Massage therapy encompasses many different techniques, styles and personalized options, which can vary from appointment to appointment. Few things allow us to individualize an experience for the moment like massage therapy does.
In the winter, deep tissue for aching muscles from snow shoveling may be in order. After taking final exams, a relaxing massage is just what is needed to end the semester. Sometimes it is about bodywork and total-body stretching to help reach sports and physical goals.
To help “ease the stress” surrounding the massage experience and therapy options, here is a simplified breakdown of some of the more common massage techniques and optional therapies and their possible benefits.
- Swedish or relaxation: A gentle technique that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to target the upper layers of the muscles to help relax and energize the body.
- Deep massage: Targets the deep layers of the muscles by using deep, slow and smooth strokes to ease the tension that may be beyond the reach of a relaxation massage.
- Sports massage: Designed specifically for the very physically active, it combines several techniques to concentrate on the body areas related to a specific sport; athletes often get sports massages to prepare for peak performance, prevent and treat an injury and reduce the buildup of lactic acid.
- Trigger-point or neuromuscular: Targets areas of tender muscle points and tight muscle fibers that can form in the muscles following an injury or muscle overuse.
- Myofascial Release: Involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the connective tissue that covers the muscles and is present throughout the body (much like a spider web) to ease painful restrictions and restore range of motion.
- Craniosacral: Extremely light pressure is used to help stimulate the muscles and fluids within the cranium (head) and around the spinal cord to help relieve stress and headaches.
- Reflexology: Uses pressure on the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger and hand techniques; based on a system of zones and reflex areas that mirrors an image of the body.
- Acupressure: Involves applying pressure to certain points on the body to relieve pain and promote health and wellbeing.
- Streto Method Stretch (head to feet): The ancients believed in the idea of “where your mind goes, the body will follow,” that’s why Massage Envy’s Streto Method starts at the head and neck and works downward to stretch and lengthen tendons and facia throughout your body.
- Aromatherapy and essential oils: Essential oils are highly concentrated plant essences that have restorative properties; the oils can be applied to the skin or diffused into the room.
- Hot stone: Use of hot stones applied to the body to bring warmth and pressure to various areas around the spine and tight, sore or injured areas to release tension, soothe and jumpstart the healing process.
- Sound: The body responds to certain vibrations (music or rhythms), which can promote deep relaxation and a sense of calm.
- Exfoliating Sugar Scrub: Gentle exfoliation using a sugar scrub followed by smooth application of shea butter exfoliates the skin and increases energy.
- Enhanced Muscle Therapy: A great way to unlock tight muscles using a sequence of topical warming gel followed by topical cooling gel to flush the muscles of toxins.
In summary, when it comes to a customized massage experience, the options are numerous and the benefits vast, but not all therapies are a right fit for all people. If you have any hesitation, chronic health condition or injury to check with your physician first to ensure massage and/or certain techniques and therapies are okay to use.
Everyone is at a different place in their health journey and has different needs and goals. Be sure to ask questions about massage styles and add-on therapies when booking an appointment so you can be paired with the best therapist to address your aches and pains. FBN
By Mark Love
Mark Love is the co-owner of Massage Envy Spa Flagstaff, located at 1235 S. Plaza Way in the University Plaza Shopping Center next to Safeway. For more information on the benefits of massage and to schedule an appointment with a massage therapist, visit MassageEnvy.com or call 928-526-ENVY (3689).