Massage Explained - what type do I chose?



Multiple types of massage can be used to treat a patient. The skill is deciding what mix of techniques is best suited to an individual patient’s needs. A patient suffering from stress needs a different form of massage to someone with a frozen shoulder, or an athlete who wants to improve performance.

Beautician's / Swedish Massage

A massage to reduce stress, calm the nervous system and improve circulation.

Sports Massage

Essentially this is a massage to help athletes remain strong and supple and prevent injuries. This can be thought of as a maintenance massage although it does cross over to remedial as there will be athletes who need massage for recovery. It can help maintain the body in a good condition, prevent injuries and loss of mobility, cure and restore mobility to injured muscle tissue, boost performance and extend the overall life of a sporting career. Suitable for non-athletes for maintenance of good soft tissue.

Remedial Massage

This massage is intended to help the healing process of injuries. Often a skilled masseur can reduce the pain a client comes into the clinic with. Remedial masseurs are trained to recognise and treat many musculoskeletal conditions, including back pain, stiff neck and shoulders, sciatica and knee injuries. A typical treatment may include assessment, mobilisations, deep tissue massage and neuromuscular techniques, myfascial release, rehabilitation exercises/stretches.

Benefits of Sports and Remedial Massage:

Invigorating if done with brisk movements, ideal before an event

Anxiety reduction - of rhythmic massage and endorphine release

Pain reduction

Improve circulation - essential for healing using pumping techniques of the stroking

Improve tissue elasticity - reversing the effect of hard or repetitive training

Reset nervous system - sedate (or stimulate) nerve endings

Muscle tone - increase or decrease muscle tone, e.g. soften muscles

Assist in the removal of metabolic waste - by improving tissue permeability

Stretching - increase muscle length of muscles unaffected by other stretching techniques

Remodel scar tissue - when required

Reasons You May Need a Remedial or Sports Massage:

Any joint pain or restriction

Pre/post surgical rehabilitation

Sports injuries or performance optimisation

Other terms you may hear:

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is a type of massage aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia. Getting through the layers of muscle requires a subtle touch, persistence and coaxing as well as firm pressure. People who find benefit from a deep massage may do so because the pain produces large amounts of endorphins (the body’s own painkiller) that gives a natural high. "No pain, no gain", is not always the case here, as the tissues should be worked, which may require some controlled pain, but not damaged.

Soft Tissue Release

Soft tissue release (or STR massage) is used if adhesions are present in the tissue. In this technique the masseur stretches muscle fibres, tendon and fascia. STR involves repeatedly and quickly stretching small areas of the soft tissue. Precise pressure is applied to part of the muscle which is then moved to achieve a very specific stretch.

Trigger Point Therapy

A trigger point therapy is a small area of muscle that is painful and tender to pressure. When pressed it produces a recognisable and reproducible pattern of referred pain away from the site of the trigger point.

Neuromuscular Massage

Problems can be caused by the nerves at the nerve-muscle junction not releasing muscle tension. This is where trigger point therapy, Muscle Energy Techniques (MET), Positional Release and Post Isometric Relaxation come in.

Myofascial Release

Fascia is a thin, tough, elastic type of connective tissue that wraps most structures within the human body, including muscle. Fascia supports and protects these structures. All types of massage will involve treating the fascia to some degree, it fact it would be hard not to! Myofascial techniques claim to isolate and release fascial tension by using gentle sustained pressure on the tissue.

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