Massage Therapy
Common Types and Benefits

Massage Therapy

When I went to research the different types of massage, I actually found a listing of well over a 100 different types of massage. After doing some searching, I decided to break this topic down and discuss the most common types of massage and their benefits for this newsletter. I will do separate newsletters on other massage topics and bodywork at a later date.

Massage therapy or massage is defined as a treatment that involves rubbing the muscles and connective tissues for medical or therapeutic purposes and to assist the body in relaxation. Its purpose is to enhance the function of the tissues being massaged.

Common Types of Massage Therapy

  • Aromatherapy - Essential oils are added to the massage oil or cream used during your massage based on your emotional and or physical needs. If you are looking for stress relief, your massage therapist may choose lavender essential oil. If your muscles are sore, your massage therapist may choose to combine eucalyptus with chamomile or peppermint. Adding aromatherapy to your massage makes its very personalized and effective for your specific needs, which allows for many varied benefits.
  • Deep Tissue - This type of massage focuses on the deep layers of muscle rather than the topical layers. It applies a direct pressure to these deeper muscle layers utilizing slow strokes and friction techniques. These movements are often done against the grain of the muscle. Many athletes and individuals with physical jobs get this type of massage and one may feel sore afterwards. The soreness usually comes from the release of tension that was held deep in the muscle.
  • Hot Stone - Hot stones have been used for centuries in healing massages. Flat rocks are heated and placed on the body where needed. Usually the stones are placed along the back or energy points to balance the mind and body. The heat from the stone promotes relaxation of the muscle which allows the massage therapist to work deeper in the muscle if needed. The warmth also relaxes the nervous system and promotes circulation. I have had this type of massage and I really enjoyed it and was very relaxed afterwards.
  • Lymph Drainage Massage or Lymphatic Massage - The main focus of this type of massage is to improve the movement of the lymphatic system. When the lymphatic system becomes stagnant, our cells do not receive adequate levels of oxygen and fluids. A healthy moving lymphatic system promotes a healthy immune system. Most lymphatic massages focus on the neck, armpits, upper torso, and groin to stimulate the lymphatic system's movement. Many individuals with edema, sports injuries, or women who have had breast cancer and some of their lymph nodes removed have benefited from this type of massage. Lymphatic massage is also used by estheticians for puffy faces and bags under the eyes.
  • Relaxation or Swedish Massage - This is the most common known type of massage. Massage oil or cream is used and the massage therapists performs various strokes that warm up and loosen the muscles and knots throughout the body. This type of massage energizes the body and improves overall circulation. It is more focused on the outer layer of muscle avoiding the deep tissue pressure. It is very relaxing and beneficial.
  • Shiatsu - This type of massage is the Japanese equivalent of an Acupressure Massage. It is performed by pressing on points throughout the body's meridian system where the energy flow is blocked. The main purpose of this type of massage is to unblock the energy pathways of the meridians to promote an optimal flow of chi. When one has an optimal flow of chi, one has health and cleansing of the body and the mind.
  • Sports Massage - This type of a massage is a combination of deep tissue and Swedish massage. There are sports massage therapists at many gyms and it is very beneficial for muscle aches and pains, enhancing an athletes performance, and reducing the build up of lactic acid after a hard workout.
  • Thai - This type of massage began over 2,500 years ago as a healing modality to align and open up the physical, emotional, and spiritual side of an individual. It is usually done on the floor on a mat and the recipient of this massage wears loose fitting clothing as their body is gently stretched, kneaded, and compressed in various positions to open it up. The movements of this type of massage are similar to yoga. I have never experiences this type of massage, however, I do know individuals who have it done on a regular basis and really enjoy it.

The Benefits of Massage Therapy

The following is a list of some of the main benefits of massage.

  • Relaxes the body and muscles.
  • Helps in relieving stress.
  • Reduces fatigue caused by excessive exercise.
  • Helps to break up scar tissue and adhesions.
  • Provides pain relief.
  • Improves circulation.
  • Helps reduce inflammation.
  • Helps to loosen up mucous, especially in the lungs.
  • Helps with constipation.
  • Improves posture and range of motion.
  • Strengthens the immune system by promoting lymphatic flow.

The benefits of massage are many. If you have never had a massage, I would start with a relaxation / Swedish Massage. Enjoy!

Written by Mara Gerke, CA, CNHP. All Rights Reserved.