12 Different Kinds Of Massages And How You Can Benefit From Them

Question: When's the last time that you treated yourself to a massage? While some people think of them as nothing more than an indulgent pampering item to put on their to-do list whenever they've got some extra cash, the reality is there are many health benefits that come from them. According to SELF, massages help to relieve stress, reduce muscle soreness, bring relief to joint discomfort, make sleep easier and, if you're pregnant, massages can increase blood circulation throughout your body.

The American Massage Therapy Association goes on to share that massages can also treat lower back pain, reduce migraines, help to lower your blood pressure, decrease anxiety levels and make carpal tunnel syndrome more manageable (which is good to know when you think of how many of us are hammering away on keyboards for hours at a time every day).

So, as you can see, massages aren't something that should be seen as a luxury; actually, they are more like a necessity. But how do you know what kind of massage you actually need? That's what we're going to look into by exploring 12 different kinds of massages and some of the ways that each one of them can benefit you.

Swedish massage helps to relieve lower back, neck, and shoulder pain

Several years ago, NBC News published an article that explained what "relaxation-induced anxiety" is. Long story short, it's when people who need to relax end up becoming anxious at the mere thought of trying to actually do it. Something that could possibly help these individuals is a Swedish massage. That's because it's a very popular kind of massage that's designed to provide relaxation.

Aside from the fact that it can help to relieve pain throughout your back, neck, and shoulders, if you've got tension headaches, if you struggle with anxiety, if your blood pressure is high, or you're someone who struggles with severe PMS, Swedish massages are able to bring relief in all of these areas (via Healthline).

Since according to Oxford Academic there are more and more studies revealing that getting consistent massages could reduce the need for long-term medications, that is certainly another reason to consider giving a Swedish massage a shot; especially if you know that you need to rest more — or better.

Hot stone massage soothes muscle tension, increases blood circulation and improves posture

A massage therapist by the name of Amber Lynch once shared with Byrdie that, "A hot stone massage is a relaxing body treatment using flat, heated stones to ease deep into the muscle layer and erase tension held in the body while increasing circulation to the tissues." While initially, this kind of massage may seem like a bit of an odd approach, the benefits that it provides make it well worth considering.

Hot stone massages have a great reputation for soothing muscle tension, increasing blood circulation, and even improving your posture. A couple of other notable things about this type of massage: it can bring relief to symptoms that are associated with autoimmune diseases as well as help to relieve anxiety (via Healthline).

The main thing to keep in mind here is if you take blood thinners, you're diabetic, or you've had a surgical procedure within the past 12 months, you should speak with your doctor before booking an appointment. In these instances, sometimes hot stone massages can end up doing more harm than good.

Deep tissue massage reduces high blood pressure and improves respiratory function

You've probably heard of a deep tissue massage before. It's what happens when a massage therapist hones in on deep layers of muscle and the tissue that's around it in order to treat chronic pain or bodily injuries (via Medical News Today). It's the kind of massage that's pretty popular among athletes because it can help to speed up the healing process of sports-related injuries.

Even if you're not an athlete, a deep tissue massage is something to consider because it can also reduce your blood pressure, help to improve your respiratory function and help to treat lower back pain and stiffness as well (via Healthline). It can do this by increasing blood circulation while reducing bodily inflammation.

The word of caution here is if you're pregnant, you take blood thinners, you have some type of a skin infection or you're currently going through cancer treatments, you need to speak with your physician before getting a deep tissue massage — just to be on the safe side.

Aromatherapy massage reduces anxiety, lessens pain, and treat insomnia

Aromatherapy massages are wonderful because they can help to reduce anxiety, lessen pain, and treat insomnia by incorporating essential oils into your massage sessions. For instance, bergamot essential oil can help to reduce bodily inflammation, lavender can help to de-stress you, chamomile can decrease anxiety levels, ylang ylang oil is great at treating insomnia, and peppermint oil can help to improve one's athletic performance (via Healthline).

Something else that's helpful about aromatherapy massages is it doesn't only target some of your physical issues, it's designed to improve your mental state too. Just make sure that your massage therapist dilutes the oil a bit, so that you don't have to worry about the potency of the oil causing skin irritation or giving you a rash. Also, if you're unsure about how a particular oil will affect your skin, request that your therapist put it into a diffuser; that way, you can inhale the oil without it coming into direct contact with your skin (via Healthline).

Acupressure relieves stress, reduces headaches, and decreases menstrual pain

If acupressure sounds really similar to acupuncture to you, you're definitely onto something. In fact, WebMD explains it well when it says that acupressure is basically acupuncture sans the needles. Just like acupuncture, acupressure is a form of Chinese medicine that focuses on applying pressure to various acupoints on your body's meridians in order to bring some balance back to your system.

While many people enjoy acupressure when it comes to relieving stress and reducing headaches, Vogue shares that it can also help in the areas of reducing back pain and menstrual discomfort. As a bonus, since acupressure helps to stimulate blood flow throughout your body, it can even strengthen your hair follicles which can lead to healthier tresses.

Keep in mind here that you should definitely speak with your doctor first if you're pregnant. Also, you should mentally prepare yourself to feel sore or to have some mild bruising following your appointment. While these "side effects" don't happen to everyone, there is a possibility (via Verywell Health).

Cupping reduces bodily inflammation, increases blood circulation, and strengthens immunity

If there's one particular kind of massage that tends to feel better than it looks, it would have to be cupping. It's when small cups are literally placed onto areas of your body like your back, stomach, arms, and/or legs to "suction" your skin.

Why would anyone want to do this? Well, the mindset behind it is, that when your skin is pulled upward, it draws some of your blood to a particular area which increases blood circulation and potentially speeds up the healing process if you were to have an injury or you've got some sort of bodily inflammation. Some health experts also think that cupping has the ability to boost immunity and improve your metabolism (via Healthline).

Some tips to keep in mind when it comes to cupping — you should discuss with your massage therapist ahead of time the kind of cupping technique you want to use (there are several), that you eat very light meals two to three hours before your appointment and that you prepare for some semi-mild discoloration to remain on your skin for about a week. If you're willing to endure that "con," though, a couple of cupping sessions could prove to be well worth your while.

Reflexology reduces pain, improves your mood, and boosts fertility

According to Mayo Clinic, reflexology is simply when you apply pressure to feet or hands (mostly feet, though). The idea is that because there are approximately 7,000 nerve endings in each foot and many of them connect to different organs, reflexology can help to bring relaxation and healing to your body.

If you're looking for a way to reduce pain and improve your overall mood, reflexology can be helpful. Because it also can be beneficial when it comes to balancing hormones, improving immunity, and relieving stress, some say that it also can be beneficial to fertility too (via Healthline).

Also, according to the University of Minnesota, there are some fairly extensive studies that say reflexology is great when it comes to reducing pain and nausea in cancer patients. Researchers found it can be as effective as some drugs when you're trying to treat a migraine and that it can also bring relief to individuals who deal with chronic sinusitis — if these are any of the things that you are currently dealing with, booking at least one reflexology session couldn't hurt. Right?

Cranial sacral therapy relieves migraines, reduces sinus infections, and eases constipation

Cranial sacral therapy — also known as craniosacral therapy (CST) — is a kind of massage that you may have never heard of before; still, it's pretty impressive when it comes to all that it is able to do for you. According to Healthline, it gets its name because cranial sacral therapy is all about focusing on the compression of the bones in your head, lower back, and spinal column.

While initially, this type of massage might seem like it leans on the intimidating side, it actually involves applying mild pressure. In fact, it's so favored in the health profession that physical therapists and chiropractors implement it into their work as well.

Benefits-wise, cranial sacral therapy is super helpful if you're looking for a way to relieve migraines, reduce sinus infections, or ease constipation. Some people like applying this type of massage technique to help them to sleep better or to get them through a somewhat difficult pregnancy.

And while all of these are strong reasons to consider booking at least one cranial sacral therapy appointment, by far the leading one should be if you're looking for headache relief because it's pretty consistent with results in that department.

Shiatsu massage decreases depression and improves bowel function and quality of sleep

Whether you've been feeling constipated, you've been tossing and turning all throughout the night or you've been feeling a little down and out as of late, something that could help you to feel much better is a Shiatsu massage. Although it is basically a type of acupressure massage, what makes it unique is the fact that Shiatsu is all about applying different kinds of stretching and kneading techniques to your joints (via Insider).

While Shiatsu is gaining in popularity, there is still research that is being done on its effectiveness. There are studies published by Science Direct that support the fact that it can help to improve the quality of sleep of athletes who are healing from injuries and that it can also help to improve lower back pain over time.

So, if any of this has piqued your interest and you've got 60-90 minutes to lie back and allow some trained thumbs, fingers, elbows, and knees to touch some of your tension and pain-related points, a Shiatsu massage could help you in ways you never thought possible.

Reiki speeds up tissue healing, reduces body tension, and relieves fatigue

Australian writer Germaine Greer once said, "Energy is the power that drives every human being. It is not lost by exertion but maintained by it, for it is a faculty of the psyche." This is important to keep in mind when it comes to Reiki massages because they're all about focusing on how to properly channel energy in order to put you on the path to healing.

In this case, usually what a massage therapist will do is put their hands around your head, torso and limbs for three to 10 minutes at a time. If they feel a sense of warmth in those areas of your body, they will keep their hands there until the sensation is gone (via Medical News Today). Many clients like this form of therapy because it can help to heal tissues, reduce body tension and relieve fatigue. Others say that it brings them a feeling of relaxation and peace, according to The Cleveland Clinic

Since Reiki is designed to focus on the mind, body, and spirit, it can be a form of holistic therapy; however, many medical experts recommend that it shouldn't be seen as a substitute for medical exams or seeing a licensed therapist for mental and emotional challenges. If anything, treat it as a complement to these things; not a replacement for them.

Prenatal massage reduces achy muscles and joints and decreases the risk of premature births

There are very few times in a woman's life when she's going to go through as many drastic changes, in such a short period of time, as when she's pregnant. There's body swelling. There are muscle aches. There's joint pain. And when there's almost a year of this, it can also lead to feeling stressed and enduring restless nights.

According to American Pregnancy, something that can help to bring some real relief is prenatal massages. Not only can they help to ease some of your physical discomforts, but they can also help to balance out your hormones, improve any nerve pain that you might experience, decrease tension headaches, increase blood circulation throughout your body and help more oxygen to get to your muscles and tissues. Verywell Family also adds that prenatal massages can help to lower stress levels and decrease your chances of having a premature birth as well.

As far as when it's best to start getting these kinds of massages, make sure to speak with your doctor or midwife. For the record, some massage therapists prefer to wait until you're well into your second trimester to avoid putting you in any sort of miscarriage risk, per Baby Center. In the meantime, whether you decide to get a prenatal massage or not, just know that it is a therapeutic option that is available to you.

Couples massages reduce stress, enhance moods, and improves well-being

It's pretty common knowledge at this point that the five love languages are physical touch, gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, and quality time (via Cosmopolitan). Well, if there's an activity that incorporates two of these (physical touch and quality time) exceptionally well, it's a couples massage.

Besides it being able to give you and your partner many of the health benefits that we've already discussed, POPSUGAR interviewed Dana McNeil, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of The Relationship Place, who said, "A couples massage creates an experience of being connected in a softer energy than what the outside world pushes on us."

As a direct result, engaging in a couples massage can boost endorphins, reduce stress levels and improve mental clarity. All of these things work together to encourage healthy communication which can cause a deeper connection with your partner.

So, whether you decide to make it a spa date, to hire a massage therapist to come to your home or you opt to give each other a massage, do your relationship a favor and have a couples massage soon. Both you and your relationship will be forever grateful that you did.