What Are the Different Types of Massage?

Massage is the practice of rubbing and kneading the body using the hands. During a massage, a trained massage therapist will apply gentle or strong pressure to the muscles and joints of the body to ease pain and tension.

Read on to learn about the different types of massage and which type might be right for you.

What Are the Different Types of Massage?
Swedish
Hot stone
Aromatherapy
Deep tissue
Sport
Trigger point
Reflexology
Shiatsu
Thai
Prenatal
Couples
Chair
Lymphatic

Massage is the practice of rubbing and kneading the body using the hands. During a massage, a trained massage therapist will apply gentle or strong pressure to the muscles and joints of the body to ease pain and tension.

Read on to learn about the different types of massage and which type might be right for you.

Swedish massage
Swedish massage is a gentle full-body massage that’s great for people who:

are new to massage
want to release tension
desire gentle touch
It can help release muscle knots, and it’s also a good choice for when you want to fully relax during a massage.

For this massage, you’ll remove your clothes, though you may choose to keep your underwear on. You’ll be covered with a sheet while lying on the massage table. The massage therapist will move the sheet to uncover areas that they are actively working on.

The massage therapist will use a combination of:

kneading
long, flowing strokes in the direction of the heart
deep circular motions
vibration and tapping
passive joint movement techniques
Usually, a Swedish massage will last 60 to 90 minutes.

Hot stone massage
Hot stone massage is best for people who have muscle pain and tension or who simply want to relax.

This type of therapeutic massage is similar to a Swedish massage, only the massage therapist uses heated stones in lieu of or in addition to their hands.

Hot stone massage may help:

ease muscle tension
improve blood flow
alleviate pain
promote relaxation
relieve stress
During a hot stone massage, heated stones are placed on different areas of the whole body. Your therapist may hold a stone as they massage different parts of your body using Swedish massage techniques with gentle pressure. Sometimes, cold stones are also used.

You don’t wear clothes for hot stone massage, unless you’d prefer to wear your underwear. You’ll be covered with a sheet.

Usually, the massage is 90 minutes long.

Aromatherapy massage
Aromatherapy massages are best for people who enjoy scent and want to have an emotional healing component to their massage. This type of massage can help:

boost your mood
reduce stress and anxiety
reduce symptoms of depression
relieve muscle tension
relieve pain
Aromatherapy massages combine soft, gentle pressure with the use of essential oils. Your massage therapist will usually decide which essential oils to use, but you can let them know if you have a preference. Essential oils are diluted before being applied to the skin.

During the massage, you’ll be given a full-body massage while inhaling essential oils through a diffuser and absorbing them through your skin.

Sometimes, an aromatherapy massage will only focus on your back, shoulders, and head. You won’t wear any clothing, but underwear is optional.

An aromatherapy massage is 60 to 90 minutes.

Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage uses more pressure than a Swedish massage. It’s a good option if you have muscle problems, such as:

soreness
injury
imbalance
tightness
chronic muscle pain
During a deep tissue massage, your massage therapist will use slow strokes and deep finger pressure to relieve tension from the deepest layers of your muscles and connective tissues. You can be naked during this massage or wear your underwear.

The massage will last 60 to 90 minutes.

While deep tissue may be more intense, you shouldn’t feel any pain or soreness.

Sports massage
Sports massage is a good option if you have a repetitive use injury to a muscle, such as what you may get from playing a sport. It’s also a good option if you’re prone to injuries, because it can be used to help prevent them.

Sports massage can:

increase flexibility
improve athletic performance
relieve pain
reduce anxiety
release muscle tension
A sports massage can be done as a full-body massage or on specific parts of the body that need the most attention. Deep pressure may be alternated with soothing strokes, depending on your needs.

You can have a sports massage while clothed or naked. If you prefer to wear clothing, make sure it’s thin, loose, and allows the therapist access to your muscles. Loose shorts and a tank top are options.

The massage will likely last 60 to 90 minutes.

Trigger point massage
Trigger point massage is best suited for people who have injuries, chronic pain, or a specific issue or condition.

Sometimes, areas of tightness in the muscle tissues, known as trigger points, can cause pain in other parts of the body. By focusing on relieving trigger points, this type of massage can reduce pain.

A 2018 review found that treatment of head and neck muscles with trigger point therapy may reduce frequency, intensity, and duration of tension and migraine headaches, though more research is needed.

Trigger point massage uses alternating levels of pressure in the area of the trigger point to alleviate tension.

The massage will include work on your entire body, though your therapist will focus on specific areas that need to be released. You can wear lightweight clothing for the massage, or you can be fully or partially undressed.

This type of massage will usually last 60 to 90 minutes.

Reflexology
Reflexology uses gentle to firm pressure on different pressure points of the feet, hands, and ears. It’s best for people who are looking to relax or restore their natural energy levels. It’s also a good option for those who aren’t comfortable being touched on the entire body.

Reflexology may be especially beneficial for:

relaxation
reduced pain
reduced fatigue
improved sleep
reduced anxiety
improved mood

You can wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows access to your legs.

A reflexology massage lasts 30 to 60 minutes.

Shiatsu massage
Shiatsu massage is best for people who want to feel relaxed and relieve stress, pain, and tension. It’s a Japanese type of massage that:

promotes emotional and physical calm and relaxation
helps relieve pain
may relieve headache
reduces muscle tension
improves sleep and fatigue
may improve mood

Shiatsu massage works the whole body, but your therapist may focus on areas that need extra attention.

During the massage, your therapist will use their hands, palms, and thumbs to massage certain points of your body. Pulsing or rhythmic pressure is used. You can be fully clothed during this massage.

Shiatsu massages typically last 60 to 90 minutes.

Thai massage
Thai massage is best for people who want a more active form of massage and want to reduce and relieve pain and stress. It can also help improve:

flexibility
circulation
energy levels
Thai massage works the entire body using a sequence of movements that are similar to yogic stretching. Your therapist will use their palms and fingers to apply firm pressure to your body. You’ll also be stretched and twisted into various positions.

You can wear loose, comfortable clothing during the massage.

A Thai massage lasts 60 to 90 minutes.

Prenatal massage
Prenatal massage can be a safe way for women to get a massage during pregnancy. It can help reduce pregnancy body aches, reduce stress, and ease muscle tension.

However, many facilities, especially in the United States, do not offer massages to women in their first trimester due to the risk of miscarriage during this time. If you’re pregnant, talk with your doctor before receiving massage.

Prenatal massage uses mild pressure similar to Swedish massage. The therapist will focus on areas such as your lower back, hips, and legs. You can be fully or partially undressed, depending on your comfort level.

During the massage, you’ll either lie on your side or on a specially designed table with a cutout for your belly. If you’ve had pain in your calves or other parts of your leg, see a doctor before you have a massage.

The massage will usually last 45 to 60 minutes.

Couples massage
A couples massage is a massage that you do with your partner, friend, or family member in the same room. It brings all the benefits of a regular massage plus the chance to enjoy a relaxing experience with a partner.

Other treatments, such as pedicures, facials, and body scrubs, are sometimes offered as part of a package.

You can usually choose which type of massage you’d like to receive, and you and your partner can each get a different type of massage, depending on your preference and clinic offerings.

You’ll be on tables side-by-side, and you’ll each have your own massage therapist working on your body. You can talk during the massage if you wish.

In some cases, you and your partner may have the chance to learn massage techniques and perform them on each other.

Chair massage
A chair massage is best for people who want a quick massage that focuses on the neck, shoulders, and back.

A chair massage can be a comfortable introduction to massage if you’ve never had one before. Chair massage also helps relieve stress and promote relaxation. This type of massage uses light to medium pressure.

During the massage, you’ll remain fully clothed and sit in a specially designed chair. You’ll straddle the chair so that your chest pushes into the back of the chair, allowing the massage therapist to have access to your back.

These massages are usually 10 to 30 minutes.

Lymphatic drainage massage
Lymphatic drainage massage, also known as manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), is a type of gentle massage that encourages the lymph fluids to circulate through the body.

The lymphatic system helps remove toxins, and improved circulation can help with a number of conditions, including:

lymphedema
fibromyalgia
edema
skin disorders
fatigue
insomnia
stress
digestive problems
arthritis
migraine

You shouldn’t receive lymphatic drainage massage if you have any of the following conditions:

congestive heart failure
history of blood clots or stroke
current infection
liver problems
kidney problems
It’s possible to perform lymphatic drainage massage on yourself at home, or you can seek out a professional. Always talk with your doctor before you try it.

These massages usually last 60 minutes or longer.

Cranial sacral therapy
Cranial sacral therapy or craniosacral massage is a type of bodywork that helps release compression in the bones of the head, low back, and spine.

The idea behind cranial sacral therapy is that gentle manipulation of the bones in the skull, spine, and pelvis, can help the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system. It can also produce deeply relaxing results.

Some conditions that may benefit from cranial sacral therapy include:

migraine
headaches
constipation
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
disturbed sleep cycles and insomnia
scoliosis
sinus infections
neck pain
fibromyalgia
recurrent ear infections or colic in infants
temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
trauma recovery, including trauma from whiplash
mood disorders, like anxiety or depression
difficult pregnancies

If you experience any of the following, cranial sacral therapy may not be for you:

severe bleeding disorders
a diagnosed aneurysm
a history of recent traumatic head injuries, which may include cranial bleeding or skull fractures
Check with your healthcare professional to determine if this therapy is appropriate for your needs.

These massages usually last 60 minutes or longer.

Abhyanga oil massage
Abhyanga is a type of oil massage from the system of Ayurvedic medicine. The oil is warmed and gently massaged all over the body. This type of massage focuses on nourishing the skin rather than deeply massaging the muscles.

The previously mentioned research, as well as a small study,Trusted Source has shown that benefits include:

reduced stress
activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest)
improved skin health and moisture
reduced blood pressure
reduced muscle stiffness
Abhyanga can be done on your own, or you can find a qualified practitioner.

These massages usually last 60 minutes or longer.

Myofascial release therapy
Myofascial release therapy is another type of bodywork that involves releasing stiffness in the fascia, the connective tissue system that contains each muscle in the body. Your therapist will massage and stretch any areas that feel tense with light pressure.

Specific conditions that may benefit from myofascial therapy include:

myofascial pain syndrome
headaches
venous insufficiency
These massages usually last 60 minutes or longer.

How to find a massage therapist
You can get a personal recommendation for a massage therapist from a doctor, friend, or an online directory. You can also book a few massages with different therapists to see which one you prefer.

Make sure it’s someone you feel comfortable with, so you can fully relax.

Be sure your massage therapist is properly trained, licensed, and certified. You can ask to see their up-to-date credentials.

You may also want to have a brief conversation with your therapist before beginning your session, so you can communicate your expectations and ask any relevant questions.

How much does a massage cost?
Prices vary greatly for massages in the United States. A 60-minute massage is usually $60 to $150. Most therapists will expect a 15 to 20 percent tip on top of this. However, some places don’t accept gratuity.

These types of massages may cost more than a basic massage:

aromatherapy
hot stone
prenatal
sports
therapeutic, like cranial sacral and myofascial release
You can check out a massage school in your area or find a massage therapist who works at home if you want to find massages at a more reasonable cost.

Insurance sometimes covers massage therapy if you can show it’s being used to treat a medical condition. Sometimes, insurance companies will cover massage therapy if it’s part of chiropractic care.

The takeaway
Massage may be a way for you to feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. Experiment with different types of massage and with different massage therapists to find the type and provider that’s best for you.

Always communicate your expectations and intentions with your massage therapist, and speak up if you’re uncomfortable. Talk with your doctor before getting any type of massage if you have any health concerns or conditions.

What Are the Health Benefits of a Hot Stone Massage?
Benefits
Who should get one?
Risks and warnings
Takeaway

What happens during a hot stone massage?
A hot stone massage is a type of massage therapy. It’s used to help you relax and ease tense muscles and damaged soft tissues throughout your body.

During a hot stone massage, smooth, flat, heated stones are placed on specific parts of your body. The stones are usually made of basalt, a type of volcanic rock that retains heat. According to the University of New Hampshire Health Services, hot massage stones are heated to between 130 and 145 degrees.

The stones may be placed:

along your spine
on your stomach
on your chest
on your face
on your palms
on your feet and toes
Massage therapists may hold heated stones as they massage your body using Swedish massage techniques such as:

long strokes
circular movements
vibration
tapping
kneading
Sometimes, cold stones are also used during a hot stone massage. Cold stones may be used after hot stones to calm any engorged blood vessels and to soothe the skin.

6 benefits of hot stone massage
All massages generally fall under the alternative medicine umbrella. They’re becoming a popular complementary therapy for many conditions. Here are some advantages of getting a hot stone massage:

1. Helps relieve muscle tension and pain
Heat has long been used to ease muscle tension and pain. It helps increase blood flow to the affected area. It may also reduce muscle spasms and increase flexibility and range of motion. Cold therapy helps relieve inflammation. Depending on your symptoms, alternating hot and cold stones during your massage may be helpful.

2. Reduces stress and anxiety
It’s the position of the American Massage Therapy Association that “massage therapy can be effective for stress relief.” Research supports their opinion. A 2001 study showed that a ten-minute massage improved cardiovascular responses such as stroke volume. A 1997 study found that 15-minute, onsite chair massages in the workplace significantly reduced stress compared to a 15-minute break without massage.

3. Promotes sleep
A 2006 literature review found massage may be an alternative to sleeping pills in adults with insomnia. The research showed that back massage helped promote relaxation and sleep. A 2001 study showed that infants with sleep problems who were given a 15-minute massage by their parents went to sleep faster. They were also more alert, active, and positive upon awakening. Massage is thought to help you enjoy more restorative sleep, although it’s not completely understood why.

4. May help relieve symptoms of autoimmune diseases
Hot stone massage may relieve painful conditions such as fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread, chronic pain. According to a 2002 study, people with fibromyalgia who received a 30-minute massage slept longer, had fewer trigger points, and had decreased levels of substance P (a substance involved in transmitting pain signals) than people with the condition who received relaxation therapy. More research is needed, however, before massage becomes a standard fibromyalgia treatment.

5. May help decrease cancer symptoms
A large, three-year study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management examined how massage affected pain, fatigue, stress and anxiety, nausea, and depression in 1,290 people with cancer. The study showed massage, especially Swedish massage, improved cancer symptoms, even in those with substantial symptoms. Researchers believe the comforting use of human touch played a role.

6. May boost immunity
Massage may give your immune system a boost. single session of Swedish massage therapy had a positive and acute impact on immunity. Blood samples taken before and after the massage showed a decrease in arginine-vasopressin, a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure and water retention.

Who may benefit from a hot stone massage?
Anyone who is experiencing muscle tension and pain, insomnia, or stress may benefit from a hot stone massage. If you have a chronic condition that causes pain, talk to your doctor to see if a hot stone massage is a good option for you.

Risks and warnings
When performed by a trained therapist, a hot stone massage is generally safe. There are some circumstances where it should be avoided. Consult your doctor before getting a massage if you have:

a bleeding disorder or take blood thinners
burns on your skin
open wounds
a history of blood clots
had surgery in the last 6 weeks
a fracture or severe osteoporosis
a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
diabetes
A prenatal massage may help relieve stress and ease uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms. Still, most massage therapists won’t use hot stones on pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, you should only get a treatment with your doctor’s approval, and under the hands of a trained prenatal massage therapist.

To prevent burns, there should always be a barrier, such as a towel or sheet, between hot massage stones and your skin. Check with your therapist to see how they heat the stones. A professional massage stone heater should be used. Never use stones that have been heated with a:

microwave
slow cooker
hot plate
oven

A hot stone massage may be a helpful way to reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and ease pain and muscle tension. It may be helpful for a variety of conditions and circumstances.

More study is needed to find out exactly why massage therapy has such a powerful impact. It may have a lot to do with human touch. For many people, touch offers a sense of connection and security.

To make sure you have a positive hot stone massage experience, only use a massage therapist trained to work with hot stones. You may feel sore during your massage or the day after. This may be due to deep tissue manipulation and pressure. You shouldn’t feel pain. If you are uncomfortable or experience pain during your massage, let your massage therapist know right away.

Call Now ButtonCALL NOW