You might have heard about such massages as swedish, deep tissue, sport massage or reflexology.
I have listed below seven main categories of massage with the description of each of them, so it will give you clarity on its main benefits and difference.
origin: developed by physiologist and fencing master Per Henrik Ling ( 1776-1839) as short Medical Gymnastic for the Swedish army, which included the movements performed by therapists and known today as swedish massage. In Europe also known as Classic massage. When you go get massage and its not specified which type of massage you have, the chances are that you will get swedish massage since it is the most taught and used by therapists.
how it works: it combines various hands on techniques including gliding , kneading and cross fibre friction to break up muscles knots ( known as adhesions) It can be light and relaxing or firm, depending on what the therapist wants to achieve .
for whom: great as an introduction to massage. Also for those who don’t like firm pressure, feeling achy and fragile or a bit over sensitive but want to relax.
Deep tissue massage
origin: based on the foundation of swedish massage
how it works: it aims at the deeper tissue structure of the muscles and fascia also called connective tissue. It uses more pressure than classic swedish massage. Massage should not hurt but it might be a bit uncomfortable as therapist needs to deal with particular knots and release the build up tension using not only hands and forearms but also elbows.
for whom: if you are familiar with massage already, like firm pressure and have long lasting tension build in your muscles. It is also good for those with lots of sports activities.
origin: the use of essential oils for healing purposes goes back to ancients cultures, but the concept of aromatherapy as we know today has started with french surgeon Jean Valnet who used essential oils as antiseptics during the second world war. The high concentration of essential oils that are used during a treatment have healing properties and are absorbed through inhalation and directly via skin. They are more than three thousand essential oils distract from plants, flowers, fruit, seeds and leaves but only 40 are commonly used in aromatherapy.
how it works: during massage, the high concentration of essential oils that are used have healing properties. They are absorbed through inhalation and directly via skin. The purpose of an aromatherapy massage is not so much to physically work out all the kinks and sore spots in your body, but to use the restorative properties of essential oils to relax and heal your body and mind. Therefore massage is much lighter and tension from the muscles won’t be released so effectively like with deep tissue massage.
for whom : if you prefer light touch, feel stressed, are over sensitive, looking for mental clarity without involving deep muscle release.
origin; in 1930 american physiotherapist Eunice Inngham( 1889-1974) developed the previous concept of zone therapy into what we know today as reflexology. However practices resembling reflexology may have existed in histories especially of China and Egypt
how it works: pressure is applied to specific points and areas on the feet and /or hands, ears and face. These points correspond to different body parts, organs and systems.
for whom; if you are not very keen on body massage but like your feet to be touched. If you prefer to stay with clothes on. If you are stressed. Bare in mind that sometimes very vigorous pressure may cause discomfort for some people.
origin: it goes back 2.500 years ago. There are several different style of Thai massage; royal, popular and traditional regional style. Nowadays Thai massage is one of the branches of Thai traditional medicine.
how it works: while Swedish massage permits the recipient to zone out and relax, Thai massage encourages the recipient to become more engaged and energised, for increased mindfulness
It is usually done on a padded mat on the floor with clothes on.The therapists is using his knees, legs, feet and hands to stretch the client in several yoga like poses. There is no use of oil.
for whom: if you don’t like to undress or have oil on your body, if you like to be stretched without doing any job, if you want to feel relaxed and energised at the same time. If you don’t mind the therapist walking on your back.
Note: the difference between Thai massage and Shiatsu is that although both are performed on the floor Thai originate from Thailand, Shiatsu form Japan. Thai massage works through yoga postures, while Shiatsu applies light touch pressure to various acupuncture points along meridians ( energy channels in the body)
origin: it was developed by John Upledger in 1970s and is based loosely on osteopathy in the cranial field that was develop in 1930s by William Garner Sutherland. It is based on the fact that life expresses itself as motion. At a deep level of our physiological functioning, all healthy, living tissues subtly "breathe" with the motion of life - a phenomenon that produces rhythmic impulses which can be palpated by sensitive hands.
how it works: it regulates the flow of cerebrospinal fluid by using very light, therapeutic touch to facilitate the expression of this “breath”. To do this, the therapist gently touches the client's skull, face, spine and pelvis.
for whom: if you prefer light touch rather than deep muscle manipulation, if you are not familiar with touch, if you have long term problems related to stress.