When was the last time you had a massage? I would imagine for some of you it has been a while, and for others, perhaps you have never once experienced a massage in your entire life. Many people take advantage of massage therapy simply for pleasure and relaxation.
Others require the services of a trained massage therapist to recover from deep muscle injuries or issues with their tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. There are hundreds of techniques employed by massage therapists around the world, each of which accomplish different therapy goals. In the United States, the three most popular techniques currently in use are Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, and Hot Stone Massage.
Swedish massage is one of the more foundational techniques available. In most countries, including Sweden, it is simply referred to as Classic massage. This technique uses five different styles of long, flowing strokes to relax and restore one’s muscles.
The first stroke is called effleurage and consists of a gliding or sliding technique, running smoothly and swiftly over the body. The second stroke is called petrissage and involves a kneading motion. Next is tapotement, which consists of a rhythmic tapping.
Fourth is friction, the deepest penetrating stroke, in which the massage therapist uses deep circular motions to create friction in the muscles. The final stroke is vibration, and involves the use of shaking and, you guessed it, vibration to work the muscles. These five strokes are combined in a variety of patterns and can accomplish a wide range of therapeutic objectives. As previously mentioned, Swedish massage is a very foundational form of massage and is used as the base technique for many other massage styles.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep Tissue massage focuses on the deep muscles underneath the superficial layer. The technique is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscles and connective tissue. While Swedish massage is frequently used as a general form of massage, the Deep Tissue technique is specifically focused on healing deep muscle injuries and correcting conditions where significant pain is present.
It is a favorite technique of sports therapists, and the intensity of the experience often leaves the recipients with a new muscle ache for several days. While the technique can be painful at times, its regenerative capabilities are much longer lasting than other techniques.
Hot Stone Massage
Hot Stone massage rounds out the top three. In some ways, it is almost the opposite of the Deep Tissue massage, as it focuses on an intense experience in mostly the superficial muscle layers. The technique derives its name from the use of hot stones in the massage process which are placed, often vertically, on different spots of the body.
The heat emanating from the stones delivers a uniquely heightened level of relaxation into the muscles, allowing better results via the massage itself. Hot Stone massage frequently uses the previously mentioned Swedish strokes as the base movements within the therapy. Because of the expertise required to successfully use heated stones without burning the patient, prospective clients are encouraged to research each massage therapist thoroughly before allowing them to perform this technique.