I am a big advocate of getting regular massages mainly because its health benefits are extensive and varied. It is one of the oldest healing arts, and archaeological evidence of its early existence has been discovered in many ancient civilizations such as India, China, Greece and Egypt.
There are different massage styles to choose from based on your personal needs and goals. Each style has its own unique technique and pressure intensities. However, they all involve the manipulation of muscles and soft tissues while using techniques such as kneading, compression, vibration, rocking, tapping and stroking.
Since there are many styles to choose from, you must first determine what you hope to gain from the massage session. Are you suffering from chronic pain and would like to achieve symptom relief? Or are you simply looking to relax or to relieve stress? Once you have decided on what your needs and goals are, you will need to look for a certified massage therapist. Before booking your appointment, communicate your needs to your therapist, and he/ she will often recommend a particular massage type based on the information given. Your massage may also be customized further depending on any other underlying medical condition you have, or to reap added benefits.
Although there are reportedly over 100 types of massage styles, the following are the most popular.
This is the most popular of all the massage therapies. It involves the use of soft, kneading strokes, tapping strokes and circular pressure, applied to promote relaxation by relieving muscle tension. It is also beneficial for decreasing muscle toxins, while improving circulation and flexibility.
Deep Tissue Massage:
This massage style is similar to the Swedish massage. However it involves deliberate strokes which create targeted pressure on layers of muscles and deep tissue beneath your skin. This massage type is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension and is recommended for those who either have chronic pain conditions, or are involved in intense physical activity ex. athletes.
Hot Stone Massage:
Hot stone massage therapy involves the placement of warm stones on key areas of the body. It is typically combined with other massage styles for added benefits. The hot stones promote deeper muscle relaxation and eases muscle tension via the expansion of blood vessels, which increases blood flow throughout the body. It also increases flexibility in joints and relieves pain associated with stiff muscles.
Thai massage is a combination of yoga, acupressure and reflexology. In this type of massage therapy the client lays on the floor in comfortable clothing, while the therapist uses his or her body to yield the client into numerous positions. It includes rhythmic pressing and stretching of the entire body, as well as joint mobilization and muscle compression. During a Thai massage, it is considered normal practice for the therapist to walk on the recipient’s back.
Studies on the benefits of massage therapy have demonstrated its effectiveness in the following areas:
- Management of stress and anxiety
- Relief of fibromyalgia and nerve related pain
- Reduction of muscle tension
- Relief of sore muscles
- Improved joint mobility
- Headache and migraine relief
- Increased blood circulation
- Improved sleep
Massage therapy is increasingly offered along with standard traditional treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. With all its numerous benefits, one should consider scheduling a few sessions in a year as it is an investment in overall health and wellness.