While many of us might find massage therapy a modern trend, this natural healing practice has been a part of our lives since 3000 BCE. Surprised? But massage therapy has been one of the preferred holistic methods that is known for its multitude of medical benefits.
In fact, believers of Ayurveda even believe that massage therapy is capable of restoring the body’s balance to heal naturally. However, many are still confused if “massage therapy” can work or is it a hoax?
Licensed massage therapists suggest that massage therapy works best if you are looking to relieve stress or relax. But that’s not all. Massage therapy can help with the management of serious medical ailments, along with sleep and mood stabilization benefits.
Before we move on the styles of massage therapy that’s right for you, let’s begin with the basics of massage therapy.
Massage Therapy- A Brief Introduction
To someone who has no idea about massage therapy, you must know that such alternative treatment options are recommended by your physician, chiropractor, or physical therapist.
Usually, this therapy focuses on your soft body tissues, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments that are a part of bodily movements and support systems.
Like dieting and exercise affect everyone differently, the results of massage therapy also depend on the individual and the style of massage therapy used. Hence, it’s essential to have an understanding of different massage styles and how they can help you.
Massage Styles- What’s Right For You?
With more than 80 styles already in the limelight, many of us feel confused about deciding what would work best for our body. It gets even more daunting since all these styles come with a range of strokes, such as smooth, long, short, and persuasive.
Some therapists include oil, while others go for methods that exclude it. In addition to that, massages range from 5-minute therapy sessions to as long as 2 hours.
Before you decide what style will work best for you, make sure to ask yourself a question. Do you want massage therapy as a means of stress reliever? Or do you want it to manage your symptoms?
Here are the top 5 massage therapy styles that you can choose from.
It is one of the most common forms of massage therapy that relieves muscle tension using soft, rhythmic, tapping strokes or kneading strokes on the topmost muscle layers.
Usually, this style of massage therapy includes four types of strokes, such as:
- Effleurage: In this, the therapist uses a smooth gliding stroke to release tension in the soft body tissues.
- Petrissage: This step includes squeezing, rolling or kneading.
- Friction: In this step, the therapist will include a deep, circular motion to improve blood circulation.
- Tapotement: The therapy ends with a short tapping movement using the edge of the hand.
The entire sequence of events helps to relax as well as energize your muscles and overall body. Other than that, it might also help you to release muscle tension after an injury.
Hot Stone Massage
This style of massage therapy helps to relax your tensed muscles along with damaged soft tissues. You can expect a session where the therapist will place a smooth, flat, heated stone on different parts of your body, such as spine, stomach, chest, face, palms, feet, and toes.
These stones are usually formed from basalt that can retain heat up to 145 degrees. The therapists will hold stones and massage your body using the same strokes used in Swedish massage style.
Some therapists even use cold stones when the individual requires calming down of engorged blood vessels to soothe the skin.
Pregnancy is a phase where a woman undergoes significant changes. This kind of massage can help women dealing with stress, leg or arm swelling, or muscle and joint pains. It is particularly more helpful when medication and other options are limited.
Therapists might also recommend specially designed massage pillows that will help women feel comfortable during the entire massage therapy process.
It is a type of essential oil therapy that aims to improve a person’s health or mood. As per the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), aromatherapy is a therapeutic use of aromatic substances for holistic healing.
Research confirms that many essential oils have some form of antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, insecticidal, and antioxidant property.
Massage therapists from The Busy Body Massage Clinic suggest that aromatherapy is a way to soothe tensed muscles. According to them, this style of massage therapy activates smell receptors that send signals to the area in the brain that controls the nervous system.
This further helps to activate the limbic system, which manages mood signals. Other than that, the same therapy can result in signalling hypothalamus, which stimulates the serotonin (feel-good) hormones.
Research shows that aromatherapy could be beneficial in reducing stress, anxiety, or depression. Also, it might help improve the quality of sleep. Therapists might also recommend using this style as a means of improving the quality of life for dementia patients.
It’s a type of healing therapy that’s based on the reflex points present on the feet corresponding to different parts of the body. The idea behind this style of massage therapy is to promote both physiological as well as physical health.
Complementing it with a regular foot massage will allow keeping your feet strong and flexible. After all, it’s our feet which bear our weight. They also need some pampering.
You can also seek the option of reflexology if you wish to improve blood circulation, or relax your swelled up feet. Not only that, but it can also help people to get better sleep at night by relieving body pains due to migraines, headaches, neck pain, or lower and upper body aches.
While it is now referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), massage therapy has been a part of different cultures worldwide for centuries.
Unlike what people assume, not everyone can hold therapy sessions. The therapist is required to get a license or certification as per the state laws before practicing massage.
Hence, if you are looking forward to choosing this holistic approach, either have an understanding of every style of massage therapy. Or it’s better to consult only trained/ certified therapists for better results.