Top Massage Modalities Explained
With self-care becoming more important as our lives become more and more stressful, people have been turning to massage more than ever as a way to find peace and relief from their day to day aches and pains. Even if you’ve received massage on a regular basis, you may not realize that there are numerous modalities, or approaches a massage therapist may take to address your needs. While this is far from an exhaustive list, here are 6 of the most commonly used and requested.
The most common type of massage, this style uses long, relaxing strokes, and soft kneading of the muscles to help you relax and ease some general aches and pains. This is a great introductory massage if you’ve never received bodywork before, but don’t be afraid to venture out of a standard Swedish session to get even more benefits.
While many people assume Deep Tissue massage equates to deep pressure, this isn’t actually true. Instead, it’s the use of specific techniques and movements that more easily access and affect the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue in order to relieve tension and address underlying muscular issues. While some pinpoint pressure techniques may feel a little more intense, it’s important to note that you should always speak up if the pressure is too much. In fact, it can be counterproductive to the work if you’re tensing up in an effort to fight the discomfort.
Fascia is a type of connective tissue that forms support throughout the body at every layer including muscles and bones. When it gets tight from daily use and postural distortions, it can start to inhibit normal range of motion and leave you feeling stiff and painful. Myofascial release involves slow, sustained pressure along with stretching to areas where fascial tissue restricts mobility and may cause pain. When the fascial release is achieved, it’s often said to feel as if the tissues melted into one another.
This type of massage uses cups made of glass, silicone, or plastic along with a pump or even fire to create a vacuum pressure that will pull up on the skin and underlying connective tissues and muscle fibers. This negative pressure allows for the same beneficial effects of other styles like Deep Tissue and Myofascial Release, without the pressure pushing into the tissues. If you need deep work but can’t handle deep pressure, this is the perfect style for you. Depending on what your goals are for treatment, we may move the cups around to reduce the risk of marks being left behind, or we may leave the cups stationary for some time to allow a deeper release.
This is a technique that’s not as well known but is wildly popular among those who’ve taken the plunge to try it. The therapist uses their feet to perform the massage, often using supports attached to the ceiling or rails along the floor to assist in balance and pressure variances. While the pressure is always adjusted to suit your needs, this technique allows for much deeper pressure than can usually be achieved with the therapist’s upper body.
A neuromuscular therapist is very knowledgeable in muscle anatomy, connective tissue work, trigger point therapy, and manual therapies. This technique can help beyond standard muscular tension to assist in the rehabilitation of many muscular injuries, nerve compressions, trigger points, and postural imbalances that are causing you pain. Instead of full-body treatments, Neuromuscular Therapy sessions tend to be hyper-focused on the problem at hand.
There is a deep and fascinating world of massage therapy, and we’ve only looked at the surface here. Clearly, no matter what ails you, there is a solution to be found in massage therapy. What modalities have you tried, and what modalities do you want to try next?