Getting Your Massage On: What Are The Differences?

I am not going to lie- I would rather have a massage over many other things (such as wine or certain intimate acts- yeah, surprise)! I am a sucker for it- give me a groupon, a living social voucher or gift certificate; and you got yourself a friend for life. 

These days it seems with all the advertisements for spa treatments, there is a lot of confusion about what the different types of massage that are out there. If you are really lucky, and someone loves you to buy all of these, this list may become a type of bucket list. How fun right? Massage parlors and spas are everywhere but what type is best for you:

  • Swedish Massage. This is probably one of the most common massages you are familiar with, with long gliding strokes rubbing the muscles with the blood returning to the heart. Effleurage is a gliding stroke used to relax soft tissue. Tapotement is a short, alternating tap done with cupped hands usually. Friction is a deep, circular movement to rub against each other and this actually helps break down scar tissue. Petrissage is the squeezing or kneading that follows the effleurage bodywork.
  • Hot Stone Massage. This type of massage uses hot stones to ease tension, relieve muscle stiffness and increases circulation and metabolism. These heated stones help as an extension of the therapist's hands so the heat helps relax the muscles so the bodywork can work deeply and quickly.
  • Deep Tissue Massage. Popular with athletes, and can be painful for some, this is very similar to Swedish massage, however, the pressure is more intense on the muscle tissue, tendons and fascia. 
  • Thai Massage. This type of massage is starting to grow in the Western world as it incorporates some yoga type stretching as well as traditional point pressure. This is also usually done on a padded mat or futon on the floor and the individual is fully clothed. 
  • Bamboo Massage. Popular on cruise ships, this type of massage uses hollow bamboo canes as a tool. Sometimes, it also includes hot stones, and it gives a deeper massage. 
  • Seaweed Wrap Massages. One of my favorites besides lymphatic massage, a recipe of seaweed or algae is applied to the body in a foil wrap. Rich in vitamins and amino acids, this helps to detoxify the body through sweat releasing toxins. The massage assists in further drainage and blood flow.
  • Reflexology. Usually advertised for feet, this massage is used to relieve tension and illness treatment, based on the belief there is reflex points on the feet, hands and head linked to every part of the body.
  • Shiatsu Massage. This type of massage comes from Japan as well as traditional Chinese medicine. This massage usually utilizes finger pressure such as thumbs, hands, elbows, knees or feet applying to pressure points on the body. It also includes stretching (and rotating) limbs and joints. 
  • Lymphatic Massage. One of my favorite type of massages (but be prepared if not used to it), lymph nodes can have swelling and pain in the affected areas when lymphedema appears. During a lymphatic massage or manual drainage, the therapist concentrates on the armpits, legs or arms to help move the waste fluids from the area. 

Benefits of Massage

Besides feeling good, what are the benefits of Massage? 

  • Relieve stress
  • Sleep better
  • Decrease headaches
  • Increase blood flow
  • Reduce cellulite
  • Relieve rheumatoid arthritis pain
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Links to easing some depression symptoms
  • Help chronic pain in back, neck, joints
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Immune System improvement


Our Favorite Massage Place

One of our favorite massage places is located in Fairfax, Massage Green Spa. Besides the occasional Groupon deal, the reason this is one of our favorites is they have a sauna that they usually include with the massage. For a couples massage, you can relax and detox in the sauna watching Netflix, then have a relaxing aromatic massage because the place smells amazing. Everything you expect from a massage place in sight, smell and feeling.

Sip and Shine Podcast Massage Explained


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