Massages have been used as a relaxation and healing technique for thousands of years. Massaging human tissues and muscles has already shown numerous benefits to our health!
The benefits of massages
It is well known that massages have health benefits. Below is a list of the main advantages:
- Reduces stress
- Accelerates muscle recovery
- Has a positive effect on your mood
- Increases your resistance
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves the balance between body and mind
- Gives you energy
- Has a positive effect on your skin
- Let yourself relax
Research by the Wellness Academy in 2016 shows that only 1% of people undergo a weekly massage. 23% undergoes a monthly massage, 29% once a quarter, 20% once a year and 27% rarely undergoes a massage.
The same research shows that these are the main reasons for people in the Netherlands to book a massage (multiple answers were possible):
What types of massages are there?
In total there are more than 80 different massage types, all with their own characteristics. In this long read we discuss the 25 most famous massages and the benefits of these massages.
Once you know what the different types of massages can mean for you specifically, you immediately know what benefits you can get from them.
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Types of Massage:
- Swedish massage
- Balinese massage
- Acupressuur massage
- Anma massage
- Ayurvedic massage
- Connective tissue massage
- Shantala massage
- Kum Nye
- Thai massage
- Kobe do massage
- Metamorfose massage
- Lomi Lomi massage
- Lymphatic massage
- Sound massage
- Tui Na massage
- Skull sacraal therapie
- Triggerpoint massage
- Hotstone massage
1. Swedish massage
Swedish massage, also known as classic massage, is by far the most famous massage form. There is a lot of confusion about the founder of this massage form: Per Henrik Ling is often seen as the founder, but this is not justified. The Dutchman Johann Georg Mezger has coined the French terms that describe the massage form.
There are 5 basic techniques in Swedish massage:
- Effleurage (stroking movements over the skin)
- Petrissage (kneading the muscles)
- Tapotage (rhythmic beats)
- Friction (pressure / rub movements)
- Vibration (rapid movement of the tissues)
These five techniques are used to reduce muscle pain and stimulate circulation, relax you and increase your freedom of movement. To make it even more specific, a Swedish massage helps relieve:
- Stiffness in the muscles
- Pain (in the lower back)
Swedish massages take an average of 30 to 90 minutes, but there are of course exceptions. The massage form is suitable for everyone, but if you have suffered from injuries or other ailments in the past, it is smart to let the masseur know in advance. This of course applies to any massage form.
- A Swedish massage is often the best choice for people with stiff muscles and pain all over the body
- The Swedish massage is a light massage form (relaxation massage) that uses five basic techniques
2. Balinese massage
The Balinese massage originated from a traditional form of the Indonesian massage. As the name of this massage form says, this massage in Bali has gotten its own character. This original Balinese style has now also become known in the West.
The Balinese massage combines massage techniques from the:
- Swedish massage
During a Balinese massage, coconut oil is massaged, an oil that has an antibacterial effect. The substances in the oil protect the skin, relieve psoriasis and help combat eczema.
A Balinese massage is suitable for:
- Relieving pain in joints and muscles
- Reducing stress and tension
- Aftercare for sports injuries
- Counteracting sleeping and breathing problems
Just like the Swedish massage, a Balinese massage lasts between 30 and 90 minutes on average.
- A Balinese massage can be seen as a kind of mixture of different massage techniques that have been combined into a new massage form
- Coconut oil is often used in the massage, which helps to relax the body completely
Acupressure is a treatment method often confused with acupuncture (the treatment method that uses needles). Despite this, both massage forms have a lot in common. They both descend from the old traditional Eastern medicine. In addition, both therapies focus on regulating the energy flow in the body by manipulating specific points on the body.
Acupressure differs from acupuncture in that in acupressure the therapist does not work with needles, but with gentle pressure, which he / she performs mainly with the fingers, hands and elbows.
Acupressure is actually a collective name for different treatments, such as:
- The Chinese tui-na
- Ko bi do
Acupressure treatments are now also widely offered in the Western world. That is not all, however: the treatment methods are often adapted to Western needs and combined with Western knowledge and / or rituals.
- Unlike acupuncture, acupressure does not use needles
- Acupressure is a treatment technique used in different types of massages
4. Anma massage
Anma is one of the oldest massage forms in existence. The literal meaning is ‘press and rub’ or ‘calm by rubbing’. The massage form comes from China and was first used about 5000 years ago. Anma massage is the precursor of many types of massage such as shiatsu, Swedish massage, sports massage and tui-na.
With an Anma massage you will be massaged from head to toe. To this day Anma is still a very popular massage form in Japan, but in the Netherlands and Belgium we often prefer Shiatsu massages nowadays.
In general, Anma does not use oil, but the massage only consists of rubbing, rotating, kneading and stretching in order to restore and / or maintain health.
Normally an Anma massage lasts an hour, but many massage practices also offer the option of half an hour or a longer treatment. During the massage it is advisable to put on flexible clothing, because the massage is given over the clothing.
- Anma is one of the oldest massage forms in existence. It is the precursor of various types of massage, such as Shiatsu and Swedish massage
- With an Anma massage you will be massaged from head to toe. In general, massage oil is not used.
Ayurveda is considered the oldest health system that was put in writing about 5,000 / 6,000 years ago. The holistic system originates from India and means knowledge (veda) of life (ayus)
Ayurvedic massage is a gentle energetic massage characterized by the use of different oils. In general, massages are performed with the hands, but also with feet. In some cases there is even a massage with rice or bundles of herbs!
In principle, an Ayurvedic massage is suitable for everyone. But there are a few cases where the massage form is not recommended:
- The first 3 months of pregnancy
- In cancer
- In case of fever
- Immediately after eating
With this massage form the whole body is massaged and the whole body is brought into balance. In addition, the massage form has numerous other beneficial effects:
- helping the joints relax
- it helps fight stress, fatigue and insomnia
- it provides more vital energy
- it helps release emotional blockages
During the massage, people often talk: your lifestyle, mood and problem areas are discussed in order to fully adapt the massage to your needs. Ayurvedic massages vary from 30 to 90 minutes.
- An Ayurvedic massge is an oil-rich massage that helps you to calm your mind
- Ayurvedic massages are known that they are not only good for your physical condition, but that you can also experience many psychological benefits
6. Connective tissue massage
To understand what a connective tissue massage is, we must first understand what connective tissue is. Connective tissue is elastic tissue that protects your organs and supports your blood vessels, nerves and muscles. A connective tissue massage affects the organs and can clear blockages. By folding or rolling your skin, the masseur feels where the tension is in your body.
A connective tissue massage can be done on different parts of the body, such as your face, neck, décolleté, and legs. The massage form is not very relaxing, depending on the masseur it can even hurt a little.
But why would you do a massage at all that is uncomfortable and hurts? The answer lies in the countless benefits that a connective tissue massage has:
- Improved condition of your skin
- Improved nutrient absorption
- Improved waste disposal in your skin
- Reduction of wrinkles and scars
- Stimulation of your nervous system
- Relief for pain and joint problems
Since a connective tissue massage can be stressful, it is not suitable for everyone. For example, a connective tissue massage is not recommended for high blood pressure, cancer, heart complaints, fever or pregnancy.
- A connective tissue massage is a massage in which the skin is folded to relieve tension in the body
- A connective tissue massage is not a relaxation massage and can be painful, but it has numerous benefits (especially for the skin)
7. Shantala massage
Shantala massage is a total body massage form for babies and originated in India. It is a loving relaxation massage that takes a respectful approach and is not difficult to learn. Many parents / caregivers see it as a perfect way to connect with their baby and make a deeper connection!
A Shantala massage is suitable for every baby, especially for children who cry a lot and suffer from colic. Babies who are very tense or sensitive can also benefit greatly from this massage form.
The benefits of a Shantala massage at a glance:
- Your baby will sleep more peacefully and deeper
- Your baby’s digestion is improved
- Reduce colic and overstretching
In addition, the massage causes a rise in the hormone oxytocin, which plays an important role in feelings and tenderness and bondage. There is an increased production of this hormone for both the massaged (baby) and the masseur (parent / caregiver)
- Shantala massage is a relaxation massage for babies and helps babies to sleep better
- The massage form helps create a deeper connection between the massaged (baby) and masseur (parent / caregiver)
8. Kum Nye
The literal meaning of Kum Nye is to knead the subtle body. This massage form has been around for a long time in Tibetan culture, and is therefore also called Tibetan massage .
The massage form often uses oil and is particularly effective for people who exercise and meditate. But even if you do hard, intensive work or sit in the same position for a long time, a Kum Nye massage can help. If you want to relax and recharge for a while, you can benefit a lot from Kum Nye.
Kum Nye helps relax muscles and release tension in the body. This improves blood circulation, so that vital nutrients and hormones can be better distributed. This makes you feel more energetic and powerful!
A Kum Nye massage takes an average of 60 to 90 minutes. For optimal results, it is better not to eat anything for at least an hour and a half before the massage.
- A Kum Nye massage is a relaxation massage that helps to release tension in the body
- The massage form comes from Tibetan culture and is particularly effective for people who exercise and meditate
9. Thai massage
Thai massage is one of the oldest healing methods in the world. The Thai know the art of massage like no other people in the world. It is a solid massage, in which the masseur massages the energy channels and performs stretching and stretching operations or exercises. The purpose of the traditional Thai massage is to bring people into balance, both physically and mentally.
There are two schools of Thai massage:
- Nuad Bo-Rarn (The Northern Thai Massage)
- Bangkok Style (The Southern Thai Massage)
A Thai massage provides relaxation and activation. You prevent and remedy physical and psychological complaints. It ensures that the tissue is relaxed and has many more advantages:
- Relieves pain in the back, shoulder, head and reduces muscle tension
- Releases blockages in the energy flow
- Stimulates the nervous system
- Rejuvenates the body
- Helps against insomnia and fatigue
- Reduces stress
The Traditional Thai massage is without oil, is very firm and in some cases can be a bit painful (if the muscles are tight). People from outside of Thailand therefore often prefer a milder version of the Thai massage with, for example, oil, aroma, herbal stamps or hot stones.
- The Thai massage is a solid massage and helps to bring the body into balance. In some cases, the massage can hurt a little
- The massage form provides relaxation and activation and helps prevent physical and psychological complaints
10. Ko Bi Do massage
Ko Bi Do massage is a Japanese technique for massaging the face, and is also seen as the natural facelift! The literal meaning for Ko Bi Do is ‘the path of beauty’. Beauty has been seen in Japan for hundreds of years as the right balance between good physical and mental health. The massage form focuses on the treatment of the pressure points and meridians, the superficial skin, the deeper skin and the muscles.
This facial massage cannot be compared with any other facial massage; each part of the face is treated with specific techniques.
Like other massages, the Japanese Ko Bi Do also has many benefits:
- Better removal of waste products from the skin
- Helps against sagging skin and fine lines in the face
- Improvement of facial skin condition
- Rejuvenating effect and a reduction of wrinkles
Unlike a connective tissue massage, this massage is very relaxing and revitalizing. The massage not only stimulates a natural facelift, but harmonizes the entire body emotionally, mentally and spiritually!
- Ko Bi Do is a Japanese massage technique for massaging the face and helps improve the skin
- Unlike a connective tissue massage, this massage form also has a relaxing effect
11. Metamorfose massage
The transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, that is an image that shows what a metamorphosis massage is about. A metamorphosis massage helps you create a deeper connection with yourself.
During a metamorphosis massage, hands, feet and head are massaged very gently in order to clear blockages and make a new start.
A metamorphosis massage is very relaxing and completely calms the mind. In addition, the massage can be supportive in periods of change, such as divorce, pregnancy, moving house, or other changes.
- A metamorphosis massage is a gentle relaxation massage that tries to find the cause of blockages
- The massage form can support when changes take place in your life (eg a divorce, moving house, pregnancy).
Cupping has been a popular massage form for years and has many fans, but the many benefits make this massage form even more popular! Cupping reduces tension in the muscles and helps you strengthen your muscles. Typical of cupping are the red cupping spots on the body that this massage form leaves behind.
Cupping uses suction to treat the skin and underlying tissue. The cups are placed on the skin and vacuumed manually or with a pump. This pulls up the underlying tissue, after which the cups remain in place for another 15 minutes.
According to many therapists, cupping has many benefits:
- Reduces pain and swelling
- Loosens stuck scar tissue
- Counteracts blockages and muscle knots
- Reduces stress and overload
- Helps against headaches, migraines and dizziness
Although there is a lot of hype going on with cupping right now, there isn’t much scientific evidence about its health benefits yet.
Note: incorrectly performing a cupping treatment can have harmful consequences. This may be a harmless bruise, but if you repeatedly receive this treatment incorrectly, it can cause the skin tissue to die.
- Cupping is a form of massage that uses suction and reduces tension in the muscles
- Pay close attention when you take a cupping massage: there are many health risks when this treatment is performed incorrectly, while there are no scientifically proven benefits
13. Lomi Lomi massage
The Lomi Lomi massage has been performed in Hawaii for hundreds of years. The Lomi Lomi massage alternates during the treatment with long stroking movements and traditional methods to restore the internal balance and harmony in the body. If you want to completely relax, a Lomi Lomi massage is definitely the right solution.
What distinguishes a Lomi Lomi massage from, for example, a Swedish massage is that it is much more spiritually oriented. Thus, the massage begins with a local prayer from the Hawaiian tradition. During the massage, the body can let go of all worries and thoughts that may cause stress and tension.
The Lomi Lomi massage gives you a special and unusual experience: it is not surprising, for example, that the masseur starts humming during the massage. If you opt for a Lomi Lomi massage, it is best to completely surrender to this.
A Lomi Lomi massage can help both mentally and physically. For example, it can help relieve muscle pain, stimulate blood circulation, but also when you suffer from low self-esteem or stress.
- A Lomi Lomi massage is a relaxation massage and is very spiritually oriented
- This massage form has a positive effect on both your mental and physical well-being
14. Lymphatic massage
A lymph massage, also called lymphatic drainage massage , is a gentle massage that improves the removal of waste products and lymph. In addition, the massage form helps with the production of new lymph vessels and helps to promote cell renewal.
Lymphatic drainage was developed in the 1930s by Emil and Estrid Vodder. After the Second World War, this massage form became very popular in France, when they noticed that several soldiers were struggling with swollen lymph nodes.
Today, there is no clear indication of the long-term health benefits of a lymphatic drainage massage. The massage is suitable for every man or woman of all ages. The duration of the massage mainly depends on the condition of the lymph nodes.
- Lymph Massages are mainly used for direct muscle relaxation
- Lymph massages are a good option if you want to improve the removal of waste products and lymph from your body
15. Sound massage
A sound massage is an acoustic experience! You are literally touched by sound, making this massage form an effective way to relax. The singing bowls that are placed on the body are made to vibrate. Because the customer appeals to the original trust of people, you can achieve deep relaxation very quickly.
The massage form was developed by Peter Hess from his sound experiences in Nepal and Tibet. After years of research and experimentation, he combined all his knowledge and adapted the massage to the needs of the people in the Western world.
A sound massage has many advantages (mainly related to relaxation):
- Rest and balance in body and mind
- Sleep better
- Let go of fears, tensions and blockages
- Improved concentration and more energy
A sound massage usually lasts between 60 and 90 minutes.
- A sound massage is a massage that uses singing bowls that are placed on the body
- The massage form is a good way to experience a deep state of relaxation
Reflexology, also called foot reflexology or reflex zone therapy , is a type of massage that assumes that all organs and body parts are connected to places on the feet. Energy flow is the basis of our health and disease is the result of energy blockages. This massage form originates from China.
In Reflexology, pressure is exerted on the various reflex points on the hands and feet. It is often referred to as foot reflexology, because the feet are more sensitive than the hands and because the reflex points are more difficult to find on the hands.
The massage removes blockages, which promotes the body’s self-recovery. Reflexology helps with:
- Joint pain
- Hormonal complaints
- Stomach and intestinal complaints
Foot reflexology is often relaxed, but some areas on the feet can cause a ‘nice pain’ when the therapist puts pressure on them.
- Reflexology assumes that all body parts are connected to places on the feet
- Reflexology helps to clear blockages in the body, promoting the body’s self-recovery
The literal translation of Reiki is ‘universal life energy’. This energy is all around us and is present in everything that lives. During a Reiki treatment, the therapist transmits energy through his or her hands. If a client is sitting or lying with your eyes closed during the treatment. Through the hands of the therapist, your body and mind receive energy from the universe. With that energy your body can get back into balance!
A Reiki treatment has benefits in every area of your health:
- Physical Health – Reiki helps reduce pain and activate your immune system
- Emotional Health – Reiki helps you relax and remove blockages
- Mental Health – Reiki helps you reduce stress, let go of negative thinking patterns and develop your talents
A Reiki treatment is a loving, gentle and relaxing treatment. The treatment is absolutely harmless. A treatment can last between 60 and 90 minutes and is preferably repeated a number of times.
- A Reiki treatment is a relaxing treatment that focuses on universal life energy
- The massage form has benefits for every area of your health (physical state, emotional state and mental state)
Shiatsu is a Japanese preventive health care massage technique that promotes vitality and combats fatigue by applying pressure to specific points of the body. During the treatment you usually keep your clothes on and the aim of the treatment is to remove blockages.
The literal translation of Shiatsu is ‘finger’ and ‘pressure’. Shiatsu is similar to acupuncture in many respects, except that the acupuncture points are not treated with needles but by touch or pressure with the therapist’s fingers, hands, feet or elbows.
Shiatsu is a holistic treatment method , which means that body and mind are seen as one whole.
The Shiatsu chair massage is the most popular form of this massage type. This massage offers a relaxing massage for the neck, shoulders, back and possibly arms and hands. The massage can also be performed on the floor, on a mat, or on a massage table. Read full detail about shiatsu massage therapy.
- Shiatsu is a type of massage that is similar to acupuncture in many ways, but not
- Shiatsu is well known for chair massages, but can also be performed on a mat on the floor or on a massage table
Sweda is a Tibetan massage technique that works with two energies: Shiva and Parvati. Shiva is the masculine side of the energy and controls the top three chakras. Parvati is the feminine side of the energy and controls the bottom three chakras.
When there is imbalance in the body, energy can be discharged or added to certain parts of the body. The Sweda massage is fully aimed at eliminating this imbalance in the body. The massage is therefore not possible purely for relaxation.
Sweda is more than just a massage, it is the collective name of all Tibetan techniques that stimulate the body’s self-healing ability.
- The Sweda massage is not a preventive treatment: the massage can only take place when the body is not in balance
- Sweda is more than just a massage. After a treatment, tips for yoga, self-massage, nutrition or meditation can be given
Tantra massage is a gentle, life-boosting massage. In a tantric massage the whole body is massaged and erogenous zones may also be touched. It is an energetic massage that also releases sexual energy.
During a tantra massage, both the giver and the receiver are fully present, and the focus is on loving touch. During the massage technique is less important, it is more about what is appropriate at that moment and what is needed. What does the recipient need at the moment?
It is a misconception that a tantric massage should always be naked, with clothes it is also possible, although that can be more difficult.
Tip: do you want to undergo a tantric massage? make clear agreements in advance about mental and physical boundaries.
- A tantric massage is an energetic massage in which the sexual energy also receives attention. However, it is not an erotic massage!
- In tantric massages, technique plays a less important role, it is much more about what is appropriate at that time
21. Tui Na massage
Tui Na is one of the therapies of Chinese medicine. According to the Chinese, this massage form is the answer to blocked energy channels. It is a 4000 year old massage and is the forerunner of Shiatsu. The literal translation of Tui Na is ‘push and grab’.
Tui Na is a pretty solid massage, the masseur looks for blocked acupuncture points and you can feel good at times with a little pain.
In contrast to a relaxation massage, the focus of a Tui Na massage is not on relaxation, but on removing blockages in the body, which can lead to relaxation. Read detail for Tui Na massage benefits.
- Tui Na is a solid preventive massage to lift and prevent blockages in the body
- Tui Na is one of the oldest massage types in the world, nevertheless it is still very popular
22. Skull sacraal therapie
Craniosacral therapy is a gentle massage form developed in 1945. During a treatment you lie on the massage table in your own clothes while the therapist tries to make contact with trigger point areas all over the body. The focus is mainly on the head, trunk, knees and feet. Cranciosacral therapy is a combination of techniques from osteotherapy and chiropractic.
Craniosacral therapy has many benefits, including:
- Relief from chronic pain
- Prevents headaches and migraines
- Reduced chronic fatigue
- Reduced stress
- Provides help with trauma
A treatment is intended to relax your body and mind. During the treatment, the therapist focuses not only on the cranio sacral system, but also on all other structures in the body that are connected through the connective tissue.
Craniosacral therapy is not just about massages; it also involves in-depth discussions with your doctor to find the true source of pain or discomfort.
- Craniosacral therapy is a good option for people with trauma
- Craniosacral therapy uses the nerves in the craniosacral system to relieve tension in the rest of the body via nerve signals
23. Triggerpoint massage
Trigger points are also popularly known as muscle knots. Due to a lack of blood flow and oxygen in the muscles, hypersensitive spots arise. Often the cause is overload, stress or poor posture, but trigger points can also be caused by an accident, poor nutrition or lack of exercise.
Trigger point therapy focuses on treating trigger points. The therapy focuses on releasing the increased muscle tension, so that the pain will decrease. It is a firm and painful massage for both therapist and patient, and helps the body to relax after the massage.
In addition to a massage, trigger point therapy includes various treatments:
- Manual printing techniques
- Dry Needling
- Posture therapy
- Myofascial release techniques
- Trigger point therapy / massages is preferred for people with very intensive and site-specific pain
- Treatment can be painful and focuses on immediate relief of joint and muscle pain by applying pressure
Rolfing is a method used to restore the natural balance in the body, improve posture and promote flexibility. The massage type originated in the 1930s and 1940s in the United States.
In Rolfing, the human body is compared to a tower of blocks: it is most stable when the blocks are perpendicular to each other. It is the same with the human body, if one or more blocks (parts of the body) are skewed, the entire body posture is unstable.
Rolfing massage strives for an upright person with whom it is possible to draw a straight line through the ear, shoulder, thigh, knee and outside of the ankle.
The massage type can be painful during the massage, but also after the massage. A Rolfing treatment consists of 10 consecutive sessions lasting between 60 and 90 minutes.
- A Rolfing treatment consists of 10 consecutive sessions of between 60 and 90 minutes
- Rolfing focuses on the posture of the body and strives for an upright person
25. Hotstone massage
The hot stone massage is often seen as a variant of the Swedish Massage in which hot rounded basalt stones are used to massage the entire body. The stones are heated to approximately 45 degrees Celsius using a hot stone heater. It is not known exactly where and when the hot stone massage originated.
Just like a Swedish massage, the masseur uses kneading, stroking, circular movements and vibration during the massage to relieve tension in the muscles.
A hot stone massage has many benefits, such as:
- Reduces tension in the muscles
- Helps against stress
- Improves sleep
- Accelerates the recovery process from migraines, depression, metabolic diseases and other illnesses
A hot stone massage is a real relaxation massage, suitable for young and old. Some treatments also use cooled stones made of marble.
- A hot stone massage is often seen as a variant of the Swedish relaxation massage
- a hot stone massage contributes to the body’s self-recovery and helps to reduce tension in the muscles.