Style is something that is a personal preference. In addition to working as a massage therapist, I love fashion, and what some pick for style, is not mine, but does that make them wrong? Absolutely not! Different body types need certain style choices! And this is true of massage, too.
Most of my clients who come in for the first time, often choose Swedish/therapeutic. But what does that mean? Then they explain, they are in agony from a workout! Muscles cramping and deep fatigue from not sleeping well. In my mind (and experience), those two comments would warrant another choice. something that would be deeper, more pentrating to the muscles. The reason is that a cramp needs direct pressure to stop it, if you have a Charlie horse in your foot would you take a feather to relieve the cramp? No, in most cases your jamming your toes on the floor trying to stretch the bottom of the foot to relieve the cramp. Basically, deep tissue massages do the same thing.
In choosing a massage, I think a great place to start with is your head. Mental stress sometimes requires a lighter touch, while physical fatigue needs more deep penetrating pressure and most therapist can bridge those two needs.
How to determine the styles on a menu
Swedish/Therapeutic Massage – Therapeutic is the most common style of massage of all that are out there. Swedish involves soft strokes and kneading strokes in rhythmic motion, with light tapping on the top layers of muscles. There are four strokes that make up Swedish massage:
• Effleurage: a smooth, gliding stroke used to relax soft tissue.
• Petrissage: the squeezing, rolling, or kneading that follows effleurage.
• Friction: deep, circular movements that cause layers of tissue to rub against each other, helping to increase blood flow and break down scar tissue.
Tapotement: a short, alternating tap done with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand.
Every nationally certified massage therapist has been trained in Swedish/therapeutic. Certifications for other styles come under their own certification process.
Deep Tissue Massage – This, by far, is the most popular style at Body in Balance Center. Deep tissue is not a certified style, like Swedish, but it is really applied to amount of pressure. This request is best for those who have “trouble spots.” Pressure is applied slowly with deliberate strokes that focus on the areas of tension, or chronic pain.
Sports Massage is a certified style of massage. It is usually done with clothing on and without lotion, or with very little lotion. Sports massage is usually available at larger events and is very helpful post race, when muscles are more likely to see injury, or small tears. Products like tiger balm, or biofreeze to help manipulate the muscles to release.
Neuromuscular Therapy – Like deep tissue massage, NMT uses pressure, but specifically looking for trigger points to release the muscle. Once a trigger point is located in the muscle, pressure is placed on the TP, and held, until the point softens. Strokes are used to help with nerve compression, postural issues and repetitive movement injuries. It’s more medically oriented then other forms of massage and the results can be astonishing! Neuromuscular Therapy is a certified style.
Rolfing Structural Integration is a form of bodywork that focuses on the connective tissue, called fascia, of the entire body. Named after its founder Ida Rolf, Rolfing works on the web like complex of connective tissue to help release and realign and bring to balance the body’s structure and soft tissue to improve movement and restore flexibility. It should be noted that Rolfing is deep and can be uncomfortable at times, but the results can be amazing for something that has been a chronic problem!
Thai Yoga Massage is performed fully clothed and done on a mat, or futon. The client lies on the mat and the practitioner places the client into stretches, or poses, and then applies hand pressure to gently stretch and lengthen the body. Fabulously relaxing for body and mind. Over the last 8 years, Thai Yoga Massage has become very popular and more places are offering it. Don’t be shy to try it!
Like clothing, the best way to find your style of massage is to try it on, some you’ll like, some you’ll love and some won’t be a fit at all.