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What Are the Different Types of Therapeutic Massage?

By Lumara Lee
Updated Jan 28, 2024
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Massage is a healing modality that has been performed for several thousand years. Different cultures developed their own styles, so there are many different types of therapeutic massage available today. Some of the most common massage techniques are Swedish, hot stone, deep tissue, reflexology, and shiatsu.

Swedish massage was developed in the early 1800s. This therapeutic massage technique is characterized by long, smooth strokes that press and stretch the muscles. Developed by a Swedish doctor, Swedish massage also employs a series of taps across the shoulders and back to ease tense muscles and induce a state of relaxation. Swedish massage also improves circulation and helps the body release toxins.

Hot stone massage is a therapeutic massage technique that employs heated stones placed on the back and palms. The use of hot stones for massage dates back at least 2,000 years, and this technique became popular after being reintroduced at the end of the 20th century. Smooth, flat stones are heated and then placed on different areas of the back known to hold tension.

Heat from the stones relaxes the muscles and enables the therapeutic massage therapist to knead muscles into an even deeper state of relaxation. Sometimes, the therapist uses a hot stone to massage a tense area. Hot stone massage can ease pain and tension and improve circulation.

Deep tissue massage is also known as deep connective tissue massage. This therapeutic massage technique employs many of the same strokes as Swedish massage, but goes deeper since it targets the fascia, or connective tissue between the muscles. More pressure is applied, so deep tissue massage can be uncomfortable. It is a beneficial discomfort, though, since this therapeutic massage technique generally squeezes out more toxins than other types of massage therapy. The massage therapist will reduce the pressure if the client becomes too uncomfortable.

Reflexology is a therapeutic massage technique that concentrates on the feet. Points on the soles of the feet corresponding to various parts of the body are massaged. It is believed that massaging different points on the bottom of the feet can ease some of the health conditions associated with those points. Like any type of massage, a reflexology session can be very relaxing.

Shiatsu is a type of massage that utilizes acupressure, using the same pressure points as acupuncture. The shiatsu massage therapist presses on various points to treat various conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, and pain. Acupressure can also induce relaxation, release toxins, and improve the circulation of blood and lymph.

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Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Oct 15, 2014

Reflexology massage can even be done at home. It's not that hard. There are reflexology charts on feet that can be used to figure out which parts are connected with which organs. But it's also possible to find the areas that need work by kneading through and spotting sore areas. I actually do reflexology massage on myself. It would be better to have someone else do it for me but it's not bad to do it myself.

By SteamLouis — On Oct 15, 2014

@candyquilt-- My deep tissue massage wasn't painful. Yes, there is more pressure applied in this type of massage. And since it releases a lot of toxins, it does cause fatigue and soreness for a few days. The toxins have to be eliminated from the body after the massage so it's recommended to take it easy, rest and drink lots of water.

I highly recommend this massage. I think it's very beneficial, more beneficial than some other types of massage. After the toxins are completely removed from your system, you will feel much better.

By candyquilt — On Oct 14, 2014

I've heard that a deep tissue massage is painful and that it takes people quite a while to recuperate. Is this true?

A friend and I were going to go for one at a new message salon that has opened up but I'm not too sure now.

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