The Definitive Guide To Massage


Types of massage therapy

These are some common forms of natural therapy massage in Australia.

Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage focuses on the inner, deeper, layers of muscles and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints). It involves long, slow strokes, with the massage therapist applying sustained pressure. Unlike other massage techniques, deep tissue massage does not focus purely on relaxation. While a deep tissue massage can help a patient unwind, it is also used to treat sports injuries, scar tissue build-up, knots, and muscle and chronic pain. A deep tissue massage usually involves the entire body, with extra attention paid to any problem areas.

Lomi Lomi massage

Therapists performing a lomi lomi massage use a combination of breathing and free-form instinctive techniques to open energy pathways, release tension, and remove blockages. The entire body is massaged with long, rhythmic, and sweeping strokes using the hands and forearms, and different parts of the body are often massaged at the same time. Lomi lomi massage can help lower blood pressure and improve circulation, flexibility and immune response.

Oriental Chinese massage

Chinese massage refers to two types of therapy – Tui na (pronounced twee-na), much like Western massage, is a push-and-pull method. Zhi ya (pronounced zee yah) uses pinching and pressing, similar to reflexology. In combination, this therapy involves twisting, turning, pinching, pulling and kneading the muscles, and can be used in conjunction with acupuncture. While Chinese massage does relax the muscles and relieve stress, it’s main goal is to heal the body.

Chinese massage is also known as Chinese remedial massage, traditional Chinese massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine massage (TCM massage), Chinese massage therapy, and Oriental massage (though this term is more dated, referring specifically to the Orient of the East, as opposed to the Occident of the West). This can be confusing, but all are essentially the same therapy with small deviations, such as including Chinese herbal medicines alongside TCM massage.

Pregnancy massage

Pregnancy puts a lot of strain on a woman’s shoulders, neck, back and abdominal muscles. Massage for women during pregnancy helps to ease some of this discomfort, and provides a range of other health benefits. Pregnancy massage is typically a gentle massage, and different techniques are used depending on the stage of a woman’s pregnancy. A qualified therapist will understand how to administer a massage that is safe for both mother and baby.

Remedial massage therapy

Remedial massage is the application of a range of therapeutic techniques, used to treat muscles that are knotted, tense, stiff, or damaged. The remedial therapist will assess and identify which areas of the body require treatment, and use a range of massage-based techniques to optimise muscle function.

Shiatsu massage

Shiatsu massage is a therapeutic bodywork that originated in Japan. It is a combination of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and contemporary physiological theory. Modern shiatsu combines TCM with other forms of therapy, and aims to amplify the body’s ability to heal itself. Like other massage techniques, shiatsu massage therapists use fingers, thumbs, elbows, and palms to apply pressure to different areas of the body. As with TCM massage, shiatsu follows the principles of Qi (energy) and meridian flow around the body, working with these elements and acupressure points to heal the body. ‘Shiatsu’ translates to ‘finger pressure’, and can have both preventive and remedial effects. Other therapies are commonly used in conjunction with shiatsu, such as acupuncture, dietician work, and herbal remedies.

Back pain massage

While not strictly a type of massage, many people seek the expertise of a massage therapist because of back pain. The two best types of lower back massage are deep tissue massage and remedial massage therapy, which use a number of back massage techniques to relieve pain, improve mobility, and promote relaxation.

What can I expect from my first massage appointment?

While you are sure to leave your first appointment feeling more relaxed than when you went in, there are a few things it is useful to know before your first appointment.

  • Make sure the therapist is aware it is your first massage, so they can check in with you during the session. Every person is different, and therapists are not always able to tell if a patient is in inappropriate discomfort – communication is key.
  • The therapist may request you to remove your clothes – they will leave it up to you to decide what you’re comfortable with. For most types of massage, the therapist will leave the room, and knock to see if you are ready, and already lying under the towel on the massage table.
  • There will be a certain level of discomfort during the massage, particularly if you have problem areas that are holding tension. Excessive pain should not be expected, and it should feel like a ‘good’ pain, as the tension is leaving your muscles.
  • Depending on the type of massage, you will experience soreness or stiffness a day or two after. As blood circulation increases during a massage, nutrients are delivered to your muscles. This can cause a type of inflammation, especially if you are not used to massages.
  • Soreness is a physical response to the inflammation this stimulation can cause. Soreness and stiffness can also be a result of lactic acidosis – a build up of lactic acid in your body. Stretching can relieve some of this discomfort.
  • Lastly, you can expect at least some pain alleviation after your soreness has disappeared! While some areas of tension, particularly scar tissue, can take a while to break down, regular tight muscles should feel more relaxed in the week following your massage.