What Type of Massage Should I Get?

How many different kinds of massage are there? Well, considering that there are well over 200 different techniques, it’s no wonder that people may find themselves paralyzed by the sheer amount of options before them when trying to decide what type of massage to get. It’s terrible to think that some people get so confused that they decide to forego massage altogether! But things become much easier to process if we narrow things down to what is local and prominent, so let’s talk about the twelve most popular styles of massage therapy in the U.S.

#1: Swedish Massage

This is the style that almost everyone is familiar with. Swedish massage is the go-to modality for when you just want to relax, and its long strokes and fluid movements are the basis for many other types of massage. This is a wonderful introduction to the world of massage therapy if you’re new to the practice.

Pressure can range from very light to very deep. You can’t go wrong with a Swedish massage.

#2: Clinical / Therapeutic Massage

The preferred style of massage here at Dandelion Massage Boston, this technique builds upon Swedish massage to provide a more targeted approach, with a focus on treating chronic or acute muscle pain. Clinical massage is the modality of choice in hospitals and physical therapy clinics, and is ideal for managing the symptoms of any number of ailments. Even minor things, like a sore lumbar from sitting too long, or a stiff neck from sleeping wrong, can be no match for a good therapeutic massage.

Pressure from firm to deep, and although you may feel a bit sore the next day, your muscles will thank you.

#3: Pregnancy Massage

Most women have no idea that they can receive a massage while pregnant, but yes, it’s true.

A pregnancy massage is invaluable for managing the shoulder, back, and foot pain that can come from carrying a child. This is one style of massage that utilizes the “side-lying” position, which allows for a treatment with zero pressure on the stomach.

Pressure ranges from light to firm, although there are some therapists who specialize in a deep pregnancy massage.

There really is no better way to make pregnancy a lot more comfortable.

#4: Hot Stone Massage

Have you ever felt pleasantly lethargic after a long soak in a hot bath? That’s because heat—especially moist heat—relaxes muscles. This is the basic idea behind traditional hot stone massage.

The stones are made of volcanic basalt, a composition of minerals that hold heat well. After being warmed in hot water the stones are used to massage the muscles in long, luxurious strokes.

Pressure ranges from light to firm, and this treatment is excellent for chronic pain and general relaxation. We dare you to stay awake during a hot stone massage!


#5: Shiatsu Massage

If you’ve ever walked into a massage room and seen bars on the ceiling, chances are someone’s going to walk all over you—literally.

One of the defining features of Shiatsu is that some therapists (not all) have the ability to work on pressure points using their feet. Following the same principles as Chinese acupuncture, Shiatsu targets points on the meridians of the body to provide both pain relief and inner balance.

Pressure ranges from light to deep. If you’re looking to dip your toe into the wider world of massage, there is no better starting point than Shiatsu.

#6: Craniosacral Massage

The bones of your skull are moving, and they are moving right now. Cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system flows in a natural rhythm that gently mobilizes the flat bones of the cranium.

When this rhythm becomes out of whack due to any number of life’s stresses, the answer can be a Craniosacral massage. Using barely perceptible pressure, the therapist’s sensitive hands detect the breathing motion of the skull and gently restore the natural rhythm.

This treatment is limited to light pressure to allow for the delicate detection of skull movements.

Craniosacral Massage is a staple alternative therapy to relieve headaches, reduce stress, and ease pain.

#7: Thai Massage

Try to think of it as “assisted yoga”.

Thai Massage moves the treatment from the table to the floor as the therapist uses their entire body to guide you through a series of pain-relieving poses. This is a style of massage that does not use oils or lotions, and the client remains fully clothed throughout the treatment.

Pressure ranges from firm to deep, and this is another modality where you may experience someone walking on your back.

There truly is nothing like a good Thai Massage.


#8: Ayurvedic Massage

We all need a good Chakra balancing now and again!

Ayurvedic Massage has historical roots in the Indian subcontinent, where it is believed that fluid and energy imbalances in the body form grease-like blocks in the flow of the system. Using medicated oils, the therapist traditionally spends one to three hours pushing toxins out of the body with continuous strokes and techniques.

Pressure is typically form, and the treatment may include a body scrub or a trip to the steam room to aid in fluid purification.

#9: Sports Massage

With great power comes great responsibility… to your muscles, that is.

If you make your second home at the gym, the court, the ring, or the field, it’s highly recommended that you balance the strain on your muscles with a Sports Massage.

Although it can be relaxing, this style of massage means business. Both muscles and joints are tended to in order to restore mobility and range of motion, and to prevent injury during your workout.

Pressure ranges from deep to uber-deep.

A Sports Massage is a must to accompany your moderate-to-heavy workout.

#10: Reiki

Energy-balancing at its finest!

Japanese Reiki is practiced by only the most spiritually-sensitive therapists as they remove energy blockages, usually without even touching you. Don’t scoff—there’s a reason why this treatments is so popular.

Another modality which typically leaves you fully clothed, the treatments places you in a quiet, dimly-lit space while the therapist uses a gentle touch or hovering hands to detect and flush energy blockages in the body.

Pressure is either super-light or no pressure at all. A treatment can feel like a warm, glowing sensation that restores body, mind, and spirit.

#11: Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi Massage

Ready for a taste of the tropics?

At one point only available within a closed circle of the native Hawaiian culture, Lomi-Lomi is one of the most effective styles of massage. Ther therapist uses long, continuous, flowing strokes to stimulate blood and lymph flow and eliminate toxins from the whole self—mental, emotional, and physical. The flowing rhythmic motion of the treatment may remind you of ocean waves moving over your body.

Pressure can range from light to deep.

#12: Reflexology

This is not your typical foot massage.

All internal and external organs correspond to specific points on the foot. Reflexology has been known to manage everything from irritable bowel syndrome to insomnia by treating the affected organ via its corresponding pressure point.

Pressure ranges from firm to deep. As with acupuncture, Reflexology may require five or more sessions to see noticeable results.

Those were twelve of the most popular styles of massage therapy in the United States. This information will make it easier to decide which type of massage is right for your needs!