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What is the Purpose of Massage Therapy - Different Types of Massage

Updated on February 3, 2017

Getting a massage is not just for fun. A properly delivered massage can have many health benefits. So when someone asks "what is the purpose of massage therapy?" the answers are as many as there are problems like stress or muscular pain you might need to deal with, or different massage techniques...

Currently there are more than 200.

The purpose of the therapy will largely depend on your body, and any problems you might have that you think massage might be suitable for use in treating. Issues such as tension, stress, and even sleeping problems can all be addressed, as can many others.

Does Massage Therapy Help?

There are a wide variety of conditions that massage therapy will help with. For instance:

1) Massage therapy will help you sleep better

As a relaxation therapy, therapeutic massages have shown to help regular recipients get to sleep more easily. Try getting a couple of short massages each week if you struggle to nod off at night.

2) Stress, anxiety, and depression can all be helped by massage

The relaxing benefits of a massage are there to be seen (and felt). Massage therapy is even sometimes prescribed to help patients who've had serious operations relax and recover.

3) Deal with back pain, knee pain, and even carpal tunnel syndrome

As well as helping with general tension, certain types of massage can be used to give relief with particular problems you may be experiencing.

Studies from the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey, and others, have shown osteoarthritis in the knees can be in some measure treated by massage. Other studies (from Rheumatology International, among others) have indicated that hand massage can be used to improve the health of sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome.


What is Spa Massage?

With more than 200 massage techniques currently known, getting the right for you occasionally takes a little more thought than simply saying "I want a massage in Notting Hill" - or whichever part of the country you happen to live in - and strolling down to your nearest massage parlour.

It's also not always as simple as knowing the answer to the question "what is the most relaxing massage?" You might need a specific type of massage to deal with a particular health issue, for example. Here are some of the most common types of massage:

Therapeutic Massage

Many people conflate therapeutic massage with a deep tissue massage (see below). They are however, not the same thing.

There are several varieties of therapeutic massage, such as neuromuscular massage, sports massage, trigger point therapy, and many more. These therapeutic techniques are usually used in combination with each other, as well as with other methods.

Taken as a whole, these techniques are good at releasing tension, stress, and relieving pain.


Aromatherapy is a relaxation technique which can sometimes include a massage. The technique involves the use of essential oils - taken from medicinal plants, trees, flowers, herbs, and roots from all over the world - which are either inhaled, rubbed into the skin, diffused in the air, or massaged into the body.

You would most likely benefit from aromatherapy if you suffer from:

  • Trouble with sleeping or insomnia

  • Any sort of stress or anxiety

  • Joint or muscular pain

  • PMS or menopausal symptoms

Rashes, acne, bites, bruising, or other skin irritations

Deep Tissue Massage

This sort of treatment is more invasive than other types of massage. It's designed to treat pain rather than to offer real relaxation. Your masseur or masseuse will use their knuckles - and often their elbows - to push into knotted muscles. This will have a greatly relieving effect several days after the treatment, but may initially leave you feeling sore and uncomfortable.

People who'd normally benefit most from a deep tissue massage include:

  1. Athletes and other people who've put their body through some serious wear

  2. Anyone with tissue that's denser than the average person

In cases where it's been recommended as part of physical therapy

Hot Stones Massage

Much like a deep tissue treatment, a hot stones massage isn't normally for the beginner! It's essentially what it sounds like - your masseuse or masseur will place heated stones in specific locations on your body, as well as using them to gently massage any problem areas.

The heat itself is designed to be on the edge of tolerance, so this isn't the sort of massage where you can float away into your quiet place. You will be brought back into being aware of what's going on regularly!

That said, if you have seriously tense back and shoulders you'll notice some serious benefits after those hot stones have done their work.

So next time you plan on getting a massage - go for it. The health benefits of a good massage are many and varied. Just be sure you know what you're ordering!


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    • OliviaTJoyce profile image

      OliviaTJoyce 14 months ago from London

      My company provides massage during work hours. It's just a half an hour massage but it's enough to relax and de-stress. Afterwards, your body feels like new and your mind is refreshed. My best work is done right after I had a good massage session.