The first-ever massage was done over 4,000 years ago in China. Between then and now, many types of massages have been created and to know which one is best for you can be tricky. The key to getting the most benefits out of massage therapy is to pick the right type based on your personal needs.
Bright Side is laying out some of the most common types of massage therapy and what kinds of people it’s meant for.
1. Aromatherapy massage
This is a massage with essential oils such as lavender and eucalyptus. They may be applied directly onto the skin or be diffused in the room during the session. This massage is great for people who have anxiety, depression, insomnia, nausea, and pain, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
2. Hot stone massage
For this massage, smooth, flat, heated stones are placed on specific parts of the body. The stones are made of volcanic rock that retain heat and are heated between 130 and 145 degrees. If you’re experiencing muscle tension and pain, insomnia, or stress, a hot stone massage may be helpful to you. This moderate pressure massage is found to be beneficial especially for those with rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study.
3. Trigger point massage
This massage is meant to tackle “muscle knots” — especially when you’re experiencing back or neck pain. The therapist would target and apply pressure on certain points in your body to reduce your muscle pain.
4. Thai massage
Thai massage requires the person being massaged to participate actively in the massage because there is yoga-like stretching involved. Since the massage has a lot of stretching, it is especially good for people who are active in sports like athletes and those who need stretching. The massage can help lower stress, boost energy, relieve headaches, and improve circulation and range of motion.
5. Prenatal massage
Prenatal massage can be done at any time during a pregnancy. Getting a massage during pregnancy can help to regulate hormones, reduce swelling and pain, and ease stress and anxiety.
6. Couples massage
This is a massage that you can do with your partner, friend, or family member in the same room. Basically, it can be any chosen massage and may even include using a sauna or body scrubs and getting pedicures. The idea is that you will be side-by-side with your partner and enjoy a relaxing time together as a way to bond. Therefore, it’s perfect for people who are looking to do activities together and improve their relationship.
7. Aquatic bodywork therapy massage
Also known as “watsu,” this massage promotes relaxation by supporting and gently moving the person through water in graceful, fluid movements. It helps to decrease muscle tension and increase range of motion. The massage would be beneficial for people who suffer from muscle pain or stiffness.
8. Swedish massage
Swedish massage is one of the most popular massage types because it can be relaxing and energizing. It involves different kinds of strokes combined with the movement of the joints. It’s best suited for people who want to relax and relieve tension.
9. Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage is when pressure is applied using slow deep strokes to target the inner layer of muscles. In doing so, it helps to treat muscle pain and improve stiffness. It’s most suitable for people who engage in highly physical activities or those who have an injury or chronic pain.
10. Ashiatsu massage
Ashiatsu massage is like deep tissue massage but it’s done with feet rather than hands. The therapist will walk on the person’s back barefoot while holding onto propped up railings. The weight of the therapist adds more pressure than other massage types. It’s good for people who want to reduce chronic pain, stress, and improve flexibility.
11. Active release technique massage
Nicknamed ART, the massage treats your body’s soft tissue by identifying, isolating, and targeting the affected area. As such, it’s effective for dealing with injuries of the soft tissue, such as overuse and sports injuries. It can also help to relieve pain and stiffness.
12. Chair massage
A specially designed chair is used in this massage and is done with the person sitting on it fully-clothed. It often involves massaging the neck, shoulders, back, arms, and hands. Since the massage chair is portable, it has been argued that the massage would be beneficial for working people in an office because it can give them some time off to relieve stress.
Which of these massage types do you think would suit you best? Have you tried a massage that you think works well for you?
Illustrated by Ekaterina Gapanovich for Bright Side