There are three main types of body massages; Shiatsu massage, Swedish massage and Deep Tissue massage.
Shiatsu massage is of Asian origin. It focuses on acupressure points and energy pathways called meridians. It promotes better energy flow through the body, boosts blood flow and helps with stiffness and pain relief.
Swedish massage has western origins. It is the classic massage that most people are familiar with. It involves movements like kneading, rubbing and tapping. Sports, aromatherapy, pregnancy and other types of common massages are based on Swedish massage techniques.
Deep tissue massage penetrates deep into the connective tissue that surrounds muscles and organs. It’s great for improving posture and movement.
Let’s look at each in more detail.
About Shiatsu Massage
Shiatsu massage has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. They believed that all human beings possessed a certain vital energy called Ch’I or Qi. The energy flows around the body through pathways called meridians which connect major organs and systems.
If the flow of Qi is blocked or interrupted, one feels unwell. So they believed that Shiatsu massage was not only good for relaxing and relieving pain, it could also heal major illnesses.
There is no scientific evidence that Shiatsu massage can treat serious diseases like cancer. But we know it is an incredibly beneficial form of massage.
It increases blood flow, which results in higher energy levels, better nerve function, less inflammation and faster healing. It also helps with pain relief. This is especially helpful for those experiencing chronic pain.
When done on muscles and joints, Shiatsu massage reduces stiffness in areas like the neck, lower back, shoulders and legs. This increases flexibility and improves mobility. And of course it’s relaxing. It lowers stress levels, reduces migraines and even improves sleep quality.
Shiatsu massage involves manipulating acupressure points usually using fingers. A massage therapist will make rotating and kneading motions around those pressure points.
This massage can be replicated to a degree by a shiatsu massage chair or by wearing shiatsu massage sandals.
About Swedish Massage
This is the most popular type of massage. It involves a much wider variety of movements and techniques than either shiatsu or deep tissue massage.
Despite the name, Swedish massage did not originate in Sweden. It also wasn’t invented by a Swede. In fact, most countries use the term ‘classic massage’. Only in the US and a few other English and Dutch speaking countries is it called Swedish massage.
Swedish massage involves five main techniques or movements.
- Effleurage – long gliding movements
- Petrissage – kneading movements
- Friction – firm, rotating movements
- Tapotement – tapping/percussive movements
- Vibration – shaking/vibrating movements on specific muscles
There are numerous sub-techniques under these main ones. A masseuse can also combine different styles into complex movements depending on the situation. Massage pressure varies between firm and light depending on the client’s preferences and the aim of the massage.
Swedish massage has numerous benefits. It helps with manual lymphatic drainage, provides pain relief, reduces muscle and joint stiffness, reduces inflammation and provides deep relaxation.
Studies have shown Swedish massage to be incredibly effective at reducing low back pain with the effects lasting up to 15 weeks after treatment. It is also helpful for people with arthritis, high stress levels and sleep disorders.
About Deep Tissue Massage
Shiatsu and Swedish massage are mostly superficial in that they target muscles and joints close to the surface of the body.
Deep tissue massage goes deeper than either. It focuses on the deepest muscles, connective tissue and tendons. The strokes are firmer and more forceful. This helps release tensions and adhesions in the muscles and tissue.
Deep tissue massage is excellent at improving movement and posture. It reduces the stiffness and tension that hamper flexibility and causes poor posture.
It is highly beneficial for people who spend most of the day hunched on a desk and those with mobility problems. It is commonly used in sports to reduce muscle stress and keep joints flexible.
As with other types of massages, deep tissue massage also helps with pain relief, improves blood flow, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and promotes faster healing especially for muscle and joint injuries.
It can also be used to boost lymphatic drainage which quickens tissue regeneration after surgery, promotes faster healing and helps with detoxification.
Try to get a combination of these massages to enjoy their full benefits. Shiatsu is great when you are feeling stiff and aches in specific areas. Swedish is perfect as an everyday massage. Deep tissue is great when you want to improve your movement and posture.