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Massage firmness is often linked to massage styles, such as sports & deep tissue, but firmness rarely correlates to massage types. Firmness is applied according to your preference, along with your therapists physical ability.
A good therapist will read your body language through their hands and match pressure accordingly. However, if you like super strong, firm pressure, and lots of us do, make this clear when booking to ensure you're matched with a strong therapist.
Here’s a basic explanation of different massage types
Generally, the purpose of sports massage isn't to achieve relaxation, but to enhance athletic performance, along with preventing & treating sporting injury.
A sports masseuse will be fully trained in sports injuries and the soft tissue treatment of those injuries. As well as this, they’re trained to understand the best type of treatment to provide in sporting programs & events. For example, treatment of a tri-athlete before their performance will be different from the treatment provided after the event.
The title sports massage can be misleading as it’s possible for a sports masseuse to treat non sports people as physically active people can pick up similar types of injuries.
Sports massage isn't always a whole body treatment. It concentrates on specific muscle groups according to what has been subjected to intense training, stress & overuse.
Whilst sports massage focuses on sports related injuries this treatment targets everyday musculoskeletal injury and trauma. They also consider any potential dysfunction caused by physical and emotional stress.
A therapeutic masseuse has a toolbox of skills to apply to everyday muscular stresses, strains and problems. Common ailments include lower back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, headaches, tension, repetitive strain, along with a host of other issues. As well as treating general muscle pain, it also targets joint stiffness, stress related tension and improving musculoskeletal function.
The therapist will be trained in the relevant pathology of these ailments along with a range of possible soft tissue manipulation & releases available to treat it. In therapeutic massage the body is treated as a whole to ensure the pain is not a result of trauma or misuse in another part of the body (referred pain). Consequently, each individual limb and muscle group is manually palpated, massaged and manipulated.
Other techniques used include, passive and facilitated stretching along with resisted manipulations. In cases of restricted joint function, mobilisation and manipulation around the joints is carried out to assist and improve mobility. Massage and manipulation is done directly on the skin with a variety of mediums, including oil, lotion or talc.
Swedish is generally the most common massage style in the UK and continues to be the foundation of most styles. Although a basic massage style, it is effective and treatement can be either relaxing or stimulating depending on your requirements & how the therapist conducts the treatment.
Techniques vary from light to vigorous with an even rhythm that follows the blood flow towards the heart. Strokes generally follow in the direction of the muscle fibres targetting the superficial muscle and is usually performed with massage oil or lotion.
Benefits can include improved circulation via increased oxygen flow in the blood and the freeing of toxins via stimulated lymph drainage and tension release. As with all massage, it’s great for assisting mental and physical tension.
For this treatment, the client lies on a couch and is covered by a sheet. The therapist will uncover only the limb/area being worked on in order to protect the clients modesty at all times.
DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE
Our bodies have layers of muscles which we refer to as superficial and deep. Muscles directly under the skin are superficial and anything under the superficial layer is deep. Tension, trauma and dysfunction can occur within these deeper layers and this massage aims to locate & target such.
Deep tissue is achieved by slow, sinking motions that aim to dip and compress into deeper muscle fibres. It can feel stronger than regular massage due to the sensitivity of underlying muscle tissue. This type of massage is used when a client needs deeper work to address specific issues that cannot be treated with superficial massage.
It’s common for clients to report discomfort a day or two after deep tissue work and this is akin to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) experienced after a gym/workout. This should not cause concern and will lessen after a few days and also with regular treatment (much the same as gym induced DOMS). The treatment is performed on a massage couch.
Aromatherapy massage can be applied during any type of massage style by using aromatherapy oils instead of plain oil or lotion. Aromatherapy oils are plant extractions that have been used for hundreds of years due to the various medicinal properties they provide.
Lavender’s a good example of a well known British aromatherapy oil which is renown for its relaxing, sleep inducing properties. Eucalyptus is another widely known aromatherapy oil which is commonly used in cold remedies and saunas for its sinus clearing qualities.
Depending upon your physical and emotional needs a qualified aromatherapist will be able to select and blend oils to be used.
Both sports and therapeutic massage fall under this style given that both provide treatment for musculo skeletal injuries. However, this style generally refers to the work done via physiotherapy and/or in tandem with physiotherapy.
It’s injury specific and looking to provide rehabilitation of that injury. It will also most likely concentrate entirely on the injury/ailment in question and not form part of a whole body massage. Occasionally, the whole body will be treated in order to allow for compensating body mechanics.
Many of the techniques are the same as those used in advanced massage treatments. It will likely include strengthening exercises, various types of passive and facilitated stretching, moItbilisation and resistance.
MANUAL LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE (MLD)
MLD encourages lymph flow and reduces certain types of edema (swelling) by stimulating the lymphatic system and helps clear toxic tissue fluids from the body. It follows a specific routine that runs in the same direction as the lymph system.
Useful for waste removal, swelling reduction, cleansing, detoxification, chronic tiredness and immune function stimulation. It is widely performed in the treatment of lymphedema, swelling, due to lymph node dysfunction.
This gentle massage uses specific light, repetitive and precise strokes. Oil is not used, although some therapists prefer to use something in order to avoid skin drag. This treatment is performed on a treatment couch.
A very specialised treatment that manipulate the fascia. Fascia can be likened to an intricate spiderweb, that lays just below the skin, but envelopes the entire musculoskeletal system. The fascia is bound together as one whole unit so all the body requires treatment to ensure the entire system has been treated.
Damage to fascia can occur in the form of bindings. These occur for multiple reasons including poor posture, injury, physical and emotional stress. Fascia issues often manifest in pain some distance from the problem binding.
This treatment is a gentle massage that involves lightly sinking into the skin to glide into the fascia below. It's performed across all directions of the fascia to check for and detect any binding. Where bindings are present and then released some clients experience a short sharp pain at the end of the stroke and a burning sensation.
A wonderfully deep and strong massage which combines techniques similar to those used in acupressure, reflexology and general massage. The stretching movements are beneficial to flexibility & improving joint range. A wonderful restorative balance to body & mind.
It provides excellent posture improvement and achieves visible physical results quickly. Although a strong treatment it starts gently and slowly work up to a level that you’re able to achieve and feel comfortable with.
The theapist works around the body and will use both hands and feet to massage & manipulate different muscles and sen (energy) pathwaths. This is combined with moving / manipulating limbs into different positions similar to yoga poses. The client lies still on a padded mattress and the therapist works around the body.
Reflexology involves applying pressure to points on the foot that correspond to specific parts of the body. It works with the body’s reflex points and can be deeply relaxing, sometimes causing people to fall asleep during treatment.
Correlations to painful foot reflex points to previous or ongoing problems on the body are common. The theory of reflexology is that by clearing these reflex points in the foot we can clear the pain in the body.
The client sits on a massage couch fully clothed. Traditionally, talc is used rather than oil, but this depends on therapist preference.
It is useful for clients who want a therapeutic treatment, but feel uncomfortable to remove clothes or be touched.
INDIAN HEAD MASSAGE
Believed to offer benefits for eyestrain, insomnia, headaches and migraine. It’s a relaxing, soothing treatment that is especially good for individuals that hold tension in their head, neck and jaw.
The therapist begins by working on the head and will go on to treat the upper back, shoulders, arms, neck scalp and face. Oils are only used on the face and optionally the head.
For this treatment the client is seated in a chair and remains fully clothed.
Services provided in accordance with The Sports Massage Association's code of conduct. Requests outside of this will be reported.