Did you know that there are over 200 different types of massages each treating different needs and providing various benefits?! From classics like Thai and Swedish to more exotic styles like Shiatsu and Hot Stone, the list goes on and in fact only get longer!
With some many options available, we know picking out the best one for your needs is a challenge. So, to help you out, we’ve gathered the 25 most popular types of massage along with their respective benefits.
So, whether you’d like to try something new or treat your body with what it needs, we’ve got you covered!
- 1. Aromatherapy Massage
- 2. Swedish Massage
- 3. Deep Tissue Massage
- 4. Sports Massage
- 5. Hot Stones Massage
- 6. Thai Massage
- 7. Thai Herbal Compress Massage
- 8. Balinese Massage
- 9. Javanese Massage
- 10. Bamboo Massage
- 11. Malay Style Massage
- 12. Borneo Style Massage
- 13. Traditional Chinese – Tui Na (推拿)
- 14. Traditional Chinese – Zhi Ya (指壓)
- 15. Anmo (按摩)
- 16. Shiatsu Massage
- 17. Watsu Massage
- 18. Anma Massage
- 19. Lymphatic Drainage
- 20. Ayurvedic Massage
- 21. Singing Bowl Massage
- 22. Hilot Massage
- 23. Trigger Point Massage
- 24. LomiLomi Massage
- 25. Four Hands Massage
1. Aromatherapy Massage
A popular massage and a staple item on many spa menus, Aromatherapy uses massage oil scented by essential oils to help you relax your body and mind. Most spas let you choose your favourite scent before the massage. Of course 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.
Benefits: Deep relaxation, stress-relief and calms the senses.
2. Swedish Massage
Swedish massage commonly referred to as classical massage and the most common type of technique in the West. It involves soft, long, kneading strokes, as well as light, rhythmic, tapping strokes, on topmost layers of muscles.
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.
Benefits: Calms the nervous system, relaxation and tension relief.
3. Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage, but with more pressure. It involves applying sustained pressure using slow, deep strokes to target the inner layers of your muscles and connective tissues.
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.
Benefits: Recovery from sports injuries, relieve muscle ache and pain and increase blood circulation.
4. Sports Massage
As the name implies, sports massage caters to athletes and for specific areas of concern. It is a massage technique that’s mainly used to treat musculoskeletal issues among athletes.
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.
Benefits: Speedy recovery from sports injuries and pain relief.
5. Hot Stones Massage
Hot stones massage uses heated stones on the body to relax the muscle. The heats from the stones will loosen up tight muscles and reduces muscle aches. It will also help in releasing toxins, relieving pain and improving circulation.
What to expect: Heated stones are placed on certain points for heat treatment to penetrate deep into your muscles.
Benefits: Relieve tension, soothe muscles and increases blood circulation.
6. Thai Massage
Traditional Thai Massage combines acupressure, Indian Ayurvedic principals and yoga positions for the treatment. Unlike most massage, Thai massage doesn’t utilize massage oils and is performed with your tops on!
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.
Benefits: Stress relief, improves blood circulation, promotes flexibility, improves posture and help boost energy.
7. Thai Herbal Compress Massage
Thai Herbal Compress Massage uses heat and the benefits of herbs on the skin to hydrate and rejuvenates the skin. A mix of herbs is wrapped in a compressor and applied to the body by pressing, gliding or smearing in circular, linear and/or rolling movements.
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.
Benefits: Stress relief, reduces muscle tension and improves circulation.
8. Balinese Massage
Balinese massage incorporates different styles of movement with aromatic oils.
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.
Benefits: Deep relaxation, calms the body and mind.
9. Javanese Massage
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. It uses a variety of techniques including skin rolling, kneading and stroking, and pressure-point stimulation.
What to expect: Includes thumb pressure, stroking palms, kneading, knuckling. Your therapist will also use long, gentle strokes and kneading to relieve tension and improve circulation in the muscles closer to the surface of the skin. Sessions usually last about an hour.
Benefits: Energizing, revitalizing and relieves tension in muscles.
10. Bamboo Massage
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 a 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.
Benefits: Relieve muscle tension and balances the body.
11. Malay Style Massage
The principle of a Malay massage is angin (wind) and urat (veins). It is aimed at the nervous system and lymphatic vessels. Veins are kneaded using long strokes to expel wind, and oils are used both to facilitate the movement for the massage and for its predicated medicinal properties.
What to expect: Kneading, long rhythmic strokes, palm pressure, knuckle pushing thumb rolling and thumb weaving, ringing movements.
Benefits: Reduces muscles pain, helps blood circulation and stimulate nerves.
12. Borneo Style Massage
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.
Benefits: Generally to relieve tired muscles, release tension and revitalizing.
13. 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.
Benefits: Rehabilitation, sports injuries, therapeutic, energizes the body
14. 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. It is similar to Tui Na massage except it focuses more on pinching and pressing at acupressure points.
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.
Benefits: Relieve stress and tension, improves the elasticity of the skin and promote better sleep.
15. Anmo (按摩)
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, promotes blood circulation and relaxes muscle tension
16. Shiatsu Massage
The Japanese Shiatsu massage uses finger pressure for the treatment, targeting acupressure points to enhance the flow of energy (chi). Pressure applied to points on the body promotes energy flow throughout the body.
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).
Benefit: Aim to help relieve blockages at acupressure points.
17. Watsu Massage
A combination of Shiatsu and hydrotherapy, Watsu use water movement and pressure to gently relax and realign body and mind. In fact, it is believed to help heal build a sense of connection with others.
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.
Benefits: Encourage energy flow, release tension and stress and improve joint movements.
18. Anma Massage
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.
Benefit: Release of tension.
19. Lymphatic Drainage
A massage technique developed in the 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.
Benefits: Reduces swelling and enhances lymphatic system circulation.
20. Ayurvedic Massage
Ayurvedic massage, base on the principles of Ayurveda, an ancient healing method developed in India nearly 3,000 years ago. Its focuses on physical well being as well as emotional well being.
What to expect: Use of oils and focus on specific points on the body. Manipulate energy fiends by utilizing warm oils
Benefits: Stress relief, protects emotional wellbeing and calms the sense.
21. Singing Bowl Massage
The Indian and Tibetan people have practised sound healing and consciousness transformation with “singing bowls.” for centuries. They are a quintessential aid to meditation and can be found in temples, monasteries and meditation halls throughout the world.
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.
Benefits: Aid sleep, rejuvenation and balance the chakras.
22. Hilot Massage
Hilot massage is a traditional massage technique from the Philippines for healing. The word “Hilot” means healer in Filipino. Hilot resurged as a popular healing art converging scientific and natural laws. Long and varied strokes with the aim of pushing the pain away from the body, joint manipulations.
What to expect: Warm banana leaf strips laced with coconut oil are often run over the body to clear energy blockages, as banana leaves contain both medicinal and herbal elements and are a natural ionizer.
Benefits: Relax muscles, therapeutic and reduces muscle cramps.
23. Trigger Point Massage
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.
Benefit: Pain relief.
24. LomiLomi Massage
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
Benefits: Deep relaxation and calm the mind.
25. Four Hands Massage
A Four Hands Massage is pampering the senses with four hands working in unison to relax you. Two therapists work on one client, often using synchronized moves. A four-hands massage can be like experiencing two full-body massages at the same time.
What to expect: Four hands working on your body like it is a form of canvas onto which they choreograph slow, detailed moves of varying paces and pressures. encourages the mind to let go.
Benefits: Releases trapped gas and activate the senses.
Note that massages, especially those that go deep into the layers of tissues and muscles, requires skilled practitioners. Do not try it at home or go to an uncertified practitioner.