There are dozens of massage therapy types and techniques. Knowing what they are and what they do is sometimes confusing. It is hard to ask for a particular type of massage if you do not know what it is called or even what it will do for you. Here we will try to break the mystery into an understandable list of some commonly practiced massage types and what they do.
The belief behind Shiatsu and acupressure is that the body becomes out of balance due to blocked energy along special points called ‘meridians’, which are located along invisible channels of energy flow throughout the body.
Shiatsu is a Japanese word: “shi” meaning finger, and “atsu” meaning pressure. Shiatsu is a form of Japanese massage based on acupressure. Shiatsu uses rhythmic pressure from 3 to 10 seconds on specific points along the body’s meridians by using the fingers, hands, elbows, and knees to unblock and stimulate the flow of energy. Oriental-based systems of finger pressure massage, such as acupressure and Shiatsu that treat points along the acupressure meridians, aiming to release discomfort and rebalance energy.
Sports massage is geared toward athletes of every kind, from world-class professionals to weekend joggers. It is a special form of massage and is typically used before, during, and after athletic events. Sports massage can help prevent those niggling injuries that so often get in the way of performance and achievement, whether a person is an athlete or a once a week jogger.
It is designed to address those specific concerns and may differ according to the sport the athlete plays. Sports massage can be aimed to help heal strained muscles and allow healthy ones to reach peak performance and maintain it while minimizing the risk of injury.
Sports massage can also include pre-event, post-event and maintenance techniques that promote greater athletic endurance and performance, lessen chances of injury and reduce recovery time. In addition to feeling good, sports massage reduces the heart rate and blood pressure, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, reduces muscle tension, improves flexibility and relieves pain.
Acupressure has been practiced for over 5000 years. It is a form of bodywork based in traditional Chinese meridian theory in which acupuncture points are pressed to stimulate the flow of energy or chi. The technique is based on the same ideas as acupuncture. In acupressure, physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points by the hand, elbow or with various devices.
The therapist applies pressure to small contraction knots, relieving pressure. Acupressure stimulates these points to remove blockages, to increase the energy flow and to promote health and harmony in the body. Shiatsu is the most widely known form of acupressure and Zhi Ya is a form of Chinese massage based on acupressure.
Reflexology is an acupressure type technique performed on the hands and feet. It is a form of bodywork based on the theory of zone therapy, in which specific spots of the body are pressed to stimulate corresponding areas in other parts of the body. Reflexology is a scientific foot massage based on the principal that the feet are a “mini-map” of the body, and that every body part and organ corresponds to an area of the foot.
Designed to help bring the body back into balance reflexology uses pinpoint pressure and gentle strokes to the feet. Reflexology eliminates tension, improves circulation and stimulates the body’s natural healing process. A reflexology session is meant to break-up stress patterns within the body and provide an overall relaxing experience.