Traditional Thai massage is a different experience if you’ve only ever had a Swedish or deep tissue massage. In Thai massage, you wear loose-fitting clothing (often provided by the massage therapist) and start by lying on a mat. Throughout the massage, the therapist moves your body into various seated and prone positions, which stretch and release your muscles and soft tissue. Although your body is moving, the therapist is doing all the work, making it feel similar to supported yoga. The massage therapist will bend, stretch, and compress and lengthen your body using their hands, forearms, elbows and even feet. Don’t be alarmed by the feet! Many studios have overhead supports that allow the practitioners to safely walk on your back, releasing tight adhesions and promoting ease. Thai massage can be both invigorating and relaxing. It is an excellent option for keeping your muscles in good health if you regularly work out, or if you want to overcome a lack of flexibility. Studies show that Thai massage can increase blood circulation, improve flexibility, reduce muscle tension and enhance mental well-being.
There are five main techniques in Swedish massage: effleurage, friction, petrissage, tapotement and vibration. Within each category there are various movements, all intended to ease muscle tension and pain. Each movement has a specific purpose for loosening, warming, soothing or stimulating your muscles during your massage. Here is a breakdown of each of the five Swedish massage techniques:
- Effleurage: Sweeping, gliding, smooth long strokes done with the hands or forearms. These strokes can loosen and warm the body and are said to help stimulate blood flow.
- Friction: These circular or transverse rubbing strokes are also warming and can get deeper into the muscle tissue. They should be avoided on injured or inflamed areas or areas.
- Petrissage: Lifting, kneading, skin rolling, muscle rolling and wringing. These movements help with circulation, which stimulates cell regeneration, and aid in loosening tense muscles.
- Tapotement: Tapping, plucking, cupping and pounding. Tapotement movements can help improve blood circulation and cell rejuvenation, and also relax and release tight muscles.
- Vibration: Rocking, shaking and trembling movements. These motions can help muscles release.
Pregnancy massage is a therapeutic massage tailored specifically to the needs of a pregnant woman’s body. Before having a prenatal massage, always check in with your prenatal care provider and ask if massage therapy will be safe for you and your pregnancy. A pregnancy massage is much more than just an indulgence. The specialized strokes and techniques used to loosen tight muscles, reduce swelling, alleviate pressure, and ease tension provide positive health benefits for both you and your baby. Experts recommend finding a massage therapist who has received additional training on prenatal massage techniques. This is typically a certification above and beyond their standard massage therapy certification and training requirements. During the massage you will likely lie on your side or in a semi-reclined position; these supported poses keep you and the baby comfortable and free from strain or undue pressure. During the massage, the therapist will listen to what body challenges you are experiencing and work to release tension. The massage should be a relaxing and very soothing experience.
Swedish massage is proven to lower blood pressure and reduce stress, according to the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, as well as to relieve depression and anxiety and aid in recuperation from chronic illness. Swedish massage is also referred to as classical massage, and — contrary to popular understanding — does not originate from Sweden. There are five main strokes, or movements, that make up a Swedish massage: effleurage, friction, petrissage, tapotement and vibration. Each technique was created to help soothe, stimulate, soften, and rejuvenate muscles and other soft tissue.
During a Swedish style massage, the client will lie on a massage table in a comfortable position — usually facedown to start. Clients can choose to be clothed or nude; if they are nude, the massage therapist will drape them with a cloth so they are never exposed. A Swedish massage typically lasts from 45 to 120 minutes, depending on client need and pricing agreement. During the massage, the therapist typically employs all of the stroke techniques as a way to ease any tension in the body. Swedish massage is one of the most gentle types of massage and is known for being soothing and relaxing.
A deep tissue full body massage is a form of healing bodywork. At your first massage, your massage therapist will do a brief intake. They will ask you questions about the type of pressure you’d like to receive during your deep tissue massage, any previous massage experience you’ve had, and any injuries or sensitivities you have. You can remain clothed, or the massage therapist will provide draping so that even if you’re not wearing clothes you are always fully covered. Deep tissue massage may be a good option for people with chronic pain or muscle tension. The systematic deep tissue strokes will work to break down any scar tissue or stiff tissues and create ease in your body again. Massage therapists use their hands, forearms, fists and knuckles to knead and stroke your muscles and loosen adhesions. Although deep tissue massage work is intense, it should not be painful, so communicate clearly with your massage therapist so they know if you’re having any discomfort. The national average cost of a deep tissue massage is between $70 and $90.
Thai massage, also called Thai yoga massage, combines acupressure and assisted yoga postures. Thai massage is based on the flow of energy through the body and focuses on energy lines called “sen.” It doesn’t use oils or lotions and, instead of rubbing muscles, the massage therapist compresses, pulls, stretches and rocks the recipient’s body to promote the flow of energy through these sen. In this form of massage therapy, practitioners use their hands, knees, legs and feet to apply deep muscle compression and stretch the body. It’s often performed on a mat on the floor instead of on a massage table. Like most forms of massage, Thai massage is used to relieve stress, improve range of motion and enhance flexibility. Some people also use Thai massage to address a range of health issues, including:
- Relieving tension headaches
- Decreasing back pain
- Reducing joint stiffness and pain
- Stimulating circulation and lymphatic drainage
- Boosting energy
Because a traditional Thai massage session covers all of the muscles in your body, it typically lasts 90 minutes to 120 minutes.
If you’re ready for relaxation and relief from pregnancy pains, prenatal massage may be a great healing option. Once your prenatal care provider has approved you for pregnancy massage, look for a licensed massage therapist who also has training and certification in prenatal massage techniques.
The safety of hot stone massage during pregnancy depends on several factors including the stage of your pregnancy and where on the body the hot stones are applied. The massage therapist should avoid raising your core temperature or using hot stones on the abdomen. When in doubt, talk to your prenatal care provider.
Everyone loves Swedish massage. It’s soothing and relaxing and, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, is proven to relieve pain. Swedish massage can also relieve symptoms associated with chronic illness, arthritis, depression and other ailments. The term Swedish massage is actually a massive mixup, according to Massage Magazine. The technique would be more aptly named classical massage, which it is often called. What we in the United States refer to as Swedish massage was actually invented by a Dutch physician named Johan Georg Mezger. Mezger systematized and gave French names to the five massage techniques used today in Swedish (or classic) massage: effleurage, friction, petrissage, tapotement and vibration. The confusion began when the techniques systematized by Mezger were attributed to Per Henrik Ling, the founder of the Swedish Movement System who had practiced his similar techniques in his gymnasium. In many parts of the world, Swedish massage is called classic massage, and most massage therapists will understand either term.
Prenatal massages can be a safe and therapeutic way to alleviate the aches and pains of pregnancy. A prenatal massage can promote a sense of relaxation and well-being for expectant mothers. The national average cost for a pregnancy massage ranges between $70 and $90. The cost of a pregnancy massage will vary depending on where you live, the length of the massage, and the massage therapist. Typically, the longer a massage, the higher the cost. Some massage therapists charge the same rate per minute, regardless of massage length, while others charge less per minute for longer appointments. Here are two examples of average prenatal massage costs:
- Therapist A: Offers a 30-minute massage for $45, 45 minutes for $60, 60 minutes for $75, 75 minutes for $90 and 90 minutes for $105.
- Therapist B: offers a 30-minute massage for $45, a 60-minute massage for $85, a 90-minute massage for $115 and a 120-minute massage for $145.
As long as your prenatal care physician has cleared you for prenatal massage, it should be safe to indulge yourself in a Swedish massage during pregnancy. In fact, scheduling regular pregnancy massages can have wonderful health benefits for you and the baby. Swedish and other massages can feel great and also have a variety of health benefits, according to studies published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Some of the benefits of pregnancy massage include reduction in leg and back pain, lower levels of anxiety and depression, and a better overall mood.
To find the right massage therapist for you, read the therapist’s online reviews and call to ask them about their experience with prenatal massage. Massage therapists who have been specially trained in prenatal massage techniques often advertise this area of expertise on their websites. Don’t hesitate to ask questions beforehand, and to communicate during the massage about what does and does not feel good.