Which Massage is Best for You?

After a long day at work, don’t we all want to be pampered and have every bit of our stressed body parts be rubbed and relaxed? Ideally, all massages are meant to relax you but there might be some techniques that may not be right for you. There are so many type of massages available, and all claim to relax and de-stress you, but I’ve come out of the therapy room more than once, feeling like I’ve just been beaten up, and I don’t the same thing to happen to you.

Before heading out to the nearest spa, here’s a list of different massages you might find. Find out which out is best for you before you go knocking on their door

1. Swedish massage uses the following techniques: gliding and long strokes, kneading, friction, tapping, percussion, vibration, and shaking motions using the palms, thumbs and/or fingertips. These techniques help to increase the oxygen flow in the blood and release toxins from the muscles. It increases circulation without increasing heart load. It helps in flushing the tissues of lactic acid, uric acid and other metabolic waste and  thereby shortens the tissues’ recovery time from muscle strain.

Nudity factor: You will be lying naked on a massage table but partially covered with a sheet or towel. Oil and lotion can be used.

Not good for you if: you’re hoping to work out the kinks in specific areas.

Length: may take up to an hour.

2. Shiatsu massage consists of finger and palm pressure in a continuous rhythmic sequence and is said to calm an overactive sympathetic nervous system, which improves circulation, relieves stiff muscles, and alleviates stress.

You may like it if: you’re not comfortable being undressed while being massage. Shiatsu does not use oil  so there’s no need to take off your clothes.

Not for you if: you have sensitive tender spots. With Shiatsu, the pressure may feel more localized because the finger pads are used to apply pressure for most of the treatment instead of the entire palm.

Length: may take up to an hour.

3. Deep tissue uses the same strokes used in a swedish massage, but more pressure is applied  and uses strokes that move across the fibers of the muscles (cross grain strokes) as opposed to following along the length of the muscle fibers. The therapists usually uses their hand and forearm, however with a Deep Tissue Massage, elbows, fingers, and ceramic, wooden, or glass tools may be used for optimal penetration of the muscle instead of just the superficial layer. The speed of the strokes will be slower than a classic massage as well, which means they are longer in duration.

Nudity Factor: Like with Swedish, you’ll be half naked  but partially covered.

You will like it if: you feel that there’ s so much muscle tension that you need to relieve.

Not for you if: you have an appointment  in the next 24 hours after having the massage. Since optimal pressure is used i this type of massage, temporary soreness may happen. Your muscles needs to recover from all the application of  pressure even if   you don’t feel any soreness.

Length: may take  up to an hour and a half.

4. Thai massage  aims to realign the energies of the body. It involves a lot of stretching and deep massage. The therapist typically uses hands, palms and fingers but will also use feet, forearms and the entire body for optimal pressure. It includes rhythmic pressing and stretching of the entire body which may include pulling fingers, toes, ears, cracking the knuckles, walking on the recipient’s back, and arching the recipient into cobra position (bhujangsana). Typical Thai massage may take up to 2 hours.

Nudity Factor: You will be asked to wear comfortable, loose clothes for this massage.

Not for you if: you’ve got intimacy issues. In this massage, you are clothed, but your body will be intertwined with the therapist’s.

5. Hot Stone massage is a specialty massage where the therapist uses smooth, heated stones, either as an extension of their own hands, or by placing them on your body while they massage other parts of the body. The heat will warm up tight muscles and it can be deeply relaxing. The stones are black volcanic rock that absorbs and retains heat well, and have been smoothed by natural forces in the river or sea.

First, the therapist will give your body a warm up with a swedish massage, while sanitizing the stones with heat. Once comfortably heated, the stones will be used to massage you, big ones for the big muscles and smaller ones for the smaller body parts. Heated stones can also be left  in specific points along your spine, in the palms of your hand, on your belly, or even between your toes to improve the flow of energy in your body.

On a cold winter day light a fire and enjoy a ...
On a cold winter day light a fire and enjoy a hot stone massage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s not for you if: you’re really sensitive to heat. The stones can get really, really, really hot.  Also, some people may not be comfortable with the thought that the stones have been used over someone else’s naked body.

6. Reflexology uses acupressure and various massage techniques to pressure points of the body to stimulate energy flow to the rest of your body. Believing that certain areas of the ears, hands and feet are connected by nerves to other parts of the body, Reflexology massage is said to cure and prevent many symptoms like headache, back pain, stress and migraine, asthma, constipation, sinusitis, arthritis and even infertility. As with any massages, blood circulation will improve.

You might like it if: you like minimal exposure. There’s no need to be undressed and be in an isolated room for this massage.

Not for you if: you have extremely ticklish feet.

7. Ventosa “Cupping” Therapy  aims to “cup” and pull out the stress caused by muscle spasm and tissue congestion. A burning cotton ball is placed in an upside-down cup. When the oxygen in the cup burns out, the cup is placed directly on the skin at specific accupoints on your back, face down, while you lie half-naked on the massage table. The glasses are held in place by a strong suction and draws the skin up inside the cup. The vaccum created increases circulation, helps alleviate pain and relaxes the body. The procedure is generally painless.

Not for you if: if you’re on a budget because this procedure works best when accompanied by other type of massages. You also need to find a well-trained therapist as this procedure requires a lot of preparation and presence of mind.

Certain massages, though, may not be recommended for people with certain conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure,  thrombophilia, pregnancy, arthritis or patients who have just gone through procedures like surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.  Consult your doctor first before going through any to be safe.

Before going to the therapist, it’s  advisable to be properly hydrated (drink lots of water) and don’t eat a heavy meal before any massage.

Happy de-stressing!

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