12 Different Massage Types. How To Know Which Is Right For You.

Here's how to select a massage that literally hits the right spot.


While a lot of people seem to think that getting a massage is more of a luxury than a necessity, when you stop to ponder all of the benefits that come with getting one, I would certainly beg to differ. Receiving a massage from a reputable massage therapist is able to do everything from decrease your stress levels and reduce pain and tension throughout your body to increase flexibility, improve your sleep patterns, boost your immune system and put you in a much better mood—even after only one session.

So, if you're someone who gets them on the regular, and there is a part of you that feels a little guilty due to the price tag, please don't. You are doing your mind, body and spirit a world of good by booking those appointments. On the other hand, if you've never gotten a massage before (or it's been years since you've had one), take a moment to check out 12 different types of massages (this is just some; believe it or not, there are actually several more) that are specifically designed to treat whatever it is that (physically) ails you.

12 Different Types Of Massages

1. Swedish Massage


Even though the Swedish massage is probably the most popular one out of this particular bunch, the something new that I learned is only English- and Dutch-speaking countries call it that; everywhere is, it's referred to as being the "classic massage". It consists of five basic massage strokes—gliding, kneading, tapping, cross-fibers and vibration—and it's great at relieving muscle discomfort, joint stiffness and lower back pain.

A Swedish massage typically takes somewhere between 30-90 minutes and is an awesome option if you're someone who happens to have never experienced the pleasure of a professional massage before.

2. Deep Tissue Massage

The easiest way to describe a deep tissue massage is it's a Swedish one that has more pressure applied to it. The people who request this type of treatment are usually those who experience chronic muscle pain, a sports injury or some type of strain, along with the anxiety that this type of discomfort might produce. Slower strokes with more intense finger pressure are what typically happens.

This is usually a full body massage that lasts between 60-90 minutes. Oh, and although deep tissue is noticeably more intense, you shouldn't feel additional soreness once your therapist is done (not if they really know what they are doing, anyway).

3. Cupping

While there honestly isn't a ton of scientific data to support cupping, it's still a fan favorite for many; one that has been used for centuries. It's all about a massage therapist locating a super tight or sore part of your body, placing a suction cup over it and letting it remain there until blood rushes to the area in order to ultimately bring about relief. There are basically three different types of cupping techniques to choose from. Dry cupping is when cups that are between 1"-3" inches in diameter are placed onto your body (it's the most common method). Fire cupping is when a glass cup is lit on fire and then placed on top of your body. Then there is wet cupping; it's all about a professional literally making an incision into your skin in order to significantly increase blood circulation and remove toxins from your system (apparently, it's quite popular in Islamic culture).

Those who are looking for a temporary pain management method will usually sign up for cupping. Just keep in mind that the process typically takes around an hour. Also, it's very common for bruises to be left behind after your session (they usually go away after a couple of days).

4. Reflexology


Personally, I'm a HUGE fan of reflexology. It's when pressure is applied to pressure points like your hands, feet and ears. When I've had it done on my feet, it was crazy how I could feel certain parts of my body respond to the massage itself (because there are literally several thousand nerve endings per each sole; many that are connected to various organs, etc.). Reflexology is dope because it can do everything from relax your nerves and reduce headaches to increase blood circulation and give you an energy boost.

A reflexology session usually lasts between 30-60 minutes and is a great alternative if you'd prefer to not have a full-on massage experience like many of these other options provide.

5. Acupuncture

A massage method that is directly attributed to ancient Chinese medicine is acupuncture. While it doesn't have a ton of scientific data to back it up, many professionals and clients alike are very fond of this particular approach. It's all about inserting very thin needles into various meridian points of your body in order to manage stress and relieve pain. It's very common for individuals with recurring headaches, dental pain, respiratory disorders, back pain and even menstrual cramps to use this approach.

If the mere thought of a needle freaks you out, an alternative method is acupressure, which is basically acupuncture without the use of needles. As far as how long this kind of session is, it's really based on how many needles your massage therapist feels like you need in order for you to receive maximum results.

6. Myofascial

The technical term for this particular kind of massage is myofascial release. It's when the fibrous connective tissues, which are right underneath your skin (and right above your muscle), are massaged in order to break the tissue down so that you feel less tight. Oftentimes this type of massage incorporates instruments like a foam roller, tennis ball and/or a body bar.

Myofascial release normally lasts around 30 minutes and can either be performed by a massage therapist or you can even try it on your own at home. For tips on how to do it yourself, click here.

7. Shiatsu Massage


Knowledge is power, right? When I went to look up the origin of the word, apparently, it means "finger pressure" in the Japanese language. While this is the kind of massage that can include your entire body, oftentimes a massage therapist will put a lot of focus, especially, on your hands, fingers and thumbs in order to increase endorphins (so that pain levels will decrease), lower your blood pressure and heart rate, help to balance out your hormones, improve your coordination and give you more energy.

Many people with chronic pain, sinus issues or sleep disorders enjoy this particular method. A shiatsu massage lasts for between 30-90 minutes, depending on how severe your issues may be.

8. Biodynamic Massage

Biodynamic is a type of massage that is rooted in pseudoscience (something that isn't based on specific scientific standards). What's so cool about this particular method is it's all about getting your digestive system back on track; since your digestive tract helps your system to process food easily and effectively, and also better "digest" emotional stressors too, that's why this approach can be so beneficial.

If you sign up for a biodynamic massage, your massage therapist will apply certain touch techniques that will affect everything from your skin and fascia to your bones and muscles. This massage usually requires somewhere around an hour of your time.

9. Prenatal Massage

Any woman who's been pregnant before knows that the body goes through some significant transitions throughout all three trimesters. Sometimes the muscle soreness and joint pain that comes as the result of your body continually making room for your little one to grow is enough to keep you up all hours of the night and super irritated all throughout the day. One way to provide some immediate relief is getting a prenatal massage. It's the kind of massage that's specifically designed for pregnant women and typically consists of mild pressure being applied to a woman's back, hips and legs.

A prenatal massage usually happens while you're on your side or face down on a massage table that has a hole to accommodate your baby bump. As far as how long this one lasts, it's somewhere between 45-60 minutes.

10. Aromatherapy Massage


If you're feeling particularly stressed out on the emotional tip, you should definitely consider booking an aromatherapy massage appointment. The reason why I say that is because it's all about relieving anxiety, improving your mood and reducing depression-related symptoms. Based on what you feel is emotionally bothering you, your massage therapist will incorporate an essential oil that will help to bring about relief. Basically, you will not only have some of the oil (or oils) applied to your skin, but there will be a diffuser for you to inhale the scent(s) from while you're getting your massage too.

Aromatherapy massages usually take somewhere around an hour and are full body ones. Definitely something to keep in mind, if you're super shy about totally disrobing.

11. Amatsu Massage

Amatsu massage is a method that is birthed out of the Japanese culture. During this massage, your therapist will use small body range motions in order to loosen up tightened tendons, joints, ligaments or muscles. A principle of this particular massage is when structure, emotion, energy, nutrition and environment are brought back into balance, your body will become less tense.

A thorough amatsu massage needs about an hour. It's also one of the least invasive methods of massage therapy.

12. Couples Massage

The only thing that makes partaking of one of these massages even better is if you invite your boo to join you. Couple massages are dope because they're a quality time date that provides a truly great way to reconnect with your partner. Plus, since massages are an ultimate de-stressor, by mutually having your cortisol (your natural stress hormone) levels drop, your libido is able to increase which can make for a really good night, once you both get off of the table. #wink

So, if you've got a significant other, do you and your sex life a favor and book a massage appointment for the both of you to enjoy together. It's a thoughtful date that is as sexy as it is healthy for you both. Treat yourself. ASAP.

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Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

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Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

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