Knowing what type of massage you need

A question that frequently arises with my clients is “What type of massage is best for me?”

by Sharron Eller, RMT, of HeartSong Therapy.

Relaxing mountain stream.Many clients seem to be confused about the menu choices, so here is a brief description of the most common modalities available in the massage world.

  • Swedish massage is the most common style of massage in the U.S. and is primarily used for relaxation and promoting circulation in both the lymphatic and circulatory systems. Long, broad, gliding strokes and light to medium pressure are what sets Swedish massage apart from the others.
  • A therapist who is using Deep Tissue massage will ordinarily use her elbows, thumbs and finger tips(and sometimes tools) to concentrate the pressure on muscles that are very tense. This type of massage is less “relaxing” but just as therapeutic as Swedish. Deep Tissue massage can be very stimulating (“It hurts so good”) but should not be truly painful.
  • Myofascial therapy involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue (thin layer of stuff that covers all muscles and bones) to eliminate pain, reduce restriction and restore motion.
  • Reflexology is applying pressure to certain points on the hands and feet in order to relieve pain in the body. Reflexology works by stimulating nerves in the body and encouraging blood flow.
  • There are many other modalities such as Trigger Point Therapy, Cranio Sacral Therapy and Neuromuscular Therapy just to name a few. Many professional massage therapists  incorporate several different modalities, designing a custom protocol that they have found to be the most effective for  their clients.

My usual routine is a blend of Swedish, Deep Tissue, Foot Reflexology and Myofascial techniques. I may use more or less of each modality, depending on the needs of the client. I love learning new techniques so my work is constantly evolving.

Be sure and explain to your therapist what your end goal is for the massage session and ask him what he recommends.

Originally posted September 13, 2010, by Sharron Eller, RMT, on blog.