There Is More Than One Kind of Massage

So, you’ve never gotten a massage and this year for your birthday a close friend or relative has given you a gift certificate to a local spa. The certificate says it is specifically for a one-hour massage and all you can envision is what you’ve seen on television sitcoms or in the movies – and it isn’t a pretty sight. The massage therapist is either some sweet, young thing, barely dressed in a scene full of sexual innuendo, or the massage therapist is a hefty Scandinavian woman who looks to be straight out of a Wagnerian opera. The only other option you know of is the retired prize fighter who gives back rubs to athletes.

Remember, these are just stereotypes. The reality is a lot less intimidating, though first times can be kind of scary. You don’t want to get undressed in front of a stranger. You don’t want them touching you – well, anywhere you don’t want to be touched.

The most common type of massage is the Swedish massage. It is the one most people think of when thinking of getting bodywork – or simply a back rub. It consists mostly of long, fluid, rhythmic strokes that relax the body.

On TV, a bit of a false impression is given. Even though a Swedish massage is relaxing and usually given in a room with low lights and lovely ambient music, it is clinical in nature and not sensual. The therapist has had many hundreds of hours of training – some states require a minimum of 1,000 hours of education which include not only massage techniques such as the traditional Swedish, but also anatomy, physiology, neurology, pathology, and more.

Most massage schools also teach additional modalities such as sports massage and various Asian methods. Massage therapists are also required to take continuing education courses to maintain a license to practice, or belong to one of the professional massage organizations.

When you go to redeem your gift certificate, don’t be afraid to ask what types of massage the therapist or spa specializes in and what options or alternatives to Swedish massage they have to offer. Perhaps they have a focus on Asian modalities, such as Shiatsu or Thai massage, both of which are given while the client is fully clothed, lying on a floor mat rather than a massage table. A chair massage is another option where the client remains clothed. These offer good – and safe – introductions to someone who may be reluctant to disrobe.

Take advantage of that wonderful gift you received and get your massage today! You won’t be disappointed.

On this site there is a list of the various bodywork modalities, as well as what they may be helpful for. Click here, and take a few minutes to check out the familiar as well as those you may never have heard of.