FFC Union Station massage therapist Aaron Gunn shares the benefits of Swedish Massage, plus other types of massage and all of their benefits.
Today is the day. You’ve made the decision to take that next step. You’re going to book a massage! You hop out of bed, put on your finest athleisure wear, eat a MyPlate-approved balanced breakfast (right after posting a picture of it on Instagram), and make your way to the closest FFC.
As you speed toward the club, you’re so excited about your dive into the world of massage therapy that you almost run over a now-terrified pedestrian. Slow down. The path to wellness is not a race.
You park your car and enter the doors that lead to your new destiny. You approach the spa desk and engage the gatekeeper. This is it. You have prepared for this moment. With confidence, you proclaim, “I would like to book a massage!” The receptionist smiles warmly and responds, “My pleasure. What type of massage would you like to book?”
Wait. Hold on. TYPE of massage? There’s more than one? You did not prepare for this. Which one do you choose? Swedish massage? Deep tissue? Sports massage? What if you choose the wrong one? Will you embarrass yourself, be disowned by your friends, and bring shame to your family? As beads of sweat begin to roll down your face, you panic and yell, “I HAVE DIARRHEA! I HAVE TO GO!”
Crisis averted. Try again tomorrow.
Types of Massage and Their Benefits
Now here’s the thing. You don’t have to be well-versed in the vast array of massage modalities to receive the type of bodywork that is most appropriate for you. At risk of further confusing things, I will briefly discuss a few types of massage that I most often get asked about: Swedish, deep tissue, sports, and myofascial.
Benefits of Swedish Massage
This is often used to describe a full-body or most-body massage that encourages fluid circulation and promotes relaxation. It intends to create a general sensation of feeling better without necessarily treating specific physical issues. However, as a technicality, Swedish massage techniques fall into a broad category that ranges from superficial and relaxing to some of the deepest and most aggressive techniques in the industry. It is not a simple task to describe Swedish, as it can have a variety of intended purposes.
Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage
Ready to have your mind blown? Deep tissue massage is technically Swedish massage. It’s just a specific application of some Swedish massage techniques done with a substantial amount of pressure. It aims at addressing deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue that are creating imbalance, pain, or other dysfunction. I find that many people are hesitant to book deep tissue massage because they expect it to be painful. Guess what? Deep work doesn’t need to be painful to be effective. I firmly (get it?) believe this.
Benefits of Sports Massage
You’re getting massage at your gym. You’re athletic, or at least trying to be. So this is the massage for you, right? Well, maybe. This is where it can get confusing – sports massage is a lot of different things, depending on how it’s complementing your athletic activity. It can be done right before your event/activity, aiming to prepare the body for the movements it’s about to do repetitively and/or forcefully. I can be done afterwards to help the body recover from activity. It could be a deep tissue massage, just specific to the muscle groups most utilized during your sport. Or a Swedish massage. It could be specific treatment of an athletic injury.
Just make sure that your therapist understands what your activities are and what your training schedule looks like. It is important to plan the timing of different massage types with the timing of your activities.
Myofascial Release Techniques & Benefits of Massage
Mostly simply put, myofascial massage is a category of techniques that addresses the connective tissue (fascia) within and surrounding your muscles (myo). By mobilizing connective tissue layers, the aim is to allow the body to move through its full range-of-motion without limitation or pain. While it can be an entire session alone, the reality is that myofascial techniques are incorporated into Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and sports massage.
And This Helps Me How?
I know what you might be thinking. After reading this overview of the various types of massage, you are now even less confident in booking the correct type of massage. That’s ok. The reality is that different modalities are often combined into a single session to give you a catered massage experience that is specific to your needs and goals. The most important thing to know is that you want to schedule a massage. Choose whichever option is closest to what you think you want, and choose the amount of time (if unsure, an hour is often a good place to start).
Then, just speak with your massage therapist. If we need to change the type of massage in our system, we can do that. Our priority is giving you the work that you NEED, not some pre-determined category of massage that you may have randomly chosen. When my clients arrive, I ask them about their goals, their activities, their known injuries and areas of discomfort, and what they are looking to accomplish. I guide them through my professional recommendations, and I structure the massage accordingly. As I often tell my clients: “You’re in good hands. I’m like Allstate.”
Post written by Aaron Gunn, FFC Union Station massage therapist.
Aaron Gunn has been an educator in the field of massage therapy for almost 13 years. In addition to being a practicing massage therapist, he is certified as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and a registered yoga teacher. He has had the privilege of providing massage therapy for a variety of sports teams and athletes. As a runner and triathlete, Aaron utilizes massage as a part of his own training programs. He aims to shift the perspective on the role of massage therapy to help individuals meet their fitness and wellness goals safely and pain-free. Want to schedule a consultation with Aaron? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org!