Finding the Right Type of Massage Therapy for You

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a common modality that can be beneficial for a variety of concerns from relaxation to sciatica. However, not all types of massage therapy are the same and some types may be better indicated for certain complaints.

Types of Massage Therapy

There are a lot of different types of massage therapy, but generally speaking, there are about 5 types of massage that are the most widely available and popular in western healthcare. What are they and how do you know which one is right for you?

Sports Massage

Sports massage focuses on helping to improve athletic performance, treat and prevent injury. This type of massage typically incorporates a variety of styles of massage such as deep tissue, Swedish and trigger point. The focus of treatment tends to be on specific areas that are most important to and do the most work in the sport or activity the individual participates in. It can address muscle tenderness, aches, pains, tension and injury with the goal of improving performance, aiding in recovery and preventing further harm.

Trigger Point Massage

Trigger point massage focusing on relieving the pain associated with trigger points. Trigger points are sore spots or knots in your muscles that when touched can produce feelings of pain in a different part of your body – referred pain. This type of massage focuses on working out those knots and relieving the tenderness associated with them.

Trigger point massage involves putting pressure on the knot and rubbing along the muscle and knot to “release” it. It can be a bit more uncomfortable than some other types of massage as the focus is on areas that are often very tender to the touch, but once a knot is released, relief is often immediate.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is the most common type of massage that involves long strokes and kneading along the muscles and can be combined with movement of joints to help release tension. It’s a very relaxing type of massage and often feels relieving with very little discomfort.

This type of massage also incorporates the use of friction to help break up scar tissues and adhesions, if you feel any discomfort during Swedish massage it’s often from friction and tends to be more annoying than painful.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is typically used to address difficult, painful areas. It involves slow movements and deep pressure to address muscles and tendons deeper under your skin. Deep tissue can be more uncomfortable than Swedish massage as it’s typically used to address areas that are already painful. Deep tissue massage can be helpful for addressing back strains and sprains, spasms, pulled muscles and muscle injury, chronic pain and tension.

Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage uses rhythmic pressure on targeted acupressure points on the body. Similar to the beliefs behind acupuncture in traditional Chinese medicine, applying pressure to these points is thought to help with energy flow and relieving the body of blockages. This is the type of massage that massage chairs and devices try to mimic and is typically used as a relaxing form of massage.

Which Type of Massage Therapy is Right For Me?

The type of massage you need depends on your particular concerns. Many RMTs will be trained in a variety of massage styles, most commonly Swedish, deep tissue, trigger point and/or sports massage. An RMT in Etobicoke will likely do a full assessment at your first appointment and will be able to help you find the right type of massage to suit your particular needs. RMTs that practice deep tissue, sports, and trigger point massage tend to take a more therapeutic approach to massage therapy and its benefits on your overall health and functioning. Therapeutic massage is typically offered by RMTs working out of chiropractic or physiotherapy clinics and other health clinic settings.

However, if you’re looking for more of a relaxing massage, consider seeking out a massage therapist that offers Swedish and Shiatsu massage. These types of massage tend to feel more relaxing and you can ask your massage therapist to avoid any therapeutic massage if you are just looking to relax. Typically relaxation massages will be offered by massage therapists in spas, wellness centers and gyms.


There are many types of massage, these are just the most common. Deciding what type of massage is best for you depends on what your particular needs are. If you are seeking help with pain or injury, therapeutic massage styles will be best suited to your needs. If you’re looking to relax, you may find that shiatsu massage is right for you. Talk to your massage therapist and they will be able to determine what style(s) of treatment may be best for you.

Read Also: How Occupational Therapy Can Improve Your Life After Injury

Finding the Right Type of Massage Therapy for You

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