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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

Which kind of massage is best for stress?


Which kind of massage is best for stress?

When it comes to relieving stress and anxiety, massage therapy is one of the most popular and well-known treatments. Massage has been used for centuries to help people relax and reduce tension, and modern research has proven that massage can be an effective tool in managing stress. Massage can help with both the physical pain and stiffness of muscles as well as helping the body calm stress hormones and release good ones which mentally calm the body when stressed. But looking at any Massage Therapist's "menu" of offerings, there can be so many types of massage - which one is best for just basically relieving stress?


Swedish massage is the most common type of massage, and is known for its long, slow strokes and gentle pressure. This type of massage is designed to relax the body and mind, and can be an effective way to reduce stress. It is particularly beneficial for those who are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, as the relaxing strokes can help to ease muscle tension and promote a sense of calm. It can be done with lighter pressure if there are no muscular issues or "knots" or a slightly deeper pressure could be used to untangle and relieve any muscular tightness.

Which kind of massage is best for stress?

Deep tissue massage is another popular type of massage, and is used to target deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. This type of massage is more intense than Swedish massage and is used to release chronic muscle tension and reduce stress. It is useful for breaking up scar tissue and more chronic issues or past injuries. Deep tissue massage can be uncomfortable at times and is not recommended for those with sensitive skin, those taking blood thinners, or those who are new to massage. This type of massage is a little more therapeutic than simply "relaxing", however if someone knows that they need a deeper type of work to relieve pain, that may be what they need to relieve their stress, but it isn't for everyone.



Which kind of massage is best for stress?

Hot stone massage is a very different type of massage that uses heated stones to massage the body. With a traditional hot stone massage, the stones are heated in a basin of water, which makes it a moist heat treatment and moist heat is extremely effective in reaching and relaxing the deeper layers of muscles without the need to apply deeper or heavier pressure. The heat from the stones helps to relax the muscles, promote circulation, and reduce stress. It can also help calm inflammation, which makes it effective in helping arthritis or joint pain. Many times essential oils will also be incorporated into a hot stone massage which can additionally help calm the mind and relieve stress, making this type of massage a whole body and senses experience that can result in full physical and mental relaxation.


Lymphatic drainage massage focuses on encouraging the increase of circulation of lymph - the fluid in the body that helps clear out waste, inflammation, and toxins from the system while helping improve circulation and getting the "good stuff" more easily where it needs to go. It may be an option for stress relief because it is a very light, very gentle form of massage. There is no muscle kneading or manipulation like in a Swedish Massage, so it is a technique that feels very different from a "regular" massage, however it can be very calming and relaxing. Since it is a very light technique, it may not be suitable for anyone who is very ticklish.


So there are many different types of massage, but which is best for beating stress? It depends on what is causing the stress, and each person's own personal preference as far as what their body needs during a massage. There is rarely one answer such as "Deepest or nothing" or "Only light to relax". Every body, massage technique, and massage therapist's style is different, so the key to finding which massage is right for relaxation and relieving stress is communication of goals with the therapist, and perhaps trying a few different styles or techniques to find what works the best.

Which kind of massage is best for stress?

Thoughts from the therapist: With over 80 different recognized massage therapy modalities, there really is a modality for everyone and everyone's needs. What can reduce stress in one person may not work as well for another. Another set of massage modalities I'm not going into depth on is energy work-based modalities such as Cranial Sacral Therapy, Zero Balancing, or Reiki. These energy-based techniques can help some people calm their mind and de-stress mentally. I personally don't have a lot of training or expertise in these modalities, so I'm not speaking about them here, but they are another option to look into. Another way to help any massage modality reduce stress is to pair it with another self-care routine such as meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, or even just resolving to leave your massage and take some quiet time with a good book. My Instagram page has some breathing and mental break posts at least once a week, so if you are already online and cruising through social media, take a look at some pages or sites that provide mental breaks or tips to help reduce stress.


Schedule your next stress-busting massage easily by clicking here.

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