The standard type of massage offered in most clinics, gyms, spas, and wellness centers, Swedish massage is virtually synonymous with massage therapy. Swedish massage is based on the Western concepts of anatomy and physiology, compared to the energy-centric style more common in Asian forms of massage. Using lotion or oil, massage therapists typically begin with broad general strokes and then transition to specific strokes to address problem areas.
“Runners put so much effort into training, but very few athletes put effort into taking good care of body that helps them perform,” says Gammal, who recommends incorporating regular massage—even if it’s just a 30-minute session once a month—so as to prevent injuries and the overtraining of muscles. Scheduling mid-training appointments can also reveal places that are tight and places that should be addressed in post-workout stretching. “Massage isn’t a luxury, Gammal says. “It’s an investment.”
Therapeutic massage is used in the treatment of diseases and injuries of the motor and support apparatus, metabolic disturbances (obesity, diabetes mellitus, and gout), and diseases of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems. In reflex-segmental massage various organs and tissues are affected through the massage of certain areas of the skin, subcutaneous tissue, and muscles. Reflex-segmental massage is prescribed for therapeutic purposes, as is pneumomassage, or vacuum massage, in which waves of air are used to improve the peripheral blood circulation. Syncardial massage, which is also prescribed for therapeutic purposes, involves the rhythmic compression of the vessels of the extremities by means of a special apparatus called the Synkardon. Another form of therapeutic massage, underwater massage, is performed by a special apparatus that creates an underwater stream under as much as two to four atmospheres pressure.
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Do not use massage therapy to replace conventional care or to postpone seeing a health care provider about a medical problem. If you have a medical condition and are unsure whether massage therapy would be right for you, discuss your concerns with your health care provider. Ask about the training, experience, and credentials of the massage therapist you are considering. Also ask about the number of treatments that might be needed, the cost, and insurance coverage. For more tips on finding a massage therapist, see the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s (NCCIH) webpage (How to Find a Complementary Health Practitioner) or ask a friend or your physician for a referral.
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The massages are geared towards athletes and their sports. For instance, working on a runner will require doing a lot of leg work, but the upper body work will be minimal. Moreover, massages will target those areas that tend to become injured. For example, a massage session with a tennis player will involve a forearm massage that is preventive in the development of tennis elbow. If necessary, a whole session could be spent only on important areas, and skip completely muscles that are not overused in a particular sport.
One of the key benefits of Sports massage therapy compared to other modalities is its ability to target muscle-tendon junctions. A 2010 study in the journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that even a 30-second massage improved hip-flexor range of motion. Another study conducted by Margaret Jones, Ph.D. of the American College of Sports Medicine, demonstrated a notable trend toward decreased muscle soreness in the athletes who received massage either before or after exercise.
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Reflexology also known as "zone therapy", is an alternative medicine involving application of pressure to the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on a pseudoscientific system of zones and reflex areas that purportedly reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.
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Tapotement is the percussive technique where the therapist uses a cupping or hacking technique. This is a great way to finish a massage – it’s a little stimulating and helps to wake up the body so we can get off the table and on with our day. (Don’t hesitate to request it from your therapist if they do not do it on their own! However, if they have bad rhythm, they may not be as good as a talented bongo player!).
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Swedish massage is the most common massage therapy technique in the United States. (In case you were wondering, Swedish massage is called “classic massage” in Sweden.) A Swedish massage focuses on overall relaxation, circulation, and physical and mental wellness. Swedish massage includes gliding, kneading, tapping, stretching, and cross-friction strokes.
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When receiving a deep tissue massage, you’ll be asked to lie down and breathe deeply, relax and prepare for the massage. Deep tissue treatments differ in that the movements tend to be longer, deeper, more intense and focused. Massage therapists may use their elbows, forearms, fingertips and muscles to access the deeper layers of your muscle tissues.
In sports massage, the massage therapist generally concentrates on a specific problem area that you present, usually associated with some sort of sports activity, such as running, tennis, or golf. The most important thing with sports massage is that you find a specially-trained massage therapist who has mastery of a wide range of techniques and knows when to use them. In the past, many spas used to put sports massage on their menu as a way to appeal to men. As spas have become more sophisticated, however, they realize they shouldn't list sports massage unless they have some therapists with specialized training.
Nobly exhibited by Gwyneth Paltrow in a backless dress, this traditional Chinese medicine practice temporarily leaves raised, red cup-shaped 'wheals' on your skin. A heated cup is placed on your body and a vacuum is created which sucks up your skin. This suction drains excess fluids and toxins from the muscle tissue, and stimulates the nervous system, and brings blood flow to your muscles and skin. The immediate effects look a bit alarming (see Gwyneth) but it is a deeply relaxing treatment.
Since massages can help release the brain’s natural hormones that combat pain, serotonin in particular, people using massage therapy to treat their injuries or chronic condition are able to experience relief on multiple levels. The increased natural production of these hormones can linger for a while, creating a gentle wave of calm that will follow you even after the massage is over. That’s why these kinds of massages are great for people whose pain makes it difficult for them to get a decent night’s sleep, which is a crucial part of the body’s natural recovery process.
Deep tissue massage is a stronger massage method and is not recommended for clients with sensitive skin or who are sensitive to strong pressure. The skin can become bruised after a deep tissue massage. Clients should always make therapists aware of their desired pressure and alert therapists if their massage is too strong. This method can also be integrated with other massage techniques.
When you think of a massage, you probably think of soothing music, a gentle brush of hands softly kneading the stress from your shoulders, maybe even of a loved one offering to rub your back after a long day at work. While some massages can be soothing, and rely on gentle touches to work out a client’s stress or anxiety, there are other massages that have a little more grit to them. For example, the Deep Tissue massage, which is very similar in style to the Swedish massage, utilizes some of the same techniques as its much gentler cousin; Deep Tissue massages, however, are designed to focus on the deeper layers of muscle tissues and fascia, the protective layer that surrounds muscles and joints. Working out these harder to reach muscles will require more pressure, making the Deep Tissue massage slightly uncomfortable, gritty and highly effective.
The reason the Pressure Question exists is that it’s hard for patients to tell the difference between nasty pain that might be a necessary part of therapy, and ugly pain that is just abusive. Not everything that hurts is therapeutic, but not every therapeutic procedure is painless! How can we tell if an intense massage technique is therapeutic or not?
Reducing dislocated joints; stretching muscle cramps; warming up freezing hands and feet, or restoring circulation to a leg that has fallen asleep; and nearly anything that relieves awful pressure, like lancing boils and cysts or hematomas under toenails, or childbirth, or evacuation of impacted bowels — all very painful, but also very relieving. BACK TO TEXT
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 may be therapeutic -- relieving chronic patterns of tension and helping with muscle injuries, such as back sprain.
When most people think of massage, they think of Swedish. The style takes its name from a 19th-century Swedish physiologist, Per Henrik Ling, whose system of medical gymnastics included massage. Johan Georg Mezger (1838-1909) coined a reduced set of maneuvers and techniques of Dr. Ling’s system as the “Swedish massage” system. Swedish massage is defined by four or five (somewhat familiar) techniques, which have French names: effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic choppings), and friction (rubbing). Some therapists now incorporate advanced techniques that have rehabilitating effects and stretches for improving your range of motion. But the ultimate goal is relaxation. As the default Western massage, Swedish massage is extremely popular and is simple, soothing touch therapy.