Top Five Types of Massage

Discover the Differences Between the Most Requested Types of Massage –

Man receiving a massage and massage therapist is using her elbow to work on tight muscles.
Are you a massage therapy newbie who is ready to make your first massage appointment, yet you’re a little confused about what types of massage are available and which one to get?  Don’t feel alone, this is a common dilemma for most folks who have never had a massage.  The good news is, it’s not difficult to pick the type of massage that will best suit your needs if you know where to start.  But before we dive into explaining the differences between the top five, most requested massage techniques, let’s cover some general massage info.

Massage therapies have been around for centuries and over the years have evolved into a wide range of varying types of massage techniques.  The different techniques are designed to produce specific results for the massage recipient.  Some people seek massage to produce varying degrees of stress relief, pampering and/or me-time.  Athletes are often looking to massage as a means of getting relief from muscular pain and/or to aid in injury recovery.  And some patients incorporate massage into their treatment plan to address cancer, arthritis, muscular dystrophy and many other illnesses.

No matter what one’s reasons are for wanting to get a massage, you are going to have to define what you want to achieve, in the form of benefits to your body, mind and spirit, before selecting the type of massage to get.  The following descriptions of the most popular massage techniques will help you decide which one will benefit you the most.  We have listed them in reverse order.

Neuromuscular Massage Therapy

The fifth most popular of the types of massage is called Neuromuscular Massage Therapy. It’s also known as “Neuromuscular therapy” or “NMT” (as it’s known in Europe), and sometimes it’s called neuromuscular massage. 

This form of massage is known for its ability to treat and prevent soft tissue injuries coupled with chronic pain. Neuromuscular massage therapy is often offered by chiropractors, osteopaths, naturopaths, physical therapists, etc.  It’s important to note that in most cases this form of massage isn’t offered in day spas.  You’re more likely to find it in a medical setting due to local regulations that often require a specialized license for providing this service.

The most significant distinction of this form of massage has to do with how the therapist incorporates static (little to no movement) techniques by strategically applying pressure on the client’s body.  Some of the techniques used consist of targeted compression, friction and stretching of muscles, tendons and muscular attachments.  In other words, the massage therapist places their fingers, heel of the hand or elbow in a strategic position on the client’s body, known as ‘trigger points.’  The applied pressure is used to stimulate the skeletal muscles and to balance the central nervous system.

Sports Massage

The popularity of Sports Massage has grown substantially of late.  Today, some massage therapists limit their entire practice to this type of massage.  Of all the types of massage at our spa, sports massage is one that is growing in popularity. Given its name, it’s no surprise that sports massage is comprised of massage techniques that address the specific needs of athletes.  Sports massage offers relief from sports related activities and injuries regardless of the athlete’s age or level of expertise.  The unique aspect of sports massage comes from the tailor-made techniques the therapist uses to address each athlete’s specific health needs. They are designed to heal what’s wrong and get the athlete back-in their specialized sport as soon as possible.  These types of massage therapists are in high demand!

Sports massage is often viewed as a massage ‘specialty’ given its clientele.   It’s not uncommon today for professional athletes to demand the services of a massage therapist, often of their own choosing, as part of their professional contracts.  As a matter of fact, some massage therapists specialize in one specialized sports field, such as football, baseball, hockey or golf, for example.  These specialized massage therapists are highly sought-after by die-hard athletes of all kinds.

Hot Stone Massage

Hot stone massage has grown very popular among massage enthusiasts and for good reason.  It’s considered to be the most luxurious and relaxing type of massage available on the market.  Most massages are conducted via your massage therapist’s hands, forearms and sometimes their elbow.  Hot stones are many of my client’s most preferred types of massage, especially during the cold of winter.

Woman receiving a popular types of massage, hot stone.

During a hot stone massage, heated basalt massage stones are used as a tool during your treatment.  The stones are typically heated in a warmer that looks similar to a crock-pot.  Once the stones are heated to a comfortably warm temperature, the massage therapist uses them to massage you, utilizing long, gliding strokes. The heated stones help to loosen tight muscles.  The warmth of the rocks and the accompanying massage strokes strip away stress and tension leaving the client in a state of blissful contentment.

Deep Tissue Massage

The title of the second most requested types of massage goes to… Deep Tissue Massage.  This form of massage is readily available no matter where you live.  Deep tissue massage is taught in every massage training course (just like Swedish Massage) so you’d be hard-pressed to find a certified massage therapist who doesn’t know how to do this kind of massage.

This form of massage is chosen by clients who are seeking relief from chronic tension from deep within their muscles and connective tissues.  Conditions that create chronic pain and moderate-to-severe loss of range of motion, ( in one’s joints), are what garner a high popularity rating for deep tissue massage.  Fun Fact – Typically, men request this form of massage more often than women.

Deep tissue massage sometimes gets a bad rap because some massage therapy practitioners tend to apply so much pressure during the massage that their client becomes uncomfortable and/or experiences varying levels of pain. Some people believe that if it doesn’t hurt, it’s not working and nothing could be further from the truth. It doesn’t have to be painful for a massage to be effective!

Always inform your massage therapist of any issues you have about the amount of pressure being used or any other aspect of your massage that you’re uncomfortable with.  It’s noteworthy to mention that the benefits of deep tissue massage can be achieved with more moderate pressure levels.  Clients are capable of achieving great results from a lighter level of pressure.

If you don’t like a technique your therapist is using or how they are doing it, tell them.  Conversely, also let them know what you find comforting and helpful.  Remember, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open between you and your massage therapist.

Swedish Massage:

Swedish massage,  of all the types of massage available to spa clients, is the most requested type of massage. It’s the form of massage that people from all over the globe have heard the most about. Swedish Massage is often thought of and referred to as ‘spa massage.’ This may be due, in part, to Swedish massage being referenced so often in movies and TV shows. Many people have heard about Swedish massage but they typically cannot explain what it is, exactly. The truth is, it’s much more than what people believe it to be.

The primary objectives of Swedish massage are to induce relaxation, relieve stress and to improve range of motion.  During this type of massage the masseuse uses varying combinations of the following strokes; long-gliding, kneading, friction and percussion. In addition to these stroke patterns your therapist will incorporate joint manipulation and movements to free-up stiff joints and tight muscles.

All forms of massage are therapeutic in nature and this is certainly true for Swedish massage.  It’s also the form of massage best known for achieving deep relaxation and “feel good” results.  Spa professionals believe the ‘feel good’ aspects of Swedish massage are the primary reason this form of massage holds the top spot.


colorful background with this message: Top 5 Most Requested Types of Massage

There are many more massage therapies available on the market today, offering a wide variety of healthy benefits, that are worthy of checking-out and experiencing. If you’re new to the wonders of massage, you don’t need to fret if you don’t know what kind of massage to get. Ask your massage therapist to help you select the perfect massage for your particular needs. They are trained professionals and will help you make a well-informed decision.

Every single one of the Types of Massage described in this article can help you reap the health benefits of massage, so book yourself a massage… today!

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  1. I didn’t realize that there are so many different types of massages. I have always wondered what a Swedish massage is. Thanks for pointing out that it helps you relax and improve your range of motion. That is good to know because my sister is pregnant and she has been really struggling with moving.

    1. I’m delighted that you found the article helpful. I hope your sister glides through her pregnancy with increased mobility and comfort.

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