4 Types of Massage: What You Need to Know

Swedish massage is one of the most popular and widely practiced types of massage therapy. This method focuses on improving blood flow to the skin and muscles to relieve tension, providing relaxation, improving circulation, reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. It is achieved by rubbing the muscles with long, gliding movements. Other common varieties of massage therapy include deep tissue, trigger point, sports massage, and cupping.

Deep tissue and trigger point therapy use slow friction and deep pressure on areas suffering from muscle tension. This method is useful for areas of hypertension, such as the neck or shoulders. Cupping therapy is an ancient type of medicine developed by the Chinese that helps with pain, blood flow, and inflammation, and improves overall well-being. A study conducted by Emory University's Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program investigated the effects of Swedish massage on people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

The Swedish massage group reported a significant reduction in anxiety scores, suggesting it may be an effective treatment for the condition. Sports massage is ideal for athletes or anyone with a physically demanding lifestyle. Shiatsu massage dates back to ancient Japan and means “finger pressure”. It is based on the idea of energy flow, also known as 'Ki' or 'Qi' (pronounced 'chee').

Percussion massage has been dubbed the “new foam roll” by Men's Health. Hot stone massage can treat painful conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Acupuncture is based on the belief that a disease is the result of blocked or interrupted 'chi'. A study involving 58 cancer patients revealed that twice-daily scalp massages improved hair loss for 69% of participants.

Reiki means “mysterious atmosphere, miraculous sign” and comes from the Japanese words “rei” (which means universal) and “ki” (which means vital energy). If you're feeling stressed and exhausted, you might want to consider a shiatsu massage. Deep tissue massage aims to relieve tension in the deeper layers of muscle tissue and fascia. It uses more intense kneading techniques than Swedish ones.

Couples massages are also available, where two clients are kneaded side by side in the same room. Prenatal massages are also available to combat pregnancy pains. No matter what type of massage you choose, you can get a personal recommendation for a massage therapist from a doctor, a friend, or an online directory. You can also book some massages with different therapists to see which one you prefer.