Massage therapy has seen a surge in popularity in recent years as people turn to alternative methods of healing to help aches and pains.

There are many different styles and techniques available – to help you pick which one will work best for you check out our massage cheat-sheet and get ready to say goodbye to those knots and tension…

Swedish massage

The most common and widely-practiced type of Western massage, this is the ‘classic’ relaxation massage offered in most spas. It consists of five basic strokes:

  • Effleurage – long gliding stroke
  • Petrissage – kneading stroke
  • Tapotement – percussive or tapping stroke
  • Friction – rapid, repetitious, heat producing movement
  • Vibration – jostling motion

While relaxing, Swedish massage also releases muscle tension, increases circulation and dissolves scar tissue adhesions. It’s a great first-massage choice.

Deep tissue therapy

Similar to Swedish massage, deep tissue therapy focuses on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia (the protective layer that surrounds muscles, bones and joints) and uses greater pressure to help release chronic muscle tension. Studies have shown that deep tissue therapy can reduce stress hormone levels and heart rate while boosting mood and relaxation by triggering the release of ‘happy hormones’ oxytocin and serotonin. Be aware that soreness may persist for a day or two after treatment.

Hot stone massage therapy

Smooth heated stones are massaged over the body with warm oil to warm and loosen tight muscles. One of the most relaxing and sedating types of massage therapy, it’s a great choice for people with insomnia or those that have muscle tension but prefer a lighter massage.

Trigger point therapy

A trigger point (or “knot”) is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes referred pain in other parts of the body. For instance, a trigger point in the upper back can create a satellite trigger point in the neck which then causes pain in the head (some sufferers even experience headaches and migraines from this referred pain). Trigger point massage therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain using cycles of isolated pressure followed by release. The participant actively participates by helping to pinpoint the exact location and intensity of discomfort, so it is not as relaxing as some methods but used regularly can help to manage ongoing pain or stress from chronic injuries.

Thai massage

A traditional form of healing massage that has been practiced in Thailand for around 2500 years, Thai massage therapy combines gentle rhythmic compression with deep yoga-like stretches. The therapist moves your legs and arms into a series of postures to reduce stress and improve flexibility and range of motion – so don’t be surprised if you feel yourself being tugged into strange positions!

Are you a regular, occasional or never massage recipient? What’s your favourite style of massage to get? Let us know!