man receiving shoulder massage

People have used massage techniques to seek relief from stress and discomfort for centuries. In fact, massage is believed to be one of the oldest natural forms of medical therapy practiced on the body. Massage quickly bestows a plethora of benefits in a package that makes you feel better both during and after the experience.

Some of the benefits that you can expect from massage therapy include:

  • Relaxation of your body and mind, as tight muscles release
  • Relief from feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression
  • A sense of emotional comfort, ease, and balance
  • Improved circulation

Depending on your preferences and specific health conditions, massage therapists can deliver these benefits using a wide range of techniques. Read on to learn more about some of the main types of massage.

Swedish Massage
With techniques borrowed from ancient China, Rome, Greece, and Egypt, Swedish massage is now a popular form of massage in India. If you have general muscle tension or sore joints, Swedish massage could be a good choice for you. This form of massage features five different soothing, tapping, and kneading strokes to work different parts of the body, including:

  • Friction uses thumb and fingers to work deep circles in muscles
  • Tapotement uses rhythmic percussion such as chopping or tapping strokes
  • Effleurage uses a series of stroking motions
  • Petrissage uses a light grabbing, kneading, and lifting of muscles
  • Vibration involves pressing a muscle and shaking it rapidly

Deep Tissue Massage
If you have deep, chronic tension in your muscles, you may need to go beyond Swedish massage, which only targets the first few layers of muscle. Therapists use their elbows and forearms as well as their fingers and thumbs to access deeper muscle layers. Deep tissue techniques can include:

  • Direct pressure on muscles
  • Slow strokes
  • Friction movements--"going against the grain" of the muscles

Sports Massage
If you participate in sports or fitness activities, you have special physical needs. Sports massage is one way that athletes of any level can help keep their bodies running smoothly to allow them to perform at their best. While sports massage techniques are similar to those used in Swedish and deep tissue massage, they have been adapted to meet athletes' training needs. Some ways that athletes use sports massage include:

  • Pre-event massage, to help improve your circulation and warm up muscles before competition
  • Post-event massage, to help improve recovery from an athletic effort by moving waste products and toxins out of the body more quickly
  • Maintenance massage, to help keep stress at bay and keep you energized, even when you're not competing

Neuromuscular Massage
If you've suffered a muscle injury, you may want to talk to your doctor about if you would benefit from neuromuscular massage. This is a type of deep tissue massage, but the therapist applies it to individual muscles to help release "trigger" points of pain. Trigger points are muscle knots that can be linked to pain in other parts of the body. For example, if you have muscular shoulder pain, the massage therapist may be able to relieve it by releasing a trigger point on your back. Neuromuscular massage can help to:

  • Reduce muscular pain
  • Increase blood flow and circulation
  • Release pressure on nerves caused by muscle and soft tissue injuries

If you're still in doubt about which technique is right for you, talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional about your specific conditions and needs. By doing your homework, you can find a style that suits you and helps keep your body healthy and balanced.