Reading through a Spa menu can be confusing when it comes to massages. Options like Swedish, Aromatherapy, Deep Tissue, Hot Stone and Sports massage are tagged with all sorts of wonderful effects like relaxation, de-stress and rejuvenation promising to be invigorating, calming or balancing. But what does all this mean and how do you choose the best treatment suited to your individual needs?
Join me for a journey of discovery into the world of massage. Learn about the basic styles popularly available in Spas or Salons and know what to expect when you book yourself off for a treat. A good Salon will offer at least two or more massage variations. Lately, the trend is to offer as wide a variety as possible to ensure all client requests are covered. This could include a chakra massage, special sound or lighting effects, a four hands massage, an executive massage – most Salons have their own signature treatment. Although there are many different variations, massage has incredible benefits. Hands-on pressure improves the blood and lymph flow. By manipulating the body tissues, fresh nutrients reach the cells and metabolic waste products can be removed faster. This explains why muscles relax so deeply and when the session is finished, you feel like a new person.
Swedish massage is the most widely used. It forms the base of almost all the other massage types and is usually the first massage beauty students are taught. If you are trying out a massage for the first time, go for Swedish. It doesn’t require any strange oils or movements and the pressure can be adapted to suit you. After your first experience you will have an idea of the parts you enjoyed most and what you would like in your next treatment. Make an assessment and ask yourself a few questions. Was the pressure too hard or too soft? Do you prefer a full body massage or a back, neck, head and shoulder? Do you prefer a male or female therapist? Is an afternoon or morning massage better for you? How long do you like your massage to be, is a thirty minute one fine or is an hour better for you?
There are two main differences between an aromatherapy massage and a Swedish massage. Firstly an aromatherapy massage uses oil on the body. Oils are concentrated plant and flower oils chosen for specific therapeutic effects. Secondly, because the oils magnify the effect of the massage, the pressure used is generally lighter. This ensures the circulatory system is not over stimulated bringing on unwanted side effects. For example if the client has a high toxic level in the body, oil that stimulates a detoxification effect could result in a headache. Qualified Aroma therapists will blend a massage oil to suit your specific need. All kinds of conditions are covered from relaxation, detoxification, and stress to sinus, hay fever, muscle tension and insomnia. That means alongside the benefit of the massage you also have the long lasting effect of the oil in your system. Book an Aroma therapy appointment for an effective, relaxing and enjoyable massage or for a massage where you need a specific therapeutic outcome.
Where Aromatherapy massage is regarded as a more gentle massage, Deep Tissue and Sports massage have a different reputation. They both use very firm pressure which is sometimes even painful and is more popular with male clients. Deep Tissue uses the same form as Swedish but with added pressure working on the deeper fibres and tissues of the body. Working so deeply into the tissues can sometimes cause discomfort. Deep Tissue is a full body massage. Sports massage concentrates on a specific area of the body and is often used as part of a training or rehabilitation programme. Movements are much faster and more intense with much more pressure than any of the other massage types. It is a relaxing massage but often the best way to correct injuries and achieve specific results.
Finally we get to my personal favourite: the Hot Stone or Hot Rock treatment, a treatment I feel is highly underrated. Because it uses heat, it is generally offered in winter time. Heated flat volcanic rocks are used to massage the whole body. The heat warms the muscles and increases the beneficial effects more quickly and with less pressure. This is a perfect option if you want the benefit of a Deep Tissue massage without the intense pressure. Hot Stone massage provides a particularly comforting and pampering experience.
I hope you have gained a little more knowledge of some of the basic and popular massages available. From here on, I leave it to you to experiment and play with the unending options our beautiful industry provides.
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