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Comparing the Many Types of Massage and Their Benefits: Which Works for Your Needs?

Types of massage

There’s nothing quite as therapeutic as treating yourself to a massage.

Massage therapy is excellent, whether you have muscle knots that need attention or just want an hour of quiet relaxation. Not to mention the countless health benefits of getting a massage.

There are many different types of massage therapy to choose from. Keep reading to learn the benefits of each to see which resonates best with your needs.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massages are the most common type of massage you’re going to read about today. They consist of several basic movements, including long, sweeping strokes and muscle kneading. Your masseuse will use less pressure than in other types of massage therapy you’ll read about later.

Studies show that this the best type of massage for reducing lower back pain in certain populations. It’s not the best pick for everyone, though. Those who have fibromyalgia, for example, are not great candidates for Swedish massages.

Hot Stone

During a hot stone massage, your masseuse will use heated stones on your body to produce the desired effect. The stones are made of volcanic rock, allowing them to hold heat for long periods.

Your masseuse ensures the stones are a specific temperature before placing them on your body. They may also hold them in their hands as they move them across your back for a unique feeling massage.

The hot rocks heat the muscles of your body. Heat is a great way to help with muscle injuries as it promotes blood flow and can help them to relax.

Hot stone massages are best for releasing tense muscles and centering yourself. Some may find the stones too hot to allow themselves to completely relax during their treatment.

Deep Tissue

Deep tissue massages work by reaching the deeper layers of your muscles and connective tissues. Your therapist will use a fair amount of pressure, working their fingers in slow, firm strokes.

Deep tissue massages are best for athletes or those with dense muscle tissues. People who need to breakdown scar tissue are also great candidates. You do not want to book this type of treatment if you’re looking for relaxation.

The key to getting a great deep tissue massage is to communicate with your therapist. You will need varying amounts of pressure in different areas of your body. Let your masseuse know if they’re not using enough — or, subsequently, too much — pressure.

It’s normal to feel sore for a day or two after your treatment.


Aromatherapy massages involve the use of scented essential oils to produce a healing effect. Your therapist will combine gentle pressure with a variety of different oils to promote emotional and physical healing.

Your masseuse may use oils like bergamot, cedarwood, lavender, or peppermint during your massage. They will dilute the oil in a carrier oil to massage into your skin or diffuse the oil in the room.

There are a lot of benefits to combining essential oils and massage therapy. Studies show that some essential oils can be effective in reducing anxiety levels and promoting sleep quality. Aromatherapy is also great for stress relief and relaxation.

Tui Na

Tui Na is a form of bodywork that’s rooted in the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Your practitioner works along the energy channels in your body using various techniques to try to balance your body’s vital energy (qi).

This treatment goes beyond treating your physical body through your muscles and joints. The goal is to work on the body on a deeper and more energetic level. Your practitioner will use their hands to feel your energy and affect its flow and distribution.

Tui na is best for people suffering from disorders like insomnia, headaches, and emotional issues. However, some people do find the techniques useful for stiff muscles and sore backs.


Shiatsu is a type of bodywork that originates in Japan. Its name translates to “finger pressure.” Your masseuse will use gentle stretches and finger pressure to work on your body’s pressure points. Similar to tui na massages, a shiatsu treatment focuses on balancing your body’s energy flow.

Your massage therapist will use their hands to massage points over your body. They may apply a pulsing or rhythmic pressure.

Shiatsu is an excellent technique for people who are suffering from a variety of body ailments. It’s a non-invasive therapy that can help treat stiff muscles, poor digestion, headaches, fibromyalgia, stress, and fatigue.

Chair Massage

Are neck, shoulder, and back pain getting you down? If so, a chair massage might be what you need to treat these issues.

The downside of this massage modality is that it’s often done in very public places. You have probably seen chair massage set-ups in airports, your local mall, or even at your office.  This can be distracting for some folks, making it difficult for them to focus on the magic their therapist is performing.

This treatment is best for those who want a quick, focused massage. During your treatment, you’ll straddle a unique massage chair and keep all of your clothing on. Your therapist will then have full access to the parts of your body that are ailing you.

Chair massages are only 10-30 minutes in length, so they’re perfect for people short on time.

Choose the Best Types of Massage For You

Now that you know the different types of massage, which resonates with you the most?

Do you need a masseuse to work on your knots and increase your range of motion? Try a deep tissue!

Are you in need of energy and a boost in productivity? How about a tui na massage?

Whatever your needs, there’s a massage therapy type that can help. If you’re not entirely convinced you need to visit a masseuse yet, click here to learn why you need a body treatment this summer.

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