Deciding What Type Of Massage To Get

Massage is an ancient healing art form that for many years was lost in the dark world of misuse and misunderstanding. It has only been in the last 10 to 15 years that Massage has emerged again as a healing art form worthy of consideration as to its effectiveness as a bonafide treatment for real pain both physically and mentally. But how does one decide what type of massage to get? With so many modalities out there it is easy to get overwhelmed.

But how does one decide what type of massage to get? With so many modalities out there it is easy to get overwhelmed. So, let’s, for a moment, ask one question… “Why do I want a massage?” Your answer to this question is probably the most helpful.

There are three basic reasons people turn to massage:

  • De-stress – With everything we have to do in life between work, home, spouse, children, and pets, where is time for “Me”. Some people just want an hour or two every so often to get a massage, let go, and not have to think about life for a while.
  • Pain relief – As we get older, our tissues become less elastic. One day we wake up to find we just hurt. That work out we do 3 days a week seems to make us more sore or we don’t seem to recover as quickly. In this case, we need our muscles, tendons and joints worked out to relieve general aches and pains. People are getting so much smarter and want alternatives to the usual paths of “healing”. Massage is a great alternative.
  • Injury or Illness Recovery – Unfortunately life can throw us a curve ball and we find ourselves on the receiving end of an unexpected illness or injury. We may reach out for something to help us feel better before, after, or during Chemotherapy, we may need help increasing the range of motion after a torn rotator cuff, or we may seek an alternative to Carpel Tunnel surgery. There may be a variety of other reasons people turn to massage but the bottom line is they just want to feel better, look better and be better.

So here are some modalities to consider on your quest to know more about massage and how it could benefit you.

  1. Relaxation MassageRelaxation massage is Swedish massage and what most people in the USA think of when they think of massage. There are a variety of Swedish massage techniques that can be utilized in a relaxation massage, but most incorporate passive touch, friction, kneading, and light percussion.
  2. Therapeutic Massage – Therapeutic massage also uses a variety of Swedish massage techniques; most used are friction, kneading, and joint mobilization. That said, there are a plethora of techniques, tools if you will, that are very effective in achieving positive results for patients. Some of these include Myofascial release, Acupressure, Trigger point therapy, Orthobionomy and still others. A skilled Therapeutic massage will include a variety of tools to achieve results as quickly and pain-free as possible.
  3. Deep Tissue – There seems, at times, to be a lot of confusion surrounding the “Deep Tissue” massage. It is this author’s opinion that most people when they ask for Deep Tissue are simply asking not to be pet for an hour or, just to have a massage that will be effective and lasting. They may expect to have a few sessions in order to accomplish the results desired, but more importantly, they want results. Therapeutic Massage, if done with the patient’s goals and limitations in mind and utilizing the correct massage techniques properly, can achieve positive results without all the pain, and sometimes bruising, that occurs with some Deep Tissue massage.
  4. Orthopedic Massage – Orthopedic massage (also very similar to sports massage) directly address issues resulting from injury or chronic overuse. Here, more intense assessment is utilized as well as other more therapeutic techniques used to target muscles, tendons, and joints where scar tissue or small tears have occurred. Techniques such as Multi-Directional Cross Fibering, Myofascial release, Trigger point therapy, Eccentric loading, and Inner Capsule Adhesion release are used. Clients are usually sent home with homework to do that include strengthening or stretching exercises to maintain corrections in the body. An Orthopedic massage therapist is certified in this modality.
  5. Prenatal MassagePrenatal Massage is a Swedish massage. As with all massage, the therapist should hold a license in Swedish massage. In addition, training in prenatal massage specifically is needed as there are certain cautions and contraindications of which it is important to be aware.

In the world of massage, there are many other more unique and specialized modalities such as Hot Stone, Bamboo Fusion, Shiatsu, Ashiatsu, Lomi Lomi, and Thai massage. These are all wonderful forms of massage and should be explored. However, the Swedish massage based forms listed above are still the most commonly sought after for de-stressing, pain relief, and injury recovery.

Melissa Jarufe, LMT
February 2017