Massage has been used for thousands of years as a relaxation and healing technique. Massaging human tissues and muscles has already brought countless health benefits!
The benefits of massage
We've known for years that massages have beneficial effects on our health. Here's a list of the most important benefits:
- Stress reduction
- Faster muscle recovery
- Improved mood
- Improved immune system
- Reduced blood pressure
- Better balance between body and mind
- Increased energy levels
- Improved skin quality
- Easier to relax
What types of massage are available?
In total, there are over 80 different types of massage, all with their own characteristics and benefits. In this article, we'll look at the 25 best-known massages and their benefits.
Once you know what the different types of massage can do for you specifically, you'll also know what benefits you can derive from them.
1. Swedish massage
Swedish massage, also known as classical massage, is by far the best-known form of massage. There is a great deal of confusion as to who founded this form of massage: Per Henrik Ling is often regarded as the founder, but this is not correct. It was the Dutchman Johann Georg Mezger who coined the terms used to describe this form of massage.
There are 5 basic techniques in Swedish massage:
- Effleurage (smoothing movements on the skin)
- Pétrissage (kneading the muscles)
- Tapotage (rhythmic tapping)
- Frictions (deep pressure and short movements on tissues)
- Vibration (rapid tissue movement)
These five techniques are used to reduce muscle pain and stimulate blood circulation. It relaxes you, your muscles loosen up and your range of motion increases. To be more precise, a Swedish massage helps relieve :
- Muscle stiffness
- Pain (e.g. in the lower back or neck/shoulder area)
The average Swedish massage lasts between 30 and 90 minutes, although there are exceptions. The massage is suitable for everyone, but if you have suffered injuries or other ailments in the past, it's best to let the masseur know in advance. This applies, of course, to all forms of massage.
2. Balinese massage
Balinese massage originates from a traditional form of Indonesian massage. As its name suggests, this form of massage acquired its own character in Bali. In the meantime, this original Balinese style has also made a name for itself in the West.
Balinese massage is recommended for :
- Swedish massage
During a Balinese massage, the body is massaged with coconut oil, which has an antibacterial effect. The substances in coconut oil protect the skin, relieve psoriasis symptoms and help prevent eczema.
Acupressure is a treatment method that is often confused with acupuncture (the treatment method that uses needles). The two forms of massage have much in common. They both derive from ancient Eastern traditional medicine. What's more, both therapies focus on improving the flow of energy in the body by stimulating specific points on the body.
Acupressure differs from acupuncture in that the therapist does not work with needles, but with light pressure, mainly from the fingers, hands and elbows.
Acupressure is in fact a collective name for various treatments, such as:
- Chinese Tui Na massage
- Ko bi do
Acupressure treatments are now also widely offered in the Western world. Treatment methods are often adapted to Western needs and combined with Western knowledge and rituals.
4. Anma massage
Anma is one of the oldest forms of massage in existence. The literal meaning is "to press and rub" or "to soothe by rubbing". The form of massage originated in China and was first applied around 5,000 years ago. Anma massage is the precursor of many forms of massage, such as shiatsu, Swedish massage, sports massage and Tui Na.
With an Anma massage, you'll be massaged from head to toe. To this day, Anma is still a very popular form of massage in Japan, but in the Netherlands and Belgium, shiatsu massage is better known and more popular.
In general, Anma massage does not use oil, but consists solely of rubbing, turning, kneading and stretching to restore and/or maintain health.
An Anma massage normally lasts an hour, but many massage practices also offer the option of a half-hour or longer treatment. During the massage, it is advisable to wear loose-fitting clothing, as the massage is administered over clothing.
5. Ayurvedic massage
Ayurveda is considered to be the oldest health system, written down some 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. The holistic system originated in India and means the knowledge (veda) of life (ayus).
An Ayurvedic massage is a gentle, energetic massage, characterized by the use of different types of oil. Generally, the massage is performed with the hands, but the feet are also sometimes used. With some Ayurvedic massages, there's even a massage with rice or packets of herbs!
In principle, an Ayurvedic massage is suitable for everyone. But there are a few cases where this form of massage is not recommended:
- The first 3 months of pregnancy
- In case of cancer
- In case of fever
- Immediately after eating
With this form of massage, the whole body is massaged and the whole body is balanced. What's more, this form of massage has many other beneficial effects:
- Helps relax joints
- Combats stress, fatigue and insomnia
- Provides more vital energy
- Helps release emotional blockages
During the massage, we often also talk. Your lifestyle, mood and problems are discussed so that the massage can be fully adapted to your needs. Ayurvedic massages range from 30 to 90 minutes.
6. Connective tissue massage
To understand what a connective tissue massage is, we must first understand what connective tissue is. Connective tissue is the elastic tissue that protects your organs and supports your blood vessels, nerves and muscles. A connective tissue massage affects the organs and can remove blockages. By folding or rolling your skin, the masseur feels where tension lies in your body.
A connective tissue massage can be performed on different parts of the body, such as the face, neck, décolleté, back and legs. The form of massage is not very relaxing; depending on the masseur and the blockages, it can even hurt a little.
But why would you do a massage that's uncomfortable and painful? The answer lies in the countless benefits of a connective tissue massage:
- Improved skin condition
- Improved absorption of nutrients
- Improved elimination of waste products from your skin
- Reduction of wrinkles and scars
- Stimulation of your nervous system
- Relieve pain and joint problems
Because a connective tissue massage can be quite stressful, it's not for everyone. For example, a connective tissue massage is not recommended if you suffer from high blood pressure, cancer, heart problems, fever or pregnancy.
7. Shantala massage
Shantala massage is a form of massage for babies in which the whole body is massaged. Shantala massage comes from India. It's a loving, relaxing massage based on a respectful approach. This form of massage is not difficult to learn. Many parents and caregivers see it as an ideal way to connect with their baby and establish a deeper connection!
A Shantala massage is suitable for all babies, especially those who cry a lot and suffer from colic. Very tense or sensitive babies can also benefit greatly from this form of massage.
The benefits of a Shantala massage :
- Your baby sleeps more peacefully and more soundly
- Your baby's digestion is improved
- Reduced colic and excessive stretching
Massage also increases the hormone oxytocin, which plays an important role in feelings of tenderness and bonding. There is an increased production of this hormone for both the massaged (baby) and the masseur (parent/caregiver).
8. Kum Nye massage
The literal meaning of Kum Nye is "the kneading of the subtle body". This form of massage has a long history in Tibetan culture and is therefore also known as Tibetan massage.
This form of massage often uses oil and is particularly effective for people who do physical training and meditation. But even if you're doing hard, intensive work or sitting in the same position for a long time, a Kum Nye massage can help. If you want to relax and recharge your batteries, you can benefit from Kum Nye.
Kum Nye helps relax muscles and release tension in the body. It improves blood circulation, so vital nutrients and hormones can be better distributed. This makes you feel more energetic and powerful!
A Kum Nye massage lasts an average of 60 to 90 minutes. For best results, it's best not to eat anything for at least an hour and a half before the massage.
9. Thai massage
Thai massage is one of the world's oldest healing methods. Thais know the art of massage like no other people in the world. It's a firm massage, in which the masseur massages the energy channels and performs stretches or exercises. The aim of traditional Thai massage is to bring people into balance, both physically and mentally.
There are two schools of Thai massage:
- Nuad Bo-Rarn Northern Thai massage
- Bangkok style southern Thai massage
Thai massage provides relaxation and activation. It prevents and remedies physical and psychological problems. It provides relaxed tissues and muscles and has many other benefits:
- Relieves pain in the back, shoulders and head, and reduces muscular tension
- Releases blockages in energy flow
- Stimulates the nervous system
- Rejuvenates the body
- Helps combat insomnia and fatigue
- Reduces stress
Traditional Thai massage is oil-free, very firm and in some cases can even be a little painful (especially if muscles are tense). People from outside Thailand therefore often prefer a gentler variant of Thai massage with, for example, oil, aroma, herbal pads or hot stones.
10. Ko Bi Do massage
Ko Bi Do massage is a Japanese facial massage technique, and is also considered a natural facelift. The literal meaning of Ko Bi Do is "the path to beauty".
Beauty has been considered in Japan for hundreds of years as the right balance between good physical and mental health. This form of massage focuses on the treatment of pressure points and meridians, superficial skin, deep skin and muscles.
This facial cannot be compared to any other facial massage. Each part of the face is treated with specific techniques.
Like other massages, Japanese Ko Bi Do also has numerous benefits:
- Better elimination of skin waste
- Helps combat sagging skin and fine facial lines
- Improves the condition of facial skin
- Rejuvenating effect and wrinkle reduction
Unlike a connective tissue massage, this massage is highly relaxing and revitalizing. The massage not only stimulates a natural facelift, but also balances the whole body emotionally, mentally and spiritually!
11. Metamorphosis massage
The transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, that's an image that shows what a metamorphosis massage is all about. A metamorphosis massage helps you create a deeper connection with yourself.
During a metamorphosis massage, hands, feet and head are gently massaged to release blockages and make a fresh start.
A metamorphosis massage is very relaxing and calms the mind completely. What's more, the massage can provide support during periods of change, such as divorce, pregnancy, moving house or other changes.
12. Cupping massage
Cupping has been a popular form of massage for many years and has many fans, but its many benefits make it all the more popular! Cupping reduces muscle tension and ensures faster muscle recovery after exercise.
This type of massage also has a beneficial effect on the skin and connective tissue. Conventional cupping tends to leave red spots on the body.
Cupping uses suction to treat the skin and underlying tissue. Suction cups are placed on the skin and sucked in manually or with a pump. This pulls the underlying tissue upwards, after which the cups remain in place for around 15 minutes.
According to many therapists, cupping has many benefits:
- Reduces pain and swelling
- Releases stuck scar tissue
- Fights muscular blockages and knots
- Reduces stress and overload
- Helps with headaches, migraines and dizziness
Although there's a lot of debate about cupping massage at the moment, there's not yet much scientific evidence about its health benefits.
Warning: receiving or performing a cupping massage incorrectly can have harmful consequences. It can result in harmless bruising, and repeatedly in the death of skin tissue.
13. Lomi Lomi massage
Lomi Lomi massage has been practiced in Hawaii for hundreds of years. In a Lomi Lomi massage, long stroking movements alternate during the treatment with traditional methods to restore internal balance and harmony to the body. If you want to relax completely, a Lomi Lomi massage is definitely the way to go.
What distinguishes a Lomi Lomi massage from a Swedish massage, for example, is that it is much more spiritually oriented. For example, the massage begins with a local Hawaiian prayer. During the massage, the body can let go of all the worries and thoughts that cause stress and tension.
Lomi Lomi massage offers a special and unusual experience. For example, it's not strange for the masseur to start humming while massaging. If you opt for a Lomi Lomi massage, it's best to let yourself go completely.
A Lomi Lomi massage can help both mentally and physically. For example, it can help relieve muscular pain, stimulate blood circulation, but also when suffering from low self-esteem or stress.
14. Lymphatic massage
A lymphatic massage, also known as lymphatic drainage, is a gentle massage that improves lymph drainage and thus the elimination of waste products and excess fluid (edema). It reduces water retention and improves blood circulation.
Lymphatic drainage was developed in the 1930s by Emil and Estrid Vodder. After the Second World War, this form of massage became very popular in France, when they noticed that many soldiers were suffering from swollen lymph nodes and water retention.
Today, lymphatic drainage is often used after surgery or for prolonged fluid retention. The massage is suitable for men and women of all ages. The duration of the massage depends primarily on the condition of the lymph nodes and the amount and location of edema.
15. Sound massage
A sound massage is an acoustic experience! You're literally touched by sound, making this form of massage an effective way to relax. The singing bowls that are placed on the body are made to vibrate. Because sound appeals to the original confidence of the human being, you can achieve deep relaxation very quickly.
This form of massage was developed by Peter Hess on the basis of 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 people in the Western world.
A sound massage has many benefits, mainly related to relaxation:
- Peace and balance for body and mind
- Better sleep
- Letting go of fears, tensions and blockages
- Improved concentration and more energy
Reflexology, also known as 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 foundation of our health, and illness is the result of energy blockages. This form of massage originated in China.
In reflexology, pressure is applied to various reflex points on the hands and feet. Reflexology is often referred to as foot reflexology, because the feet are more sensitive than the hands, and because reflex points are harder to find on the hands.
Massage removes blockages in the body, promoting self-healing. Reflexology helps with:
- Joint pain
- Hormonal complaints
- Gastric and intestinal pain
A foot reflexology treatment is often relaxed, but certain areas of the feet can cause "nice pain" when the therapist applies pressure to them.
The literal translation of Reiki is "universal vital energy". This energy is all around us and is present in all living beings. During a Reiki treatment, the therapist passes the energy through his or her hands.
As a client, you sit or lie with your eyes closed during the treatment. Through the therapist's hands, your body and mind receive energy from the universe. With this energy, your body can regain its balance.
A Reiki treatment has benefits in all areas of your health:
- Physical health- Reiki helps reduce pain and activate your immune system.
- Emotional health - Reiki helps you relax and clear blockages
- Mental health - Reiki helps you reduce stress, let go of negative thought patterns and develop your talents.
A Reiki treatment is energizing, gentle and relaxing. The treatment is absolutely safe. A treatment can last between 60 and 90 minutes, and is preferably repeated several times.
Shiatsu is a Japanese preventive health massage technique that promotes vitality and reduces fatigue by applying pressure to specific points on the body. During the treatment, you usually keep your clothes on. 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 ways, except that 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 considered as a whole.
Chair massage is the most popular form of this type of massage. It offers a relaxing massage for the neck, shoulders, back and possibly the arms and hands. The massage can also be performed on the floor, on a mat or on a massage table.
19. Sweda massage
Sweda is a Tibetan massage technique that works with two energies: Shiva and Parvati. Shiva is the masculine side of energy and controls the three upper chakras. Parvati is the feminine side of energy and controls the three lower chakras.
When there is an imbalance in the body, energy can be removed or added to certain parts of the body. Sweda massage is entirely aimed at eliminating this imbalance in the body. The massage is therefore not purely relaxing
Sweda is more than just a type of massage; it's the collective name for all the Tibetan techniques that stimulate the body's self-healing capacity.
Tantra massage is a gentle, life-enhancing massage. In a tantric massage, the whole body is massaged and erogenous zones can also be touched. It's an energetic massage that should also release sexual energy.
In a Tantra massage, both giver and receiver are fully present, and the emphasis is on loving touch. During the massage, technique is less important, it's more about what's appropriate at the time and what's needed. What does the receiver need right now?
It's a misconception to think that a tantric massage should always be naked, with clothes on too, although this can be more difficult.
Good to know: If you want to give or receive a tantric massage, remember to define the boundaries well with your partner.
21. Tui Na massage
Tui Na is one of the therapies of Chinese medicine. According to the Chinese, this form of massage is the answer to blocked energy pathways. It is a 4,000-year-old type of massage, the precursor of shiatsu massage. The literal translation of Tui Na is "to push and grasp".
Tui Na is a fairly firm massage, with the masseur going in search of blocked acupuncture points, which can sometimes be felt as a slight pain.
Unlike a relaxation massage, Tui Na is not focused on relaxation, but on eliminating blockages in the body.
22. Craniosacral therapy
Craniosacral therapy is a gentle form of massage 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 points all over the body.
The main focus is on the head, torso, knees and feet. Craniosacral therapy is a combination of osteopathic and chiropractic techniques.
Craniosacral therapy offers many benefits, including:
- Relief of chronic pain
- Fights headaches and migraines
- Reduces chronic fatigue
- Reduces stress
- Provides help in the event of trauma
A treatment is designed to relax the body and mind. During treatment, the therapist focuses not only on the craniosacral system, but also on all the other structures of the body that are connected via connective tissue.
Craniosacral therapy is not limited to massage. It also involves in-depth conversations with your doctor to find the real source of pain or discomfort.
23. Trigger point massage
Trigger points are also known as muscle knots. Trigger points arise due to a lack of blood and oxygen circulation in the muscles. Often the cause is overload, stress or poor posture, but trigger points can also be caused by an accident, poor diet or lack of exercise.
Trigger point therapy focuses on treating trigger points. The massage focuses on releasing increased muscle tension, which will reduce pain. It's a firm, painful massage that helps the body relax afterwards.
In addition to massage, trigger point therapy includes a variety of treatments:
- Manual imprinting techniques
- Dry needling
- Postural therapy
- Myofascial release techniques
Rolfing is a method used to restore the body's natural balance, improve posture and promote flexibility. The type of massage originated in the thirties and forties in the United States.
Rolfing compares the human body to a tower of blocks, which is stronger when the blocks are perpendicular to each other. And so it is with the human body. If one or more blocks (body parts) are tilted, the position of the whole body is unstable, which can lead to pain.
Rolfing massage is aimed at a fully upright person, so that a straight line can be drawn from the ear via the shoulder, thigh and knee, to the outside of the ankle.
This type of massage can be painful during the massage itself, but it can also be sensitive afterwards. A rolfing treatment consists of 10 consecutive sessions lasting between 60 and 90 minutes.
25. Hot stone massage
Hot stone massage is often considered a variant of Swedish massage, in which warm, rounded basalt stones are used to massage the whole body. The stones are heated to around 45 degrees Celsius using a hot stone warmer. Exactly when and where hot stone massage originated is not known.
Like a Swedish massage, the masseur uses kneading, stroking, circular movements and vibration during the massage to reduce tension in the muscles.
A hot stone massage has many benefits, such as:
- Reducing muscle tension
- Combat stress
- Improve sleep quality
Accelerate recovery from migraine, depression, metabolic and other illnesses
A hot stone massage is a genuine wellness and relaxation massage, suitable for young and old alike. Some treatments also use cooled marble stones.