Swedish is the most common type of massage therapy. It involves soft, long, kneading strokes, as well as light, rhythmic, tapping strokes, on topmost layers of muscles. This is combined with movement of the joints. By relieving muscle tension, Swedish therapy can be both relaxing and energizing. And it may even help after an injury.
The four common strokes of Swedish massage are:
• Effleurage: a smooth, gliding stroke used to relax soft tissue
• Petrissage: the squeezing, rolling, or kneading that follows effleurage
• Friction: deep, circular movements that cause layers of tissue to rub against each other, helping to increase blood flow and break down scar tissue
• Tapotement: a short, alternating tap done with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand
Have you ever been to a county fair, music festival, or conference and envied other people getting chair massages? Or have you passed by the chair massage section in an airport? Or, maybe you're lucky enough to work at a company that offers 15- to 20-minute massages as a regular benefit.
Onsite chair massages are done while you're seated fully clothed in a portable, specially designed chair. They usually involve a massage of your neck, shoulders, back, arms and hands.
During pregnancy, your body goes through major changes. Pregnancy massage can help with these changes by reducing stress, decreasing arm and leg swelling and relieving muscle and joint pain.
Massage may be particularly helpful during a time when medication and other medical options may be more limited. Using specially designed massage pillows, the massage therapist will help get you into a comfortable position for this type of massage.
Deep tissue massage is best for giving attention to certain painful, stiff "trouble spots" in your body. The massage therapist uses slow, deliberate strokes that focus pressure on layers of muscles, tendons, or other tissues deep under your skin.
Though less rhythmic than other types of massage, deep tissue massage can be quite therapeutic -- relieving chronic patterns of tension and helping with muscle injuries, such as back sprain.
In Japanese, shiatsu means "finger pressure." For shiatsu massage, the therapist uses varied, rhythmic pressure on certain precise points of the body. These points are called acupressure points, and they are believed to be important for the flow of the body's vital energy, called chi. Proponents say shiatsu massage can help relieve blockages at these acupressure points.
For this kind of massage, the therapist places warmed stones on certain areas of the body, such as acupressure points. The stones may be used as massage tools or be temporarily left in place. Used along with other massage techniques, hot stones can be quite soothing and relaxing as they transmit heat deep into the body.
Developed to help with muscle systems used for a particular sport, sports massage uses a variety of approaches to help athletes in training -- before, during or after sports events. You might use it to promote flexibility and help prevent injuries, or it may help muscle strains, aiding healing after a sports injury.
Reflexology uses hand, thumb and finger techniques to stimulate certain areas of the feet. These areas are believed to correspond to different parts of the body. The massage, then, is expected to promote health and well-being.
During a Thai massage, the therapist uses his or her body to move the client into a variety of positions. This type of massage includes compression of muscles, mobilization of joints and acupressure.