There’s a myriad of massage therapies out there and I’m often overwhelmed as to what one to get. Each spa has a long menu of options, so how do you know what massage therapy to pick? What’s the difference between all these massages, I hear you ask?
Look no further, because here’s my ultimate guide to the different massages out there. I’ve broken it down to the top eight massages and when you might want to get them, so you can pick the right one for you.
Stress relief and relaxation
Hot stones: Flat stones are water heated to approx. 52-54 degrees Celsius and placed on pressure points over the body to relieve tension and stress. This is combined with a full body massage where the masseuse also uses the hot stones to get rid of knots and to work specific areas.
Swedish: The most popular type of massage in the West, this uses long relaxing strokes, kneading and rubbing to increase the oxygen flow in the blood and release toxins from the muscles. Great for stress relief.
Pain relief and specific problems
Sports massage: Designed to prevent and relieve injuries and conditions that are associated with exercise. It can often be quite strenuous and at the top end of the good/bad pain threshold, and is meant to relieve stress and tension that can build up while exercising.
Remedial: This tends to be the massage we get when we are feeling a general tightness or stiffness in our muscles. It’s also the one that most spas allow you to claim Healthcare Rebate on. Remedial provides a healing treatment that can be gentle or strong, deep or shallow.
Reflexology: With origins in China and Egypt, this ancient technique focuses on pressure points in the foot. Defined as a “gentle manipulation or pressing on certain parts of the foot to produce an effect elsewhere in the body.” I’ve fallen asleep during reflexology – love it!
Overall rejuvenation and all over health
Thai: One of my favourites for a general top up/stress relief, Thai massage is another ancient technique rooted in Buddhism. It’s a mix of yoga, stretching, and acupressure. There’s no oil or lotion, you’re fully dressed, and you lie on a mat or mattress on the floor. It focuses more on pressing, pulling, rocking and stretching, with no rubbing of muscles. Pressure tends to be firmer than Swedish/Remedial/Oil based.
Chinese: The primary focus of Chinese massage is to bring about wellbeing by enhancing the flow of qi (vital energy). Another ancient tradition, you’re usually lying down or sat on a stool and generally wear clothes.
Hawaiian: Also known as Lomilomi, this massage originates from Hawaii and it an ancient form of massage where practitioners use the palms, forearms, fingers, knuckles, elbows, knees, feet, even sticks and stones. I’ll be writing a review on my first Hawaiian massage very soon, so watch this space!
Shiatsu: Hailing from Japan, Shiatsu means “finger pressure”. Shiatsu techniques include massages with fingers, thumbs, feet and palms.
// Top tip: Make sure to check your healthcare provider as they often give rebates on remedial massage
A full in-depth glossary of all treatment can be found here.