Massage is one of the quickest ways to relax your muscles and improve blood circulation in your tired and overused muscles. After a workout, having a massage can help you to recover quicker and get you back to the gym. The physical manipulation of the body can help to stretch out, release knots (adhesions) and get built up toxins in your muscles to exit well. Most health funds cover for massage because of it’s efficacy in chronic disease management and overall health and wellbeing. When you are feeling relaxed and pain free, you are more likely to be active and enjoying life. But there are so many different types of massage out there that it can be hard to decide which one to sign up for.
Massage therapy has a long history in improving health and wellbeing that dates right back into ancient times. One thing to consider before signing up for a massage is what you want to achieve from the massage. Do you need to be relaxed all over? Do you have specific pain? Do you want to recover quicker after a strenuous workout? Do you have a chronic disease? If you can figure out what goal you have for the massage, it can help you to decide which type of massage would be best for you.
Massage for Relaxation
Many people who lead highly stressful lives, or are going through a stressful situation hold their stress in their bodies. Headaches and sore muscles is one way to know that you are going through a stressful time. Getting a massage can help you to regulate your stress and relax your muscles, enabling you to move better and feel freer.
Swedish Massage Therapy
Swedish Massage is the most common Western style of relaxation massage therapy offered in clinics, gym, and spas. It is based on Western concepts of anatomy and physiology, using five different massage strokes to provide full-body muscle relaxation. These strokes are effleurage (long smooth strokes), petrissage (kneading, rolling, and lifting), friction (wringing or small circular movements), tapotement (percussion), and vibration (rocking and shaking movements). The strokes are gentle and smooth so shouldn’t be painful at all. It is great for reducing pain and stiffness in joints. Research has shown that merely a 45minute Swedish massage can significantly decrease stress hormone levels and increase white blood cell count (these are the ones that fight sickness). If you are recovering from an injury, have arthritis or reduced movement, this type of massage would be good for you.
Hot Stone Massage
This type of massage utilises heated smooth volcanic stones to warm and relax your muscles before the therapist massages you. The heat from the stone releases tension by its weight and heat. The therapist may also use the stones to massage your body to loosen the tight muscles more quickly enabling pain to be targeted.
This is a popular type of massage originating from ancient Japan. It utilises rhythmic pressure on different acupressure points to realign the energy flow in your body. People have reported increased energy, decreased stress and pain relief after this massage.
Massage for Pain Relief
If you are suffering from specific pain in certain muscle groups, you may require a more targeted and ‘deeper’ massage therapy. If you have a chronically sore back or have a certain condition, these types of massage therapy may be more beneficial for you.
Deep Tissue Massage
As the name suggests, Deep Tissue Massage focuses on a more increased pressure to release adhesions or knots deeper down in the muscle and connective tissue. It is great for you if you have chronic tight muscles, repetitive strain from work, postural problems or specific injuries. Deep Tissue Massage therapists use deliberate strokes to create friction across the grain of the muscle. It may not be as comfortable and relaxing as the stress relieving massage, however it shouldn’t leave you in pain either. Always let your therapist know if you are feeling uncomfortable. A particular study has shown that this type of massage significantly decreases blood pressure after a 45-60minute session.
Remedial Massage is another form of massage that can be targeted towards your specific needs. It’s techniques aim to stretch and lengthen connective and muscle tissue, reduce pain and discomfort and promote relaxation and increased mobility. Remedial massage aims to increase blood return to remove lactic and uric acid built up in the extremities. You will leave feeling relaxed and be able to move your body with greater ease.
Sports Massage is a more specific type of massage tailored to athletes to prevent and treat injuries, improve flexibility and recover well after a workout. You don’t need to be a professional athlete to receive a sports massage – if you are regularly working out or entering in sports events, sports massage can really enhance your performance. A Sports Massage Therapist will target specific muscle groups that are used in your sport to improve range of motion and enhance blood flow to that area. As well as using different strokes applied in a more vigorous manner to a relaxation massage, this type of massage can also utilise compression, pressure point therapy, friction and joint mobilisation.
All massage therapists are different and have certain skills. Make sure you check what type of massage a therapist provides so you can match your needs with the massage. Anyone can benefit from a massage. Being relaxed is a healthy state of mind!