There’s nothing like somebody massaging your scalp or shoulders to lull you into a state of utter relaxation. Spa treatments such as massages, facials, body scrubs and wraps are exquisite ways to pamper yourself after a rough day, week, month or even as a yearly birthday treat to yourself. But, for the newbie to the spa scene, some of the treatments on the menu might be a bit confusing. So, here are a few of the more popular massage types and a breakdown of what they are and what they do.
The standard type of massage offered, Swedish massage, involves the massage therapist, utilizing either lotion or scented oils on your skin, to begin with broad general strokes and then transition to specific strokes to address problem areas. There are five basic strokes in Swedish massage therapy: effleurage (long smooth strokes), petrissage (kneading, rolling, and lifting), friction (wringing or small circular movements), tapotement (percussion), and vibration (rocking and shaking movements). Swedish massage provides a full body muscle relaxation.
Hot Stone Massage
Just like it sounds, a hot stone massage uses warm stones. The massage therapist will place heated, smooth stones on specific points on the body and also holds the warm stones while giving the massage. The stones are usually a type of volcanic rock that retains heat well, such as basalt. The warmth of the stones can be relaxing and can loosen tight muscles so that the therapist can reach areas of muscle tension quickly.
Pre-natal or pregnancy massage is tailored to an expectant mom’s needs but is most often used to promote relaxation. Massage therapists who have gone through specialized training and certification in prenatal massage know how to position and support the woman’s body during the massage, modify techniques, and avoid certain techniques and areas during pregnancy. Most have a special table that allows the woman to rest comfortably and safely during the massage. Many pregnant women suffer from lower back pain and swollen ankles, especially in the later months. If so, a prenatal massage is a relatively safe, drug-free way to provide relief.
If you have certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or varicose veins, you should check with your health care provider if you plan on getting a massage. Likewise, if you take any blood-thinning medication, be sure to get a medical opinion first.