Those in need of some kneading are in good hands with SpaFinder’s extensive manual to Back Massage types and techniques. Before you head to the spa, be in the know about this popular treatment option.
Back Massage, the most fundamental and popular of all spa services, concentrates on the back of the body and can be ideal for sufferers of chronic back pain. As the spa-goer has become more sophisticated and adventurous, new styles of massage—some centuries old, some brand new—have emerged. But the quality of the massage remains in the therapists’ hands.
Like many health-conscious people these days, you’re probably aware of the many benefits of massage. But do you know your lomilomi from your tui na, and when to choose one style over another? The wealth of options out there now can be a bit overwhelming, but on the flipside, it also means there’s a massage therapy for everyone—even if you have injuries or limitations that you thought made massage out of the question.
Whether you’re new to massage or are looking to broaden your horizons, you’re sure to find a style that’s right for you. Also, let’s back up to the basics—a good massage can relieve stress and pain, and just plain ol’ make you feel good. It can also enhance immunity and increase flexibility.
Massage therapists can specialize in over 80 different types of massage, called modalities, which range from everything from the Swedish massage, to deep-tissue massage, to reflexology, to acupressure, oh my!
Particulars vary from spa to spa, but here’s a quick rundown on some popular choices, and the benefits they offer:
Swedish: This is sort of the “signature” massage treatment. It entails long strokes over oiled skin, the kneading of outer muscles—all designed to ease stress, boost circulation, and soothe sore joints and muscles.
Deep-Tissue: Stress often causes muscles to become severely knotted; a deep-tissue massage addresses this tension by targeting the body’s deepest layers of muscle. Typically, the massage therapist uses short strokes and powerful pressure.
Sports: As its name implies, a sports massage is designed to loosen and warm up muscles before an athletic event, or it can help reduce muscle soreness that can occur after a particularly rigorous golf game or other workout. Sports massage entails less pressure but more stretching than a deep tissue treatment. Many serious athletes depend on massage as a significant part of their training regimen. It’s been reported that during training, Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps unwinds with two massages a day, and his U.S. teammate Dara Torres had two massage therapists on standby when the athletes competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Lymphatic: This massage is designed to gently stimulate the lymphatic system to flush out any toxins that have built up in tissues. Feather-light strokes break up lymphatic blockages; the treatment is thought to help ills ranging from allergies to acne, headaches to head colds, and even breast cancer. However, a lymphatic massages doesn’t offer the kind of deep pressure that works kinks out of muscles.
Reflexology: The theory behind reflexology? It’s believed that different points on the bottom on the foot are “energetically connected” to other parts of the body—and that stimulating those points can address health woes in corresponding body parts (e.g., squeeze a certain part of the toe, and you could help alleviate sinus pressure).
Shiatsu: Eastern healers have traditionally believed that life energy, or chi, flows through the body in 14 different meridians, or channels—and when one of these meridians becomes blocked, it can lead to physical or emotional difficulties. A shiatsu therapist uses pressure-point massage—along with gentle rocking and stretching—to unblock these meridians, and restore healthy energy flow. Shiatsu is a whole-body treatment that can be both stimulating and soothing, invigorating and relaxing—all at the same time!
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