Massage Therapy Techniques

July 23, 2019 | Massage

Most of us know that we can benefit from massage therapy since it can have so many positive effects on the body. Are you confused by all the different options when it comes to massage therapy? We don’t blame you, sometimes massage therapy techniques seem quite similar! Being informed can go a long way in helping you select the type of massage that is best suited for your needs. 


Swedish Massage

Swedish Massage is one of the most well-known and commonly used techniques. It involves the application of downward pressure on the body which squeezes the tissues and fluids. The therapist will use a combination of kneading, flowing strokes, deep circular motions, tapping, and passive joint movement. The level of pressure ranges from gentle to medium. The overall effect on the body is relaxation and an increase in circulation. For people who are new to massage, this technique would be a great introduction to massage therapy.


Deep Tissue Massage

Many people also enjoy deep tissue massage which uses deeper pressure compared to a Swedish massage. However, the intent of deep tissue massage is quite different. It involves slow strokes and heavier finger pressure to work through the deepest layers of your muscles and connective tissues to break up scar tissue. This is a good option if you have chronic muscle tension. However, if you are overly sensitive to pressure it may be better to opt for a more gentle technique.

Myofascial Release Therapy

Myofascial Release Therapy feels quite different from traditional massage. No creams or oils are applied to the skin because the therapist will focus on specific connective tissue restrictions. Instead of the typical gliding motions, there will be prolonged, sustained pressure to elongate the tissues and promote blood flow to the area. Areas of connective tissue restriction can feel like a tender knot in the muscle and usually, it is brought on by muscle injury and stress. Conditions that can benefit from myofascial release therapy include jaw pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and migraines. 


Cupping Therapy

Most massage therapy techniques involve the application of downward (or positive) pressure on the body, whereas cupping therapy is the exact opposite. It is the application of mild suction (or negative) pressure on the body. Instead of a “push” on the body, cupping will “pull” and stretch the skin, muscles, and blood vessels. It increases circulation, draws fluid to the lymphatic system, does deep fascial release, stretches the muscles, and can calm the nervous system. Occasionally, cupping can leave behind marks on the body, but this depends on individual factors such as the skin’s sensitivity, the depth of the issue, metabolic disorders. There may be some discomfort and skin tenderness afterward that resolves fairly quickly. For some people, it yields faster and longer results compared to other massage therapy techniques. 


Prenatal Massage

For women experiencing body aches, stress, and muscle tension, a prenatal massage can be a safe and effective way to get relief. Compared to a Swedish massage, prenatal massage is more gentle with regards to pressure. There’s also a special focus on the low back, shoulders, and legs. We have special pregnancy pillows that have a cutout for the baby bump so you can have the massage lying face down without putting pressure on your belly. Click here to read about the numerous benefits of massage during pregnancy. Prenatal massage is not recommended for those with a high-risk pregnancy.


Relaxation Massage

A relaxation massage is best for those who are looking for stress relief. There is less emphasis on working out chronic muscle tension. The pressure is more gentle and the strokes are smooth and gliding to activate your body’s parasympathetic nervous system (also known as the “rest and digest” system) to allow the patient to enter a state of total relaxation. Other benefits include an increase in blood circulation, decreasing blood pressure, and slowing your heart rate. 


Before your first massage, be sure to read our post on massage etiquette! It may take some trial and error to discover what type of massage works best for you. As always, be sure to communicate with your massage therapist about your expectations and objectives, and give feedback about the pressure. If you have any concerns and are not sure if massage therapy is right for you, talk to your chiropractor. If you’d like to experience an exceptional massage at CURAVITA, appointments can be booked online or by calling us at 613-237-9000 for our Glebe location, or 613-860-8600 for our Byward location.