Massage has been used for centuries for a wide range of physical and psychological purposes. By 2,700 BC, the ancient Chinese were already using massage for leisure, relaxation and treating various ailments. In today’s world, massage is a standard practice in various settings from spas and luxury resorts to hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Massage is used for a range of purposes including facilitating healing, fighting stress and promoting both physical and mental health. There are close to 100 distinct types of massage carried out in the world today. However, the five most popular ones are the following:
Also referred to as “relaxation massage” and “classic massage”, this is the most popular type of massage in the world today. Swedish massage was first developed by a physiologist at the University of Stockholm in the early 19th Century. The physiologist, Per Henrik Ling, based his massage techniques around concepts of human anatomy and physiology. This is set it apart from Eastern massage types which are centered around concepts of “energy”. Swedish massage has been proven to provide a range of physical and psychological benefits.
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A 2008 study carried out by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) found Swedish massage to control stress and, boost the body’s immunity. The study found a 45-minute session of Swedish massage to significantly reduce the levels of cortisol and aginine vasopressin in the body. These are two hormones whose presence in the body leads to stress symptoms like chronic fatigue, restlessness, irritability, insomnia and migraines. By reducing their levels, Swedish massage made the participants reel relaxed, serene and stress free. Swedish massage was also found to stimulate the production of leucocytes in the body. These are white blood cells which defend the body against infections thus promoting immunity.
Sports Massage is mostly carried out on athletes both amateur and professional. It is aimed at helping athletes cope with the physical strains of training or competitions. The focus is usually on the muscles which are strained and stretched during athletic pursuits. The techniques used usually combine those of Swedish and deep tissue massage. However, the strokes are used are often faster, more vigorous and focused around specific muscular areas such as shoulders, thighs and calf.
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Sports massage has a number of benefits including relieving muscular aches, improving flexibility, fostering quicker recovery from injuries and improving athletic performance. All these benefits have been documented in scientific studies. One such a study was published in 2005 in the Journal of Athletics Training. It found sports massage to prevent swelling, soreness and muscular aches when given to athletes immediately after a practice session. Another study was published in the Journal of Sports Medicine in April 2000. This study found sports massage to foster quicker recovery from muscle tears, sprains and fractures.
Face massage was initially introduced as part of salon facial treatments. However, as its benefits become more widespread, face massage became commonplace beyond facial salons. It is now known as the prefect natural way to fight wrinkles, promote skin health and detoxify the body. Face massage works by improving blood flow beneath the facial skin. This enables proper nourishment and detoxification of the skin.
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According to Dr. Jody Alpert Levine, a reputable dermatologist, “moving facial muscles increases blood flow which brings oxygen and nutrients to the area. As the blood flows out of the area, it carries away toxins.” This ensures that the skin is healthy thus giving it a natural glow. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Biomedical Research found face massage to improve moods, fight stress and reduce anxiety. This gives the person a relaxed, youthful and radiant look.
Deep Tissue Massage
This type of massage is usually carried out to relieve chronic aches or pains deep in the muscles. The aim is to reach and realign the deepest layers muscle tissue, fascia and tendons. As such, the strokes are usually deep, firm and vigorous. This vigor sometimes results in stiffness, soreness or pain in the areas subjected to deep tissue massage. Such discomforts usually wear off within a day or two of having the massage. This type of massage is the perfect remedy for dealing sprains, back pains, muscle spasms, sciatica, Tennis elbow, Ostearthritis pain and postural problems.
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Deep tissue massage can also help in lowering blood pressure as well as fighting off stress. Several studies have proved this. One such a study was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. It found that a 45 to 60 minute session of deep tissue massage lowered heart rate and blood pressure. Another study which published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found deep tissue massage to trigger the release of serotonin and oxytocin in the body. These two hormones are known to reduce stress, foster relaxation and enhance positive moods.
Tantric massage is sometimes referred to as “sensual massage” or “tantra massage”. Its main goal is to utilize the body’s sensual energy to promote relaxation, healing and emotional balance. Tantra massage applies strokes and techniques commonly used massage types such as Swedish massage. However, the focus of Tantra massage is usually around a person’s erogenous zones.
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The goal is to awaken someone’s sensual energy and then direct it towards certain specific purposes. Among the benefits of Tantra massage are relaxation, treating erectile dysfunctions, overcoming sensual inhibitions and reducing physical pains. Other benefits include improving self awareness, stimulating creative thinking and improving sensual sensitivity.
In a nutshell, those are the five most popular types of massage in the world today. In order to enjoy their various benefits, there are two recommendations which are important to observe. The first is to find a masseur (or masseuse) who is trained and certified in the specific type of massage. No single masseur is an expert in all massage types. Therefore, it is important to find someone who is skilled in specific massage type that you are interested in having. Secondly, for sustained results, a single massage session isn’t enough. It is advisable to have periodic sessions on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.