The human touch is a powerful thing. For the last 5,000 years humans have indulged in massage for a variety of mental and physical health benefits. Different cultures have perfected their versions of the therapeutic rubdown, adding various techniques in the process.
Today, massage remains one of life’s most universally enjoyable experiences. There are hundreds of variations to choose from, so picking the right type of rubdown can be painfully overwhelming. We have consulted with massage therapists on what type of massage is best for different needs and different pains that you may be experiencing.
Don’t stress. Ahead are ten popular massage types and a little guidance to help you get the one you’ll most enjoy.
Best Massage for First Timers – Swedish Massage
Swedish massages are the most common form of bodywork – and for good reason. This ‘best all around’ rubdown helps with a host of healing properties from improved circulation and relaxation to decreased muscle tension and joint pain. This is best experienced as a “full body” massage to dissolve your built up tension.
Best Massage for Relaxation – Hot Stone Massage
Sore muscles are best soothed into submission with a hot stone massage. The masseuse uses flat, warmed rocks to loosen muscles through heat transference. The combination of stone and hand kneading will melt mental and physical stressors.
Best Massage for Tension Relief – Deep Tissue Massage
If you have seriously tense muscles, and a high pain tolerance, a deep tissue massage may be the perfect remedy. This technique focuses on the deepest layers of your muscles and connective tissues. It’s a hurts-so-good type that will likely leave you sore after. Talk with your massage therapist about the best practices and activities to reduce the tension and soreness that may creep back in.
Best Mood-Lifting Massage – Aromatherapy Massage
Essential oils are said to emit mood-elevating properties. When these concentrated plant extracts are used in an aromatherapy massage, it can be a mood-altering, anxiety-relieving experience that lasts long after you leave the table. Ask your massage therapist about which oils and scents are right for the mood of your choice.
Best Massage for Knots – Trigger Point Massage
Does your back pain feel like it’s radiating from one particular spot? A professional trigger point massage could help “untangle” you by using a technique that micro-targets myofascial pain. This type of massage is very similar to a deep tissue massage. It mostly just targets specific areas of your body that are plagued by knots.
Best Massage for Athletes – Sports Massage
Sports massages take their cue from Swedish and deep tissue massages. They’re designed to help athletic types improve their performance while treating the soreness and pain that comes from being super active. This massage tends to be more firm to release the strained muscles that come from exercise and physical activity.
Best Fully Clothed Massage – Shiatsu Massage
Not sure you want to completely disrobe in front of a total stranger? Try Shiatsu massage. It hails from Japan and is known for increasing the body’s natural energy flow. Practitioners make rhythmic gestures over your clothes, using just their hands and palms to increase your comfort levels.
Best Rejuvenating Massage – Thai Massage
If you’re a yogi or simply love the feeling of stretching your muscles, definitely try Thai massage. During this interactive spa session your masseuse will manipulate and extend different parts of your body, using different parts of theirs. You’ll leave more flexible and energized without having to do any of the work yourself. A word of warning as more than likely if this is chosen as your first therapeutic massage you may leave more sore than when you first came in. Be sure to limber up and drink plenty of water!
Best Spiritual Massage – Ayurvedic Massage
Ayurvedic massage is part of a 3,000-year-old medical practice that began in India. This full body treatment is paired with ancient techniques and oils that are said to have spiritual properties associated with them.
Best Massage for Specific Injuries – Neuromuscular massage
Neuromuscular massage is a cousin of the trigger point technique. It’s best for treating things like pulled muscles, back spasms, and lower back aches. It’s also good for helping heal soft tissue injuries by improving blood flow and oxygen levels.
If you are pregnant, especially in the early stages, some massages could be dangerous for your baby’s health. Please consult your doctor as to the best time to pause and resume your massages as some prenatal massages can be extremely relaxing and great for your mental state.
Ultimately, massages are supposed to be relaxing. Next time you find yourself stressing about which type to choose, consult this guide to make sure nothing rubs you the wrong way.