First-timers to massage salons like JC Penney Spa will probably find the wide range of services to be overwhelming. The menu of services reveal that, indeed, there are several kinds of massage with many of them even named after their country of origin while others have foreign names.
What then will you want: A Swedish or a Thai massage? Will it be a reflexology session or a deep tissue massage? Will you like a hand and foot massage only or a full body massage?
We will make choosing easier by briefly discussing the types of massage that you can choose from. Think of it as your initiation into the wonderful world of a professional massage.
Swedish Massage Therapy
When most people think of massage, they usually refer to Swedish massage since it’s the standard type offered in massage salons. Swedish massage is based on the human anatomy and physiology as modern science knows it and, thus, the concept of chi (i.e., energy) isn’t applied here.
The therapist typically uses either oil or lotion for smooth strokes over the body. The session starts with broad general strokes to evenly spread the oil/lotion and to relax the surface muscles. Then, specific strokes are made on different areas of the body, usually to address problem areas like adhesions.
The strokes include friction, effleurage, petrissage, tapoment, and vibration, all of which are used during the course of a Swedish massage. Afterwards, you will enjoy a full body relaxation.
You may or may not ask for a scented oil. If you do ask for it, you’re asking for aromatherapy, a type of massage that incorporates touch and smell for a relaxing experience. There are several different types of oil used in aromatherapy like lavender, chamomile, and rose with each one supposedly having specific effects, from relaxing to reenergizing.
If you’re looking for a more energizing massage, you should try the Thai massage. You will feel like you’ve performed a series of yoga poses except that you’re not doing them yourself. Instead, your therapist moves around your body and stretches it while you lie on a mat on the floor.
Thai massage is unique in that it combines three disciplines – assisted yoga, pressure-based massage, and passive stretching. It also has similarities with shiatsu, an Eastern technique, and Swedish massage, a Western method. It seeks to align your chi and improve your range of motion and flexibility, as well as treat your aches and pains.
If you’re uncomfortable with a massage while naked, you can choose from either a Thai massage ir shiatsu. Both are done while fully clothed.
Hot Stone Massage
Don’t worry about getting burns on your back since the warm stones placed on it aren’t hot enough to cause injuries. Instead, these are smooth stones heated until warm only and then placed on specific points of your body. These are usually basalt, a type of volcanic rock known for high retention quality, but other smooth stones can also be used.
The therapist can also hold the stones while performing massaging motions on different parts of your body. You will feel your body relaxing from the combination of the warm stones and massaging actions; the warm stones obviously warm up the muscles so these are ready for greater pressure.
But hot stone massage isn’t for everybody. If you have hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, or varicose veins, you should avoid it until you have asked for your doctor’s approval.
Deep Tissue Massage
We don’t recommend deep tissue massage for people whose bodies aren’t used to a regular massage. The firmer pressure and deeper reach may cause discomfort, perhaps mild pain, to bodies unfamiliar to it.
But when it’s done right, deep tissue massage can significantly relieve the pain associated with muscle knots in the neck, shoulders, back and hips, and legs. Indeed, it’s highly recommended for people who suffer from chronic tightness or pain in their muscles caused by injuries, repetitive strain, and issues with posture. Most athletes who experienced carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow, among others, swear by its benefits.
Shiatsu is a Japanese massage technique with roots on traditional Chinese medicine. It involves applying localized pressure on specific areas using the therapist’s hands, fingers and elbows. It has a rhythmic sequence that makes for an energizing experience although you will only be lying on the mat while the therapist does the work.
As an Eastern practice, shiatsu’s practitioners seek to stimulate the body’s acupressure points and, thus, improve the flow of chi and regain the body’s energy balance.
There’s no need for oil and cream so you will enjoy a shiatsu massage with your clothes on. Just be sure to wear loose clothing so your therapist can easily manipulate your body and press on your acupressure points. You will either lie on a floor mat on the floor or on a low massage table.
Before choosing from these types of massage, you should think about your own needs and wants in it and then match it with the benefits of each type. You may want, for example, a Swedish massage since it promotes whole-body relaxation.