What types of massage are there?

The 11 Types of Massage: a Complete Guide
There are many different types of massage. Some aim to
relieve muscle problems and injuries, such as sports and deep tissue massages,
while others aim to promote relaxation, such as reflexology.
These types of massage are popular in sports and
occupational health. Swedish massage is a more common form of massage that is
suitable for a range of different purposes.
Some types of massage may have more extensive health
benefits. For example, there are claims that reflexology can heal other parts
of the body by targeting the hands and feet. However, there is no conclusive
evidence to support these claims.
This article will discuss some of the most common types of
massage and their benefits.
Hot stone massage
A hot stone massage involves the use of heated stones,
usually comprising basalt. Basalt is a type of volcanic rock with a high iron
content, which allows it to hold in heat well.
A massage therapist will heat the stones in hot water before
placing them on different areas of the body.
They may also hold the stones while performing a variety of
other massage techniques.
Hot stone massage provides heat to the body’s muscles. This
can help treat muscle injuries, as it relaxes them and increases blood flow to
the area. This, in turn, can help reduce stiffness and discomfort.
Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage aims to reach deeper layers of muscle
and connective tissue.
A massage therapist will slowly press their fingers into the
skin with pressure. They will use slow, firm strokes to target deep tissues.
They may specifically target knots in the muscles. Muscle
knots, or myofascial trigger points, are specific areas of tension within the
muscle fiber. The exact cause of these knots is still unclear, but they can
develop from muscle overuse, such as from playing a sport or poor posture.
Because these knots can be sore, deep tissue massage aims to
relieve them and provide pain relief. There is some evidence to suggest that
this technique is effective for this purpose.
Sports massage

The purpose of a sports massage is to improve the health of
the soft tissue in the bodies of people who play sports or exercise regularly.
It involves the manipulation of soft tissues, including the:
  • skin
  • muscle
  • tendons
  • ligaments
  • fascia

Playing sports and regularly exercising can put excessive
strain on the muscles and other soft tissues. By targeting all of these soft
tissues, a sports massage therapist aims to prevent or relieve injuries,
enhance muscle performance, and correct muscle imbalances.
There is evidence to suggest that sports massage can aid
recovery from repetitive muscle injuries. There is also some evidence to
suggest that sports massage may improve muscle performance, but it is less

Swedish massage

A therapist will use less pressure during a Swedish massage
compared with other types of massage.
In a Swedish massage, the therapist will use less pressure
than they would in other types of massage, such as deep tissue or sports
They will combine shorter, tapping strokes and longer,
deeper strokes using light to moderate pressure. They may also move the
person’s limbs around during the massage.
Swedish massage can help relieve pain, stress, and muscle
problems. A systematic review from 2017 found that Swedish massage has a range
of benefits, including reducing lower back pain.
However, this technique may not be helpful for everyone. For
example, one study found that Swedish massage therapy did not help those with
fibromyalgia when compared with other types of massage.

Reflexology uses different amounts of pressure on specific
parts of the hands and feet with the aim of benefiting other parts of the body.
The practice may help promote relaxation and reduce pain.
There are some claims that reflexology can heal certain parts
of the body from various conditions, but there is no solid evidence for this.
For example, one high quality systematic review found that reflexology could
not reduce chronic pain from multiple sclerosis.
However, reflexology may have other benefits, such as
relaxation. One systematic review from 2019 found that reflexology helped
reduce anxiety in people undergoing treatment for cardiovascular issues.

Pregnant women should consult a doctor before having a
There is evidence behind some of the alleged benefits of
massage, such as reducing muscle pain and promoting relaxation.
Many different groups of people may benefit from massages,
such as those who regularly play sports or have bad posture.
When receiving a massage from a trained massage therapist,
there are few risks. However, the risks that do exist may not affect everyone.
People with open wounds or cuts should avoid hot stone
massage, as the heat can cause more bleeding. Deep tissue and other forceful
types of massage can also make bleeding worse. People with bleeding disorders
and those taking anticoagulants may wish to avoid massages altogether.
Also, pregnant women should consult a doctor before having
any type of massage.

Many types of massage can promote relaxation, aid pain
relief, and help prevent and treat injuries.
Most types are safe for most people when a trained massage
therapist performs them.
However, not everyone should seek massage therapy. For
example, hot stone massage can worsen bleeding from a cut or open wound.

Written by Aaron Kandola

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.