Massage therapy has been around for as long as we can remember and is an amazing option to treat physical ailments. People are beginning to understand just how beneficial massage therapy is. In order to begin reaping these benefits, it is important that you first understand the types of massages available and what they are used for, so you can choose the most suitable option for your needs.  It is always recommended to work with a registered massage therapist.

Swedish Massage Therapy
As the most common type of massage, Swedish massage therapy is great for those who have never had a massage before. It is gentle and relaxing. Massage therapists use lotion or oil to massage the superficial layers of your skin using long strokes, small circles, tapping and kneading motions. This type of massage is ideal for relaxation and stress relief.

Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massages are great for chronic muscle pain or posture problems. Massage therapists target the deeper layers of connective tissue and muscle using slow, deep strokes across the grain of the muscle. Constant pain in muscles is typically caused by bands of painful tissue that forms over time. Deep tissue massages target these adhesions of tissue, relaxing the target muscle and breaking down the adhesions, restoring the muscle to its normal movement.

Due to the amount of focused pressure that must be used to successfully rid the muscles of this deeper level of tension, deep tissue massages can sometimes be uncomfortable or painful, and those who receive it may be in a bit of pain for a few days after the massage.

Shiatsu is a Japanese technique that uses isolated finger pressure on the acupuncture points. Its lack of needles has made this technique popular among those who want to balance their flow of energy. Shiatsu calms the nervous system by applying pressure to specified points (depending on the ailments or purpose for visit).

Shiatsu is wonderful for those people who may be uncomfortable with removing their clothes; since no massage oils or lotions are needed, clothing is kept on. There is also no pain associated with Shiatsu, if you feel any pain during the massage, simply ask the massage therapist to use a little less pressure, you will not sacrifice any of the benefits.

Thai Massage
The Thai massage technique has similarities to the Shiatsu technique in that it applies pressure to specific points of the body, but it also includes a stretching component. The massage therapist moves your body into various positions to stretch your muscles. It is similar to the stretching aspect of yoga, but you are not doing the work. It is more rigorous than the other forms of massage, but it is more energizing as well. Like the Shiatsu massage, you remain fully dressed for the duration of the massage.

Due to the nature of the full body stretching and handling, there are more restrictions regarding who should receive Thai massages. Check with your doctor before receiving one of these massages as it is not recommended for those who are pregnant, have open sores, are prone to blood clots, and several other conditions.

Pregnancy Massage
Pregnancy massages are a great way for mothers-to-be to relieve aches, swelling, stress, etc. Certified pregnancy massage therapists have received extensive training on the proper way to support a pregnant woman’s body using padding and pillows to protect the mother and child. They also have received training on the types of massages suitable for pregnant women.

There are many different types of massage, each suited to different applications, health benefits, comfort level, and comfort threshold. This alternative medicine technique has helped many people reduce stress, improve mobility, and can be customized to help you with your specific ailments.

Article Author: Shelly Jackson is a Registered Massage Therapist and owner of Buena Vista Massage Therapy Clinic in Vancouver, BC. On a daily basis we deal with: resolving muscle and movement stiffness and pain; injuries from vehicles or sports; post breast cancer rehab; pregnancy related discomfort; repetitive strain and overuse injuries. We work with clients to reduce their anxiety and stress, improve joint movement, sleep and quality of life. Working with qualified massage therapists is necessary for your continued health. Contact us at 604-538-7166 and we would be happy to answer any questions you have.

Photo Source: courtesy of Praisaeng / Free Digital Photos