What types of massage are there?
These types of massage are popular in sports and occupational health. Swedish massage is a more common form of massage that is suitable for a range of different purposes.
Some types of massage may have more extensive health benefits. For example, there are claims that reflexology can heal other parts of the body by targeting the hands and feet. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support these claims.
This article will discuss some of the most common types of massage and their benefits.
Hot stone massage
A hot stone massage can help treat muscle injuries.
A hot stone massage involves the use of heated stones, usually comprising basalt. Basalt is a type of volcanic rock with a high iron content, which allows it to hold in heat well.
A massage therapist will heat the stones in hot water before placing them on different areas of the body.
They may also hold the stones while performing a variety of other massage techniques.
Hot stone massage provides heat to the body's muscles. This can help treat muscle injuries, as it relaxes them and increases blood flow to the area. This, in turn, can help reduce stiffness and discomfort.
Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage aims to reach deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.
A massage therapist will slowly press their fingers into the skin with pressure. They will use slow, firm strokes to target deep tissues.
They may specifically target knots in the muscles. Muscle knots, or myofascial trigger points, are specific areas of tension within the muscle fiber. The exact cause of these knots is still unclear, but they can develop from muscle overuse, such as from playing a sport or poor posture.
Because these knots can be sore, deep tissue massage aims to relieve them and provide pain relief. There is some evidence to suggest that this technique is effective for this purpose.
The purpose of a sports massage is to improve the health of the soft tissue in the bodies of people who play sports or exercise regularly. It involves the manipulation of soft tissues, including the:
Playing sports and regularly exercising can put excessive strain on the muscles and other soft tissues. By targeting all of these soft tissues, a sports massage therapist aims to prevent or relieve injuries, enhance muscle performance, and correct muscle imbalances.
There is evidence to suggest that sports massage can aid recovery from repetitive muscle injuries. There is also some evidence to suggest that sports massage may improve muscle performance, but it is less conclusive.
A therapist will use less pressure during a Swedish massage compared with other types of massage.
In a Swedish massage, the therapist will use less pressure than they would in other types of massage, such as deep tissue or sports massage.
They will combine shorter, tapping strokes and longer, deeper strokes using light to moderate pressure. They may also move the person's limbs around during the massage.
Reflexology uses different amounts of pressure on specific parts of the hands and feet with the aim of benefiting other parts of the body. The practice may help promote relaxation and reduce pain.
There are some claims that reflexology can heal certain parts of the body from various conditions, but there is no solid evidence for this. For example, one high quality systematic review found that reflexology could not reduce chronic pain from multiple sclerosis.
However, reflexology may have other benefits, such as relaxation. One systematic review from 2019 found that reflexology helped reduce anxiety in people undergoing treatment for cardiovascular issues.
Pregnant women should consult a doctor before having a massage.
There is evidence behind some of the alleged benefits of massage, such as reducing muscle pain and promoting relaxation.
Many different groups of people may benefit from massages, such as those who regularly play sports or have bad posture.
When receiving a massage from a trained massage therapist, there are few risks. However, the risks that do exist may not affect everyone.
People with open wounds or cuts should avoid hot stone massage, as the heat can cause more bleeding. Deep tissue and other forceful types of massage can also make bleeding worse. People with bleeding disorders and those taking anticoagulants may wish to avoid massages altogether.
Also, pregnant women should consult a doctor before having any type of massage.
Many types of massage can promote relaxation, aid pain relief, and help prevent and treat injuries.
Most types are safe for most people when a trained massage therapist performs them.
However, not everyone should seek massage therapy. For example, hot stone massage can worsen bleeding from a cut or open wound.