1) Swedish Massage Therapy
The standard type of massage offered in most clinics, gyms, spas, and
wellness centers, Swedish massage is virtually synonymous with massage
therapy. Swedish massage is based on the Western concepts of anatomy
and physiology, compared to the energy-centric style more common in
Asian forms of massage. Using lotion or oil, massage therapists
typically begin with broad general strokes and then transition to
specific strokes to address problem areas.
There are five basic strokes in Swedish massage therapy: effleurage
(long smooth strokes), petrissage (kneading, rolling, and lifting),
friction (wringing or small circular movements), tapotement
(percussion), and vibration (rocking and shaking movements).
Swedish massage provides full-body muscle relaxation, and it can be
especially helpful if you're recovering from an injury.
2) Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is a focused, therapeutic massage that targets
muscle knots (also known as "adhesions") and specific problem areas in
the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.
Using deliberate, slow strokes or friction across the grain of the
muscle, the therapist addresses chronic tight or painful muscles,
repetitive strain, postural problems, or injuries.
While it's true that the pressure of deep tissue is generally more
intense than that of a Swedish massage, it shouldn't have to be
painful to be effective. If you're experiencing pain, let your massage
therapist know right away.
This type of massage is particularly beneficial for people with
chronic pain or lingering injuries that cause limited mobility. It's
effective in treating repetitive stress injuries such as tennis elbow
or carpal tunnel syndrome and can be helpful in reducing the symptoms
3) Shiatsu Massage
A form of Japanese bodywork, shiatsu involves localized pressure using
the therapist's fingers (or sometimes hands and elbows), applied in a
rhythmic sequence along the body. Each point is held for about two to
eight seconds. With roots in traditional Chinese medicine, the goal of
shiatsu is to stimulate acupressure points on the body to improve the
flow of energy and help regain balance.
Since no oil or lotion is used, you wear loose clothing. Shiatsu is
normally done on a mat on the floor or on a low massage table and is
often used to reduce stress and protect against stress-related health
issues. It's also believed effective for treating conditions like
arthritis, insomnia, back and neck pain, sciatica, and even sinus
Shiatsu may help increase energy, promote recovery from injuries, and
stimulate the digestive system.
4) Thai Massage
A unique blend of assisted yoga, passive stretching, and pressing
massage movements, Thai massage is more energizing than other forms of
massage. It's a little bit like yoga without doing the work, as the
therapist moves and stretches you in a sequence of postures, usually
on a mat on the floor.
Like shiatsu, Thai massage aligns the energies of the body. The
massage therapist uses rhythmic compression along the body's energy
lines to reduce stress and improve flexibility and range of motion. It
is done fully clothed.
This type of massage can reduce muscle spasticity and back pain, and
has been shown to be useful in treating balance problems and migraine
5) Sports Massage
Designed to prevent and treat injuries, improve flexibility, and
enhance athletic performance, sports massage can be used by athletes
of all abilities to prepare for or recover from athletic or sports
events. Even if you aren't an athlete, sports massage may help muscle
pain or restricted range of motion.
The idea behind sports massage is to manipulate the body's soft
tissues, and focus on certain muscle groups depending on which sport
the athlete plays. This type of massage can help with increased blood
flow, increased range of motion, and increased flexibility.
In sports massage, the strokes are generally faster than a typical
Swedish massage. The therapist may also include compression, pressure
point therapy, friction, and joint mobilization.