You’ll likely hear that a body massage is one of the best ways to relax. It can also be an excellent way to improve blood flow, protect the skin, ease tension in the muscles, and overall help your health.
To make the most of your body massage, you want to get the right type. There are those that are perfect for relaxation, but others that will help with recovery after a workout. Some only involve the hands, while others will include stones, heat, incense, and more.
Before you jump into booking any body massage, these are the five that you want to consider your needs. They’re perfect for all types of needs and styles.
Relax with a Swedish Massage
If you’ve never had a massage before, this is the type that you want to choose. The Swedish massage is one of the most popular options around the world because it’s the best for relaxation and massage virgins. It’s also widely found throughout the United States.
This type of massage is designed to help warm the tissues within the muscles, helping with the release of toxins and tension. You’ll help to reduce the stress on the body while reducing soreness and aches in the joints. The massage improves the blood flow, which helps to reduce further the stress felt in the body.
You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of time to get a Swedish massage. It’s the longest form, with a slow release of all knots within the body. The masseuse will use long, slow strokes, often using the forearms (not the hands) to get into the muscles and increase the heat.
The massage usually starts with the shoulders and then works down to the lower back. The masseuse will then work back up to the neck. Moving up and down the body helps to encourage all the toxins to leave the body and the pressure increases with each movement up and down. The masseuse will also work down your arms and legs to relax every single muscle within the body. Some will even offer massages around the stomach if you want the full body massage.
While you’ll certainly feel the heat and the pressure, there won’t be any pain. They idea is to make you feel relaxed. You may even feel like you’re going to fall asleep during the massage because it is just that good.
Because of its lack of pain, it makes the perfect first massage. You’ll get comfortable with someone using their hands to ease the tension, and you’ll enjoy the feeling of being relaxed. As you find you need other types of massages, you can move on.
If you suffer from a lot of stress, you’ll want to consider Swedish massages on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Find someone you’re comfortable around and make sure the room is warm, so your whole body can relax. There’s no point being cold, where you’ll tense up because of it!
Try a Deep Tissue or Sports Massage
If you have a lot of painful muscles, struggle with repetitive strain, or you’re recovering from an injury, you’ll want to think about a deep tissue massage. This is also good for those with chronic pain and tight muscles. Meanwhile, a sports massage is perfect for those who need a boost of recovery from an injury or due to training.
The deep tissue massage is not something you will want to do as your first massage. It can feel painful because the idea is to get right into the muscles. It’s an attempt to get rid of that chronic tightness or pain in the muscles. The massage will help to improve your posture and ease the deep tension from injury recovery.
Most deep massages will involve the use of the elbow and forearm to add more pressure to the tissues. The most common technique used is a kneading stroke, almost like kneading bread. The therapist will get into the tissues to boost the blood flow, improving the recovery process. Friction can also be used to add more heat, which will help to relax the muscles further.
The deep tissue massage is one of those that you may see a lot on TV, with the karate chopping technique with the fingertips or cupped hands. The rapid rhythm of the hands helps to add more intensity to the pressure, improving the relaxation of the muscles.
If you’ve tried Swedish massages and they don’t quite help get rid of the tension, you’ll want to consider moving up to the deep tissue option.
The massage shouldn’t push you past the pain threshold for a long period. You’ll usually be in the “good pain range,” which means there will be some discomfort but not a lot of intense pain. If there is a pain, it’s a sign that someone is doing the massage wrong.
As for sports massages, this is perfect for athletes who need to treat or prevent injuries. The massages are very similar to deep tissue massages, but they’re used mostly pre- or post-workouts and sporting events. They tend to be an upgrade from the Swedish massage to help the athletes relax the muscles and ease the buildup of lactic acid—this is the reason for many injuries.
Consider Trigger Point Massage Work
If you’re still not quite getting to the problem, you’ll want to think about trigger point work. This is the type of body massage best for locating where the specific knots are; where your body is holding tension. Because of the focus on the knots, there can be some discomfort, but as you stretch and breathe, you’ll find that the discomfort eases and you start to feel relaxed in the muscles.
The therapist will use the knuckles, thumbs or even the elbows to get pressure specifically within the knots. Pressure on these knots will help to soften them, kneading them out and improving the blood flow around the area.
You need to get a therapist trained in this type of massage. This is trained in knowing the difference between knotted muscles and normal muscles. Doing trigger point work when it’s not necessary can be damaging.
There are certain areas you’ll likely find the massage takes place. The shoulder blades, around the legs, and in the lower back tend to be common areas.
Those new to this type of massage can be surprised at the feelings they get. While the pressure is applied, pain or discomfort can be felt in other parts of the body. For example, pressure on the lower back can lead to feelings in the shoulder. This is known as “referred” pain or discomfort and is linked to the nerves. It’s why it’s so important to get a trained therapist in trigger point work.
It is possible to use trigger point massages to help with the injury recovery process. The trigger point can find the exact locations of the knots around the injury area, reducing scar tissue buildup and improving movement and flexibility.
This isn’t a massage that works for everyone. There’s no need to go through it if you find it too uncomfortable. The important thing is to try it, especially if you have common trigger points that cause problems. At least then you can decide based on the actual massage and not just what it sounds like!
Maximize Massage Time with Hot Stone Massages
A hot stone massage is extremely popular in spas around the country. While they can seem like a gimmick to some, they’re extremely beneficial clinically. In fact, studies have shown that those who opt for a hot stone massage can maximize their time getting a massage, meaning they need fewer in a year.
Even if you get one hot stone massage a year, it could be a good option for your overall health and mindset. The heat of the stones helps to push the heat through your body, improving blood flow and relaxing the muscles almost instantly. Even when you have the pressure from the hands afterward, you can still feel the heat to help keep your muscles relaxed even if something feels initially uncomfortable. Your therapist can work effectively thanks to the stones.
Each of the stones is heated to 125F before you start your massage, so you’ll get the heat from the minute you lay down. The stones are shaped differently depending on location to maximize all the benefits. You can get those that shape around the shoulder blades and along the lower back, improving the relaxation techniques within these parts of the body.
This is one of those massages that you want to get for a long period. If you have the option of a 90-minute massage, take advantage of it. However, an hour is better than nothing. You want the time for the heat to soak deep into your muscle tissues to get the full effect.
If you only get one massage a year, you’ll want to consider hot stones and nothing else.
While you can now get hot stone massage sets, consider getting it done professionally. The stones are heated properly and placed in the exact right places around your body. You’ll get the most out of your money and time spent.
Consider Prenatal Massages if You’re Pregnant
While all the massages above sound great, what about when you’re pregnant? Being pregnant is one of those times that you’ll likely beg for a massage, as your whole body feels out of shape. Your back takes on a lot of pressure from the weight of the bump, while your core and center of gravity shift and put more stress on your hips and legs.
However, you need to make sure you see a prenatal therapist. Getting the massage wrong or getting in the wrong position can put you and your baby at risk! A trained therapist will know all about the dangerous pressure points in the body; the ones that can start early contractions!
A prenatal massage doesn’t help with the pressure and tension either. You can reduce swelling around the body and reduce back pain felt. It’s possible to help you feel more mentally relaxed, so you’re ready for the baby. It’s a popular option as you get towards the end of your pregnancy and want some me time before the baby arrives.
Many prenatal massages will either involve you lying on your side or your back. Isn’t it dangerous to lie on your back? A therapist will use a wedge that supports your back and reduces the risk of your baby putting pressure on the artery. The back position is useful when working on the hips, knees, and ankles, where you want to get rid of the swelling.
If you’re not sure if a therapist is trained in prenatal massages, you can always ask about the techniques used. Find out more about steps are taken to protect the baby and you.
You’ll also want to find out about any incenses used. Some can induce labor, so you need to make sure the therapist doesn’t use them without thinking. Also, find out about the temperature of the room; this isn’t the time for a hot massage.
Get Relaxed in the Right Way
With the above five massages, you’ll be ready to tackle anything life throws at you. There is something for all needs and interests. If you’re new to getting massages, start with the simple and common Swedish massage. From there, you can build up to others that involve more targeted practices to release the tension in the muscles and boost blood flow. If you are only looking for one massage a year, hot stones will certainly get you relaxed efficiently.
The only time you want to avoid a Swedish massage as your first one is if you’re pregnant. Then you’ll want to investigate a prenatal massage with a trained professional.