2018.02.23 - The healing touch. What massage types are there?
The healing touch
What massage types are there?
Most therapeutic spas have a massage section as well. Guests can choose from a wide range of massage treatments here. As a matter of fact, so many different types of massage are available that those who aren’t familiar with them might get confused when they have to decide which one to take.
The touch itself has a curative effect. Clinical research has proved that being touched regularly can reduce stress, prevent depression, strengthen the immune system, heal patients faster, make healthy people avoid illnesses and sleep better. It is a sad thing to live without being touched by others. Unfortunately the so-called civilised lifestyle that we follow today isolates people, very often not even young people get a touch from others and old people are definitely touched far too rarely. One shouldn’t be ashamed of the desire to satisfy this need for a touch – on the contrary, we should do everything we can to get the touch we need. A professional masseur can help us in this: they don’t simply give us the touch we need, but thanks to their expertise, they can start healing processes in our body and soul.
Massage has been used to heal people all over the world for thousands of years, and its roots are especially strong in the natural healing methods of the Far East, such as ayurvedic medicine in India, but there is also a traditional Japanese massage type called shiatsu, or we could name Thai massage and Balinese massage too. In Europe it was Swedish fencing master Pehr Henrik Ling (1776-1839) who systematised massage techniques and combined them with gymnastic exercises. He also studied the physiological effects of massage. In 1813 Ling established the Central Institute of Gymnastics and Massage and since then this form of massage has been called Swedish massage or classic massage. Various versions of this are used to treat locomotor diseases, neurological problems and several types of illnesses; today’s popular office massage also developed from Swedish massage.
Different massage types form a real labyrinth, it would be impossible to list all of them. We can categorise treatment types using a large number of aspects. One way to differentiate between massage types is whether the client is lying down or sitting. Another categorisation is whether the client keeps their clothes on or has to lie on the massage bed naked. It is also very important to specify the strength of the techniques, as some massage types basically regenerate the skin, while others stimulate lymph circulation or relax the muscles. There are reflexology massage types such as foot massage, which stimulates the reflex points on the human body to affect various organs or physiological processes positively. To a certain extent this is a diagnostic method as well and it isn’t necessarily pleasant. It also matters whether the masseur uses some kind of tool or not, e.g. lava stone, pebbles, brush, rolled-up towel, water jet, etc. Creams with herbal extracts and essential oils are massaged into the skin as part of many massage treatments, by this strengthening the positive effect of the treatment.
Oriental massage types have a peculiar characteristic: while most Western European masseurs implement a treatment programme, in the East masseurs try to tune in to the vibrations of the client and improvise accordingly – this difference is a bit similar to that between Eastern music and Western music.
How to choose?
Well, it isn’t easy to choose from so many types of massage, but one has to make a decision!
The most important question to answer is: What is the goal with the treatment? Stress release, skin regeneration, and general revitalisation, treating a sports injury or improving one’s body posture?
Once we have answered this question, we have an easier task ahead of us as our taste or personality traits can also play a role: How much time and money do we have for the treatment? How much do we believe in Eastern philosophies? Do we trust the methods of Western medicine the most? Are we embarrassed to be nude? Is it just a quick office massage that we need?
Last but not least, we have to think about whether a certain massage type is unrecommended for us! Usually it is forbidden to get a massage when one has a temperature, suffers from some kind of contagious disease, osteoporosis or haemophilia, when a woman has her period, when the person has high blood pressure, recovering from surgery, has an open wound or varicose veins. Besides these there are several other situations when it isn’t recommended to get a massage. The best is if we consult a doctor, but well-trained masseurs also know what kind of treatment should and shouldn’t be used with certain clients.