There are various types of massages, and some spas have a long list of treatments on their menus. Making it confusing at times. Here is a guide to 25 types of body massages to help you find the massage you want.
A popular massage and a staple item on many spa menus, Aromatherapy uses massage oil scented by essential oil(s) to relax body and mind. The spa visitor chooses her scent before the massage, with its accompanying relaxation and enhancing benefits.
What to expect: This massage uses the same basic technique as the Swedish massage. By combining long and relaxing strokes with the soothing scents of aromatherapy to ease stress off the spa visitor.
For: relaxation, stress-relief, soothe, calm
Swedish massage commonly referred to as classical massage and the most common type of technique in the West.
What to expect: The therapist uses a combination of movements, namely long strokes, kneading, circular movements and chopping motions, to manipulate the top layers of the muscles. The massage promotes relaxation by releasing muscle tension.
For: relaxation, calming your nervous system, relaxation, tension relief
Deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage, but with more pressure.
What to expect: While Swedish massage work on the upper layers of muscles, Deep Tissue massage work slowly into the deeper layers with special techniques. The therapist employs fingers, fist and sometimes elbows to go deep into muscles, tendons and connective tissues.
For: sports injuries, relieve of ache and pain in muscles and connective tissues, increase blood circulation.
As the name implies, sports massage caters to athletes and for specific areas of concern.
What to expect: A combination of movements which includes kneading, short strokes, friction movements and rapid movements to go deep into the muscles to relax them. The technique requires a specialized therapist.
For: Sports injuries, targeted areas, pain relief
Hot Stones Massage
Hot Stones Massage uses heated stones on the body to relax you.
What to expect: Heated stones are placed on certain points for heat treatment to penetrate deep into your muscles. They are then used as tools for massage.
For: relaxation, relieve tension, soothe muscles, increases blood circulation
Thai Yoga Massage combines acupressure, Indian Ayurvedic principals and yoga positions for the treatment.
What to expect: Movements such as kneading, pressing and stretching on muscles. The therapist will position herself to pull or push, stretch and twist to get the client in varies positions to relieve stress and tension.
For: stress relief, relaxation, improves blood circulation, promotes flexibility, improves posture, help boost energy.
Thai Herbal Compress
Thai Herbal Compress Massage uses heat and the benefits of herbs on the skin to relax the spa visitor.
What to expect: Massage with styles similar to the Thai Yoga Massage followed by the application of herbal compress on the body. The herbal compresses, contains aromatic herbs and spices, are heated up to roll and pad on the skin.
For: stress relief, reduces muscle tension, improves circulation
Balinese massage incorporates different styles of movement with aromatic oils to relax the client.
What to expect: Movements such as kneading, stroking, skin rolling and stretching in various degrees of pressure. This technique includes reflexology, and some may include the application of stones.
For: relaxation, calming to body and mind
Javanese Massage aims to remove “winds” from the system and can be a vigorous massage. It goes deep into the tissue to unlock tension with the help of scented oils.
What to expect: Includes thumb pressure, stroking palms, kneading, knuckling
For: energizing, revitalizing, relieves tension in muscles
As the name implies, this massage technique uses bamboo cane stalks to roll onto the skin. Different sized bamboo stalks for different parts of the body and for different effect.
What to expect: By applying pressure on bamboo stalks, the pressure exerted by the therapist is magnified. Rolling and kneading in varied directions. Longer and thicker stalks are used in general and on larger surface areas, while smaller and thinner stalks are used more for control. Bamboo stalks may be heated prior to application.
For: relaxation, relieve of tension
The aim of the massage is to expel ‘angin’ (wind) from the body and enhance the flow of the body system.
What to expect: Kneading, long rhythmic strokes, palm pressure, knuckle pushing thumb rolling and thumb weaving, ringing movements.
For: relaxation, pain reduction, helps blood circulation, stimulate nerves
Borneo Massage here is a blanket term covering the many traditions and practices of indigenous Borneo tribes with their age-old remedies. The techniques developed from relieving muscle pains for workers who spend long hours in the fields or those who trek up and down the mountains.
What to expect: Techniques vary with practitioners
For: Generally to relieve tired muscles, release tension, revitalizing
Traditional Chinese – Tui Na (推拿)
Tui Na is a Chinese medical treatment based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. One of its belief is that the blockage of chi (energy) leads to pains and illnesses. Tui Na aims to ease the flow of chi to restore balance and harmony. The technique requires a specialized therapist.
What to expect: Pressing, kneading and rolling the areas along the meridians lines and stimulating the acupuncture points.
For: rehabilitation, sports injuries, therapeutic, energizes the body
Traditional Chinese – Zhi Ya (指壓)
Zhi Ya, based on principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, focuses on pinching and pressing at acupressure points to relieve stress and tension.
What to expect: Pressure from hands and thumbs, and flicker movements on acupressure points. Press and friction pressure to stimulate the acupressure points to enhance the flow of chi to improve the wellbeing of the client. The technique requires a specialized therapist.
For: energy flow, relieve stress and tension, said to improve the elasticity of the skin, blood circulation, relax muscles, calm, helps sleep
An ancient technique, the Chinese massage Anmo (按摩), focuses on meridians and acupressure points to circulate and rebalance the energies of the body.
What to expect: Push, lift, press, roll, rock and kneading
For: energizing, revitalizing, promotes blood circulation, relaxes muscle tension
The Japanese Shiatsu massage uses finger pressure for the treatment, targeting acupressure points to enhance the flow of energy (chi).
What to expect: Finger touch with different pressure on certain specific points of the body. Combined with palms and thumbs movements to enhance the flow of the “meridians” (pathways where the “chi” flows).
For: aim to help relieve blockages at these acupressure points
A combination of Shiatsu and hydrotherapy, Watsu use water movement and pressure to gently relax and realign body and mind.
What to expect: Both client and therapist in a warm pool. The therapist supports the client and glides her, cradles and gently stretches her while both partially submerged in water.
For: relaxation, Gentle therapy, aim to encourage energy flow, calm, soothing, release tension and stress, encourages joint movements
A Japanese massage based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, particularly the Anmo massage, designed to balance a person’s energy. The massage does not utilize any massage oils.
What to expect: Varied movements that include stroking, kneading, compression, vibration, squeezing, hand rolling and stretching. This is achieved with fingers, thumbs, knees, elbows, and feet to provide acupressure along the fourteen key meridians.
For: the release of tension
A massage technique developed in 1930s, aiming to detoxify or cleanse the body from toxic waste by focussing on the lymphatic system. The technique requires a specialized therapist.
What to expect: gentle strokes to facilitate the lymphatic system. Strokes move in the direction of the lymph nodes.
For: therapeutic, aim to reduce swelling and enhances lymphatic system circulation
Ayurvedic massage, base on the principles of Ayurveda, to provide holistic wellbeing of the client.
What to expect: use of oils and focus on specific points on the body. Manipulate energy fiends by utilizing warm oils
For: stress relief, emotional wellbeing, calm
Singing bowl Massage
The Tibetan singing bowls are used for meditation. As for the singing bowl therapy, it utilizes the sound vibration from brass bowls to relax body and mind.
What to expect: bowls are placed on the client then struck. The vibrations are believed to release blockages in the body and release energy for regeneration in the body.
For: relaxation, calmness, sense of peace, aid sleep, rejuvenation, balance chakras, meditation
Hilot massage is a traditional massage technique from the Philippines for healing.
What to expect: long and varied strokes with the aim of pushing the pain away from the body, joint manipulations.
For: relax muscles, therapeutic, pain management
Trigger points are believed to be areas within the muscle tissues that cause localized pain. The aim of this technique is to put pressure on the trigger points to relieve stress.
What to expect: rubbing and pressing on trigger points, dry kneading and pressure.
For: pain relief, target areas
A traditional holistic healing tradition from Polynesia, Lomilomi is a cleansing and healing ritual of body and mind. For the Lomilomi in the spa setting, the basic principles of the technique are incorporated with other styles.
What to expect: Rubbing, pressing, squeezing and massaging
For: relaxation, calm
Four Hands Massage
A Four Hands Massage is pampering the senses with four hands working in unison to relax you.
What to expect: Technique varies. With four hands working on the client’s body, it is difficult for the mind to keep track and encourages the mind to let go.
For: relaxation, clam
Note that massages, especially those that go deep into the layers of tissues and muscles, requires skilled practitioners.