Massage Therapy

It's no secret that humans crave touch; when we don't get it, we suffer from "skin hunger”. The touch of another person's hands on your skin (even if it's platonic) can have a profound effect on your mood. It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that humans have embraced the healing power of touch since the dawn of civilization.

How to Practice Massage Therapy?

Massage therapists work in a variety of settings, such as private offices, hospitals, nursing homes, studios, sport and fitness centers, as well as traveling to patients' homes or workplaces. They usually try to create a soothing environment.

Typically, therapists will inquire about a new client's symptoms, medical history, and desired outcomes. They may also perform a touch evaluation to identify painful or tense areas and then decide how much pressure to apply. Patients typically lie on a massage bed in undressed or loose-fitting clothing (except for the area being massaged, which is covered with a sheet). The therapist may apply oil or lotion to the skin to reduce friction. People are sometimes given massage therapy while sitting in a chair.

What are the 7 Types of Massage?

Swedish Massage Therapy

Swedish massage is a manual therapy that uses long strokes, kneading, and friction motions to promote proper circulation. The technique entails rubbing muscles together in the same direction that blood flows to the heart. Swedish massage boosts circulation, relieves muscle tension, stretches tight ligaments, and alleviates emotional stress.

Athletes, runners, and people who are injured should avoid Swedish massage. People with chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and lower back pain, should also avoid Swedish massage.

Stone Massage

Stone Massage uses cold or water-heated stones to apply pressure and heat to the body. Oil-coated stones can also be used by the therapist to perform various massage strokes. Hot stone massage relieves muscle tension and discomfort, alleviates stress and anxiety, alleviates autoimmune disease symptoms, cancer symptoms, boosts immunity, and improves sleep.

There are some situations where it should be avoided. Consult your doctor before having a massage if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinners, have burns on your skin, open wounds, a history of blood clots, a fracture or severe osteoporosis, a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia), or diabetes.


Reflexology is a type of foot massage that stimulates certain areas on the feet that are thought to correspond to various organs and physiological systems in the body. Reflexology is relatively safe, even for persons with major medical issues. It's noninvasive and comfortable to receive, so it's worth a try if it's something you're interested in. 

Nevertheless, you should see a doctor if you have any of the following health problems:  Blood clots or inflammation of the veins in your legs, foot sores caused by gout, athlete's foot and other fungal infections, open wounds on your hands or feet, thyroid issues,  epilepsy, a low platelet count or other blood issues that make you bruise and bleed more easily.

If you have any of these issues, you may still benefit from reflexology, but you must exercise caution to avoid any negative side effects. If you're expecting a child, notify your reflexologist ahead of time because some pressure points in the hands and feet may cause contractions. If you want to use reflexology to induce labor, you must first obtain permission from your doctor. Premature birth is a possibility, and children born at 40 weeks are the healthiest.

Reflexology treatment has been associated with mild side effects such as lightheadedness, sore feet, and emotional sensitivity. However, these are only temporary side effects that usually go away after treatment.

Shiatsu Massage


Shiatsu massage is advised for people who want to relax and get rid of stress, discomfort, and tension. It is a Japanese massage that promotes emotional and physical calm and relaxation, while also assisting in the relief of stress, worry, and sadness. It may also help to alleviate headaches and muscle strain.

Shiatsu massage treats the entire body, though your therapist may focus on specific areas that require extra attention. During the massage, your therapist will use his or her hands, palms, and thumbs to rub certain regions of your body. Pressure is applied in a rhythmic or pulsing pattern. This massage can be performed while fully clothed. Shiatsu massages often last 60 to 90 minutes. Fatigue is a temporary side effect that subsides within a day or two of the massage.

Deep Tissue

Deep-tissue massage, as the name implies, attempts to release tension in the deeper layers of muscle tissue and fascia. As a result, it employs a more intensive kneading processes than Swedish massage. Athletes, runners, and people with ailments benefit the most from deep-tissue massage. Deep-tissue massages are available to people suffering from chronic pain problems such as fibromyalgia and lower back pain. If you are particularly sensitive to pressure, avoid this sort of massage.

Pediatric Massage

Baby massage is another name for pediatric massage. Massage can help your baby's senses, enhance their sleep, boost their immune system, make them more aware of their bodies, make them happier, treat colic, and develop muscle tone.

However, there are certain drawbacks. If the massage is overly strong, it may overstretch the baby's muscles; if the wrong oil is used, it may burn the baby's skin; and a newborn may cry during the massage.

Thai Massage

Thai massage, often known as "yoga massage”, and usually consists of a series of hard stretches performed on a fully clothed client. Thai massage is an old practice with several health benefits that have been scientifically proven. It has the potential to reduce the severity of your headaches, relieve lower back and joint pain, increase flexibility, calm your worries, and invigorate your mind and body.

Instead of lying on a massage table, you'll usually lie on the floor on a mat or massage mattress. Once on the mat, your therapist will use the weight and pressure of their own body to gently guide your body through a series of stretches. No oil is used, and your muscles are not generally kneaded, unlike a Swedish massage.

Consult your doctor first if you have:

  • Heart illness or coronary artery disease.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Problems affecting your spine, such as osteoporosis and neurological diseases.
  • Recent surgery.
  • Open wounds.

Thai massage is not recommended for pregnant women. Medical specialists also advise against this massage if you have: bleeding disorders, deep vein thrombosis, thrombocytopenia, and burns.



Other Massage Techniques

Prenatal Massage

This massage technique is intended to treat pregnant symptoms, reduce anxiety, relieve back and leg discomfort, improve sleep, and lower levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine. Rather than lying on her back, the client will either recline on her side or rest on her stomach on a massage table with a hole cut in it.

During the first trimester, many massage therapists will not perform pregnant massages; due to the chance of miscarriage. Although no studies have been conducted to establish a link between massage and miscarriages, some prenatal massage specialists feel that pregnancy massage does not induce miscarriage in and of itself. Because many miscarriages occur during the first trimester, some massage therapists and doctors advise against first-trimester massage to prevent potential liability issues if a miscarriage occurs.

Watsu Massage

Watsu, commonly known as hydrotherapy, is a type of water treatment. It's an aquatic bodywork technique that's used for passive aquatic therapy and deep relaxation. Watsu is characterized by one-on-one sessions during which a practitioner or therapist gently cradles, moves stretches, and massages a patient in chest-deep warm water.

Watsu has a few drawbacks:

  • Because it is a passive type of therapy, you are unable to move your body during treatment.
  • You must be willing to entrust the massage to a therapist, with whom you will maintain regular contact. Some people may feel uneasy about this.
  • If you have a fever, uncontrolled epilepsy, major heart difficulties, open wounds, skin infections, respiratory disorders, or sensitivity to pool chemicals, you should avoid Watsu. Water therapy may aggravate or complicate several illnesses.
  • If you're pregnant, you should see your doctor before attempting Watsu. While many pregnant women enjoy the gravity-relieving feelings of floating in the water while carrying a baby, your healthcare professional can determine whether you're a good fit for this type of therapy.

Couples Massage

In the same room, massage therapists knead two client’s side by side. It improves relationship connection, stress alleviation, hormone release, and the benefits of natural massage. Swedish massage is the most common style of massage, but you can also choose deep-tissue or hot stone massages.

A couple’s massage potential adverse effects are the same as those of a conventional massage. There may be some discomfort, soreness, or agony a day or two after the massage, depending on the pressure and intensity used, as well as your body's receptivity. During and after the massage, some persons experience slight nausea or headache. These side effects are uncommon, but they can happen. If discomfort or pain persists beyond two days, speak to your massage therapist and consider a milder or less intense massage in the future.


Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy is frequently added as an extra service to a standard massage session. During your massage, the massage therapist may diffuse an essential oil in the room or mix a few drops of oil into massage lotion and apply it straight to your skin.

Aromatherapy oils may also have adverse effect on the body if not properly used. Some clients are allergic to application of these oils. Aromatherapy oils should never be applied directly to the body. They must be diluted first and an allergy test should be conducted on the patient before administering these oils.

Individuals suffering from any of the following conditions should use extreme caution when using aromatherapy:

  • Allergy or allergies.
  • Hay fever, which is a form of allergy.
  • The skin ailments Eczema and psoriasis.

People suffering from the following conditions should use exercise caution:

  • Hypertension, or high blood pressure.








Sports Massage

Sports massage is intended to improve the health of the soft tissue in the bodies of persons who participate in sports or exercise regularly. It entails the manipulation of soft tissues, such as the skin, muscle, tendons, ligaments, and fascia. Sports and regular exercise can impose undue pressure on the muscles and other soft tissues. A sports massage therapist seeks to prevent or relieve injuries, improve muscle function, and correct muscle imbalances by addressing all of these soft tissues. Sports massage is a combination of Swedish and deep tissue techniques. However, a doctor's recommendation is definitely needed before using these techniques. The benefits and side effects of sports massage are the same as with Swedish and deep tissue massage.

Aqua Massage

Aqua massage is similar to Watsu massage. Watsu deals with hot or cold deep water while aqua massage uses jets of water. This massage is just beginning to become popular within the malls of Europe. This unique and special type of massage is carried out by 36 precisely aimed and pressure adjustable jets of warm water in an Aqua Massage Machine. The benefits and side effects of Aqua massage are the same as those of Watsu massage


Massage Equipment?

  1. Massage Tables: The most important massage treatment device is the massage surface. Massage tables are required for service delivery. There are  two types: fixed and portable massage tables. Both are excellent for full-body, relaxation, and deep tissue massages.

Fixed massage tables are always available in a spa or massage clinic. Because the client arrives to have massage therapy service performed, these tables don't need to be relocated frequently. The weight limit on fixed or stationary massage tables is generally higher than on portable massage tables.

Portable massage tables are preferred by independent massage therapists and those who make house calls. These foldable massage tables are compact, light, and portable. Many portable massage tables are also adjustable, allowing massage therapists to tailor their treatments to their preferences.

  1. Massage Therapy Chairs: Massage treatment chairs are another option for performing massages. Many massage chairs are portable and may be set up rapidly in practically any room. Massage therapy instruments and accessories, such as armrests, chest pads, and head support, are also included with these chairs. Padded seats ensure maximum comfort throughout the massage therapy session. Massage chairs are effective in small places or for providing more targeted massage therapy on certain areas, such as the back, shoulder, or neck.
  2. Electric or Manual Massage Tools: Electrical massage therapy is a good fit for percussion and infrared massage devices. For example, these devices deliver continual vibration and heat to painful areas. Massagers with variable speeds offer consistent pressure to clients’ problem areas.


Manual massage treatment equipment augments massage therapists' abilities. Simple yet effective manual massage equipment includes balls, rollers, thumb tools, portable massage tools, hot stone massage tools, head and neck massage tinglers, and massaging sticks.

Essential Oils for Massage?


  1. Rosemary oil: Rosemary oil stimulates the brain. It can also improve mental performance.
  2. Peppermint oil: Peppermint oil has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. It relieves headaches, fights fatigue, and improves mood, reduces stomach spasms, aids digestion, and improves memory If you have irritable bowel syndrome or gastric inflammation, peppermint tea is proven to help relax your stomach.
  • Lemon oil: Lemon oil has been known to enhance mental clarity, reduce anxiety and depression, reduce pain, ease nausea and kill bacteria.
  1. Eucalyptus oil: During the cold season, Eucalyptus essential oil is an excellent essential oil to have on hand. It relieves a stuffy nose by opening your nasal passages, allowing you to breathe more easily. (Peppermint oil can also aid in this regard). Because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory characteristics, it can also reduce pain and fight the herpes simplex virus.
  2. Lavender oil: Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular essential oils. It can be used to treat stress, pain, and sleep difficulties. Prior to the discovery of antiseptics, lavender was commonly used as a cleaning agent in hospitals.
  3. Jasmine oil: Jasmine oil is used to fight stress and anxiety. It is also an anti-depressant.
  • Cedarwood oil: With its woodsy fragrance and antioxidant and antibacterial effects, Cedarwood oil is a common ingredient in insect repellant, shampoos, and deodorants. However, Cedarwood oil can also be used to help with sleep and anxiety. Cedarwood oil can be used as an aromatherapy treatment as well as a topical treatment, when combined with a carrier oil.

What are the 5 basic Massage Movements?

The simplest techniques to perform when doing body massage are as follows.

  1. Effleurage is a stroke that may be found in almost every medium. It entails the massage therapist performing lengthy, gliding strokes over your body with their palms, knuckles, and/or forearms. Because of its softness, it is typically used at the start of a massage to apply lotion or oil and ease the body into the session. The pressure level of the strokes will usually increase as the muscles relax.
  2. Petrissage is the kneading, rolling, and wringing of tissue with the thumbs and knuckles of the massage therapist. Petrissage is frequently used in deep tissue massages because it is effective at releasing muscle knots. Petrissage also promotes enhanced blood flow and lymphatic drainage in the area of the body being massaged.
  3. Friction is another popular massage technique for loosening muscular knots. The massage therapist will rub both hands in fast movements along the portion of the body being worked on to generate warmth, allowing the muscles to relax and release.
  4. Tapotement entails the massage therapist softly, rhythmically tapping on the body with their knuckles, the sides of their hands, or cupped palms. It's intended to activate muscular nerves and increase circulation, and it's usually only used infrequently during a massage.
  5. Vibration entails the massage therapist moving their fingertips or the heel of their hand back and forth over the client’s skin. It can be done fast or slowly, depending on your personal preferences and the purpose of the massage. This helps to relax muscles in particularly tense places, such as the lower back or shoulders.

Note that these movements can be combined in a massage session to suit clients desired result.

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Kristeen Cherney and Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT What is Aromatherapy Massage  (February 1, 2019)

Kirsten Nunez and Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT  Everything to Know About Watsu Therapy (March 10, 2020)

Mindy Doss, Aqua Massage

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The Gist by Groupon, 11 Types of Massage and Which One is Right for You (August 20, 2021)

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