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:
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The practice of using essential oils dates back to Egyptian times (it’s been said Cleopatra was a fan). Today, aromatherapy is used to promote well-being and stimulate the senses in a wide range of spa treatments, varying from massage to facials to hydrotherapy. Fragrant essential extracts sourced from plants, flowers, and herbs are mainly applied for their therapeutic benefits; studies show aromatherapy not only improves your mood, but may reduce stress levels and treat insomnia. So whether you want to rejuvenate or simply smell delicious, we say aromatherapy just makes sense! Step into a spa and one of the first things you’ll notice is a signature scent wafting in the air. It’s there to entice your senses straight off the bat and sets the tone for a relaxed experience. Not only is aromatherapy used to set the mood in a spa, it’s celebrated for healing purposes as well. Different natural oils are used for different therapeutic benefits. For example, lavender endorses calm, so speak with your therapist about what you’d like to accomplish during your treatment. To help you find the massage that fits your specific needs, read Spafinder's guide to Which Massage is Right For You?
During a hot stone massage, the therapist heats as many as 50 basalt stones of varying sizes to 120–140 degrees fahrenheit, rubs them over your oiled body, and rests them on top of and beneath you. The therapist places the stones on your stomach, in your palms, and on your back. The stones’ warmth enhances the relaxing effects of the pressure. Some people believe the stones have healing, grounding qualities, which makes hot stone massage a more profound experience than your basic massage. The therapist will leave some of the smooth, heated massage stones in contact with your body and use others to massage you. Cold stones are sometimes incorporated, especially on the face, where they have a firming effect. Hot stone is a feel-good treatment found on most spa menus. Hot and cold stone temperatures have said to be like the ‘vascular gymnastics’ of the circulatory systems, the system that controls self-healing in the body. The heat of the stones has an immediately relaxing effect, and the therapist will glide them along your back and limbs. They should never be uncomfortably hot or nudge a shoulder blade or the spine. If they do, speak up. You may be asked to lie down on the hot stones, which looks potentially uncomfortable but isn’t as long as they’ve been carefully arranged to make contact with soft tissue. Read more about Hot Stone Massage in Spafinder's post, What is a Hot Stone 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.
Enjoy 25,000 square feet of spa paradise at this Texas resort's LakeHouse Spa, where a mix of ancient and modern therapeutic techniques are practiced. Spa packages include a couple's package in the private in-ground spa (services include a Quench Body Wrap, lunch at the café and, of course, massages) and a mother-daughter package (includes aromatherapy and manicures/pedicures). Acupuncture, floating meditation and "inner strength" massages are also available.
"My spa day at Beach Beauty Health Spa was given to me as a gift, this quick getaway was great! Everyone at the spa greeted me with a warm smile. I definitely recommend the Luxe package to anyone who wants to relax and take time for themselves or as a couple. If you visit ask for Catherine for any service. When making your appointment pick early hours to enjoy and relax by the beach afterwards.."-Rafael P.
Thai massage, also called Thai yoga massage, combines acupressure and assisted yoga postures. Thai massage is based on the flow of energy through the body and focuses on energy lines called “sen.” It doesn’t use oils or lotions and, instead of rubbing muscles, the massage therapist compresses, pulls, stretches and rocks the recipient’s body to promote the flow of energy through these sen. In this form of massage therapy, practitioners use their hands, knees, legs and feet to apply deep muscle compression and stretch the body. It’s often performed on a mat on the floor instead of on a massage table. Like most forms of massage, Thai massage is used to relieve stress, improve range of motion and enhance flexibility. Some people also use Thai massage to address a range of health issues, including:
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.
Traditional Thai massage is a different experience if you’ve only ever had a Swedish or deep tissue massage. In Thai massage, you wear loose-fitting clothing (often provided by the massage therapist) and start by lying on a mat. Throughout the massage, the therapist moves your body into various seated and prone positions, which stretch and release your muscles and soft tissue. Although your body is moving, the therapist is doing all the work, making it feel similar to supported yoga. The massage therapist will bend, stretch, and compress and lengthen your body using their hands, forearms, elbows and even feet. Don’t be alarmed by the feet! Many studios have overhead supports that allow the practitioners to safely walk on your back, releasing tight adhesions and promoting ease. Thai massage can be both invigorating and relaxing. It is an excellent option for keeping your muscles in good health if you regularly work out, or if you want to overcome a lack of flexibility. Studies show that Thai massage can increase blood circulation, improve flexibility, reduce muscle tension and enhance mental well-being.
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?