Did you know that types of massage dates back to more than 3,000 years ago?

Some of those techniques are still used today but, over time, a variety of others developed. Today, there are many different types of massage, each with their own benefits.

Whether you’re suffering from an injury or just looking for a little relaxation, massage can help. But knowing what type of massage is best for what you’re looking for is an important part of your healing.

Keep reading as we break down the 5 most popular types of body massage, what they involve, and what the benefits are.

What Is Massage?

Massage is a healing practice that involves rubbing or kneading the body using hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearms, feet, or even a device. It’s usually given by a massage therapist, or someone trained in the technique used.

types of massage
Body Massage

Many types of massage involve the patient lying down on a massage chair. Some others require that you lay down on a mat.

Different Types of Massage

Massage is for anything from relaxation to treating pain or recovering from an injury. But different types of massage treat different things and offer their own specific benefits.

Below are the 5 most common types of body massage, what you can expect from them, and what the benefits are.


Swedish massage is the most common types of body massage you’ll find in gyms, spas, clinics, and wellness centers. Although, the name “Swedish” massage is only used in Dutch and English speaking nations. Elsewhere, this is known as classic massage.

This is a gentle, full-body massage. It lasts approximately 60 to 90 minutes, during which time the therapist uses five basic strokes.

These are Swedish Massage Benefits:

  • effleurage (long smooth strokes)
  • petrissage (kneading, rolling, and lifting)
  • friction (wringing or small circular movements)
  • tapotement (percussion)
  • vibration (rocking and shaking movements)

These movements release muscle knots and help manage minor pain. They can help with joint stiffness and even osteoarthritis. If you hold a lot of stress or tension, Swedish massage can help manage or reduce that.

This is a great massage for people who are new to massage or who are sensitive to touch. It’s especially helpful when you’re recovering from an injury.

Hot Stone

A hot stone massage effects on your body uses similar techniques to Swedish massage but with the inclusion of hot stones. These stones are typically basalt stones, which is a type of volcanic rock that holds heat. The stones are heated up to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hot stone massage can actually relieve more tension than a Swedish massage because of that heat. The heat helps to loosen the muscle. The therapist can then reach areas of built-up tension faster and easier.

These types of body massage last around 90 minutes. The therapist might place the stones on different parts of your body or hold them in their hand as they use Swedish massage techniques.

They’ll usually place stones along:

  • spine
  • stomach
  • chest
  • face
  • feet/toes
  • hands/palms

A hot stone massage is great for relieving muscle tension and pain. It promotes relaxation just like Swedish massage which helps to reduce and manage stress. An added benefit of hot stone massage is that it improves blood flow.

Because of the heat involved with a hot stone massage, people with certain medical conditions should check with their doctor before getting one. This includes people with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or varicose veins.


Another variety of Swedish massage, aromatherapy uses the same five techniques but combines it with scented plant oils. These plant oils, known as essential oils, are added to the massage oil.

Benefits of Aromatherapy

Each of these scents is believed to have its own healing properties. For example, not only is lavender great for healing physical skin problems such as acne and scarring, but the essence of the plant is also believed to promote relaxation.

An aromatherapy massage is great for people with headaches, digestive orders, insomnia, and premenstrual symptoms. Of course, because it uses the same techniques as Swedish massage, it also has all of the same relaxation and pain relief benefits.

Deep Tissue

A deep tissue massage applies a lot more pressure than the other forms of massage we’ve listed. These 60 to 90 minutes massage use slower strokes with very deep pressure applied with the fingers.

Benefits of Deep Tissue

These movements are meant to remove muscle knots and get to the deep layers of muscle and connective tissue. This also breaks up the scar tissue that’s created by various injuries, eventually reducing built-up tensions.

This type of massage isn’t necessarily for relaxation. If that’s your main goal, you’re better off with another type of massage. Instead, use deep tissue massage for treating pain, chronic muscle problems, injury, imbalance, or repetitive strain.


Shiatsu massage has ancient roots in traditional Chinese medicine. It works through the same acupressure points as acupuncture healing but therapists will also focus on areas that need specific attention. The intention is to improve energy flow while treating muscles and joints at the same time.

Benefits of Shiatsu

Shiatsu generally lasts for 60 to 90 minutes. Therapists apply localized pressure using their fingers, hands, or elbows. But they do this through a rhythmic sequence different from other techniques. It also doesn’t involve using oil or lotion and you’re able to wear clothing throughout the massage.

Also unlike other techniques, Shiatsu massage takes place on a mat on the floor or a very low massager table. It’s most beneficial to people looking for relaxation and stress-relief. It can also be used to relieve pain and tension.

Ready to Relax?

Massage is an ancient practice that’s used for a number of different reasons. While some people get a massage to relax and relieve tensions and stress, others need it to help them recover from injury or chronic muscle and joint pain. Regardless of the type of relief, you’re looking for, there’s likely a number ofย types of body massage for you.

And for more lifestyle advice like this, check out our health and wellness blog.

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