Massage is perhaps one of the best alternative health treatments you can receive. Massage can help improve your body’s circulation, reduce stress, improve emotional states and improve your immune system. But did you know there are over 130 different types of massage? How is one to tell the difference between a Shiatsu and Swedish massage? There are so many types of massage it can be difficult to decide which one is best for you. That’s why we have assembled a list of the top 5 best types of massage the get.
The Swedish massage is by far the most well known form of massage and perhaps the most commonly practiced. The average day spa or massage clinic will likely use Swedish massage over other techniques. Swedish massage or “Svensk Massage” has been around since the 1800’s and is popular because of its uses of soothing, kneading, tapping stroke that work the entire body. This loosens joints and reduces muscle tension. In Swedish massage there are 5 basic strokes. They are stroking, grabbing/ lifting muscles, friction, chopping/beating/tapping, and vibration. This massage is often accompanied by massage oils or creams because of the eventual friction that will be created. For an overall great massage this is the type to get.
A deep tissue massage targets muscles with chronic tensions problems that lie deep down in the muscles. On your back there are about 5 layers of muscles, a lighter massage is going to do nothing to help those deep down muscles. A deep tissue massage involves slow, direct strokes that go with the grain of the muscles. You massage therapist will use their fingers and thumbs to administer the massage, in some cases even an elbow. Deep tissue massage is the best type of massage for those who have consistent back or shoulder problems. Keep in mind that while your massage will be a little uncomfortable it should never cause you pain. Don’t be afraid to speak up to your massage therapist if you are experiencing pain.
Shiatsu is an ancient Japanese form of massage that uses thumb pressure to work along acupressure and various special muscle points. The Japanese words “Shi” and “atsu” mean “finger pressure” which is where Shiatsu gets the name. The Japanese believe that “Qi” or “chi” is a life or energy force. Your Shiatsu therapist will assess your Qi and decide where it is flowing healthy and where it might be clogged. They will ask you if you have any ailments and then begin a light massage to see which pressure points are tender or stiff. Be sure to wear thin and loose clothing when going in to receive your shiatsu massage. You will likely be lying on a floor, mat or couch so be prepared for that as well. Shiatsu involves lots of deep breathing, joint stretching and manipulation of pressure points.
Hot stone massage is becoming very popular in the more expensive hotels and clinics. Hot stone is basically a Swedish massage with smooth heated stones. A common rock used for this treatment is basalt, which is a black volcanic rock that absorbs and retains heat. Your massage therapist will sanitize and heat up the massage stones and the amazing experience can begin. Once the stones lose heat they will be replaced with another hotter stone, this heat helps to loosen your muscles making the massage more effective. Since this type of massage is usually higher end, so too is its cost which is around $125 dollars or higher.
Thai massage a.k.a. Thai yoga or yoga massage is an ancient form of massage that has been in practice over 2500 years. The roots of this massage are traced back to ancient India and eventually became popular in Siam, which is now known as Thailand. This is a soothing massage because it has emphasis on stretching and loosening the body. The recipient of the massage is usually lying on the floor on a mat. Oil is rarely (if ever) used in a Thai massage and it can last for two hours or more. Usually a Thai massage will involve rhythmic pressing and pulling of the entire body. Sometimes the therapist will walk on their patients’ back, which is perhaps what Thai massage is best known for.