Thai, Swedish, Sports: A Guide to the Different Types of Body Massages

It’s been a hectic week and you’re looking for a new way to wind down. Your best friend claims body massages are the key to a peaceful body and mind, so you research.

But many different massages pop up. Which massage is best for you?

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here’s the low-down on different types of body massages.

Swedish Massage

When someone mentions massages, this is what you probably imagine. Long, flowing strokes and kneading in circular motions to ease shallow tension in your muscles. Aromatherapy is also present to help you loosen up.

Swedish massage is gentle and is perfect for those who:

  • are new to massages
  • have a lot of tension
  • are sensitive
  • have muscle knots

You’ll be asked to remove your clothes except for your underwear. But you’ll be covered with a sheet while lying on the massage table and the therapist will move the sheet to uncover areas as they work.

Swedish massage therapists also use friction, where deep pressure is applied to a spot with the thumb, fingertips, or knuckles. Rhythmic tapping (or tapotement) like chopping and pounding is used too. 

Hot Stone Massage

During a hot stone massage, your body is covered in hot, smooth basalt stones and. Not only is this relaxing but invigorating, as the almost too-hot stones bring you back to the moment instead of drifting off.

The heat is important as it releases tension in your back and shoulders. It also improves blood flow which is useful if you’re prone to muscle pain. 

You don’t wear clothes unless you’re more comfortable wearing underwear. You’ll be covered by a sheet and the massage takes 90 minutes. A hot stone massage relieves more muscle tension than a Swedish massage because of the added heat but is also usually more expensive.

Deep Tissue Massage

A deep tissue massage aims to relieve tension in the deeper layers of muscle tissue and fascia. It is good for you as it releases chronic tension and improves range of motion so if you suffer from chronic aches, this is for you.

During the massage, your masseuse will use slow strokes and deep finger pressure to ease tension from the deepest layers of your muscles and tissues. While it is more intense, you shouldn’t feel any pain.

This isn’t relaxing like a Swedish massage. It’s perfect for athletes who are harder on their bodies, people undergoing physical therapy or anyone who has dense tissue. 

Trigger Point Massage

Similar to a deep tissue massage, trigger point massages aim specific areas of the body rather than the whole body. Located in the skeletal muscle, trigger points are spots that produce pain when compressed so once the masseuse pinpoints the problem, they ease it with pressure.

Thai Massage

In contrast, Thai massages are invigorating as the therapist eases your body into yoga-like stretches. The therapist uses their hands, knees, legs, and feet to stretch and apply pressure on your muscles and loosen your joints.

You leave with improved flexibility, a greater range of motion, and temporary relief of pain. Thai massage is perfect for those who want an active form of massage and want to relieve any pain or stress.  

Sport Massage

Sports massage is designed for athletes, but amateurs are more than welcome. This massage is a great way to prepare for peak performance, prevent injury, and treat injury.

A sports massage can be a full-body massage or the therapist may focus on parts of the body that need the most attention. You’ll experience a combination of deep pressure mixed in with soothing strokes. 

Benefits include improved blood circulation, stretching muscle tissue, and breaking down scar tissue. You’ll also experience reduced pain and relaxed muscles while reducing anxiety levels.

7. Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu translates to “finger pressure” in Japanese. This ancient Japanese technique is based on concepts in traditional Chinese medicine and combines gentle stretches to work on various pressure points. 

Its aim is to fix imbalances in the flow of energy (known as Qi) in your body. Although there’s no scientific evidence, shiatsu is theorized to calm the sympathetic nervous system and stimulate circulation, reduce stress, and soothe the pain.

Therapists use many techniques, often using their elbows, knees, and feet to work out tension from the back, joints, and limbs. Pulsing or rhythmic pressure is used during a shiatsu massage, and it lasts between 60 to 90 minutes. 

Couple’s Massage

As implied by the name, a couple’s massage is one with a partner, friend, or family member. 

It promises all the benefits of regular massage and also gives you access to the spa’s hot tubs, saunas, and other facilities.

Your partner and you are on tables side-by-side and you can talk during the massage if you wish. You’re given the freedom to choose the massage, though Swedish and hot stone massages are most common, depending on your preference. 

These Are the Most Popular Body Massages

There’s a variety of body massages which means there’s one to fit every mood. Whether you’re an athlete or want a way to wind down, it’s possible with these massages.

If you’re going for a deep massage, know that it won’t be relaxing, but a great way to relieve tension from any pressure points. Though if the therapist applies too much pressure, be honest with them so it’s beneficial for both parties. Have fun!

Did you find this article helpful? Check out more of our Health and Fitness posts.

About Adele Taylor

Adele is budding content writer from Sydney who's constantly delving into the world of health and fitness in both her professional and personal life to uncover important answers for her readers and herself. She enjoys reading, writing, exercising, and enjoying as many of Sydney's culinary delights as possible.

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