Massage Therapy: The Different Benefits Of Massage Techniques Explained
Massage therapy, by definition, is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body in an effort to ‘normalise’ those tissues. Different types of massage can be performed on any part of the body that contains soft tissues such as muscle, connective tissue, tendons or ligaments. Massage can be applied to the soft tissues using the hands, fingers, elbows, forearms, knees, feet and a variety of massage devices. Massage techniques can vary from gentle strokes through to deep kneading of the muscles.
The many benefits of massage therapy have been acknowledged and used for healing purposes for centuries. There are many different massage styles that have evolved over this time, each designed with a specific goal in mind. Although massage is focused on changing the tissues of the musculoskeletal system, it also has a strong effect on the circulatory system, lymphatic system and nervous system. Massage is best known for relieving muscle tension, reducing stress and inducing calmness within the body. While hundreds of different massage techniques have been created over time, there are 10 therapeutic massage styles that are well known for their health benefits.
Swedish massage is one of the most common types of massage therapy. It involves the use of a massage lotion on the skin and using the hands to make a combination of movements over the superficial layers of muscle and skin. These movements include long strokes, kneading and circular movements. The Swedish style is usually very gentle, quite relaxing and is a great place to start if you have never experienced manual therapy before.
Sports massage was originally designed to help athletes recondition their bodies during training and competing. The focus of sports massage is to enhance the athletic performance of the body by loosening the muscles and improving overall flexibility. With a focus on reconditioning rather than relaxation, sports massage usually involves more vigorous, firmer strokes.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger Point Therapy focuses on releasing painful or tight nodules (known as trigger points) in muscles and other connective tissues. The therapist may use a combination of static pressure and stretches in order to manipulate the tight tissue. Trigger points are usually tender to touch, so some discomfort may be experienced during trigger point therapy. This pain is usually short lived and will ease as the therapist releases the tissue that has formed the nodules.
Shiatsu is a Japanese style of massage that focuses on applying pressure on acupuncture meridians. Each point is held for several seconds in a sequence that is thought to help balance the body as well as improving the flow of energy through the body. While the pressure used during a shiatsu session is firm, most people still find it quite relaxing and there is usually no post-massage soreness afterwards.
Aromatherapy massage uses essential oils to help bring about specific changes in the body. Aromatherapy masseurs often choose oils that are relaxing and help to reduce stress, such as lavender. Aromatherapy massage is most beneficial for reducing stress and promoting relaxation, especially when there are emotional components involved.
Reflexology involves the application of pressure to specific points on the hands and feet that are through to correspond to organs and systems within the body. In addition to improving circulation and providing relief from tension in the area where pressure is applied, it is thought that healing of the corresponding body part will also be enhanced.
Deep Tissue massage
Deep tissue massage uses similar strokes to that of Swedish massage, but with a focus on the deeper layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia. The deeper pressures used in deep tissue massage are beneficial to help release deep, chronic muscle tension. Despite it’s reputation, deep tissue therapy does not have to be painful. By slowing down the massage strokes and applying an even, firm pressure, a deep massage can usually be achieved with minimal discomfort.
Chinese massage involves a series of techniques that are thought to have many holistic properties as well as promoting relaxation and reducing muscular tension. Massage techniques used by a Chinese massage therapist may include compression, friction, joint manipulation, grasping and even pinching the tissues. In addition to revitalising your mind and body, another benefit of Chinese massage is that you are often able to leave clothes on during the massage.
Thai massage involves a series of movements that compress and stretch the body to help align and balance the body. The therapist moves and stretches you into a series of positions and poses similar to that of some Yoga poses. In addition to increasing flexibility, Thai massage can help to reduce stress and improve energy levels.
Hot Stone Massage
Smooth heated stones made from basalt are placed strategically on certain parts of the body. Depending on the therapist, stones may be left to rest on trigger points or may be used in conjunction with oils to glide over the muscles and other soft tissues. Hot stone massage is great to sooth muscle tension and improve relaxation. For those who prefer lighter types of massage or can’t tolerate other forms of massage, hot stone massage is a great option.
Types Of Massage Summary
No matter what style of massage therapy you choose, it is important that you have a good relationship with your masseur. You should feel comfortable to tell your massage therapist if there are particular areas you would like worked on and what degree of pressure you prefer during the massage. Once you find a therapist you feel comfortable with, keeping a regular appointment with them will provide layers of benefits. With every appointment the therapist will learn more about how your body responds to manual touch and will be able to fine tune your therapy sessions to suit your needs.
If you want to enjoy a massage experience in the comfort of your own home, Wand Warehouse offer a range of massage oils and handheld massagers ideal for home use, that can be ordered online anywhere across Australia.
If you are new to massage, it’s a great idea to start with one of the gentler styles, such as the Swedish or hot stone techniques. If you are pregnant or have any specific health issues, be sure to discuss these concerns with your masseur and consult your doctor before embarking on any new therapies.