There are so many different types of massage practiced in the U.K. and a vast array of therapists offering their services that the whole idea of “getting a massage” to help you feel better may be a little daunting. Here is a short summary of TEN common styles that you may come across. Soft Tissue Therapy (my qualification) is a mixture of Sports and Deep Tissue with some assisted stretching and remedial exercises. Please get in touch if you have any questions.
Swedish Massage is the standard massage usually offered in beauty clinics and spas. Using lotion or oil, massage therapists typically begin with broad general strokes and then transition to specific strokes to address problem areas. This can provide full-body relaxation and is very popular.
Aromatherapy Massage is usually a Swedish Massage where essential oils have been added to the massage medium. These essential oils can sooth a variety of conditions including headaches, digestive issues and insomnia. Care needs to be taken that the client is not allergic to any of the (usually plant based) essential oils.
Hot Stone Massage uses warm, smooth stones to relax and loosen tight muscles. The therapist places the stones on specific points of the body and may also massage whilst holding the stones.
Deep Tissue Massage is a therapeutic massage that targets specific problem areas in the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. Using deliberate, slow strokes or friction across the grain of the muscle, the therapist addresses chronic tight or painful muscles, repetitive strain, postural problems, or injuries. This type of massage is particularly beneficial for people with long term pain or lingering injuries that cause limited mobility. It’s effective in treating repetitive stress injuries such as tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome and can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Shiatsu Massage involves localized pressure using the therapist’s fingers (or sometimes hands and elbows), applied in a rhythmic sequence along the body. The goal of Shiatsu is to stimulate acupressure points on the body to improve the flow of energy and help regain balance. Shiatsu is normally done on a mat on the floor or on a low massage table and is often used to reduce stress and protect against stress-related health issues. No lotion or oil is used and clients will usually wear loose clothing.
Thai Massage is a unique blend of assisted yoga, passive stretching, and pressing massage movements. The therapist moves and stretches you in a sequence of postures, usually on a mat on the floor. It is done fully clothed and can reduce muscle spasticity and back pain, and has been shown to be useful in treating balance problems and migraine symptoms.
Pregnancy (or Prenatal) Massage is customized to an expectant mother’s needs but is most often used for relaxation. Many pregnant women suffer from lower back pain and swollen ankles especially in the later months and prenatal massage is a relatively safe, drug-free way to provide relief. Therapists who have received specialized training in prenatal massage know how to position and support the woman’s body during the massage, modify techniques, and avoid certain areas and techniques during pregnancy. Please make sure that you check the qualifications and experience of any therapist that you visit.
Reflexology is based on “reflex areas” on the hands and feet, whose energy is believed to be connected to organs and other body parts. By applying pressure to the reflex points, the reflexologist can balance your nervous system and stimulate endorphin release. Reflexology can be a deeply relaxing therapy, especially if you stand all day or have tired, achy feet. You remove your shoes and socks but otherwise remain clothed.
Sports Massage is designed to prevent and treat injuries, improve flexibility and enhance athletic performance by athletes of all abilities. It helps them to prepare for or recover from training and events. Even if you are not an athlete, Sports Massage may help muscle pain or restricted range of motion. This type of massage can help by increasing blood flow, range of motion and flexibility.
Chair Massage is often seen in public spaces such as shopping malls, airports or at work. The client is seated astride a specially designed chair so that the therapist can massage their back, shoulders and neck. Client remains fully clothed. This can be a very useful quick fix massage to ease pain and stress.