Which massage should you choose? There are many types of people in the world and with that, many opinions and preferences for…everything! Massage therapy is not immune to the preference of the individual. That is one of the things that makes it such a beautiful experience.
Massage is like pizza! There are lots of kinds and some are very simple, some are cheap; others are expensive or have many ingredients…but it all tastes good. Variety is the spice of life…but options, without firsthand experience, can be confusing. So, here is a little run down on the three most popular types of massage that I use.
This is the most well known massage modality for a reason! It is a massage that anyone can enjoy. It is made up of long flowing strokes with some light kneading and sometimes tapping (there are specific massage terms for these things, but for the sake of the reader I will avoid using them). This massage can lower your heart rate and cortisol levels, reducing feelings of stress. Because it is not deep muscle work, it can be used on pretty much everyone: from young children to athletes, and even some cancer patients. It is a very calming and relaxing massage.
Deep Tissue Massage
This modality is commonly misunderstood…even among MT’s. Many therapists were not thoroughly trained on this modality, or it is difficult for them. It takes true knowledge of skeletal and muscular anatomy, as well as, perceptive touch and experience to apply deep tissue in the correct way. You should never have bruising or extended soreness (longer than a couple of days) after a deep tissue massage.
When performed correctly, this is one of the most effective treatments for muscular tightness and soreness. I have found it to have longer lasting effects and bring more self-body awareness for postural correction than lighter pressured massage. It uses slow and methodical strokes that work to “loosen” muscle fibers by going along the length of a muscle or working across the muscle.
Deep tissue, when performed correctly, will vary in pressure used from person to person; as each individual has varying muscle tone, tension, faschia, lymph and fat storage.
Trigger Point Release
Some people call this Sports Massage or Medical Massage, but both of those are separate modalities that often incorporate TPR. This modality is fantastic for people who have all the “knots” and want them gone! It is very focused work. The therapist holds direct pressure, (the amount of pressure used is dependent on the individual) on the top of, or at an angle to, the muscle adhesions in the area that is bothering the client. It can be very intense, but focusing on breathing deeply can really help you to relax until the tension in the adhesion melts away.
These are the top three massage modalities that I use in my practice. If my massage was a pizza, it would be supreme!
I like to use a little bit of everything. I don’t like working within a box too much unless a client is very specific with their wants. I typically use all of these modalities (and others) in each massage that I do.
A deeper knowledge of various massage modalities allows you to choose with more confidence. Enjoy!