Know the styles of massage to get the best fit for you!

Massage comes in a variety of different styles, in fact, more than 100 different types of massage are practiced today. Each one uses different techniques, strokes and instruments throughout the massage to accomplish the ultimate goal of healing by manipulating muscles, ligaments, tendons, skin, fascia and joints.

Although every massage therapy session has a specific goal related to each individual patient, the benefits of massage therapy are widespread; they can be not only physical but mental and spiritual as well. Massage therapy boosts the immune system, relaxes the muscles, reduces anxiety, alleviates pain, reduces blood pressure and heart rate, increases endorphins, improves circulation and increases range of motion. Every massage technique has a different level of intensity depending upon the depth of tissue being manipulated.

Not everyone likes the same intensity and therefore different types of massages will be necessary for different individuals; communication with your therapist is essential.

Here is a list of the most popular massage therapy types, including their features and benefits, to help you pick the best massage style for you. Then, work with your massage therapist to get exactly what you need out of your appointment.

Swedish Massage
Benefits: Relaxation, muscle health and the removal of toxins from the body through circulation. When most people think of massage they are thinking about Swedish massage. It is the most common type of massage therapy and includes the basic strokes required for all massage: effleurage, a light touch; petrissage, deep, rhythmical kneading; tapotement, a rhythmic percussive movement, and vibration/shaking. Most Swedish massages start with superficial strokes in the direction of the blood circulation to warm up the muscles then move to deeper tissues.

Aromatherapy Massage
Benefits: Relaxation and stress reduction Aromatherapy massage uses essential oils to relax, energize, balance or reduce stress. One of the most common essential oils used with this type of massage is lavender, however the massage therapist will determine which types of essential oil to use based upon client needs. At the end of a session the unused oil typically is given to the client to take home.

Hot Stone Massage
Benefits: Relieves muscular tension, reduces stress and improves circulation This massage uses heated basalt lava stones and, often, essential oils. Hot stones are placed along meridians to loosen tight muscles. The heat penetrates deeply as essential oils help to soothe and relax while relieving stress and releasing toxins. The massage therapist applies gentle pressure to the stones and uses the stones to massage the body.

Deep-Tissue Massage
Benefits: Remove toxins, increase range of motion and eliminate muscle tightness Deep-tissue massage is targeted toward the deeper muscles and connective tissues to break up adhesions, decrease pain from injury, repetitive strain and postural problems. Deep-tissue massage is targeted toward a specific body region and usually includes slow strokes and friction as well as techniques such as trigger point, neuromuscular therapy and myofascial release. Deep-tissue massage implies a deeper intensity than normal massage and can leave the patient sore for a couple of days.

Therapeutic Massage 
Benefits: Treats various types of musculoskeletal disorders and conditions This type of massage is typically provided at a medical office such as a chiropractor, pain clinic or rehab facility, and is typically used for people with chronic pain. The massage therapist focuses on correcting a problem that is causing the patient pain. Therapeutic massage can be used to treat various types of musculoskeletal disorders and conditions. Multiple techniques can be used to accomplish this task.

Benefits: Stimulate bodily organs and the nervous system Although commonly known as a foot massage, reflexology is based upon the theory of zone therapy – parts of the body correspond to areas on the foot. A reflexologist applies pressure to different parts of the foot to relieve corresponding problems within the rest of the body. Reflexology can also include the ears and hands as well as the feet. Although the pressure is firm, reflexology is very relaxing and people normally feel great after treatment.

Thai Massage
Benefits: Reduces stress and improves flexibility and range of motion Thai massage is much like shiatsu massage in that it uses gentle pressure along the meridians of the body to balance the system. However, Thai massage is different in that it combines acupressure with yoga stretches. Thai massage is based on Ayurvedic principles of unblocking energy pathways in the body through compression and stretching. The therapist moves the patient’s body through specific stretches to loosen and relax tight muscles.

Lomi Lomi
Benefits: Sweeping movements to relax the mind and body This ancient healing art of traditional Hawaiian massage uses fluid motion and slow, graceful movements to rock you into a blissful tranquility. Lomi Lomi relaxes the nervous system, increases circulation, releases areas of congestion and leaves the client with a sense of well being.

"Every massage technique has a different level of intensity depending upon the depth of tissue being manipulated."