A massage is the stroking, kneading, rolling and pressing of the skin and muscles. There are many different styles, each with different origins and aims, but the premise of the treatment is the same – to relax and rebalance the body and to make you feel good.
With more than 250 variations of massage and bodywork therapies available around the world, understandably, it can get a little overwhelming. Below we look at some of the most common forms of massage, to help you learn which type of massage might be right for you.
Holistic massage is designed to improve circulation, soothe muscles and improve relaxation. It uses five main techniques; stroking and gliding, kneading, rubbing, tapping or pounding, and vibration. Swedish massage is what you probably consider a ‘typical’ massage.
This form of massage helps to stimulate the skin and nervous system, and exercises the ligaments and tendons to keep them supple. The process can be incredibly relaxing, and is championed for its ability to reduce both emotional, and physical stress.
Deep tissue massage uses slow, firm strokes and pressure to help ease and release tension deep in your muscles. Commonly used to treat chronic aches and pains and tension in the neck, back and shoulders, deep tissue massage is an intense but effective treatment.
Deep tissue massage is actually a blanket term, describing a number of therapies (such as sports massage and lymphatic drainage) and occurs, in some form, in many massage treatments. Deep tissue massage is commonly used for medical reasons by physiotherapists and chiropractors, or through GP referral.
Designed to ease stress and relieve any aches and pains in the body during pregnancy, prenatal massage can help to relax and prepare expectant mums for labour. Prenatal massage is a gentle therapy, involving light, rhythmic techniques, tailored to the woman’s needs and the current stage of pregnancy. Typically, pillows and / or a massage table will be used to enhance comfort and support the body during treatment.
Postnatal massage is designed to help both the mind and body adjust and recover from childbirth. Using gentle techniques, benefits include reduced stress and improved sleep. Also thought to ease aches and pains, speed up recovery and rebalance hormones, postnatal massage is available to new mums as soon as they feel ready.
Remedial massage can be effective in preventing and treating muscle injuries and pain. Commonly used to treat back pain, remedial massage uses deep tissue techniques to help remove blockages and damaged cells in the body. This helps to reduce recovery time after injury, and encourage healing.
Sports massage is designed to help prevent and treat injuries that can occur as a result of exercise. Sports massage therapists will use a range of deep, intense techniques to restore mobility to an injured muscle. Stretching, compression, toning, and trigger point response techniques similar to acupressure may be used.
Many find sports massage to support them through all stages of training, from injury recovery to prevention of further injury, before and after exercise. Though this treatment isn’t only for athletes, anyone who partakes in regular physical activity can benefit from a sports massage.
Focusing on the head, neck and shoulders, Indian head massage comes from Ayurveda. Using a range of techniques with varying pressure, Indian head massage is a deep massage that aims to encourage healing and restore balance in the body.
The treatment may be firmer than expected but you shouldn’t feel discomfort. Benefits include an improved sleep routine and a release of tension in your neck, back and shoulders.