There are many types of massage, but all lead to a path of improved physical and mental wellness. No longer a service only available through luxury spas and upscale health clubs, massage is generally accepted as a mainstream form of healthcare that can yield amazing results.
And those results start with technique, which can include pressing, rubbing and manipulating skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is common for massage therapists to use their hands and fingers for massage, but forearms, elbows and even feet can be part of the therapy. Massage may range from light stroking to deep pressure, depending on the needs and preferences of the client.
There are many different types of massage, including these common types, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Swedish massage. This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize.
- Deep massage. This massage technique uses slower, more forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries.
- Sports massage. This is similar to Swedish massage, but it’s geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.
- Trigger point massage. This massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.
Michael Windsor, owner of Massage Works Therapy Center in Fort Wayne, says just as there are many types of massage, there is a lot of variation in terms of the desired outcome. He says stress management is what most people think of when they think of massage, however his team can offer a lot more than that. Massage can help to address chronic pain and migraines, for example.
“There’s a lot of stuff we can do that’s therapeutic,” he said.
And some people find massage is the bridge they need to get them from living in chronic pain to a pain-free life. While it’s not always an alternative to surgery in some cases, he said one thing’s for certain: “You’re going to walk out feeling better than you did before.”
Feeling better isn’t just limited to the physical body, he explained. A lot of people hold stress in their neck and shoulders, which can make it painful or difficult to move. These physical manifestations of tension need to be addressed as well. That’s why his team spends time with each client to find out what’s going on in their personal lives that could spill over into their health.
Diedra Eshcoff, with Partners 4 Healing, takes a similar approach.
“Whatever’s going on it your hand will manifest itself in your body,” she said.
And that can be a bad thing for people who don’t practice self-care. “So many people are so busy… it’s go, go, go… and they never give themselves an opportunity to downshift,” she said. “However, it’s in that rest that our body can heal itself.”
In fact self-care can actually help people be more productive and lead more fulfilling lives.
“Regular massage can help you manage stress so you can do your best,” she said, offering an image of a bucket. When empty, you cannot give to others. However, when full a lot of good can come from it. In fact she describe it as a ripple effect. Friends and family benefit from your self-care. So it’s a win-win in effect. Who can argue with that?