Updated: May 8
Massage is a practice that has been used for centuries to promote physical and mental well-being. It involves manipulating the soft tissues of the body, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments, to improve (superficial)circulation, release tension, and promote relaxation. In this blog post, we will explore the types of massage, as well as the many benefits it has for your health and well-being.
Types of Massage
There are many different types of massage, each with its own techniques and benefits. Here are some of the most popular types of massage:
Swedish massage: This is the most common type of massage and involves long, flowing strokes, kneading, and circular movements to promote relaxation. Swedish massage is usually not associated with pain relief and/or deep pressure but they are not mutually exclusive.
Deep tissue massage: This type of massage is used to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to relieve chronic pain and tension. The word “deep” is used to describe the approach’s holistic nature addressing the deepest layer of soft tissue and not necessarily “deep” pressure although the two are often associated together.
Sports massage: This type of massage is used to treat injuries and improve athletic performance by focusing on specific muscle groups. Sports massage is usually performed with the client wearing comfortable fitness clothing and a detailed stretching protocol. A different protocol will be used depending on whether or not the athlete is about to compete or has finished competing for the day.
Myofascial Release: Myofascial release involves applying sustained pressure to the connective tissue to alleviate pain and increase mobility. Similar to deep tissue myofascial release addresses the many layers of soft tissue. Often myofascial release techniques provide a slight lengthening effect on the body helping to combat the “compressed” feeling that often accompanies pain.
Lymphatic Drainage: a gentle massage that helps to improve the circulation of lymph fluids in the body, which can reduce swelling and inflammation, particularly useful for helping the healing process post cosmetic surgery, cancer treatment, and mitigating the effects of a lymphatic pathology such as lymphedema.
Benefits of Massage
Massage has numerous benefits for both physical and mental health. Here are some of the top benefits of massage:
Massage is an effective way to reduce stress and promote relaxation. It can help to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to feelings of calm and relaxation. It is not uncommon for massage clients to feel their body release stress induced holding patterns such as jaw clenching, shoulders-to-ears, or rigid movement patterns.
Massage is also a great way to manage pain, especially chronic pain. It can help to reduce inflammation, improve (superficial)circulation, and release tension in the muscles and soft tissues. Unfortunately massage is not a cure-all and should be used in tandem with resistance training, healthy dietary choices, quality sleep and sleep schedule, and stress management.
Regular massage can help to improve flexibility by stretching and loosening tight muscles. This can be especially helpful for athletes and those with tight muscles due to sedentary lifestyles. Increases in range of motion and flexibility from massage often fades quickly(within 24-48 hours or less) but a trained massage therapist can guide you through a stretching protocol you can do at home to maintain and improve flexibility.
Massage has been shown to promote better sleep by reducing stress and promoting relaxation. It can also help to reduce pain and discomfort, which can interfere with sleep. Oftentimes the combination of a warm comfortable table and euphoric massage puts clients asleep during their session(don’t worry you're still getting all the benefits if you’re asleep).
Massage can also help to boost the immune system by increasing the activity of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections and diseases. Lymphatic drainage can help to stimulate the lymphatic system which plays a huge role in immunity.
Reduced Anxiety and Depression
In addition to reducing stress, massage can also help to reduce anxiety and depression. It can promote feelings of calm and relaxation, and also help to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is often associated with anxiety and depression. Research has shown that massage therapy can be an effective treatment for depression symptoms, with some studies indicating that it can help to improve mood, reduce anxiety and stress levels, and promote feelings of well-being. If you're struggling with symptoms of depression, incorporating regular massage therapy into your self-care routine may be a beneficial way to help manage your symptoms. Of course massage should only be used as a supplement to professional psychiatric care.
One of the main benefits of massage is its ability to promote relaxation. It can help to lower blood pressure, slow the heart rate, and promote feelings of calm and well-being. Therapeutic touch often communicates with people on a deep level that they can relax and let their guard down.
In conclusion, massage is a highly beneficial practice that can help to improve both physical and mental health. There are many types of massage to choose from, each with its own unique techniques and benefits. Whether you're looking for stress relief, pain management, improved flexibility, or just a relaxing spa treatment, massage can help to improve your overall well-being. Does massage sound like the right fit for you? Book a session on my website today!