Can't tell your Swedish from your shiatsu? Keep reading.
Your body's pretty good at letting you know it needs a massage—if only it could also tell you what type of massage it would most benefit from. If you're new to massage or have never ventured past your normal Swedish session, it might be confusing to navigate all the different types of massage out there. Luckily, we're here to help you decipher the many different styles and benefits of massage so you can book the one that's best for you.
This relaxation-focused form of massage is what most people think of first when they think about massage. Therapists use a sequence of long, gliding strokes, kneads, and circular motions to help ease shallow tension in the muscles. Aromatherapy may be added to enhance relaxation.
Benefit: Besides helping to relax the muscles and ease superficial tension, Swedish massage may also help boost circulation throughout the body.
Try it if: you're new to massage or you're looking to relieve light to moderate tension in your back and shoulders.
Rather than relying solely on their hands to work out stubborn knots, the massage therapist places heated basalt stones on the back to help melt tight areas.
Benefits: Besides helping to relieve tense areas, the heat from the stones can help improve blood flow.
Try it if: you suffer from hard-to-loosen trouble spots and like the therapeutic heat.
A Japanese style of massage rooted in Chinese medicine, shiatsu massage aims to eliminate blockages that keep the body's energy force, or Qi, from flowing freely. Therapists use many different techniques, often employing their elbows, knees, and even their feet, as they work out tension from the back, joints, and limbs.
Benefits: Shiatsu massage is regarded as an excellent form of stress release as it promotes good circulation and the production of oxytocin.
Try it if: you need to seriously de-stress and relax. Or, if you're curious about Eastern types of massage and need a good introduction.
Massage therapists knead two clients side-by-side in the same room. Swedish massage is the typical modality used, but you may also be welcome to request other types of massages such as deep-tissue or hot stone.
Benefits: Though it often has a romantic context, a couples massage is also a great way to reconnect with a close friend, sister, mother, daughter, or anyone you don't mind being semi-undressed around.
Try it if: you're looking to reconnect with a romantic partner or you can't bear to be parted from your spa buddy for an hour.
Reflexology is a specialized form of foot massage, during which, practitioners stimulate precise points on the feet that are believed to correlate to other organs and bodily systems.
Benefits: Traditionally, reflexology is believed to help correct imbalances throughout the body. But like any foot massage, it's also great for relieving tension brought on by wearing high heels or being on your feet all day.
Try it if: you're curious as to how reflexology can reveal other issues with your health OR if you just need an excuse to put your feet up for a while.
Just what it sounds like: a relaxing massage for the feet.
Benefits: Unlike reflexology, which specifically aims to target other areas of the body, a traditional foot massage simply aims to provide relaxation to over-worked feet.
Try it if: you have a job that requires you to stay on your feet all day.