Three Common Types Of Massage -- Explained

If you're rather new to the idea of getting a massage, you may be confused by all of the different types of massages advertised. Do you want a deep tissue massage? A Swedish massage? A Shiatsu massage? It's hard to know which one to choose if you have no idea how these differ from one another. To help you make an informed decision, here's a look at three common types of massages, and what each entails: 

Swedish Massage

The Swedish massage is the most common type of massage in North America. If you visit a salon that is advertising general massages, it is likely that what they're offering is really a Swedish massage. This type of massage involves using various strokes, ranging from long, gentle strokes to more precise, kneading strokes, to break up tissue adhesions and promote relaxation. Different massage therapists may use different levels of pressure in a Swedish massage, and it can be customized to your individual needs, too. It is a good general massage for anyone who has never had a massage before or is seeking some simple relaxation.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is sometimes considered to be a subtype of Swedish massage. It uses the same varied strokes to smooth out muscle tissue adhesions. However, deeper pressure is applied in an effort to loosen chronic muscle tension in the deeper layers of tissue. Not only are the muscles addressed, but the tendons and fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds muscle) is also treated. Deep tissue massage, specifically, has been shown to reduce patients' blood pressure and may boost your mood by triggering the release of certain hormones. Athletes often use deep tissue massage to ease muscle soreness after heavy workouts.

Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage is quite different from Swedish or deep tissue massage. It has Japanese origins and is based on the way energy, or qi, is thought to flow through the body. Instead of using long, deep strokes, shiatsu massage therapists apply rhythmic pressure to certain areas of the body, using the fingers. Shiatsu massage is said to be very relaxing. Some say that it helps ease anxiety, stress, constipation and headaches, but these claims have limited scientific backing. 

If you are not sure what kind of massage is right for you, talk to a massage therapist (such as one from Therapeutic Body Concepts Massage Clinic) at the salon you plan to visit. Tell him or her what you hope to get out of the massage session, and the therapist will suggest a treatment that's right for you.