What type of massage do I need?
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
Today’s topic answers “what type of massage do I need?”. This is for those who are new and curious about the purpose and effects of massage therapy.
To celebrate my third year anniversary with Strength Pilates & Physiotherapy, I’m kicking off a series of posts that will break down the frequently asked questions over my time as a massage therapist.
For some background, I graduated from The Australasian College of Natural Therapies (ACNT) in 2010 with a Diploma of Remedial Massage and a Certificate IV of Aromatherapy. Since then I’ve treated a wide array of people alongside Osteopaths, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, and fellow Massage Therapists.
What type of massages exist?
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount and varied types of massages available. The most common offered are relaxation, swedish, remedial, deep tissue, and sport massages. But which one to choose? This should all depend on the state of your body and mind. To help narrow your decision, it’s useful to group the types of massages into two main categories: relaxing, and remedial.
Relaxing massages include swedish massage where they are light to medium in pressure and general in nature. You’ll often find this service offered in spas and dedicated massage shops where the aim is to feel pampered by massaging the whole body.
Deep tissue and sport massages fall under the remedial massage category as they all share a specific purpose of alleviating acute or chronic symptoms of pain. They are characterised by the use of medium to firm pressure and treatment is often specific to certain areas of the body. This type of massage can be found offered in allied health clinics, gyms, as well as dedicated massage shops.
What happens in your body during a massage?
Massage is a great tool to activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS) in our body. Unlike the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) which is characterised by its “fight or flight” nature, the PNS is responsible for the “rest and digest” activities. When there is a boost in PSNS activity, you’ll find yourself calm, relaxed and quite likely hungry because your heart rate and blood pressure lowers while there is an increase in gut activity.
In addition to the increase of PSNS activity, the mechanical nature of massage promotes soft tissue health by improving blood and lymphatic flow. Blood and lymphatic flow facilitate recovery by clearing the biochemical markers of muscle damage which play a huge role in pain and soreness
Does the massage need to be firm for it to be good?
Everyone has their preferred massage pressure so this question needs to be rephrased to “does the massage need to be firm for it to be effective?” and the answer is no!
You don’t need to feel like your skin and bones are about to be ripped off. The body’s touch sensory receptors are located within the skin and it has been found that medium pressure is enough to elicit the increase in PSNS activity.
So, what do I need?
Ask yourself how you are feeling. If you are generally stressed by things on your mind or your heart, a relaxation massage may be best for you as it can help calm your nerves and improve your mood. If however, you notice some areas in your body which are feeling sore, numb, or just aren’t moving or sitting they way you think it should, a remedial massage will be more suitable to tend to your needs.
So if you're looking to sort out some of your aches and pains, make a booking with our massage therapist today!
Strength and Pilates Physiotherapy - Surry hills physio, pilates and massage studio