Cartoon character confused by signpost displaying 5 different types of massage

Types Of Massage: From Aromatherapy To Zen

Discover into the six massage styles that together address all needs.

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We often find ourselves puzzled by the multitude of massage options available. This article simplifies and explains six key types of massage, ensuring that whether you need remedial therapy for an injury or mental stress relief, you'll easily find the right treatment.


Understanding the Different Types of Massage: A Global Perspective

At The Massage Rooms we offer a wide range of different massage treatment types, but in fact there are hundreds of forms of massage practiced globally. With so many options, how can you choose the one that best suits your needs?

Here's a breakdown of six main types:


1. Soothing Massages

Soothing massages, such as Swedish massage, offer a gentle treatment perfect for those new to massage or seeking relaxation. Focusing on flowing strokes (effleurage) and light tapping (tapotement), these massages are a widely popular choice for calming and comfort.

Swedish massage technique being performed on client's back

Target: General Relaxation
Ideal Duration:
60 minutes
Best For:
First timers, sensitive bodies, reducing anxiety, inducing sleep
What to Wear: Undress completely or to underwear 

A gentle and soothing style of treatment, massages of this kind are among the most regularly requested and encompass various methods including the classic Swedish massage. They represent one of the best ways to enter the world of different soothing massage treatments.

Soothing massages typically involve light to lower-medium pressure, to deliver a calming and relaxing experience.

Depending on where you are in the world, soothing massages may be known by various names such as aromatherapy (or aroma), Californian, classic or relaxing massage, among others. Many of these are synonymous with Swedish massage but can encompass other gentle techniques as well.

Targeted versions of soothing massages are also popular, such as our Jet Lag and Hangover Indian Head massages. These often use similar techniques but focus mainly on the head and neck area to relieve specific symptoms.

In summary, soothing massages encompass a range of techniques designed for serenity and pampering.

Whether you're new to massage or just seeking a calming experience, these therapies are an excellent solution for stress relief and often used to aid in falling asleep.



2. Deeper Massages

Deeper massages, such as deep tissue, apply more pressure to work further into the muscles, going beyond surface relaxation. These massages use similar techniques to soothing massages but with added intensity and kneading, offering both relief from tension and invigoration.

Therapist performing deep tissue massage on male client's back

Target: Deeper tissue decompression
Ideal Duration:
Best For:
Regulars, stronger bodies, tension relief
What to Wear: Undress completely or to underwear 

Therapists providing deeper massages often employ techniques found in Swedish massage, like effleurage and tapotement, along with more intense methods like rolling and kneading (petrissage). These practices reach deep into soft tissues and loosen tight muscles, providing a profound release.

These more intense types of massages are known for more than their ability to soothe; they can invigorate the body’s immune system by encouraging improved blood circulation. Deep tissue massages are often chosen to combat stress and anxiety, as the sensation of firm but smooth pressure redirects thoughts from worry to present enjoyment.

While deeper massages employ a more meaningful touch, they should still be a calming experience without causing pain.

Whether you need deep relaxation or targeted muscle release, deeper massages aim to restore both body and mind, making them suitable for those looking for something more than a gentle massage.



3. Spiritual Holistic Massages

Spiritual holistic massages, such as Lomi Lomi, Balinese, and Yoga massage styles, provide an intense relaxation experience that transcends the physical. With techniques reminiscent of ocean waves, these massages offer warmth and good energy that connect body and soul.

Spa room with therapist performing Lomi Lomi massage with elbow

Target: Holistic revival for the mind, body and soul
Ideal Duration:
Best For:
Experienced regulars, adventurous spirits
What to Wear: Undress fully 

Originating from places like Hawaii, Bali, and India, spiritual holistic massages are often likened to swimming in the ocean. Therapists use smooth yet powerful strokes along the entire length of the body, employing fingers, hands, and arms simultaneously. The aim is to create a flood of warmth and positive energy that penetrates not only the skin but reaches deep into the mind.

Well trained practitioners in these traditions believe their role is to help clients find natural balance, peace, and happiness. Whether through the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi, Balinese, or an Indian Ayurvedic Yoga massage, the powerful physical strokes are delivered in a meditative state, promoting spiritual connection and holistic wellbeing.

These types of massages are more than simple relaxation techniques; they encompass a philosophy that connects the body, mind, and spirit.

For those seeking a deeper, spiritual connection through massage therapy, these treatments offer a truly unique and enriching experience.



4. Injury and Performance Massages

Injury and performance massages, such as sports massage and our physio-style treatments, are tailored to target specific injuries and problem areas. These therapies are designed to restore soft tissue health, realign joints, and overcome physical and mental blocks related to strenuous activity.

Therapist working on client's knee during a sports massage session

Target: Focused therapy for pain relief and recovery
Ideal Duration:
Best For:
Those with ailments or physical injuries
What to Wear: Uncover injury area only 

More targeted than a typical deep tissue massage, these specialised treatments aim to deal with specific issues such as calf strains from running or tennis elbow. Therapies like sports massage can feel painful at times as injured tissue and nerves are manipulated, but any discomfort is usually momentary.

Closely related to sports massage is our physio-style massage, which uses fundamental physiotherapy techniques to restore joints and soft tissue. Often used alongside sports massage, physio-style massages are also effective at helping our clients overcome mental blocks that may have arisen following a significant mobility issue.

These injury and performance massages are essential for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, or anyone dealing with physical strain or injury.

By focusing on specific areas, therapists can provide targeted relief and aid in recovery, ensuring optimal performance and wellbeing.



5. Asian Massages

Asian types of massage, such as Thai massage, focus on deep stretches and energy flow, aiming to clear blockages in vital channels.

Woman receiving a Tui Na massage, one of the most popular Asian Chinese massage styles

Target: Remedial revitalisation
Ideal Duration:
60 minutes
Best For:
Flexible bodies, brave types
What to Wear: Undress or loose clothing 

Combining spiritual energy with the healing power of physical touch is a key theme in these Asian massage styles, with each having a slightly different interpretation. 

Both Thailand's signature traditional Thai massage therapy and the ancient Indian Ayurvedic massage focus on deep stretches, with the Thai type also incorporating some (harmless) cracking of joints. Chinese and Japanese massages also employ a range of stretching techniques but often lean more towards pressure point and powerful rubbing techniques. 

Another tenet of Asian massages is the principle of life force energy. The body is believed to comprise channels (or meridians) through which vital energy should flow freely. Asian massage techniques are frequently designed to try to clear blockages in these channels. This is seen especially in acupressure techniques such as our popular Shiatsu and closely related foot reflexology massages, as well as in Cupping therapy, another ancient Asian practice, which uses suction cups to stimulate blood flow and healing.

Regardless of the specific Asian massage technique, treatments are usually shorter and more intense than Western massage styles. The aim is to provide a form of medicinal remedy to ailments rather than to be a luxurious treat or general stress reducing therapy.  

For a more detailed exploration of Asian massage techniques, be sure to check out our specific blog post: Most Popular Types of Asian Massage. It delves into the unique practices and benefits that make these massages truly special. 



6. Female Focused Massages

Special massages like pregnancy massage, slimming anti-cellulite, and lymphatic drainage are popular with women for their specific benefits.

Hand on belly of pregnant woman during a specialised massage

Target: Improved skin appearance, weight loss, tranquillity 
Ideal Duration:
Best For:
Women (mainly)
What to Wear: Undress to level of comfort 

Pregnancy, slimming, anti-cellulite, and lymphatic drainage massage are three types of massage which whilst not all exclusively for females are by far and away more popular with women than men. 

For pregnant women who are in their second or third trimester, pregnancy massage offers gentle relaxation and rebalance through empathetic touch during what is usually a highly demanding period both physically and mentally.

Slimming anti-cellulite and lymphatic drainage massage are two other popular techniques among females.

Slimming massages use specialist techniques to improve the appearance of skin by reversing the effects of cellulite

Lymphatic drainage massage uses soft flowing strokes to gently energise and awaken the lymphatic system, which in turn can improve immunity to common issues such as colds and reduce water retention.



Client Favourites: Popular Massage Styles at The Massage Rooms

While the above guide illustrates six main types of massage generally recognised worldwide, it's worth noting that preferences vary among different clientele and locations.

At The Massage Rooms, our most popular massage styles booked provide a blend of peacefulness, healing, and invigoration. Our clients frequently choose Swedish, Deep Tissue, Thai, Indian Head, Sports, and Ayurvedic massages. These favourites align with global trends, but also reflect the unique preferences and needs of our clientele here in London, UK.

By understanding both the broader categories and our client's specific favourites, you can gain a comprehensive view of the massage world and make an informed decision about the treatment type that might best suit you.

Infographic illustrating the most popular massage styles at The Massage Rooms



Choosing the Right Type of Massage for Your Needs

It can be a bit daunting to choose from the diverse world of massage therapy, especially when confronted with so many different types of massages. Whether your goal is to relieve pain, reduce stress, enhance sports performance, or simply indulge in a soothing spa style experience, understanding the different forms and benefits of each massage approach is important.

If natural body healing is your focus, therapies like lymphatic drainage or myofascial release therapy might be a good choice.

Looking to treat specific muscle pain or tension? Then a deeper sports massage, often performed on a dedicated massage table or chair, is more likely to provide the targeted pressure and release required.

Aromatherapy massages, incorporating essential oils, might be the perfect pick if you're seeking to release stress from anxiety.

Our therapists have an open discussion with you to review your needs and preferences, and then offer a tailored session just for you. Across all our treatment types, our session lengths range from 60 - 120 minutes.

At The Massage Rooms we take the guesswork out of selecting the right type of massage! We connect you with highly skilled therapists versed in a wide range of the most popular massage types and techniques. From the gentle, flowing strokes of our classic Swedish massage to the focused compression applied in our dedicated sports massage, we are sure to have a therapy that will match your unique needs.

When choosing the type of massage that aligns with your body's unique needs and preferences, a consultation with your attending therapist is strongly recommended.

Through a systematic review of your muscle condition, pressure inclinations, and desired therapy outcomes, our therapist can direct you to the treatment that matches with your natural body state. This collaborative process is key to crafting a bespoke and effective massage experience for you.

Our therapists have been trained to thoughtfully consider your general health, muscle needs, and therapy goals. Whether you desire a healing session on a massage chair at your office or a tranquil full body spa experience at home, we're here to support you in selecting the perfect massage type!

If you're new to massage or uncertain about the best option for you, we're committed to guiding you through this personal journey. 



The Science and Benefits Behind Various Types of Massage

The principles behind various types of massage are deeply rooted in science, offering a myriad of benefits that address both the body and mind.

Deeper techniques, such as deep tissue massage, focus on the underlying layers of muscle and connective tissue, applying pressure at specific points to release chronic tension and pain.

Sports massage, designed to support athletes, targets muscle groups used in particular activities, enhancing performance and recovery.

Myofascial massage, which involves stretching the fascia (connective tissue surrounding muscles), can help restore mobility and relieve back pain.

Even our office chair massages, which are typically of shorter length 15-30 minutes, can provide significant relief from stress and muscle tightness, especially around the neck and shoulders area.

All these techniques are supported by extensive research, demonstrating their ability to give profound health benefits.

The understanding of how massages work goes beyond mere stress relief; it's a scientifically proven method to promote natural body healing.

Our highly trained, experienced and empathetic therapists, can tailor the type of massage to your individual needs.

We'll use various pressures and techniques to stimulate or soothe particular points on the body, as needed. If you need the gentle touch of a Swedish massage or the intense pressure applied during one of our deep tissue sessions, we'll make sure our approach addresses your health and wellness concerns.

Choose the right style of massage and booking regular sessions with us can not only alleviate pain and reduce stress but also foster overall wellbeing, enhancing both your physical and mental health. 




Understanding the above six key types of massage will help you choose what's best for you. From remedial to tranquillity, we have a massage treatment type suitable for every need and every body.

Ready to indulge in the perfect massage after exploring these amazing types? Click the arrow below!



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