The Ultimate Guide to Massage

The power of touch is undeniable, and it has the ability to change someone’s life for good. Here we are referring to massages (before you take it somewhere else *Wink*).

Massages are good for just about anyone as several types of therapies are introduced to help us with different issues both physically and psychologically. This guide will be your go-to source of information about different massaging techniques and their benefits. Keep reading!

What is Massage?

Massage is a procedure in which pressure is applied on various parts of the body using hands, elbows, fingers, feet, forearms or specialized devices. It not only aids in pain relief, but is commonly used for relaxation as well.

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy refers to the manual manipulation of connective tissue, muscle tissue, tendons and ligaments in order to ensure well-being and good health of an individual. A number of methods are used in these massage therapies called modalities.

Where To Get Massages?

Where To Get Massages

Getting massages from a trained and professional person is always a great idea! Fortunately, you can find them in:

  • Massage Clinics
  • Mobile Massage Services
  • Chiropractic Clinics
  • Medical Facilities
  • Spa Facilities
  • Sports Rehabilitation Facilities
  • Hospitals

The type of therapy you desire or need depends on the place from where you are getting the services. For instance, massages in spas emphasis on relaxation more, but in sports rehabilitation or hospitals; your injuries, pains or aliment issues are catered.

The Many Benefits of Massage

A good massage can offer you a bunch of amazing benefits in both ways, emotionally and physically. These therapies help in: 

  • Pain reduction
  • Improved circulation
  • Reduced stress muscles
  • Increased healing process
  • Reduced Anxiety
  • Improved joint mobility
  • Relieved headache and a migraine
  • Improved lymphatic drainage
  • Controlled blood pressure
  • Reduced chemotherapy symptoms
  • Managed lower back pain
  • Improved lifestyle
  • Increased performance and stamina

And the list is endless!

Massage Therapies 101

Are you ready to get a nice massage? (Yay). Now the next step is to choose the right type of technique that caters all your needs. Below, we have shared some popular massaging methods that are used all over the world. Keep reading for pro-tips that can make your spa experience a successful and serene one, guaranteed!

  • Swedish Massage

Swedish Massage

This treatment aims to relax overall body through gentle muscle stroking. Swedish massage is the most famous technique practiced in the United States because of its utmost benefits.

How It Works?

A bed or massage table is needed with this one. As the therapist will be working on each of your body section; you would be required to remove most of your clothes for a smooth session. Besides, you may be asked to lay down naked with just a few towels covering your body. (don’t be hesitant as this is a part of the therapy). 

Moreover, the professionals will be using certain oils to lubricate the skin surface. First step is to provide warmth to the muscle tissues through strokes. Later, the session involves kneading, circular movements, stroking and applying pressure with palms and hands.

The benefits of Swedish massage include:

  • Stress relief
  • Speedy injury recovery
  • Stress muscle relief
  • Whole-body relaxation
  • Scar tissue healing
  • Hot Stone Massage

Hot Stone Massage

The next one is unique and significant therapy, which involves massages through the heated stones. In ancient times, hot stone massage was considered as a spiritual way of healing and today, a number of spas are getting benefited from it worldwide.

How It Works?

Is this going to be painful? Can the heated stones burn my skin? These are the initial concerns generally people have with this therapy. However, the answer to both these questions is a NO! 

Basically, the stones used in hot stone massage are heated at around 120 to 150 F in the water, which won’t hurt you in any way. These stones are then placed on different parts of your back, especially along the spine. Once the stones lose their temperature; the therapist will replace them with the fresh batch.

At the end of Hot Stone Massage therapy, you should be experiencing:

  • Relaxation
  • Reduced stress
  • Decreased pain symptoms
  • Flushed toxins from the body.

Caution!

If you are suffering from heart issues, diabetes or high blood pressure; this therapy is not suggested. Pregnant women should avoid it too.

  • Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy Massage

Basically, an aromatherapy massage therapy is similar to the Swedish massage except the involvement of essential oils or scented plants. The aromas used in the sessions help the body relax, calm the nerves and ensure a sound sleep.

Aromatherapy massage

Swedish Massage

It uses aromatic plants extracts or essential oils  A Swedish-originated relaxing and soothing therapy 
Aromas are a must in any form Essential oil or fragrances are not necessarily involved
Gentler and much relaxing Gentle and soothing motions
Mostly help with mental and emotional issues, like sleep disorder, anxiety, stress, etc. Equally beneficial in both ways, physical and mental, such as pain relief, reduce depression symptoms, etc.

How it Works?

Aromatherapy works best for people having sleep disorder, anxiety issues and depression. It has the ability to instantly uplift the mood and energy level of the patient. Some more benefits are:

  • Help with a headache and migraine
  • Relive back pain
  • Decrease PMS symptoms
  • Improve digestive issues

Important!

Make sure that you are not allergic to particular essential oil, and if you do; please don’t forget to inform your therapist before it’s too late.

  • Lymphatic Massage

The other names for Lymphatic massage are Manual Lymphatic Drainage or MLD. The technique is utilized to reduce swelling and to stimulate lymphatic system in the body. Light and slow movements are applied with gentle skin stretching in a circular motion. Moreover, no oil is used in the massage, and it is done on bare skin.

How it Works?

A lymphatic massage is generally practiced in a medical setting in order to aid fluid build-up or to reduce swelling after the surgery. Besides, spas also offer this therapy for face puffiness, cellulite reduction and detoxing.

This technique will help you with:

  • PMS symptoms
  • Post natal puffiness
  • Reduced swelling
  • Decreased cellulite appearance
  • Reduced fluid build-up

Ponder!

Lymphatic massages are usually prescribed by the specialties for medical reasons. However, you may have to take some sessions for some visible results.

  • Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu is a Japanese word, meaning finger pressure. It is one of the popular massaging techniques that has a number of advantages. 

How it Works?

In Shiatsu massage, professionals apply a firm pressure on different parts of the body with their fingers, knees, feet and elbows. The therapy is based on acupressure and acupuncture techniques. It consists of four common types.

Type of Shiatsu Massage

Properties

Zen

Use of elbows, knees, palms, hands and fists on acupressure points.

Ohashiatsu

It includes meditation and focuses on energy.

Five Elements

Utilizes Traditional Chinese Medicine and Shiatsu massaging techniques to heal and discover body imbalances. 

Ashiatsu

Strong pressure massage using feet.

The benefits of Shiatsu massage are: 

  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Reflexology massage
  • Pain relief
  • Eases muscle tension
  • Increases blood circulation
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Feeling invigorated and loose
  • Sports Massage

Sports Massage

Sports massage is a specialized treatment for athletes to ensure their peak performances before or after the game. It reduces tension and fatigue throughout the body and prevents injuries by strengthening the muscles.

How it Works?

Before the event, Athletes get this massage to restore muscles and to stimulate specific areas in the body. However, sports therapy is also helpful in normalizing the tissues after the game, and ensuring a quick healing process in case of an injury. Moreover, it focuses on particular areas instead of the whole body. Therefore, sports massage varies from person to person, depending on their individual needs. 

Some of its advantages include:

  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Relieved swelling
  • More flexibility
  • Drains fatigue
  • Better body movement
  • Increased blood flow
  • Quick recovery process
  • Lactic acid elimination
  • Deep Tissue Massage

Deep Tissue Massage

As the name suggests, this therapy involves deep tissue massage using deep pressure, slow friction and trigger point massage. It works best for relieving muscle tension, aches and hypertension. This technique is quite similar to the Swedish massage, but it is more deep and intense. Check out the comparison chart for a better idea.

Name of Massage

Intent

Pressure

Area of focus

Deep Tissue Massage

Primary use is to focus on chronic pain or sport injuries. Intense and deep Inner layers of muscles, injuries, pain and stiffness.

Swedish Massage

Helpful for stressed muscles, promote relaxation and combat fatigue caused by everyday routine. Gentler  Targets superficial muscle layers

How it Works?

Also known as trigger point massage, this therapy aims to effect the deepest levels of tissues and muscles. Especially, people suffering from pain, stiff neck and sore shoulders should definitely try it. In the session, the therapist would use fingertips, elbows, hands, and even knuckles.

Trigger point or deep tissue massage can:

  • Relief muscles’ soreness
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help with stiffness and chronic muscle pain
  • Loosen knots in the muscles

Tip

Staying hydrated after the massage will help in flushing out any type of metabolic waste from the body, specially muscle tissues. Moreover, your body may experience tenderness or soreness for a couple of days, which is normal.

  • Prenatal Massage

This one is for pregnant ladies out there! Prenatal massages are customized sessions that are tailored to match the individual needs of the expecting mothers. 

How it Works?

Usually, a special type of table is used in this therapy in which women can lay face down effortlessly without stressing on the abdomen. Besides, special pillows are utilized to help them lay on the side comfortably. However, it is important to consult a trained professional for prenatal massages – someone who knows how to remove tightness from the muscles safely, relieve soreness and pains caused by pregnancy.

This massage is good for:

  • Improving posture
  • Loosening tight muscles
  • Ensuring relaxation
  • Relieving headaches
  • Overcoming stress
  • Reducing lower backaches

Important!

Light pressure on the belly is acceptable, but only a gentle one not more than that. Prenatal massages are not suggested in the first trimester, and they are recommended by gynecologists, when needed.

  • Reflexology

Reflexology

This traditional therapy is beneficial for correcting imbalances from all over the body. 

How it Works?

In reflexology, pressure is applied to certain parts of the hands, ears and feet to encourage quick healing. Mainly, the therapy focuses on reflex points on feet, calves and upper legs. Also, it is extremely beneficial for ankle injuries, everyday movement and arthritis. 

Apart from this, it helps with:

  • Sinus problems
  • Easing headache
  • Reducing anxiety and stress symptoms
  • Relieves muscle soreness

Bonus Tips

The treatment usually lasts for over 30 minutes. You will be required to wear loose-fitting clothing; no need to be naked! Reflexology is not suitable for pregnant women in their first trimester.  Moreover, consult your doctor in case of any foot injury or medical problem prior to the therapy.

  • Therapeutic Massage

Therapeutic technique usually includes soft tissue and muscles manipulation. The main focus is to relieve the muscle stress and pain. In therapeutic massages; several other techniques are used, such as deep tissue, Swedish and sports massage.

How it Works?

Therapeutic massages are great for relaxation and rehabilitation. Also practiced for sport conditioning; each session can be customized as per specific needs of the client. For instance, you can also get a full body massage or choose to focus on particular areas of the body. 

Therapeutic massage will benefit you by:

  • Decreasing anxiety
  • Reducing fatigue
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Removing muscle tension 
  • Relieving muscle pains and aches

The massage is equally suitable for mild discomfort or soreness.

A Guideline to Massage Etiquette

Already decided which type of massage is suitable for you? Great! Don’t forget to read some basic tricks and tips to become a model client, receiving the best treatment at the spa! Yes, this is possible. Follow the lead:

  • Arrive the location on time

Don’t keep your therapist waiting, once you have scheduled the appointment. It can cause a lot of disturbance, and your sessions may get postponed. 

Reach there 15 minutes earlier to use the restroom, fill the forms and just be in the mood of some relaxation!

  • Shave Later, Shower First

Shower before the therapy is always a good idea (your therapist will be grateful to you for not smelling like rotten eggs). However, you don’t have to shave beforehand because no one will be bothered about your hair when the main focus is on the muscles.

  • Don’t Hesitate to Take Everything Off

Hesitation can lead you nowhere! Your therapist need to work on different parts of the body, and it is time-seeking and annoying to massage through the clothes. However, if the professional is working on specific parts; it’s alright to wear undergarments or keep the bottom on. Moreover, ensure that you are not wearing any jewelry, if getting a full body massage.

  • Communicate

A therapist is there to help you not to discomfort you in any way. Therefore, if something is bothering you; just talk about it. Especially when it comes to the intensity of applied pressure or pain in any area of the body.

  • Be Grateful

Tipping is a wonderful way of showing your gratitude towards the service provider. However, the concern is how much you should be giving? Well, 18-20 percent bonus is considered standard in the spas, but it all depends on your choice!

Tips to Maximize Your Massage Experience

Tips to Maximize Your Massage Experience

Massages are capable of doing wonders to your physical and mental wellbeing. But wait, do you know it is possible to extend the post-treatment benefits? Consider the following for optimum results:

  • Epsom Salt Bath

Everyone needs to take a bath after a massaging therapy, especially if it involves oils. However, taking Epsom salt bath post massage can double the benefits of the session by counteracting soreness and relieving stress from the body.

P.S. This tip works best after the deep tissue massage.

  • Stay hydrated

Have you ever wondered why the therapists provide water to you after the massaging session? That’s because it helps in flushing out the toxins that are released during the treatment.

  • Book Another Session Shortly

Massaging can work best for those who utilize them regularly. You cannot enjoy the benefits of a therapy overnight; several back-to-back sessions might be needed to cater the ‘issue’.  

The Takeaway

Needless to say, you can’t just deny the importance of massages and their advantages on our wellbeing. However, this should be a relaxing procedure for you rather a tiring and painful experience. So, communicate with your therapist about your body needs, seek guidance from the experts and choose a right type of massage that fits your goals of pain relief and relaxation. Don’t compromise on etiquette by being punctual, grateful and respectful towards the service provider. Book your appointments now and enjoy the much-needed pampering!