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Debunking Massage Myths Series: Not All Massages are the Same

Updated: Jan 6

Have you heard these massage myths? So many of my clients come in believing one or more of these false ideas.

⛔Massage is just a luxury

⛔All massages are the same

⛔No pain no gain

⛔One massage can fix it all

Last week I shared some information about how massage is not just a luxury, but an important part of maintaining a healthy body. We should drink water to stay hydrated, brush our teeth after meals for gum and teeth health, exercise daily to keep our joints healthy, get ~8 hours of sleep for our mental health, and get massages regularly to maintain healthy and balanced muscles.

This week we are going to shed a little light on how not all massages are the same. Have you ever looked at the service menu at a resort's spa, spa on a cruise ship, or at your local massage office? Has it ever just listed "Massage" with the price? No! There's a wide variety of services that could be listed, such as: Swedish, deep tissue, therapeutic, lymphatic, prenatal, ashiatsu, cupping, hot stone massage and many more. They each have similarities and unique differences, which allow for distinct listings on a service menu. Just like all pizzas are not the same, they are similar, but not the same. Some pizzas have pepperoni, sausage and ham, while others have onions, mushrooms and olives. Let's dive a little deeper into the differences between the types of massages.

Swedish massage is the relaxation massage most people are familiar with. Massage therapists use light pressure to work on the top layer of muscles during this type of session. It is used to help reduce tension throughout the body. After working 5-7 days a week either standing on your feet, sitting at a desk, answering phones or lifting heavy things, we tend to lose our good posture and slouch. Instead we use our back to lift things, hike our shoulder up to hold our phone to our ear while multitasking, or let our head roll forward/down as we stare at our phones. All of these things can cause muscle imbalance- leading to pain, tightness or even limiting the movement of our joints. A massage can help counteract all of those bad habits and ensure we stay pain free and able to move the way we should.

Deep tissue massage is probably the second most common type of massage. Therapists use deep pressure to work those tricky muscle knots, trigger points and deeper muscles of the body. It involves use of forearms, fists, and elbows! It can get a little intense but be sure to speak up and let your therapist know if the pressure is too much. During this type of massage a little pain or soreness is normal and to be expected, as the therapist is working to untangle the muscle fibers that have knotted up.

Ashiatsu is another specialized form of deep tissue work. Ashiatu massage is a service where a massage therapist stands on the table and uses their feet to work the muscles of the body. It is the deepest type of massage, as the massage therapist can use their body weight to work the knots in your back, shoulders, etc. Some people prefer ashiatsu over the usual deep tissue massage because they don't like the "pointy" or "sharp" feeling of thumbs working out the knots. Ashiatsu is deep pressure but it is spread over the surface of the heel or foot, so there is no "sharp" "pointy" feeling. This type of massage is perfect for the back, between the shoulders, glutes, hamstrings and other large muscle groups. It is not ideal for neck/head or hand massage, as our feet and toes are not as dexterous.

Therapeutic massage is recommended when someone is working with other healthcare professionals to reach specific goals. Together the different therapies (physical, occupational, massage therapy and chiropractic work) all work to help maintain balance in the body and aid in pre- and post- surgery recovery. Therapeutic massage can: reduce pain, improve circulation, increase range of motion and flexibility, promote tissue healing, reduce scar tissue formation and much more. If you are interested in therapeutic massage, be sure to talk with your doctors and get recommendations of licensed massage therapists in your area.

There are several other types of massages not covered in today's discussion. Massage therapy is very versatile and can be tailored to each individual's goals, whether for relaxation, pain relief, mental health, peak physical fitness or something else, massage therapy has you covered. One day you may be in need of deep tissue work after a hard week repainting your house and a few weeks later be in need of a relaxation massage because you haven't been getting restful sleep. The different massages offer different benefits for you and your body. If you are interested in learning more about the different types of massages and what would work best for you feel free to reach out or find a licensed massage therapist in your area. Not all massages are the same.

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