What types of massage are there?

massage in action

Last week we explained why they’re so important. Now, it’s time for some fun, as we outline the four main types – all offered by us here at Lovoir.

Swedish massage

What is it?

Put it like this: In Sweden, it’s just known as a classic massage. And that is exactly what it is.

Is it for me?

Unless you don’t want to feel more relaxed while having your muscles soothed and circulation improved, a Swedish massage – the most popular type out there – is for everyone!

What should I expect?

Five types of massage techniques, including effleurage (rubbing your muscles in long gliding movements, pushing blood towards your heart), kneading and tapping. Using softer strokes on the more delicate part of the body and stronger strokes on the thicker muscles, it’s the ideal combination for relaxation. Coupled with essential oils to suit your skin type and calming music, it’s the perfect way to unwind.

You can either have a full body massage or choose just one specific area, with back, neck and shoulders the most popular.

Anything else?

Just an interesting piece of history for you! The name comes from the early 19th century, where a Swedish physiologist developed a system called “Medical Gymnastics”.

A study in The New York Times found that those who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced a significant decrease in the levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increase in the number of the white blood cells that are part of the immune system.

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Deep tissue massage

What is it?

Using strong and concentrated pressure on problematic areas, this technique is a more intense version of a Swedish massage

Is it for me?

Experiencing chronic tensions and aches – such as a stiff neck or back, tight legs or sore shoulders – that a classic Swedish just can’t alleviate? Then this might be just what the doctor ordered.

It usually focuses on a specific problem, such as chronic muscle pain or injury rehabilitation, to help reduce pain and increase mobility. Some examples include:

  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Tennis elbow
  • Whiplash
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Sciatica
  • Sports injury
  • Recovery from a fall
  • Muscle tension or spasms
  • Fibromyalgia

What should I expect?

We may use our forearms, elbows, fingertips, knuckles and hands – anything, really – to break down the rigid tissue responsible for the pain, inflammation and restricted movement you’re experiencing. As a result, you should expect to experience some discomfort. This is because scar tissue is being loosened, knots are being undone and layers of muscle are being moved back to the right place. Sounds traumatic, but you know what they say – no pain, no gain! Also, while we will exercise deep pressure throughout, we’ll do so alongside softer strokes, too.

Deep tissue does what it says on the tin, getting down to the deepest layers of tissue to help realign them. The result? A knock-on relieving effect for your bones, joints and muscles.

You may experience some stiffness or tenderness afterwards, but this shouldn’t last for more than a couple days. Stretching, applying ice to painful areas, drinking water and a warm bath can all help alleviate this.

Anything else?

Deep tissue has been found to be more effective in relieving musculoskeletal issues than a wide range of alternatives, such as exercise, medication and diet. Because it helps to relax muscles, it will also increase both blood flow and oxygen around your body, contributing to overall health.

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lady receiving an indian head massage

Image: Graceie/Pixabay

Indian head massage

What is it?

As its name suggests, this ancient therapeutic technique originates from India and is now incredibly popular in the Western world, too. This is – partly – down to its simplicity and flexibility. Despite only referencing the head in its name, an Indian head massage also treats the pressure points in your shoulders and neck. It incorporates the three chakras – mind, body and spirit – which are believed to be found in the throat, brow and crown.

Is it for me?

Does your head, hair and scalp need some TLC? Then absolutely! Some specific benefits include:

  • Hair health and growth, thanks to the increase in oxygen and nutrients delivered to the follicles
  • Headache reduction
  • Unblocked sinuses
  • Renewed energy levels
  • Muscle relief
  • Improved mental health
  • Memory boost
  • Brighter eyes
  • Better sleep

What should I expect?

A series of circular movements, strokes and stretches. It requires no equipment, meaning it’s very low maintenance but highly effective.

A safe and gentle therapy, a typical Indian head massage usually starts with the shoulders and upper back, using flowing motions to help relieve any stress and tension, before settling on the scalp. It then makes its way up the forehead and around the eyes. We finish it off with a luxurious warm oil, ultra-nourishing hair treatment – utter bliss!

Anything else?

It originates from an alternative Indian medicine system called Ayurveda (meaning the ‘science of life’), which hinges on the belief that the body and mind are intricately connected. As a result, an Indian head massage doesn’t only improve overall physical wellbeing, it can also help boost your mental health, too. In fact, it is now seen as a primary form of stress management.

Traditionally, it was used at weddings and births, particularly by mothers on their daughters.

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hands practising reflexology on a foot

Image:  andreas160578/Pixabay

Reflexology

What is it?

A safe, non-invasive, complementary touch therapy that dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China, Reflexology helps promote deep relaxation and wellbeing. It is based on the notion that the feet are a micro-system of the whole body, meaning, in practice, that touching different points on them will positively affect other areas of the body which have been impacted by energy pathways becoming blocked.

There are different theories as to how it actually works. Some attribute it to nerve impulse – the idea that pressing one point sends a signal to the brain to impact a corresponding point through the nervous system. Others believe it unblocks peaks of energy, in a similar way to acupuncture.

Is it for me?

Reflexology is suitable for all ages and great for:

  • Reducing stress
  • Restoring balance
  • Improving sleep
  • Relaxation
  • Enhancing mood
  • Reducing pain
  • Hormonal issues
  • Sports injuries
  • Chronic illness
  • Boosting the immune system

Whether you use it to treat a specific problem, as a maintenance to keep that problem at bay or just as a wonderfully relaxing stress-reliever, Reflexology is for you!

What should I expect?

There may be moments of pain, but Reflexology is – on the whole – a generally relaxing experience, in which we’ll use specific finger and thumb techniques to apply pressure to various points in your feet. You may feel lethargic, nauseous or even a bit teary, but this won’t last long! Your feet may also feel a bit tender afterwards, too!

Anything else?

Reflexology is a very individual treatment, meaning we’ll try tailor it to you as much as possible, taking into account any relevant physical and psychological issues.

No matter what type gets your juices flowing …

It may not be for you if you’re pregnant, at risk of blood clots, have recently had surgery or have any other medical condition, so make sure to speak to us beforehand. It’s also not advisable to have a massage after eating a big meal or drinking alcohol.

Now that we’ve been through the various types of massage and their benefits, what are you waiting for?

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Get in touch with the benefits of regular massage

massage towel, candles and stones

As if we really need to convince you why having your body worked into a state of constant relaxation is good for you. Wait … what was that? You DO want to immerse yourself into another world where we talk exclusively about the wonder that is the massage? Oh well, in that case, lie back, relax and let your mind open to the endless possibilities a luxuriously lush body workout can provide. All without breaking a sweat. (Yes, really!).

Back, shoulder, or just an all-round body rubdown. There are so many cumulative advantages of regular massage therapy, we don’t quite know where to begin. So, we’ll just dive right in, shall we?

Why regular massage is important

a woman enjoying a massage

Image: Sofia Zhuravetc/Shutterstock

  1. Relieves stress

Possibly the number one benefit of regular massage. Countless studies suggest the act of working tension out of your body physically (along with the sounds of the ocean and smells of the scrummy oils, obvs), also helps to work mental tension out of your mind. Not to mention the fact that by taking time out for yourself in this way you’ll also be forced to switch off from the daily stresses of life. Hooray!

Becoming stressed also releases cortisol, which can suppress the immune system, decrease libido and even contribute to obesity. By ensuring your stress levels are under control, therefore, you’ll also be ticking off a whole host of other health benefits, too. One study found that post-massage, the levels of cortisol dropped by 31% while happy hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine, were boosted by a whopping 30%!

  1. Relaxes muscles

Because of its role in reducing stress, a massage can also help prevent the overproduction of adrenaline – the ‘fight or flight’ hormone. This would otherwise cause your muscles to tense.

  1. Makes you feel good

As well as its role in combatting physical aches and pains, there is an actual scientific reason massages make you feel so damn good internally. That’s right; they help to release endorphins – the body’s ‘feel-good’ hormone.

  1. Improves circulation

Regular massages help to stimulate blood circulation which, in turn, increases the nutrition of and oxygen to tissue. Hello energy boost! It also helps to lower blood pressure which, as a result, can help lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. Improved circulation can also benefit a whole host of other potential health conditions, too!

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a woman sleeping

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  1. Helps recovery

Because of the circulation boost, any injury will also be greatly benefited as more oxygen and nutrients can make their way to the damaged tissue. Pain relief that feels this good? Yes, please!

  1. Strengthens the immune system

Studies have suggested that massages can help boost the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity (the body’s natural ‘killer cells’, to you and me). This helps it to remain strong and resilient against bacteria and infection.

  1. Eliminates aches and improves posture

Ever experience back, neck or muscle pain? Making a massage part of your routine may not only help fix the pain but help prevent it from happening again. This is thanks to the loosening up of muscle and tissue and enhanced flexibility of the joints, all enabling the body to align more naturally. You’ll find this especially beneficial if your day-to-day activities are not overly posture-friendly, such as sitting at a desk or exercising in heavy lifting! Body alignment has a whole host of other knock-on benefits, too, such as aiding with digestion and helping you breathe easier.

  1. Enhances sleep

Delta Brainwave activity is stimulated during a massage, meaning better, deeper sleep.

It speaks volumes that massage – which was considered a luxury – is increasingly being offered as a mainstream treatment option. In fact. many insurance companies even providing cover for such sessions. But by engaging in it regularly, we’re willing to bet you’ll never need it as a treatment again as your health – both physical and mental – reaps the benefits. Bring it on!

Stay tuned for our next blog which will delve into the four main types of massage – all offered by us here at Lovoir.

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