Massage Therapy FAQs 2

What are the characteristics of Body Massage therapies? Which are the most popular?

Here we’ll explore ten or more different “styles” or “types” of massage therapy to learn the differences between each type and potentially learn the “best” type for your particular needs or physical health condition. Considering the massive amount of information available on the Internet, doing a search on “massage therapy” and similar words will produce 100s of websites that contain the information you are searching for. Some sites will be elaborate with lots of information while others may only touch on the various types of massage therapies currently in use.

Today, Massage Therapy is not just a personal service at luxury spas and 5-star hotels anymore, it is a SKILL being use to treat a range of medical conditions that includes arthritis, back pain, cellulite, chronic headaches, high blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome, cancer, fibromyalgia and PMS. Scientific data on the medical benefits of massage therapy is still quite limited and even more difficult to retrieve for study. But as Ruth Werner, president of the Massage Therapy Foundation, points out: “There is little controversy about the psychologically and physiologically calming benefits of receiving skilled bodywork. The research on this is very consistent.”

Checking with your doctor before beginning any new treatment is always a good idea. Even better: If your physician refers you to a massage therapist, your health insurance might even cover the cost. An example of the certain need to consult with the appropriate physician is where the “patient” has been diagnosed with lung cancer, for example. The tumor causing the cancerous condition may be attached to the lung tissue, or even “hanging onto” bones in the rib cage. Massaging the lung cavity area “could” cause adverse results and complicate the cancer treatment cocktail and procedures.

Precautions: Massage is not recommended for people with certain medical conditions: 

  • infectious skin disease, rash, or open wounds
  • immediately after surgery
  • immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor
  • prone to blood clots. There is a risk of blood clots being dislodged. If you have heart or arterial disease, check with your doctor before having a massage
  • pregnant women should check with their doctor first if they are considering getting a massage. Massage in pregnant women should be done only by massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage.
  • massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures. Massage should not be performed on or about the site of a recent surgery unless prescribed by your primary care physician.

 Additional tips 

  • don’t eat a heavy meal before the massage
  • if it’s your first time at the clinic or spa, arrive at least 10 minutes early to complete the necessary paperwork. Otherwise, arrive 5 minutes early so you can have a few minutes to rest and relax before starting the massage.

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1) The swedish Massage
Swedish Massage therapy, as a “type”, is also spoken as simply “massage therapy” and is the most common form of massage therapy in the United States. It is often thought of as the “feel good massage” or “the back-rub”.

Therapists will use long, smooth strokes, kneading and other movements focused on superficial layers of muscle using massage oil or lotion. Massage therapy improves blood circulation by bringing oxygen and other nutrients to the body tissues being worked on.

Why Do People Get Massage Therapy?
It relieves muscle tension and pain, increases flexibility and mobility, and helps clear lactic acid and other waste, which reduces pain and stiffness in muscles and joints. People get massage therapy for relaxation or for a variety of health conditions:

  • Back pain
  • Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and tendonitis
  • Stress relief and stress-related conditions
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Muscle and related conditions such as spasms, strains and sprains
  • Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Circulatory and respiratory problems
  • Post-injury and post surgical rehabilitation

Massage therapy relieves stress. It is thought to help the body’s stress response by lowering levels of hormones such as cortisol. Massage therapy also appears to enhance immune function.

What a Typical Swedish Massage Therapy Session is Like
A typical massage therapy session is between 40 and 90 minutes. Your massage will begin with a brief consultation and review of symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle.

You will be asked to undress (many people keep their underwear on) while the massage therapist is out of the room, and lie face down under a sheet on a padded massage table.

The massage therapist will knock on the door to make sure you are ready. The massage therapist re-enters the room and will then adjust the face rest and pillows to ensure that you are comfortable and properly positioned. Tell the massage therapist if you are too warm or cold.

Will Massage Therapy Hurt?
Massage therapy shouldn’t hurt. Occasionally there is mild aching when the massage therapist applies pressure over “knots” and other areas of muscle tension. If the pressure is too strong for you, let the massage therapist know.

Massage oil, lotions and lubricants
The massage therapist uses a light oil or lotion on the skin as a lubricant and begins the massage. A full body massage usually begins on the back and then moves down to the legs. You will then be asked to turn over so you are face up. The massage continues on your arms, legs, neck, and abdomen. Feet are attended to while the client lies on his/her back.

After the massage, the therapist leaves the room so you can change into your “street clothing”. Take your time getting up. If you sit or stand too quickly you may feel light-headed or dizzy.

 

How Will I Feel After a Massage?
Most people feel calm and relaxed after a treatment. Occasionally, people experience mild temporary aching for a day.

 

2) Aromatherapy Massage
Aromatherapy massage is massage therapy with the addition of one or more scented plant oils called “essential oils” intended to address specific needs or areas of concern. 

The massage therapist can select oils that are relaxing, energizing, stress-reducing, balancing, etc. One of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy massage is lavender.

Aromatherapy massage is particularly suited to stress-related conditions or conditions with an emotional component.

How does aromatherapy massage work?
The nostrils are attached to a part of the brain called the limbic system. The limbic system controls emotions and influences the nervous system and hormones.

When you inhale essential oil molecules, messages are transmitted to the limbic system and affect heart rate, stress level, blood pressure, breathing, memory, digestion, and the immune system. Essential oils are also believed to be absorbed through the skin.

Each essential oil has different healing properties. For example, some calm while others energize. Here are some widely used essential oils and their properties:

  • calming – chamomile, lavender, geranium
  • uplifting – ylang ylang, clary sage, rose, neroli
  • energizing – rosemary
  • cleansing – rosemary
  • decongestants – eucalyptus, pine, tea tree

Why do people get aromatherapy massage?
Aromatherapy massage is particularly suited to conditions involving stress or improving emotionally related conditions.

  • Stress and stress-related conditions such as insomnia
  • Headache
  • Digestive disorders
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Back pain

Here is a few examples of the research that is being done on aromatherapy massage:

  • Self-massage significantly improved symptoms and wellbeing in people with lymphedema. It also slightly, but not significantly reduced limb volume. However, carefully chosen aromatherapy oils did not appear to be more effective than massage without aromatherapy oils.
  • Sixteen first-time mothers received a 30-minute aromatherapy massage two days after delivery, while 20 mothers received standard postpartum care. The aromatherapy massage group had significantly decreased ratings of postpartum blues and anxiety and had increased vigor and attachment to their babies.
  • Research suggests that patients with cancer, particularly in the palliative care setting, are increasingly using aromatherapy and massage.

 What can I expect during an aromatherapy massage?
After the consultation, one or more essential oils are selected based on what you need and are mixed in with the massage oil or lotion. The subtle aroma of the essential oils fill the air around you during the massage.

After the massage, the massage therapist may suggest a blend that you can use at home in between massage treatments.

 3) Hot Stone Massage?

Hot stone massage is a variation on classic massage therapy. Heated, smooth, almost flat stones are placed on key points on the body. The massage therapist may also hold the stones and use them to massage certain areas of the body incorporating oils or lubricants. 

The use of hot stones for healing dates back to ancient times, but it wasn’t until Arizona massage therapist Mary Nelson introduced her hot stone massage technique, called LaStone Therapy, that the use of hot stones for massage caught on.

As a side note, “hot stones” are often created from “River Rocks” which have tumbled around the stream or river bed for decades, even centuries, which caused an otherwise rough rock or stone to be “filed down” into a very smooth and useful massage tool.  

Nelson conducts workshops to train other massage therapists in LaStone. While LaStone continues to be popular, massage therapists and spas have also developed their own versions of the hot stone massage using heated, smooth rocks. 

How Does Hot Stone Massage Work?
The hot stones are usually made of basalt, a type of rock that is rich in iron, so they retain heat. River rocks are normally used because they are so smooth – they have been smoothed over time by the river’s current. 

The stones are immersed in water and heated in an electric heating device until they are within a certain temperature range. The stones may be placed at specific points on the back, in the palms of the hand, or between the toes. 

The heat warms and relaxes the muscles, which allows the therapist to apply deeper pressure, if needed. The warmth of the hot stones improves circulation and calms the nervous system. 

Some massage therapists place stones on points that are thought to be energy centers of the body to rebalance the body and mind.                       

Why Do People Get Hot Stone Massage?
Many people find the warmth of the hot stones to be comforting and get it for relaxation. Hot stone massage is suited to people who tend to feel chilly or who have cold feet. It’s also suited for people who have muscle tension but prefer a lighter massage. The heat relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist to work the muscles without using deep pressure.

People also get hot stone massage for a variety of health conditions: 

  • Back pain and aches
  • Poor circulation
  • Osteoarthritis and arthritis pain
  • Stress, anxiety and tension
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

How Do the Hot Stones Feel?
The hot stones are never rough. They are always flat and smooth. The hot stones used on the back are about the size of a large egg or tuna can, only “sorta” flat.

The stones are heated in an electrical heating unit that either provides a temperature reading or has an adjustable thermostat control.

The massage therapist always holds the stones first before touching them to your body, which ensures that the temperature will not be too hot. Everyone, however, has their own comfort range. Be sure to speak up if the stones are too hot for you.

Cool marble stones are occasionally used during a treatment, particularly if there is inflammation in the area being worked on. 

What Can I Expect During my Hot Stone Massage?
The massage therapist often begins by applying oil to the body, which allows the hot stones to glide smoothly along the body surface. You are lying face down, and the massage therapist often then uses the hot stones to massage the back. 

Remember: Hot Stones transfer heat to the muscle tissue. After the hot stones have relaxed the muscles, the massage therapist may put down the stones and use his or her hands to directly massage the skin and tissue at the treatment site.

The hot stones may then be placed back on to the body and left for a short period of time.

You are then asked to turn over onto your back. The massage therapist may place small hot stones between your toes or in the palm of your hand and repeats the sequence.

A typical hot stone massage is between 60 and 90 minutes long and ranges between $50 and $200 (in 2010 United States dollars)

4) Hot Towel PreMassage Treatment
Typically, this “towel treatment” works on a similar principle as the “hot rock” technique. It is really intended to “prepare” the client with a “warm” relaxing exercise in creating comfort and relaxation before the actual massage. 

The Hot Towel Treatment differs from the Hot Rock procedure in that damp or moist wash cloths, hand towels and larger bath towels are first dampened with plain water, keeping the moisture as evenly distributed as possible throughout the whole towel.

Place a group of towels into a microwave oven. Keeping in mind that microwave ovens “heat” things by causing the water droplets (water molecules) to vibrate vigorously causing friction which causes heat… hence, the object becomes HOT!

Obviously, a great deal of caution must be exercised to prevent the client from any discomfort or injury that might result from applying a “too damn hot” damp towel against sensitive body tissue. The therapist should always fully open a heated towel to determine if the “center” is too hot to apply to the client’s bare skin.

The therapist will generally place hot towels across the shoulders and back, butt, legs and with a smaller towel the feet are wrapped while the client is lying face down. A separate small towel may be aligned across the back of the neck and tucked in along the sides.

By the time all the “back-side” Hot Towels are in place, the first one that was placed may have cooled enough to remove. Be sure to inform your client just before you remove the towels as the sudden coolness of the surrounding air may cause the client to chill. 

The use of a common electric hair-dryer often will take care of “damp” things that need drying out or heating up to feel comfortable with. 

This Hot Towel technique is continued over the entire body. When the client is facing up, gentle care is taken when draping hot towels across breasts, genitalia and about the face or other sensitive areas. Typically, while the client is “face-up”, the hands and arms, and the feet and legs are “again” hot towel treated. Usually, the therapist will use a “larger” towel to fully wrap the arms, feet, hands and legs.

Removing the now cooled “hot” towels exposes the client to open air and may have a sudden chilling effect. Be sure to tell the Therapist if the air is too cool or you are uncomfortable. Appropriate adjustments will be made. Again, a common hair-dryer will do wonders to quickly regain comfort.

The benefit of the Hot Towel over the Hot Rocks is that the towels cover the entire body, where the “hot-rocks” are placed at specific spots. Hot Towels can be tucked in and around legs, fingers, underarms, toes, neck, facial areas, under the chin, where a hot rock cannot normally reach and provides a much broader coverage of body tissues.

5) What is Deep Tissue Massage?
Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It is especially helpful for chronically tense and contracted areas such as stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders. 

Some of the same strokes are used as in classic Swedish massage therapy, but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain. It is common for the therapist to use his or her elbow and similar techniques to accomplish the manipulation of the targeted muscle tissues. 

How Does Deep Tissue Massage Work?
When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, there are usually adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue sometimes described as scar-tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Adhesions can block circulation, cause pain, limit movement, and tissue inflammation. 

Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, the massage therapist often uses direct deep pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles. It is not uncommon to find the need for a mechanical/electric vibrator to actually manipulate the source of the problem. 

Will Deep Tissue Massage Hurt?
At certain points during the massage, most people find there is usually some discomfort and pain associated with targeting specific points that need the massage. 

It is important to tell the massage therapist when things hurt and if any soreness or pain you experience is outside your comfort zone. 

There is usually some stiffness or pain after a deep tissue massage, but it should subside within a day or so. The massage therapist may recommend applying ice to the area after the massage. A small frozen package of peas, corn or similar small dimension frozen objects are ideal as a cold compress in lieu of trying to apply chunks of ice wrapped in a small towel. 

Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage
Unlike classic massage therapy, which is used for relaxation, deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as: 

  • Chronic pain
  • Limited mobility
  • Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls, sports injury)
  • Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Postural problems
  • Osteoarthritis pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle tension or spasm 

According to the August 2005 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescription medications, chiropractic, acupuncture, diet, glucosamine and over-the-counter drugs and other less descriptive unregulated remedies. 

Deep tissue massage also received a top ranking for fibromyalgia pain. People often notice improved range of motion immediately after a deep tissue massage. 

What Can I Expect During My Visit?
Massage therapists may use fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during the deep tissue massage procedures. 

You may be asked to breathe deeply as the massage therapist works on certain tense areas. It is important to drink plenty of water as you can after the massage to flush metabolic waste from the tissues. 

6) Shiatsu [she-aht-sue]
Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork that uses localized finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians. The word shiatsu means “finger pressure”, and shiatsu is sometimes described as a finger pressure massage.

Each finger pressure point is held two to eight seconds to improve the flow of energy and help the body regain balance. 

People are usually pleasantly surprised when they try shiatsu for the first time. It is relaxing yet the pressure is firm, and there is usually no soreness afterwards. 

How does shiatsu work?
Like acupuncture, shiatsu is based on the holistic system of traditional Chinese medicine, where illness is thought to result from imbalances in the natural flow of energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”) through the body.

Shiatsu therapists use finger and palm pressure to energetic pathways, called meridians to improve the flow of qi.

A scientific explanation is that shiatsu calms an overactive sympathetic nervous system, which will improve circulation, relieves stiff muscles, and alleviates stress.

What does shiatsu feel like?
The shiatsu therapist applies pressure using his or her fingers, thumbs, and/or palms in a continuous rhythmic sequence.

The pressure feels more localized, because unlike other types of massage, the finger pads are used to apply pressure for most of the treatment instead of the entire palm.

Certain pressure points may feel tender, which some people describe it as “good pain.”

If you feel any discomfort or pain during the treatment, tell your therapist and he or she will adjust the pressure so that it is comfortable to you.

Most people say shiatsu is as relaxing as a classic form of Swedish massage therapy.

What should I expect during my visit?

 

The treatment is done on a low massage table or on the floor. Unlike other forms of massage, with shiatsu no massage oil is applied, so you can remain fully clothed during the treatment. You may be asked to bring comfortable clothing to wear; like sweats or scrubs.

 

 What conditions is shiatsu used for?

  • Relaxation
  • Back pain
  • Headache
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Tiredness
  • Recovery from injuries
  • Stress
  • Arthritis pain
  • Poor digestion
  • Constipation
  • Depression

7) Thai Massage

 

Like shiatsu, Thai [pronounced "TIE"] massage aligns the energies of the body using gentle pressure on specific points. Thai massage also includes compressions and stretches.

You don’t just lie there–the therapist moves and stretches you into a sequence of postures. It’s like yoga but with someone else helping with the movements. Thai massage is more energizing than other forms of massage. It also reduces stress and improves flexibility and range of motion. 

What is Thai massage?
Thai massage is believed to have been developed by Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, physician to Buddha, more than 2,500 years ago in India.

It made its way to Thailand, where the Ayurvedic techniques and principles gradually became influenced by traditional Chinese medicine. For centuries, Thai massage was performed by monks as one component of Thai medicine.

What does Thai massage feel like?

Thai massage is more energizing and rigorous than more classic forms of massage.

Thai massage is also called Thai yoga massage, because the therapist uses his or her hands, knees, legs, and feet to move you into a series of yoga-like stretches. Many people say Thai massage is like doing yoga without any work. Muscle compression, joint mobilization, and accupressure are also used during treatment. People describe Thai massage as both relaxing and energizing.

What should I expect during my visit?
Thai massage is usually done on a padded mat on the floor.

No oil is applied, so you are fully dressed. You are usually asked to bring or wear comfortable clothing to the massage.

A typical Thai massage is 60 minutes to two hours long.

What conditions is Thai massage used for?
Many people find that Thai massage has the following benefits:

  • relaxes
  • reduces stress
  • improves circulation
  • increases energy
  • increases flexibility
  • improves range of motion
  • centers the mind and body

8) Pregnancy Massage

 

Also called prenatal massage, pregnancy massage is becoming increasingly popular with expectant mothers. Massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage know the proper way to position and support the woman’s body during the massage, and how to modify techniques.

Pregnancy massage is used to reduce stress, decrease swelling, relieve aches and pains, and reduce anxiety and depression. The massage is customized to a woman’s individual needs.

What is pregnancy massage?
Pregnancy massage is massage therapy specifically tailored for the expectant mother’s needs. It is also called pre-natal massage.

How is pregnancy massage different from regular massage?
The mother’s body must be properly positioned and supported during the massage, using pillows and padding. Proper positioning ensures comfort and safety for the mother and baby.

Also, some massage techniques, such as deep tissue work, cannot be used. Certain areas of the body should be avoided during pregnancy.

What are the benefits of pregnancy massage?
Pregnancy massage has been found to reduce stress, decrease swelling in the arms and legs, and relieve aches and pains in muscles and joints.

It’s a popular complementary therapy during pregnancy for back pain, when choices for pain relief, such as medication, are often limited.

Not only can massage be physically beneficial, but the human touch can be comforting and provide emotional support during pregnancy and has been instrumental in reducing or eliminating anxiety and depression.

Who do I go to for pregnancy massage?

Look for a massage therapist who is certified in pregnancy massage. A good source of “who is pregnancy massage certified” is to inquire with your doctor and or nursing staff associated directly with pregnant patients.

That means that the therapist has had specialized training in pregnancy massage, and knows what is safe for the mother and baby.

Precautions:
Many massage therapists do not recommend massage in the first trimester.
Also, women with certain health conditions may not be able to have pregnancy massage.
It’s best to consult your doctor and a certified pregnancy massage therapist. 

9) Reflexology – what is it?
Reflexology is a form of bodywork that focuses primarily on the feet.

How does it work?
The underlying theory behind reflexology is that there are “reflex” areas [certain spots] on the feet and hands that correspond to specific organs, glands, and other parts of the body. 

For example: 

  • the tips of the toes reflect the head
  • the heart and chest are around the ball of the foot
  • the liver, pancreas and kidney are in the arch of the foot
  • low back and intestines are towards the heel 

The original developer believed that certain areas on the feet and hands were linked to other areas and organs of the body. This concept was furthered by physiotherapist Eunice Ingham into the modern practice of reflexology. 

Practitioners believe that applying pressure to these reflex areas can promote health in the corresponding organs through energetic pathways. 

Dr. William H. Fitzgerald, an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT), introduced this concept of “zone therapy” in 1915. American physiotherapist Eunice Ingram further developed this zone theory in the 1930′s into what is now known as reflexology. 

A scientific explanation is that the pressure may send signals that balance the nervous system or release chemicals such as endorphins that reduce pain and stress. 

What will I feel?
Most people find reflexology for the most part to be very relaxing. 

Reflexology should not be painful. If you feel discomfort, be sure to tell the therapist. He or she should work within your comfort zone.

Some areas may be tender or sore, and the reflexologist may spend extra time on these points. The soreness should decrease with pressure. 

If you’re ticklish, not to worry. The reflexologist applies firm pressure to the feet. 

Why do people get reflexology? 

  • Stress and stress-related conditions
  • Tension headaches
  • Digestive disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Insomnia
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Sports injuries
  • Menstrual disorders, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Digestive problems, such as constipation
  • Back pain 

Reflexology is a popular alternative therapy. It promotes relaxation, improves circulation, reduces pain, soothes tired feet, and encourages overall healing. 

Reflexology is also used for post-operative or palliative care. A study in the American Cancer Society journal found that one-third of cancer patients used reflexology as a complementary therapy. Reflexology is ONLY recommended as a complementary therapy and should not replace medical treatment; especially in cancer patients. 

What is a typical reflexology treatment like?
A typical treatment is 45 to 60 minutes long and begins with a consultation about your health and lifestyle. 

You are then asked to remove your shoes and socks and sit comfortably in a reclining chair or on a massage table. Otherwise you remain fully clothed. 

The reflexologist will assess the feet and then stimulates various points to identify areas of tenderness or tension. 

The reflexologist then uses brisk movements to warm the feet up. Then pressure is applied from the toes to the heel according to your comfort. Lotion or oil may be used. 

How will I feel after?
Most people feel calm and relaxed after a treatment. They may even feel sleepy.

Occasionally, people feel nauseous, anxious, or tearful, but this is only temporary and is considered to be part of the healing process.

Precautions
If you’re pregnant, talk with your doctor first and let the reflexologist know.

Be sure to give the reflexologist a complete and accurate health history. If you have foot ulcers, injury, or blood vessel disease such as blood clots, consult your doctor before having reflexology. 

Although reflexology is sometimes called foot massage, it is more than simple foot massage. Reflexology involves applying pressure to certain points on the foot that correspond to organs and systems in the body. Reflexology is very relaxing, especially for people who stand on their feet all day or just have tired, achy feet.  

10) Sports Massage

Sports massage is specifically designed for people who are involved in physical activity. But you don’t have to be a professional athlete to have one. It is also used by people who are active and work out often. The focus isn’t on relaxation but on preventing and treating injury and enhancing athletic performance. 

A combination of techniques are used. The strokes are generally faster than Swedish massage. Facilitated stretching is a common technique. It helps to loosen muscles and increase flexibility.

One of the more popular locations to find a “Sports” oriented Massage Therapy facility will be the “ski-slopes”. Of course, sports massage services can be found just about anywhere. At the resorts, you’ll usually find Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), Paramedics and other medically oriented staff to render aide during a variety of emergencies. Often, these technicians are also Massage Therapists — but are prone to provide ”deep tissue” massage techniques. It would be wise to inquire about the type of massage the tech can provide before booking a massage session without knowing what kind of therapy will be employed. 

11) A Back Massage
Some massage clinics and spas offer 30-minute back massages. If a back massage is not expressly advertised, you can also book a 30- or 40-minute massage and ask the massage therapist to focus on your back. 

Question: My husband and some of my friends are postal carriers and they are always saying that their backs, shoulders, and necks hurt. What type of massage should they get?    -Deana

Answer: There are several types of massage they may be interested in. The most common type of massage in the United States is Swedish massage. It’s also known simply as “massage therapy”.

Massage therapists apply oil or lotion on the skin and mainly use long smooth strokes. People who have never had massage before usually start with the Swedish massage.

They might also be interested in deep tissue massage. Deep tissue massage is used for chronic tight or painful muscles, postural problems, and repetitive strain. This type of massage targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.

There is often some level of physical discomfort during the massage, as the massage therapist works on the deeper muscle layers. People usually feel sore for one to two days after the massage.

Another option is shiatsu, a form of Japanese bodywork. Clothing is usually worn during the shiatsu treatment, so it is a good treatment if someone prefers to remain fully clothed.

The therapist applies localized finger pressure to points on the body. Because the pressure is so localized, the pressure of shiatsu feels deep.

-Deana, your husband and friends may have partial insurance coverage for massage and should find out about that, because their coverage may limit the types of massage they can choose from. Patients should always consult with their own primary care physician who may refer you to a specialist. The specialist may in turn, refer you to a Massage Therapist who generally are not approved. Therefore, going through your PCP and a referral may just get the insurance company to pony up the bucks to pay for the treatment or at least part of it. You should first do some homework to learn how to proceed in order to get your insurance company to pay the bill.

The photo on the right shows a typical position for the hand held Oster massager. This device has been around since the very late 1930s and has change very little over the years. The most popularity seems to have been created by barbers and hair dressers as a tool to massage the scalps of their clients — which was not the only body part to be massaged.

Although it’s no substitute for the human touch, an electromechanical massage cushion may be worth considering. Some of them cost $100 or less. Massage cushions (with internal electrically driven mechanical contraptions that simulate kneading fingers or knuckles) can fit on many chairs or can be placed on a sofa. Stores like Target, Sharper Image, Bed Bath and Beyond, WalMart and Staples usually have floor models for people to try. Compare features, because some massage cushions can give localized massages to particularly tense areas on the back.

Carrying a heavy weight every day, lifting while bending, and carrying weight asymmetrically can increase the risk of disc herniation and joint problems.

That’s why, in addition to massage, they may want to consult a doctor of chiropractics. Chiropractic may help to prevent damage and injury to joints, and there is evidence that it’s as effective as conventional therapy at relieving some types of back pain. People are also usually taught self-care strategies. Many chiropractic clinics offer massage therapy, so the two could even be combined.

Yoga might also help relieve muscle tension and improve strength and flexibility. It’s something you could do together with a partner. Yoga classes cost about $10-$15 per class at yoga studios, and sometimes less at gyms and community centers.

Anyone experiencing any of the following symptoms should contact their doctor immediately and before starting any alternative therapy:

  • Persistent back pain
  • Back pain that awakens you in the night
  • Changes in bowel or bladder function
  • Numbness, weakness, or pain around the genitals, arms, or legs
  • Fever, chills, sweats
  • Any other unusual or new symptoms

 
These are just 11 of the more popular types of massage. There are many more. A typical Internet search on just “massage therapy types” will provide you with 100s of websites that contain Massage techniques.

For a general description of numerous popular massage “styles” or “types” used throughout the world, CLICK HERE to review our Massage FAQs 1.
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About Bill Ford, Founder

Born in the late 30s - you do the math. Lots of life experiences in numerous endevors but not an expert in any that I know of. I'm a fan of challenging projects. When I'm told it can't be done I go ahead and do it anyway. This web site is one of 'em. How long will this web site last? Hard to say. Depends on how long I live. Film at Eleven. --bf
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9 Responses to Massage Therapy FAQs 2

  1. Greg says:

    Hi there Joshua Tree Star

    While lurking around your site I stumbled onto your “MASSAGE” story, actually two stories. Both Massage FAQs-1 and FAQs-2 are kinda long winded and could be reduced considerably.

    There is a lot of good information available on the Internet about massage technicians and the kinds of massage types. Your story is missing several different types that should be included.

    Overall Mr. Ford, you present a very useful story on a subject I didn’t expect to see on your otherwise very neutrual web site blog. Keep up the good work.

    GB1966

    • PamelaQ says:

      If you charge by the hour around 100 bucks how long does the HOT TOWEL thing last? How long would the Swedish massage take after the hot towel? Thanks, PamelaQ

      • Hi PamelaQ:
        You write: “…If you charge by the hour….”
        “I” personally am not “charging anything” since I am not a Certified Massage Therapist. However, based on very reliable information sources, the HOT TOWEL procedure would take from 60 to 90 minutes to complete and is really a technique or procedure that prepares the client for his/her actual massage. The actual massage, following a Hot Towel Treatment, will most likely take 30 – 45 minutes. Much of the “time” involved in this hot towel treatment is getting the hot towels onto the client as quickly as possible, then removed quickly as soon as the towel starts to cool. Some of the limbs (fingers, hands, arms, legs, feet) that are wrapped with a hot towel may take a bit more time to apply and to “unwind” while removing a cooled towel.

        Considering each Massage Therapy session is unique to each client and that each client is unique, each massage therapy session may take a little longer than a simple “back-rub” or “feel-good” massage therapy session when incorporating the Hot Towel treatment.

        Overall, I’d “guess” the average amount of time for the Hot Towel & Basic Swedish massage would be roughly 90-minutes+. Of course, this time period is subject to unpredictable change due to the experience levels of both massage therapist and client alike.

        BF

    • Hello Greg
      Lurking around this web site might get you more information than you expected!

      Thanks for your comments. While my “stories” did not include ALL types/styles of massage therapy given that there are an infinite variety of “modifications” to any specific style is dependent entirely on the Massage Therapist giving the service and the receiver, the client.

      As to how much text is in my explanations. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (1888-1993) was a minister and author and a progenitor of the theory of “positive thinking” who declared: “…say more, more adequately, with fewer words.” Well, that may not work where the writer uses 16- to 35-letter words to reduce the “word count” of something that is being read, or studied by persons in other countries who’s native language is NOT English.

      I try to write in an 8th to 10th grade English level to ensure that the missive can be easily translated into the reader’s native language with the least effort and fewest errors. Writing at this school level, requires the writer to use “MORE” words to convey the full meaning of the “shorter version” that might require the reader to have a Masters Degree in the English language.

      As to “missing massage types”. I already mentioned that the Internet reeks of hundreds of “massage” type web sites. Each has its own flavor of writing/reading and the majority of the web sites seem to say the same things in general, but they do vary considerably in descriptions. So, there are “massage types” that may well be described differently from another and are not included in my web description — however, I have absorbed most of the “other web sites” offerings of massage type descriptions and have incorporated some of the versions into my own dialogue.

      Your comment is most welcome — I invite you to send URLs to (via email) any information resources you might have that I had not considered. Thanks

      – BF

  2. Dog With Arthritis says:

    Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog soon but I’m having a tough time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for
    something completely unique. P.S Apologies for being
    off-topic but I had to ask!

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    • Thanks for your “comment”, but which directly has nothing to do with Massage Therapy, and, is in fact, a “comment” laced with your URL directing our visitors to your web site. I actually consider your “comment” advertisement without my consent. Therefore, I have deleted your website address.

      BF

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