There are more than 250 different types of massage being offered around the world.

When you’re faced with this endless list, choosing the type of massage that’s right for you can be confusing.

Don’t stress!
By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll know exactly which type of massage is right for you.
Let’s dive in…

What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage is the practice of applying gentle or strong pressure to the muscles and joints of the body to help you feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally.
So, why are there so many different types of massage and what do they all do?
Let’s take a look at some of them more closely…

10 Best Types of Massage for Your Body, Mind, and Soul

Each type of massage has its own unique benefits.
For example, deep tissue is great for releasing knots and recovering from exercise.
On the other hand, cranial sacral is ideal for reducing stress and chronic neck pain.
Here are the ten most popular types of massage:
  1. Swedish
  2. Deep Tissue
  3. Myofascial Release
  4. Therapeutic Medical
  5. Cranial Sacral
  6. Ashiatsu
  7. Trigger Point
  8. Sports Injury
  9. Prenatal
  10. Postnatal
Now let’s take a closer look at each one:

1. Swedish

Swedish massage is one of the most popular forms of massage.

Specifically, it’s a gentle full-body massage that has been proven to reduce blood pressure, respiratory rate, and pulse rate, (1)

all of which can contribute to anxiety and stress.

Furthermore, Swedish massage targets the superficial layers of muscle to release knots and tension in the neck, shoulders, and back.

In a nutshell, it uses hand movements like stroking, kneading, rubbing, and tapping to promote relaxation and reduce muscle tension.

It’s ideal for people who:
  • Want to fully relax
  • Are new to massage
  • Have a lot of tension
  • Are sensitive to touch
  • Have a low pain threshold
  • Suffer from anxiety

2. Deep Tissue

As the name suggests, deep tissue massage digs deep!
Unlike other massage techniques that focus on relaxation, deep tissue massage targets the deepest layers of your muscles, and connective tissues.
The masseuse uses their fingers to apply varying amounts of intense pressure.
In brief, this helps relieve tension, muscle pain, tightness, stiffness, injury, and imbalance.
Likewise, it is not a relaxing massage.
In fact, for many people, it can be quite painful, but the reward is worth it.
Deep tissue massage can help with:
  • Sciatica
  • High blood pressure
  • Tennis elbow
  • Strains
  • Sports injuries
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Fibromyalgia
Particularly, deep tissue massage is best suited for people who exercise a lot.
It’s especially helpful for recovering runners and for people who have injuries or issues with chronic pain.
Deep tissue massage can also help you unwind and release.

3. Myofascial Release

Some people have restrictive myofascial tissue: the tough membranes that wrap, connect, and support your muscles.
Incidentally, this is typically caused by injury, surgery, poor posture, and inflammation.
Myofascial release uses gentle, sustained pressure to loosen up restrictive tissues and muscle fascia.
Additionally, it can relieve acute pain, treat injuries, and improve joint mobility.
The slow movements of myofascial release stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system: the part of the nervous system that controls emotions.
Thus, this is why myofascial massage is commonly used as a relaxation technique.
Myofascial release is good for people who:
  • Experience myofascial pain syndrome
  • Suffer from poor blood flow
  • Have restrictive scar tissue
Also, it may help treat chronic headaches by relaxing tight muscles in the neck and head.

4. Therapeutic Medical Massage

Therapeutic medical massage has become increasingly more common among mainstream medical practitioners.
Your doctor may prescribe therapeutic medical massage to improve a variety of medical challenges.
Consequently, recent research shows that hospital inpatients who receive regular massages report a significant reduction of pain. (2)
By focusing on releasing sore and tight muscles, this type of massage can treat several health conditions, including:
  • Sciatica
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Back and neck pain
  • Sports injuries
  • High blood pressure
  • Pain and inflammation
  • Stress
  • Poor digestion

5. Cranial Sacral

Cranial sacral massage uses gentle, “barely noticeable” soft tissue adjustments, to relieve tension and restore cranial mobility in the head, neck, and nerves.

Also, it is thought to improve the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid: the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.

Likewise, this type of massage has been proven to reduce chronic neck pain (3).

It may also release emotional stress and tension.

Cranial sacral massage can benefit people of all ages with the following symptoms:
  • Neck and back pain
  • Stress and tension
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Migraines
If you find yourself stressed, anxious, or constantly straining your neck, cranial-sacral massage is the one for you!

6. Ashiatsu

Ashiatsu massage is an ancient Japanese practice where the massage therapist literally walks on your back!
Generally, it causes deep tissue compression and manipulates several layers of soft tissue.
In fact, no other massage technique is deeper than Ashiatsu.
Ashiatsu massage helps:
  • Relieve muscle tension
  • Reduce pain
  • Release connective tissue
  • Improve and restore flexibility
  • Increase blood circulation
  • Reduce stress
However, due to the added pressure that is applied to the body, Ashiatsu isn’t suitable for everyone.
Therefore, you should avoid this type of massage if you have diabetes, kidney or liver malfunctions, high blood pressure, or are pregnant.

7. Trigger Point

A trigger point is caused when tense muscles apply pressure to the nerve.
Trigger point massage uses a combination of gentle, relaxing strokes and stronger, deeper pressure.
In severe cases, a pinched nerve can cause pain to radiate throughout the body.
For instance, a trigger point in the lower back can lead to pain in your neck or legs.
Fortunately, trigger point massage can relax these problematic muscle fibers and relieve the pain.
Ultimately, trigger point massage can help:
  • Reduce headaches
  • Increase flexibility
  • Enhance range of motion
  • Improve posture
  • Alleviate pain
This type of massage is best suited for people who have injuries or chronic pain.

8. Sports Injury

Sports injury massage stretches out tight muscles, stimulates inactive muscles, and releases soft tissue.
Thus, it helps to improve flexibility and reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). (4)
This type of massage helps treat injuries, including:
  • Shin splints
  • Tennis elbow
  • Sprains and strains
WARNING: This is not a relaxing form of massage!

Sports injury massage uses various techniques to reduce pain and tension, relax hyperactive muscles, and release deep connective tissues, but it is often uncomfortable.

With that said, sports massage is a good option if you:
  • Have a repetitive use of muscle injury
  • Are prone to injuries in general
  • Want to improve flexibility or sports performance

Furthermore, sports injury massage can also be used to reduce anxiety, increase circulation, improve lymph flow, and reduce heart rate and blood pressure.

9. Prenatal

Prenatal massage can be one avenue for women to get a massage during pregnancy.
During your treatment, the massage therapist applies mild pressure to the lower back, hips, and legs.
Prenatal massage can treat:
  • Body aches
  • Muscle tension
  • Leg and back pain
As well as the physical benefits, this type of massage can contribute to a healthy mental state by reducing stress.
In a recent study, women reported decreased depression, stress, anxiety, and leg and back pain when they received 20 minutes of massage per week for 5 weeks. (5)
So if you’re feeling worn down by the aches and pains of pregnancy, then a prenatal massage can be a great way to treat yourself.

10. Postnatal

Postnatal massage can help you recover within the first 12 weeks of giving birth.

As a new mother, you may be feeling tired, cranky, and sore.

Fortunately, there are countless benefits of getting a postnatal massage, including:

  • Balanced hormones
  • Milk production
  • Swelling reduction
  • Accelerated healing
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Better sleep
  • Improved blood circulation
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, a postnatal massage can give you the relaxation you’ve been craving!

Other Types of Massage

Believe it or not, there are even more types of massage to explore, including:
  • Aromatherapy massage
  • Ayurvedic
  • Chair massage
  • Couple’s massage
  • Foot massage
  • Hot Stone massage
  • Hydrotherapy massage
  • Lymphatic massage
  • Neuromuscular therapy
  • Reflexology
  • Rolfing
  • Shiatsu
  • Thai
  • Vacuum cupping
But massage therapy isn’t just for adults…
As a parent, you’re bound to experience challenging moments with a screaming, cranky child.
Luckily for you, infant massage is at the rescue!
It can help your baby relax and deepen your emotional bond.
In a recent study, mothers massaged their newborns for 15 minutes a day. (6)
Consequently, infants and mothers in the massage group received higher scores on the Maternal Attachment Inventory, showing that the treatment helped strengthen their emotional connection.
Additionally, the research suggests that infant massage can help your baby:
  • Relax and feel calm
  • Reduce stress hormones production
  • Sleep more soundly
As you can see, each type of massage has its own unique benefits for people of all ages.
It can help you relax, reduce chronic pain, and recover from illness and injury.
If you have any more questions about massage or want help finding a masseuse near you, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.