Swedish massage is the most commonly offered and best known type of massage. It was developed by a Swedish physiologist, Henri Peter Ling at the University of Stockholm in 1812. It uses a firm but gentle pressue to improve the circulation, ease muscle aches and tension, improve flexibility and create relaxation.
Swedish massage employs five different movements:
- long, gliding strokes
- kneading of individual muscles
- hacking or tapping
The therapist generally uses massage oil to facilitate making long, smooth strokes over the body. Swedish massage is done with the person covered by a sheet, a technique called “draping.” One part of the body uncovered, massaged, and then covered up before moving on to another part of the body.
Swedish massage is the foundation for other types of Western massage, including sports, deep tissue and aromatherapy.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is a type of massage aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia, also called connective tissue. Deep tissue massage uses many of the same movements and techniques as Swedish massage, but the pressure will generally be more intense. It is also a more focused type of massage, as the therapist works to release chronic muscle tension or knots (also known as “adhesions.”)
Will A Deep Tissue Massage Hurt?
It shouldn’t hurt, but it’s likely to be a bit more uncomfortable than a classic Swedish massage. You should always feel free to speak up if the pressure is too much for you.
How Fast Will I Get Results With A Deep Tissue Massage?
It’s important to be realistic about what one massage can achieve.
Many people ask for more pressure, thinking that if the therapist just pushes hard enough, they can get rid of all their knots in an hour. This just won’t happen. In fact, undoing chronic knots and tension built up over a lifetime is best achieved with an integrated program that includes exercise, work on your posture and ways of moving, relaxation techniques and a regular program of massage.
Finally, while deep tissue is certainly valuable, you should be aware that gentle styles of massage like craniosacral therapy can also produce profound release and realignment in the body.
Neuromuscular Massage (Trigger Point Therapy)
A trigger point is a hyperirritable spot that is painful. It is called a trigger point because it “triggers” a painful response.
But a trigger point is more than a tender nodule. It affects not only the muscle where the trigger point is located, but also causes “referred pain” in tissues supplied by nerves.
Trigger points are located in a taut band of muscles fibers. The trigger point is the most tender point in the band. The therapist will locate and deactivate them using finger pressure. One technique is to pick up the muscle fibers in a pincer grip.
What You Should Know About Trigger Point Therapy
It is used to treat painful trigger points that cause referred pain.
It took a while to get the muscle in that condition, and it will likely take more than one massage to get rid of it.
These points are often areas of chronic “holding” and you need to learn how to move in different ways to keep them from recurring.
Sports massage is designed to help atheletes prepare their bodies for optimal performance, recover after a big event, or function well during training.
But you don’t have to be in the Olympics to benefit from sports massage. Sports massage is also good for people with injuries, chronic pain or restricted range of motion. This is the type of sports massage that you see in the spa.
What Happens During Sports Massage?
Sports massage is a type of Swedish massage that stimulates circulation of blood and lymph fluids. Some sports massage movements use trigger point therapy to break down adhesions (knots in the muscles) and increase range of motion.
A stiff neck. Aching wrists. Shoulders that feel as if someone folded them up. Anyone who has ever sat behind a desk all day will recognize the symptoms of workplace fatigue.
According to David Palmer, co-developer of the first massage chair and founder of the TouchPro Institute in San Francisco, most office-related physical symptoms can be attributed to loss of circulation. Tight muscles caused by stress and sitting behind a desk all day, especially at a work station that is not ergonomically designed, can impede blood and lymph flow through the body. The result is mental fogginess, decreased energy and susceptibility to repetitive stress injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Chair massage counters the circulatory problems inherent with office work—and provide a appreciated break for employees. Sitting in a massage chair opens up the back muscles, relieves strain on the neck and provides a gentle respite for eyes usually glued to a computer monitor. Even 15 minutes of massage to the neck, back, arms and hands can increase circulation, returning energy levels and helping keep the body injury free.
Therapeutic Massage / Clinical Massage
Therapeutic massage sessions are setup quite differently from a spa massage. The setting may be a clinic, hospital or private practice office. A first time client may spend extra time at his or her session to complete a very thorough intake form detailing current and past health complaints. This type of session may retain a large relaxation element to it but advanced techniques are likely to be used for pain and chronic health issues. A therapeutic or clinical massage practitioner will see a client very frequently for the first few weeks or months. This might include half hour massages three times a week, or weekly hour massages for a couple of months. Advanced techniques such as deep tissue massage and trigger point therapy may be used in a more clinical setting.