Did you know that there’s more to a massage than meets the eye? The term massage has become somewhat generic, much like the word kleenex. Kleenex is actually a brand of tissue, but we tend to use it interchangeably with the word tissue. To the consumer, a Kleenex is a kleenex, no matter what the brand. However, we would be greatly mistaken if we believed that all massages were alike or that a massage is designed to simply reduce stress. The reality is far from that. So, here’s how to determine what type massage is right for you.
There are actually three different categories of massages:
- Swedish Massage
- Deep Tissue Massage
Acupressure focuses specifically on pressure points throughout the body and how energy moves through it. Swedish Massage is centered around improving circulation of both the blood and lymph plus relaxing more superficial muscles. Deep Tissue Massage goes beyond the superficial muscles to the connective tissue, with the goal to improve body movement.
Swedish Massage is the most common. It involves “soft, long, kneading strokes, as well as light, rhythmic, tapping strokes on topmost layers of muscles,” according to WedMD. It also includes joint movement with stretching and bending, all with the assistance of the massage therapist. Other therapies within this category include medical massage, sports therapy, aromatherapy, manual lymphatic drainage, hydrotherapy, and body wraps.
Deep Tissue Massage, on the other hand, works specifically with the connective tissue that supports and binds the muscles, nerves, organs, and bones to one another. It’s the “glue” that keeps our body together. It is used to help treat a variety of physical ailments:
- Chronic Pain – Studies have shown that deep tissue massage is more effective and more affordable than traditional medical remedies. Not only does it loosen the tight muscles surrounding the affected area but it also improves blood circulation which reduces the inflammation causing the chronic pain.
- Blood Pressure – Reducing stress and tension with this type of massage helps to lower a person’s blood pressure and help increase the body’s production of the happy hormone, serotonin.
- Scar Tissue – Surgery and injury can lead to a build up of scar tissue in the body. This therapy focuses on improving the mobility and flexibility of the affected areas which in turn improves circulation and drainage of the lymphatic system. Over time, this can completely break down the scar tissue which causes chronic pain and stiffness.
- Injured Muscles – Relaxed muscles promote healing. Working with a massage therapist using this technique helps to remove the toxins lodged in the injured muscle.
- Stress Relief – This is especially effective for those suffering from chronic stress. Subjecting our body to daily stress can be debilitating. Offsetting the negative impact of stress with deep tissue massage acts as preventative maintenance, allowing our body to recover and heal.
With 80 different massage therapies available today, it’s important to know what massage is the best for you and your healthcare needs.