There are five main techniques in Swedish massage: effleurage, friction, petrissage, tapotement and vibration. Within each category there are various movements, all intended to ease muscle tension and pain. Each movement has a specific purpose for loosening, warming, soothing or stimulating your muscles during your massage. Here is a breakdown of each of the five Swedish massage techniques:
From romantic weekend getaways to total health transformations, day spas specialize in improving beauty and tending the body and mind through a variety of personal care treatment. Clients can sign up for an overnight retreat and a day spa resort or stop in for a quick session at a local wellness center. Everyone deserves a little me time. Next time you need a healthy pick-me-up, check out this list of popular day spas near you.
Swedish massage is proven to lower blood pressure and reduce stress, according to the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, as well as to relieve depression and anxiety and aid in recuperation from chronic illness. Swedish massage is also referred to as classical massage, and — contrary to popular understanding — does not originate from Sweden. There are five main strokes, or movements, that make up a Swedish massage: effleurage, friction, petrissage, tapotement and vibration. Each technique was created to help soothe, stimulate, soften, and rejuvenate muscles and other soft tissue.

For thousands of years, Eastern healers have used pressure-point massage to balance the body. Shiatsu is the Japanese version. The idea is that chi, or life energy, flows through the body in 14 meridians. When the meridians are blocked, physical or emotional problems result. During a shiatsu massage, you lie on a floor mat while the therapist gently rocks and stretches your body and applies finger and thumb pressure to points. The purpose can be to stimulate or to subdue energy, making shiatsu invigorating as well as relaxing. Shiatsu treats your whole being rather than a single aspect of your body. Spas recommend it for stubborn knots, sports injuries, and back pain, and say the pressure can help trigger the release of chemicals, like cortisone, that help the body heal itself. Shiatsu means “finger pressure” in Japanese, but that doesn’t begin to cover it. Shiatsu therapists use their thumbs as well as elbows, knees, and feet to apply strategic pressure to muscles and connective tissues. Practitioners of Zen or Five Elements shiatsu therapy use the pressure-point massage for another reason. Namely, to balance the body’s chi, a practice that comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine. In both cases, you typically wear loose-fitting clothing, and it’s done on a floor mat. Expect intense pressure and a fair bit of movement as the therapist stretches your muscles and alleviates knots and pain. While it’s languid enough to ultimately relax your muscles, it’s not likely something you’ll sleep through. Some therapists will spend a lot of time on your hara (stomach), which is considered the root of imbalance in Five Elements shiatsu. Read more about Shiatsu Massage in Spafinder's post, What is Shiatsu Massage? To help you find the massage that fits your specific needs, read Spafinder's guide to Which Massage is Right For You?, or select one of the links on this page for a different massage type.
From romantic weekend getaways to total health transformations, day spas specialize in improving beauty and tending the body and mind through a variety of personal care treatment. Clients can sign up for an overnight retreat and a day spa resort or stop in for a quick session at a local wellness center. Everyone deserves a little me time. Next time you need a healthy pick-me-up, check out this list of popular day spas near you.
Rejuvenate at a hotel spa where you can still sneak in some Rodeo Drive shopping during the day. This Beverly Hills luxury hotel spa is centered around a mineral wellness pool. The 20,000-square-foot space is inspired by the Spanish Colonial Revival, and packages include the "Day of Indulgence," which offers a body rescue massage, facial and manicure/pedicure, plus lunch credit.
It used to be that New Yorkers searching for a luxurious destination spa experience had to board a plane, until the Lodge at Woodloch (just two hours from NYC) arrived in 2006 with 57 nature-inspired rooms (each with a private veranda) and a 40,000-square-foot spa. The 150 wooded acres feature a private 15-acre lake, and there's no stone unturned in terms of what you can do to get healthy: from golf to kayaking to fly fishing; from snowshoeing and hot tubbing amidst snowflakes; from bathing in the hydro massage pools to working up a sweat at TRX, spin or yoga sessions.
This elegant New England inn offers spa packages perfect for a weekend getaway. Get active during the day with hiking, biking or skiing, and the come back to your serene lodge for some serious spa pampering: The 10,000-square-foot, LEED-certified facility uses locally sourced products and treatments inspired by the native flora and changing seasons of Vermont.
There's a certain cliché that one must travel to a far-off land (say, Bali or the Maldives) to experience the mind and body rejuvenation of an award-winning spa. The reality? There's probably one within driving distance of you that'll do the job just as well. Mark a weekend on your calendar, round up your girlfriends and get your pampering on at one of these serene weekend spa getaways.
Reflexology is the practice of stimulating points on the feet that are thought to correspond to specific parts of the body. It is based on a reflexology chart or “zone theory” that maps out the body on the foot. It is not an everyday foot massage. Reflexology involves kneading the soft fleshy ball of the foot, pulling on the toes, tracing around the heel, and pushing deep into the arch. These are just a few of the many small, intense movements you’ll experience. While some spots may feel more sensitive than others, reflexologists will often say that pain indicates blocks in the energy pathways or weak organs and isn’t due to the pressure of the touch. In addition to manipulating the pressure points on the foot, reflexologists sometimes work on hands or ears to trigger relaxation. Some people say they feel hot or cold sensations. During a reflexology session, you’re clothed and seated or lying down while the therapist rubs, presses on, and squeezes points on your feet. The therapist may concentrate on specific areas to alleviate ailments (if you have sinus trouble, she’ll focus on your toes) or work on the whole foot with the aim of strengthening every system in the body. Read more about Reflexology with What is Reflexology? To help you find the massage that fits your specific needs, read Spafinder's guide to Which Massage is Right For You?, or select one of the links on this page for a different massage type.
Whether you’re just getting started with a Swedish massage or reflexology, enjoying a romantic couple’s massage for two, or healing your body with a sports massage, Spafinder's listings include quality providers with endless modalities and customizations at a spa or wellness locations near you. If you’re going to unwind or you want to work out stubborn kinks, make sure you find the right massage for your needs. Often the massage therapist will customize treatments to address any concerns you may have and to make the massage perfect for you. Wear what feels comfortable to get the most out of your experience and be sure to speak up about what feels good and what doesn’t - this experience is all about you! To help you find the massage that fits your specific needs, read Spafinder's guide to Which Massage is Right For You?
Attention moms-to-be, we have good news! Prenatal massage can help relieve back pain, improve sleep, and boost mood. It can also decrease stress and reduce labor complications. Prenatal massage is best given while you lie on your side propped up by pillows. Neck and shoulder massage is a safe sitting-up option, as well. Be sure to always check with your doctor before booking your appointment! Prenatal and postnatal massage can be just what an expectant or new mother needs. When choosing a prenatal massage therapist, clients should ensure that their practitioner has had extensive experience practicing massage on pregnant women. No two women's pregnancy pains are identical, so experienced prenatal massage therapists cater to the specific needs of each client. Many therapists have special chairs or tables designed for pregnant clients, specifically tables that are scooped out in the belly. Again, contact your doctor before treatments. Read more in Spafinder's What is Prenatal Massage? To help you find the massage that fits your specific needs, read Spafinder's guide to Which Massage is Right For You?, or select one of the links on this page for a different massage type.
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