Which massage is best for you?

Massage can help ease all manner of ailments; it’s just a case of figuring out which type will work for you.

The power of massage therapy has been recognised for thousands of years.

The Chinese and Egyptians saw it as a way to heal and help the mind and body.

And today, many people still turn to massage to deal with a range of health problems – from muscle tension and poor circulation to stress, soft tissue injuries and anxiety.

“One of the major general benefits of massage therapy in a stressed-out modern world is its capacity to activate the relaxation response,” explains Association of Massage Therapists chief executive Rebecca Barnett.

“Many other benefits arise from that, like stress management, pain relief, relief of muscular tension and improved mood.”

Massage can come in different forms and sometimes it’s a matter of trying different types to find what works best for you.

Sports massage

Sports massage isn’t usually relaxing.

Sometimes a sports massage will work on trigger points in the nervous system to get rid of pain or use deep kneading movements to release tension.

It’s ideal for sporting injuries, sprains and strains and increases flexibility, strength and endurance.

Swedish massage

Swedish massage is also sometimes called therapeutic massage and involves gliding strokes, squeezing, rolling, kneading and circular movements.

It can increase relaxation, improve blood circulation and help relieve lower back pain.

Remedial massage

If you are in pain or recovering from injury or illness, remedial massage uses techniques such as deep connective tissue massage and trigger point therapy.

It aims to find the root cause of any pain and treat the cause and symptoms.

Therapists will often use deep pressure and more shallow pressure, depending on the problem.

Traditional Chinese massage

This kind of massage has been around for at least 2000 years and uses deep massage strokes and manipulation all over the body, especially the back.

Practitioners say it can help with musculoskeletal problems and problems of the digestive system, liver and spleen.

Practitioners also believe that massage promotes the flow of qi or energy in the body, which improves general health.


Reflexology uses certain reflect points in the body – mostly the feet, hands and ears.

Practitioners believe those points relate back to the body’s internal organs and systems and that applying gentle pressure can stimulate the body’s natural healing process.

It’s helpful for pain relief, better digestion and circulation and relaxation.

How to choose a massage therapist

Before settling on a massage therapist, Rebecca recommends asking questions such as:

  • What formal qualifications do you have?
  • Are you a member of a professional association?
  • Do you have professional indemnity insurance?
  • Do you have a senior first aid certificate?
  • What sort of assessments will you do in the initial treatment? Will you ask for a medical history?
  • Will I be draped with towel(s) throughout the treatment? What clothing will I need to remove?

You can find your nearest accredited massage therapist at the Association of Massage Therapists.

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Written by Sarah Marinos.