If you’ve been to a massage therapy studio or “spa” lately, you’ve probably noticed there’s more than one type of massage on the menu. That’s one of the great things about massage therapy, both from the perspective of the patient and the practitioner. There’s always something new to learn, and there is no end to the ways in which different massage techniques can be blended and used for therapeutic purposes.
The drawback is that people are sometimes confused by the different types of massage therapy being offered, whether they’re going for a treatment or thinking about becoming a practitioner. Let’s take a look at three of the most popular types of massage, and what they bring to the table.
1. Swedish massage
Swedish massage is the most popular type of massage the world over – in so small part because many people also consider it to be the most pleasurable. Relaxation is the main objective of most Swedish massage work, and practitioners aim for a deep state of relaxation in the patient. Long, firm and gliding movements are used to massage the muscles in the direction of the heart, in order to facilitate better circulation and the elimination of toxins. Swedish massage is often a full-body treatment, but it’s also common to see treatments that focus on certain areas, such as the back or shoulders.
2. Hot stone massage
During hot stone massage, smooth stones are heated in water and then placed on strategic points along the patient’s body. This source of heat provides deep relaxation of the muscle tissues. It’s pleasurable and therapeutic in its own right, but it also opens the way for the therapist to be more effective with other massage techniques. Usually the therapist will begin by massaging the patient with a warm stone in hand, replacing it when cold. At one or more points during the treatment, stones may be left along the spine or torso in order to more deeply relax certain areas.
3. Prenatal massage
You might not have expected this one to make the list, but the reality is that prenatal massage is a very distinct form of massage therapy – and it’s in very high demand. The ability to safely and effectively treat pregnant women is a huge advantage for any practitioner, and the treatment itself can be highly beneficial to expecting mothers. Depending on how far long the woman may be, and her individual comfort levels, side positions with special cushions may be used to relieve pressure and tension during the treatment. The massage itself focuses on relieving common pains and symptoms associated with pregnancy, including back aches and leg cramps, amongst others.
How to learn the right techniques
If you’ve been curious about a possible career in massage therapy, it’s important to find a reputable school that gives you a complete repertoire of therapeutic options, including (but not limited to) the three types of massage mentioned above. Look for a school that offers comprehensive training in a whole array of therapies, as well as a solid grounding in the real-world business of being a professional massage therapist. Your patients will feel the difference!