We all love being pampered and what better than a massage therapy for that ultimate indulgence. It leaves one fresh and rejuvenated, charged up for the busy life. With Spas and massages having gained such popularity, it’s often confusing as to which massage means what, and how to pick the right one. Allow us take you through the different types of massage and their benefits, so that taking your pick becomes a tad easier. These massages might vary slightly at different places, hence it’s best to discuss your needs with your therapist.
This is the most common type of massage of western origin. Swedish massage is well known as the classical or relaxing massage. The massage therapists use long smooth strokes, kneading, and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle to achieve relaxing and healing effects. It’s a gentle relaxing massage done using massage lotion or essential oils. It’s ideal if you are taking a massage for the first time or if you just want a very relaxing massage. It is also popular as a couples’ massage.
Benefits – increases blood circulation, physical and mental relaxation, reduces stress and muscle tension, and improves flexibility.
Commonly called “Yoga for the lazy”, in this kind of massage you won’t just lay in one place. The therapist will stretch and move your body using his/her hands, feet, knees and legs (including walking on your back) just like assisted yoga. Apart from stretching, the therapist will apply pressure on your muscles and acupressure points and loosen your joints. This highly energizing and relaxing massage is of eastern origin. Traditionally Thai massage does not use oils and the recipient remains clothed in loose comfortable clothing during the massage. However few variations may involve the use of oil.
Benefits – Enhances flexibility and range of motion, energizes and relaxes body and mind.
Hot Stone massage
An extremely relaxing deep massage that involves placing hot basalt or lava stones soaked in aromatic oil, on different acupressure points of the body. Along with placing the stones, the therapist might also massage your body with his/her hand and the stones (that are extremely smooth). Since the stones are hot, the muscles relax completely taking you into a blissful state. Also the heat enhances the blood circulation and recharges the energy levels. Since the temperature is very high, such a massage is not recommended for pregnant women and for people with high blood pressure.
Benefits – Helps relax extremely tense muscles, good for backache and muscular pain, releases stress and alleviates depression.
Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue is a high-pressure massage that focuses on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints). High pressure is applied in order to realign the muscles and remove the knots. The pressure is focused on areas of high muscle tension and stress. The therapists use massage oil to apply high pressure using their knuckles, forearms, fingertips and elbows, which could be a bit painful. Deep tissue is mostly recommended for athletes, people with chronic pains or muscles tension and in certain cases post recovery from injury.
Benefits – Enhances mobility, alleviates chronic pain and muscles tension.
Aromatherapy massage involves using essential oils– oils that are extracted from flowers, fruits and other parts of plants- to relax the mind and the body. Essential oils are believed have physiological and physical healing properties. It is believed that the aroma of such oils when inhaled stimulates the brain and helps promote general well being. Your therapist will help you chose an oil best suited to your needs. The popular oils used are lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, mint etc. Aromatherapy is also very popular as a couples’ massage.
Benefits- Stress-relief, anxiety-relief, cures headaches, enhances attention span, detoxification.
Prenatal or pregnancy massage is a special kind of massage designed specifically for expecting mothers. Women experience various discomforts during their pregnancy including stress, blood clots, swelling/ edema, fatigue, pain in joints, sleeplessness etc. A prenatal massage includes long relaxing strokes and use of techniques such as Swedish massage or reflexology to help overcome these discomforts. A prenatal massage requires special arrangements such as use of special beds and cushions to support the tummy. Also the massage is given lying on the side instead of back. Most therapists advise not to take prenatal massage in the first trimester as increase in body temperature could lead to miscarriage. Also it is essential that the therapist be certified in prenatal massage technique to avoid any damage to the mother or the baby. Lastly, it is best to consult your doctor before undergoing any massage during pregnancy.
Benefits – Relieves depression and anxiety, enhances blood circulation, relieves swelling, reduces fatigue and pain in joints and improves sleep.
Popularly known as foot massage or foot reflexology, reflexology has become popular as an alternative treatment. In Reflexology pressure is applied on pressure points in hands and feet using specific technique to relieve stress and treat illness. It is based on the premise that there are reflex areas and points in hands and feet that correspond to human organs, and applying pressure to such points can cure illness in the corresponding organs. This kind of massage is done without oil and the therapist might use props such as rubber balls and wooden sticks to apply pressure. Though it may provide health benefits but one must not completely rely on reflexology as an alternative treatment.
Benefits – Relieves stress, beneficial in curing depression and anxiety, may reduce pain.
Shiatsu literally means ‘finger pressure’. It is an ancient Japanese massage in which fingers, thumbs, palms and sometimes feet pressure is applied in a certain rhythmic manner so as to stimulate the flow of energy. It is believed that such flow of energy calms the sympathetic nervous system and stimulates blood circulation. This massage is also done with the clothes on without the use of oil, usually on a low massage table or floor. The therapist will typically hold the pressure at each point for few seconds, which could be mildly painful but relaxing.
Benefits- Relives stress, alleviates depression, migraine and insomnia, and helps in recovery post injury.
Ayurveda massage/ Abhyangam
Traditionally considered a self massage in which warm oil is used to massage ones own body from head to toe before going for a shower, Abhyangam has now gained popularity at many Spas across the world. In Ayurveda, it is believed that Abhyangam should be practiced as a daily ritual. It stimulates the lymphatic system to remove toxins from the body and strengthens the immune system. It is done using warm Ayurveda oils such as jojoba oil, coconut oil, almond oil, sesame oil etc. depending on ones needs. At a certified Ayurveda Spa, the therapist will pick an oil based on your ‘dosha’ (mind-body type). The therapist will massage the body using liberally quantity of oil performing gentle stokes from the crown of your head to the toes. After the massage, it is advised to rest for 10-15 minutes before going for a shower.
Benefits – Believed to slow down the process of aging and detoxify the body. Reduces fatigue, builds immunity, lubricates the joints, and improves appetite.
Balinese massage that originated in Bali in Indonesia is increasingly gaining popularity. It’s a perfect mix of classical oil massage, aroma therapy, acupressure, reflexology, stretching, kneading and sometimes stone massage too. The therapists use a combination of these techniques to relax the muscles, and balance the flow of blood, oxygen and energy. This is a deep massage done with high pressure and a lot of stretching and kneading to release the muscle knots.
Benefits – Relaxes achy muscles, reduces stiffness in joints and aids in flexibility and overall relaxation. Particularly helpful after sports injuries.
Javanese massage (also called the Malay massage) is another Indonesian massage that is in vogue. Javanese massage is a lot rougher than Balinese massage and involves applying deep pressure with thumbs, knuckles and palms. In fact the therapist might also use copper coins to scrape the skin. It is based on the concept that the body traps toxic ‘winds’ or air that needs to be released using appropriate strokes and deep thumb pressure. The therapist uses various oils to apply pressure on the muscles with special focus on the body’s energy meridians, which helps remove the muscle knots and improves blood circulation.
Benefits – Particularly beneficial in back pain and neck pain. Reduces cellulite, helps in speedy recovery after child birth, removes swelling, also beneficial in migraine and headaches.
The name ‘Shirodhara’ comes from the Sanskrit words –‘Shiro’ which means head and ‘dhara’ which means flow. It is an Ayurvedic massage that involves pouring a stream of warm oil over the forehead to relax the nervous system. This technique purifies and cleanses the mind and the body, and brings in the required balance. It helps achieve a higher level of consciousness.
Benefits –Shirodhara cures various neurological disorders and aids in treatment of post trauma stress disorder. Also helps with sinusitis, premature greying of hair, hair loss, insomnia, memory and stress related issues.
Now that you know everything about the different types of massage and their benefits, don’t wait, find the best Spas in Bangalore for your massage needs today.
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