Posted on: 21 January 2015Share
Massage therapy has been used to soothe aches and pains for centuries. The ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all developed their own techniques. Some cultures used fragrant, exotic oils or hot stones to enhance the effect of the "hands on" manipulation. If you are interested in getting a massage, it helps to know what options are out there. Below are seven types of massage found today, along with a brief description of their treatment benefits.
Swedish massage was developed in Stockholm by Per Henrick Ling nearly two centuries ago. This is the most commonly found massage in the west and focuses on the anatomy of the body rather than its energy centers. It is used to improve circulation and to relax stiff, painful muscles. Depending on your health and preference, Swedish massages are delivered with different degrees of pressure. After a brief consultation with your therapist, he/she will start with the pressure believed to be most beneficial. You can ask for the pressure to be increased or decreased, depending on your comfort level.
Aromatherapy adds the healing power of scent to the manipulation of the body. Depending on the oil selected, the therapist can encourage relaxation or revitalize your system. Lavender oil, for example, is often used to calm the nervous system. Coconut oil, one of the most fragrant, is also relaxing, but is also great for treating acne. Olive oil improves skin tone, giving you a younger, healthier look when used regularly.
Hot Stone Massage
If you have tense muscles and/or you prefer a more gentle type of massage, you can opt for a hot stone massage. Smooth stones are heated and placed on certain pressure points on the body, such as along the spine. The therapist may also hold heated stones and massage certain areas of your body. As the heat of the stones is absorbed, your nervous system calms and your circulation improves. The stones along the spine also help soothe achy backs.
Deep Tissue Massage
A deep tissue massage reaches beneath the skin to give the muscles and connective tissues a workout. The technique is similar to Swedish massage, but the therapist uses slower movements and increases the pressure over the trouble spots. Parts of the body usually targeted include the neck and shoulders, upper and lower back and the leg muscles. Deep tissue massage is also used for people recovering from injury and in sports therapy.
Shiatsu massage was developed in Japan and focuses on body energy. Using the fingers, your therapist will apply pressure to the same energy points used in acupuncture. Unlike most massages, no massage oil is used, so you may remain clothed during the procedure. Shiatsu is used for relaxation and to treat back aches, arthritis, headaches and other ailments. It helps improve circulation and reduces stress.
Developed in Thailand, this massage also focuses on the body's pressure points. This is not a passive massage. Instead, your therapist will move your body into various poses to stretch and apply pressure on specific areas. You will also be asked to perform stretch exercises. Think of it as a relaxing yoga session. The idea is to reduce stress and improve your body's flexibility.
Sometimes referred to as foot massage, reflexology uses certain pressure points on the foot to stimulate other parts of your body. For example, massaging the tips of your toes can reduce headaches. Massaging the ball of the foot affects the heart and chest. The hand has similar pressure points. Dr. William Fitzgerald and Dr. Edwin Bowers first came up with what was called "zone therapy" back in 1913. It was refined in the 1930s and 1940s by Eunice Ingram, a physiotherapist.