Massage therapy is a way to refresh and renew your mind, body, and soul. However, everyone has different issues to focus on. There are so many massage modalities it can be confusing as to which one will work best for you. Some people love deep tissue and feel it is the only effective type of massage. Some people want to relax and just receive a light touch. On top of the pressure there are actually several types of massage that you may or may not know about. I don’t have the time to discuss all types, but I’d love to share some modalities to broaden your perspective.
Let’s start with your basic Swedish massage. This is a combination of long, smooth strokes (effleurage), kneading the belly of the muscle (petrissage), tapping or beating the muscle (tapotement), gently shaking or rocking (vibration), and a rubbing technique used on a specific area (friction). A Swedish massage can be any pressure. Just because you prefer deep pressure does not mean you don’t want a Swedish massage. You can receive this modality in light, medium, or deep pressure, it’s still a Swedish massage. There are plenty of effective motions in a Swedish massage, which is probably why it is the most requested massage. Maybe it is the most requested because it’s the most widely known. Swedish is a great starting point for someone who is new to massage or if you just want to relax. Swedish massage will provide pain relief and preventative healthcare not only for your muscles, but for stress-relief and happiness in general.
Deep tissue is not the same as deep pressure! Deep tissue is often mistaken for pressure, but it’s actually many different modalities that require the therapist to get to the deep muscles, tendons, and fascia (or connective tissue). These modalities can include myofascial release, craniosacral, neuromuscular and more. Deep tissue helps relieve contracted muscles and tightened fascia. It’s great for someone who has chronic pain or a sports injury. Deep tissue is wonderful for corrective muscle therapy.
Myofascial release (MFR) stimulates stretching to release contracting muscles and connective tissues. Often times the therapist will use little to no oil in order to grasp the muscles/tissues to pull them apart. Foam rolling provides myofascial release. This is recommended for athletes or after workouts to help the muscles heal faster and be less painful.
relieves compression from the head down the spine. You may remain clothed for this type of massage. This massage is a lighter touch, yet effective as it manipulates the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid to correct blockages allowing the body to heal naturally. This treatment can be helpful for someone who suffers from headaches or migraines or head/neck injuries, sinus infections, fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression, and difficult pregnancies. This is also a choice massage for young children.
Neuromuscular (NMT) is also known as trigger point therapy. It works on soft tissue injuries. It involves applying pressure to a specific muscle tension for ten to thirty seconds. This is usually a painful technique as the pressure is placed on a muscle that is lacking proper blood flow because lactic acid has built up in that area. Releasing the lactic acid with pressure opens the blood flow and provides adequate oxygen to the muscle, which in turn relieves the muscle adhesions and pain. This massage is recommended for almost all types of muscle pain, calf cramps, carpal tunnel, and sciatica.
This is a small list of massage modalities. They each facilitate healing in their own ways. I have recommended some good uses for each type, but they can help more than just those mentioned. Now you have some options and a bit of understanding behind them.