gain balance. This is a relaxing choice and you are unlikely to feel sore after a Shiatsu massage. Shiatsu is performed on a floor mat.
Some women find that they simply cannot do without massage during pregnancy. Pregnancy massage usually employs a bit of both Swedish and deep tissue, but might not incorporate Shiatsu acupressure points nor hot stones.
If you are pregnant and want a massage to reduce stress or relieve aches and pains, make sure your massage therapist is licensed to do pregnancy massage. He or she must be taught how to support and position the body of a pregnant woman during a massage and how to modify the massage techniques so they are safe for both mother and baby during pregnancy.
A Note About Aromatherapy
For all of the above massages, your massage therapists might use aromatherapy in the form of essential herbal oils, such as mint, rosemary, jasmine or lavender. These oil scents help set the mood for you, as well as soothe various aches and pains, reduce stress, and revive energy levels. Your massage therapist will give you samples to sniff in order to choose the scent that speaks to you most.
The choice is yours. What’s certain is that each form of massage offers you benefits both physically and mentally. Whichever massage you choose, enjoy!