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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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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