Massage therapy involves manipulating the soft tissues of your body — muscles, skin, tendons and joints — to ease discomfort and promote relaxation. And while you may think of a massage as something that helps relieve tired and sore muscles, a good massage can cause your body to produce endorphins — chemicals produced in your brain that are believed to reduce stress, relieve pain, enhance your immune system, improve sleep, decrease anxiety, boost self-esteem and even help fight the aging process.
As you may already know, there are so many different types of massage — Swedish, Shiatsu and Thai, for example — that it may be difficult to decide which one best suits your needs. Read on and discover which massage is for you.
A traditional Japanese healing therapy, Shiatsu is a lighter massage therapy that promises to improve energy flow and prevent stress overload. A practitioner first assesses your state of health, symptoms and energy levels. The next step involves applying pressure to acupressure points throughout your body using gentle holding, finger pressing and stretches to reinvigorate you.
One of the best-known therapies, a Swedish massage uses the hands, forearms and elbows to apply deep pressure to muscles and joints. By applying pressure to various areas of your body while gently stretching ligaments and tendons, this technique helps relax muscles and nerves, increase circulation, and promotes an overall sense of physical well being.
Lymphatic drainage massage uses precise and rhythmic strokes to help the flow of lymphatic fluid — a clear fluid that carries cells to fight disease and infection in your body. This massage is not only relaxing and energizing, it’s also believed to help reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Using gentle and fluid strokes, Californian massage is known as the ultimate anti-stress massage therapy. While massaging, the therapist encourages breathing and muscle relaxation so that you can get back in touch with your body, while bringing about self-awareness, inner peace and calm. At the same time, this massage helps relieve fatigue and muscular tension.
Whether you’re looking to relieve back pain or simply pamper yourself, a pregnancy or prenatal massage offers moms-to-be countless benefits. Perks include tranquil relaxation, reduced stress on muscles and joints and improved circulation. Just be certain your massage therapist is a certified practitioner with specialized training in prenatal massage techniques.
Thai massage isn’t like a traditional massage at all. A therapist will use their hands, elbows, knees and even feet to position you into different poses (similar to Yoga poses). Thai massage not only stretches your muscles, it also relaxes your body, improves circulation, increases flexibility and reduces overall stress. And you don’t have to disrobe since you wear loose, comfortable clothing throughout the process.
While reflexology is sometimes known as a foot massage, it does more than just provide relief for sore, tired feet. Therapists concentrate on pressure points on your feet (and sometimes hands) that correspond to a various parts of your body, including organs. By applying pressure to these points, you not only feel relaxed and de-stressed, you may also be helping to improve the health of various body parts that are seemingly unrelated to your feet.
Search “massage” in Find Support to get more information about massage and massage therapists in your area. And for information on touch therapy (including Reiki and therapeutic touch), read Ease your pain with alternative pain management techniques.