스웨디시 massage. Deep tissue massage. Sports massage. Russian massage. Trigger point therapy. What are they and how are they different? If you are a client looking for a massage, how do you know what to ask for?
You don’t necessarily need to know the name of a specific technique but you do want to be clear about your goal. When a new client walks into my office, I ask them what brought them in and what do they want to get out of their session? Some want to relax. Others have some sort of pain that they’d like to get rid of. Still others want to improve their performance. By understanding the client’s goal, I can tailor the session to their specific needs. However, people do frequently ask the question, “What is the difference between these different kinds of massages?”
There are many specific styles of massage. Massage is as old as human beings, even older, (remember – even primates will groom each other when one of them is agitated) and each culture has developed its own approach. There are particular types of massage that have grown out of Thailand or Hawaii, for instance. There are many techniques, too numerous to address. However, I will describe some of the more common general categories of massage.
Swedish massage has come to be used as a generic term for general relaxation massage. European in origin, it leans heavily on gliding and kneading strokes, although rubbing and shaking strokes may also be used. It is general massage for relaxation and wellness. One may do a full body massage or a shorter session may concentrate on the back, neck, and shoulders.
Sports massage is massage done specifically to address the needs of athletes and physically active people. There are three broad areas: pre- and post-event massage, injury rehabilitation, and general sports massage done during training to maintain and help improve an athlete’s performance.
Deep tissue massage is massage that targets the deeper muscles of the body. Both clients and massage therapists often mistakenly equate “deep” with “hard.” However, they are not necessarily the same thing. Try this experiment on yourself: sit on a chair with your feet on the floor and your legs relaxed. Reach down and grasp the back of your lower leg with your right hand and shake the muscle vigorously back and forth. Do you see how the muscle, if your leg is in a relaxed position, vibrates easily all the way down to the bone? This movement is gentle and yet it affects the deepest muscles, something difficult to achieve with direct pressure on the thick muscles of the calves. You can’t get any deeper than the bone. So, deep does not necessarily mean hard. However, deep tissue massage is generally more vigorous and uses more pressure than Swedish massage for general relaxation.