Massage is the practice of applying pressure to the body for therapeutic purposes. The amount of pressure depends on the type of massage, the area of the body, and the patient's preference. Though certain types cause a lot of sensation in the problematic area and may result in some lingering soreness if the muscle was very tight and deeply worked, massage should never cause acute pain. Regardless of the type of massage you request, your practitioner should speak to you beforehand about any particular concerns you may have and explain the procedure.

Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage

For those who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or performing repetitive tasks, Swedish massage is a great way to work knots from tight muscles. The practitioner uses a variety of strokes, taps, and vibrations to leave you feeling energized and relaxed.

Deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage, but the therapist applies more pressure. This type does a good job of reaching deeper muscle layers and connective tissue and can be used as a treatment for sports injuries.

a woman having a deep tissue massage treatment


Hot Stone Massage and Aromatherapy

During a hot stone massage, the practitioner uses heated stones to perform the massage, which aids in pain relief and muscle tension, while improving blood flow. While working on one part of the body, your practitioner will place hot stones on other areas to aid in relaxation. Hot stones are used by registered practitioners and in general relaxation massages.

Another unique type of massage uses aromatherapy. In addition to gentle pressure, your practitioner will use a combination of essential oils to provide stress relief, relaxation, ease tension, and help you feel restored. Research supports the benefits of scent for physical ailments, including helping to relax muscles and ease headaches.

cropped image of a hot stone massage on client's back


Sports Massage and Remedial Massage

You don't need to be a professional athlete to benefit from sports massage. Most sports require some sort of repetitive motion or physical exertion that can lead to pain. Even if you aren't experiencing a particular problem, a sports massage can boost performance by improving flexibility, helping relaxation, and relieving tension.

Athletes experiencing pain may choose to undergo remedial massage, which assess movement and works to restore function.

a woman in workout gear getting her calf massaged



Shiatsu is a Japanese massage method. While the practitioner will focus holistically, on the entire body, let them know if you are experiencing particular pain and they can focus some additional attention on those areas. The practitioner uses rhythmic or pulsating pressure with their hands to massage the body. You can be fully clothed during shiatsu, which makes it a popular choice for those who are uncomfortable stripping down.

a man having a shiatsu massage treatment


Trigger Point

Trigger point massage is often used to treat specific injuries or chronic pain. Tension in trigger points in the body can lead to pain in other areas of the body. Relieving the trigger points can ease the pain.

Trigger point massage covers the entire body, although your practitioner will focus on specific areas. You can remain clothed for a dedicated trigger point massage, but many therapists who practice deep tissue and other types of massage may include some of these techniques.

cropped image of someone having a trigger point massage


Prenatal Massage

Whether you frequently underwent massages before you became pregnant or have never had one before, prenatal massage is an amazing way to pamper yourself while easing the many strains and tensions of pregnancy.

Talk to your practitioner ahead of time when scheduling your prenatal massage, as many prefer to wait until you are out of the first trimester. The practitioner will massage you while you are positioned on your side or have a specifically designed table with a cutout for your stomach. Many different massage techniques may be applied for expectant mothers, but the practitioner should be specifically certified in prenatal.

pregnant woman getting a prenatal massage



Reflexology is a great choice for those wanting the benefits of massage but are not comfortable with their torso or legs being touched. Even for those who enjoy other types of massage, reflexology provides another tool in the recovery toolkit.

During reflexology, the practitioner applies pressure to only the feet, ears, and hands. Pressure in specific spots on these extremities can boost relaxation and energy levels.

cropped image of reflexology massage on client's foot


Benefits of Massage

Massage therapy is good for both the body and the mind. The process releases endorphins and reduces stress hormones like cortisol, adrenalin, and norepinephrine, which contribute to muscle tension and a host of other issues. After a massage, you should feel relaxed, with reduced muscle tension and even a decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms, with a greater sense of well-being overall. Your mind may also feel more alert and focused.

cropped image of smiling woman having temples massaged


Getting the Most From Your Massage

If you have an acute injury, talk with your doctor before heading to a massage therapist. Once you get the go-ahead, make the most of your sessions by answering the massage therapist's questions as fully as possible. Tell or show them any particular areas that are bothering you, and be honest about what types of activity you do and about how much time you spend sitting and working at a computer each day.

patient talking to a therapist about sore shoulder


Why It Works

Choosing what type of massage therapy you prefer is often a matter of your comfort level, though specific physical needs should also be considered. Massage therapy in general works in several ways and there is most likely a type out there that is suited to everyone's preferences.

Researchers are still determining the reason massage therapy is so effective, but it is believed that relaxing areas of pain and easing anxiety may slow or stop pain messages from reaching the brain.

massage therapy student with teacher


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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.