The Main Types of Massages Explained


If you want to relieve pain, treat an injury, or simply relax, massages are just the thing you need. Nowadays, because there’s a wide variety of massages available, it can be hard to choose which one to get depending on your needs. Today, you’ll learn about the most popular types of massages and what the purpose of each one is.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massages are the most popular kind of massage, and they’re pretty much done anywhere, such as clinics, wellness centers, spas, and even gyms. The Swedish massage consists of five basic strokes, which are the following:

  • Long, smooth strokes (Effleurage)
  • Kneading, lifting, and rolling (Petrissage)
  • Percussion (Tapotement)
  • Shaking and rocking movements (Vibration)
  • Small, circular motions (Friction)

Your massage therapist will usually start with general strokes and gradually transition into other strokes to treat specific parts of your body. The Swedish massage can provide full-body relaxation as well as help your muscles recover from an injury.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massages are meant to focus on muscle knots, also known as adhesions. They address the most problematic areas in the deeper layers of your muscles by using slow strokes and friction. Deep tissue massages are great to get if you have chronic pain in your muscles as well as any deep muscle injuries.

The deep tissue massage is a lot more intense than the Swedish massage but, it shouldn’t be any more painful. So, if during your massage you’re feeling pain, let your massage therapist know.

Hot Stone Massage

You no doubt have heard of the hot stone massage, which is a therapeutic massage that consists of using hot stones on certain areas of your body. The stones tend to be made out of basalt, which is a volcanic rock that retains heat. The stone’s heat relaxes tight muscles, making it easier for the massage therapist to relieve muscle tension quickly.

Aromatherapy Massage

For those who need an emotional component to their massage, aromatherapy massage is a good choice. The benefits of this massage are:

  • It helps reduce stress and anxiety
  • Eases depression symptoms
  • Provides pain relief
  • Relieves muscle tension
  • Boosts your overall mood

Aromatherapy is light and gentle, meaning that your therapist won’t apply much pressure on your muscles. They combine the massage with the essential oils of your choice. During the massage, you’ll be inhaling the scent of the essential oils, which is what contributes to the improvement of your emotional state.

Sports Massage

If you regularly practice sports and you have a repetitive muscle injury, then a sports massage is the best type of massage to choose. It’s also a preventative massage, which means if you’re more susceptible to getting injured, sports massages can help you avoid any potential injuries. Not only does it help relieve pain and muscle tension, but it can also help improve your flexibility as well as your performance.

Rather than it being a full-body massage, it’s designed to address the areas of your body that need the most help. Massage therapists tend to apply deep pressure along with smooth strokes in the most problematic places.

Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage is a full-body, Japanese massage that aims to relieve stress, tension and relax the client. Your therapist will treat the areas that need the most attention using their palms, hands, and thumbs to pressure point specific body parts.

Pregnancy Massage

A pregnancy massage, or prenatal massage, is designed to help pregnant women meet their needs while providing the utmost relaxation. Expectant mothers tend to experience swollen ankles and lower back pain, and this massage provides relief to those areas.

Massage therapists who specialize in prenatal massages know how to position the client properly as well as modify specific techniques to provide support and comfort. They even have a different kind of massage table for the clients to help them rest safely and comfortably during the massage.

However, not all centers have massage therapists who are specialized in this particular therapy. Find a spa that has certified prenatal massage therapists to make sure you’ll be in good hands.


If you’re not into full-body massages and you’d rather have your feet worked, then reflexology is a great choice. Reflexology consists of using the finger to pressure point parts of your foot that are technically connected to other organs in your body. In other words, by pressure pointing to specific areas of your foot, you’ll find relief throughout the rest of your body.

Myofascial Massage

The myofascial massage is a therapy that addresses the fascia, a tissue that holds everything, such as your organs and muscles, in place. Your massage therapist will manipulate this tissue to find the parts that feel most stiff and apply pressure to help improve restricted movement.

Thai Massage

Thai massages are much more energized than other massages. It combines passive stretching techniques, assisted yoga, and pressing massage movements. It’s similar to yoga, but your massage therapist does it for you instead of you doing all the work.

Your therapist will use rhythmic compression to help relieve stress and improve range of motion along with flexibility. It’s also effective in treating anxiety.

Lymphatic Drainage Therapy

The lymph is what holds the toxins and wastes in your body, and the purpose of lymphatic drainage therapy is to drain those toxins and wastes away from your tissue and towards your heart. Lymphatic drainage therapy consists of using pressure and rhythmic movements to encourage drainage.

Types of Massages—Which One Will You Choose?

Now that you’ve learned about the most common types of massages available, it’s time to make your pick! Each massage has its benefits and serves a purpose, so it’s important to get the right kind of massage to meet your needs.

Don’t stop now! Keep exploring our site for more health-related articles!