5 Massage Therapy Types with Scientifically Proven Benefits

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With all the health claims behind the single word “massage”, many people have fallen into believing myths about massage therapy that are simply not true. In addition, some have proceeded to make claims that cannot be proven, thereby casting doubt on the legitimacy and professionalism of massage therapy in general.

You might be thinking…

“So, what’s true about massage therapy?”

In this article, we’ll be discussing 5 interesting scientifically proven massage therapy benefits. In addition, we will be listing out 5 modalities of massage therapy that you may want to try.

Here’s the quick breakdown:

5 Types of Massage Therapy:

1) Swedish Massage

2) Deep Tissue Massage

3) Sports Massage

4) Shiatsu Massage

5) Thai Massage

5 Benefits of Massage Therapy:

1) Reduces Myofascial Pain Syndrome

2) Helps to Cope with Anxiety and Stress

3) Sports Injuries Intervention

4) Reduces Back Pain

5) Alleviates Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Without further ado, let’s begin with the 5 types of massage therapy.

5 Types of Massage Therapy

1) Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is one of the most popular, well known types among many individuals.

Whether you’re new to the idea of massage therapy or a frequent client who even has their massage therapist’s number on speed dial, the Swedish massage technique is loved by all.

It is known for its five-step massage technique.

Usually, the steps in a Swedish massage flow as follows:

1) Effleurage (Sliding or Gliding)

2) Petrissage (Kneading)

3) Tapotement or Rhythmic Tapping

4) Friction (working across the muscle fibers)

5) Vibration or Shaking

If you’re a massage therapist, you will find these terms rather familiar too.

To execute a good and effective Swedish massage, many people would say you need to incorporate a good quality essential oil.

You can browse our selection of top quality essential oils here.

2) Deep Tissue Massage

As the name suggests, the Deep Tissue Massage is special for targeting into the deeper layers of your muscle fibers.

It may look very similar to other massage styles like the Swedish massage but, one should not be confused with the two.

The Swedish style massage only reaches the superficial layers whereas the deep tissue massage style is executed with the objective of reaching deep into the muscle.

Deep tissue massage is also known to release newer and smaller muscle knots instead of the older and larger area of tension ones.

Deep Tissue Massage has its list of techniques as well. The following are the common three that are used in deep tissue massage:

1) Myofascial Release

2) Cross Fiber Work

3) Friction

The deep tissue massage should not be mixed up with a sports massage. We’ll be explaining the difference in the next section.

3) Sports Massage

Massage therapists should help to curb the confusion that’s prevalent among the general public.

In many cases and by many people, sports massage is seen to be the same as deep tissue massage – which it is not.

Sports massage is able to not only target newer and smaller knots but the older and larger ones as well. This is made possible by using other advanced techniques on top of the ones listed under deep tissue massage.

Sports massage is done by a certified and professional therapist. These specialized therapists are equipped with more knowledge than a deep tissue masseuse with regards to human anatomy.

For that reason, one should expect a sports massage to come with a postural assessment prior to the actual intervention.

As with other massage modalities Sports Massage also has its basic set of techniques such as:

1) Trigger Point Release

2) Joint Mobilization

3) Passive Stretching

4) Soft Tissue Release

5) Myofascial Release

However, the techniques available for sports massage are not limited to just the stated ones above. Some even use stainless steel tools to help in the massage.

4) Shiatsu Massage

The Shiatsu Massage is derived from Japan with its root from Chinese traditional medicine and a fusion from Western medicine.

It is said that it “amplifies the body’s own ability to heal itself” by the Acupuncture Massage College.

The technique of the shiatsu massage relies mainly on the usage of the thumbs, fingers, and palm. The idea behind the shiatsu massage is to help the receiver regain balance and harmony in energy.

Pressure is applied using this technique to certain areas and trigger points of the body to promote energy flow and fix disharmonies in the person’s body. As with many things, a good Shiatsu massage is a blend between science and art.

Here at Massage King, we provide a clear yet detailed trigger point chart set so that you can learn and take reference from when performing the shiatsu, sports, and deep tissue massages.

5) Thai Massage

Thai Massage is not your ordinary lie-and-relax type of massage.

Most massage styles will probably require you just be in a supine (face facing up) or prone (back facing up) positions. The Thai style will stretch and contort you what seems like yoga poses.

Instead of the common kneading and rubbing techniques, this style utilizes the act of lengthening your muscles with stretches and rocking motions.

The purpose of these stretches is to help loosen tight muscles thus, improving the energy flow within the body.

Thai massage is basically like getting someone to do the yoga for you. He/she will direct, move, and stretch your body and you just have to relax.

5 Benefits of Massage Therapy

1) Reduces Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is defined as a chronic pain condition affecting the musculoskeletal system.

Unlike the common soreness and the tightness many people feel in general, MPS has a distinct characteristic. When pressure is exerted on a specific trigger point, pain is felt in another part of the body that’s usually close by.

This is known as referred pain.

How MPS is formed is when the muscle fibers form knots and become extremely tight or shortened due to many possible reasons. One all-time cause is due to poor posture.

A 2012 study research showed that massage therapy in the form of myofascial release therapy help to alleviate pain in patients suffering from MPS.

2) Helps to Cope with Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress are negative emotional attributes. However, massage therapy is not only improving the person’s physical well-being, but the emotional, mental, and even spiritual well-being too.

Much research has been done on Massage therapy to observe what effect it has on improving the well-being of patients in a holistic sense.

In a 2010 study, researchers concluded that therapeutic massage showed similar significance as complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatments on the effect on alleviating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

3) Sports Injuries Intervention

The list of sports injuries is inexhaustible. That being said, we can zoom in to the common sport injuries that massage therapy can be applied to, and actually, serve as a helpful intervention.

Such sports injuries include lower back pains, repetitive strains, soft tissue injuries, muscle-related neck pains, muscle-related knee pains, tennis elbow, and rotator cuff tear.

In a 2010 literature review, it was shown that a collection of research articles that demonstrate massage therapy can benefit those who suffer from sports injuries, especially for post-exercise recovery.

Another review journal in 2008 also mentions that there’s over 200 research points agreeing on the point that massage therapy is able to help alleviate sports injuries.

Whether you’re the massage therapist or the one who needs the massage, we at Massage King offer many creams, balms, and gels for muscle aches and pain can help to do the trick! You can find some of our best muscle pain relieving gels here.

4) Reduces Back Pain

80% or more of you reading this have either suffered from back pain in the past or are currently dealing with it.

Back pain is a very common ailment that is caused by many things, some of which include poor posture, long sitting or standing hours, incorrect lifting techniques, incorrect form while exercising, and more.

Massage therapy is already known to help iron out the tight bundles of muscle along your spine. But just to affirm these beliefs, we’ll pull out some scientific research that has been done.

In 2016 research, 9 out of 10 subjects reported improvement in pain after massage therapy.

Another study that dates back to 1999 also confirms that massage therapy has back pain alleviating effects.

If you’re always having back pain, and don’t like the heat that comes from certain gels, on of our staff favorites is the Soothing Touch Herbal Ice pain relieving gel. It will be perfect for you! It has a cooling sensation instead that is said to be very comfortable by our customers.

5) Alleviates Fibromyalgia Symptoms

What is fibromyalgia? And is it the same as myofascial pain syndrome?

Fibromyalgia is not the same as myofascial pain syndrome, but they are similar to each other.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder of widespread pain whereas, MPS is pain located at a specific area with cases of referred pain.

The former is the one that most people experience most of the times where their muscles are aching after an intense bout of exercise or hard work the day before. The muscles are usually tender and painful upon pressure.

This recent 2014 research article concluded that massage therapy over a period of time can help to bring about immediate effects on pain, anxiety, and depression.


Of course, many people will tell you that Massage therapy has many other benefits that aren’t listed here. If you’re a massage therapist, you probably already know that, and can think of many others just off the top of your head. And you’ll agree that there are many professional grade lotions, gels, and balms, and other topically applied relief products that can help. Here at Massage King, we have a complete range of products for you to select from!

And if you’re someone who feels like they need a massage intervention, remember to check with your doctor if you’re unsure if it’s for you.

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