We do love the idea of a massage. Don’t we? That feeling of lying down on a massage table while the masseur kneads and strokes away those stubborn knots in our muscles. It is one of life’s blissful moments and what raises its appeal is the fact that this indulgent activity has benefits our body and mind too.
When we walk in to a spa or a massage studio, the choice of treatments on offer can often be disconcerting and we often find ourselves saying to the spa staff “Which massage do you recommend?” While there is nothing wrong in doing that, it can be a good idea to equip ourselves with the basic understanding and benefits of the top 5 massages in Asia.
1. SWEDISH / AROMATHERAPY MASSAGE
Called the “classic” massage in many countries, this is the most common form of massage. It is done using long, sweeping strokes, kneading and rhythmic tapping. If you are a massage virgin, definitely start with this. Also, if you want to relax and enjoy the soothing and circulation benefits without experiencing any discomfort associated with applying pressure on the muscle knots, this feel good massage is a perfect choice. You will feel refreshed and relaxed post the session.
2. DEEP TISSUE
Pressure point or trigger point massage. Put simply, trigger points are the specific points where “knots” have formed in our muscles. These knots get formed for a variety of reasons starting from poor posture, tough training, lack of sleep, inadequate nutrition to stress and the likes. During deep tissue massage, the masseur focuses on the rigid areas of muscle and tendons and applies direct pressure there to realign the muscle. This works several layers deeper than the swedish massage as the masseur applies much harder pressure to these trigger points to release the tension. It is common to feel a little sore after this massage for 1-2 days but it is the happy sore feeling as you know you have come out of the massage with better circulation and relaxed muscles.
3. HOT STONE
Hot Stone Massage involves applying oil to your body and then placing hot stones, usually made of basalt, a type of rock that is rich in iron, so they retain heat, on specific parts of your body like points on the back, in the palms of the hand or between the toes. Usually these are river rocks as they have been smoothed over time by the river current. The heat of the stones relaxes the muscles and allows the therapist to apply pressure to deeper layers. It is a great massage if you want to relieve yourself of the muscle tension without experiencing much discomfort as the heat allows the therapist to easily reach the deeper layers.
4. THAI MASSAGE
Similar to doing yoga stretches. Therapist uses her hands, feet and legs to move you into different poses. Goal is to increase your flexibility and re-energize you while increasing your range of motion. Usually done on a hard surface like yoga mats on the floor rather than a massage table and does not involve any oils or lotions either. You would usually be given loose, comfortable clothing to change into.
When to get: Post a cardio session for a good stretch / to regain mobility after injury / increase flexibility / if you feel uncomfortable to strip for massage
Where to go: Away Spa in W Hotel Bangkok ; Palms Spa Mumbai
Shiatsu is practiced on the whole body, fully clothed, on a futon mat. It includes the use of finger pressure (thumbs), but also palms, elbows and occasionally the knees along the meridians or energy channels running through the body (Similar to the meridians used in Acupuncture/TCM) as well as gentle joint mobilizations.
The treatment is rooted in Taoist Philosophy of energy flow “Qi” and the concept of “Yin and Yang”. It aims to release tensions from the body and mind in helping Yin and Yang energies of the body to flow freely.
When to get: Reclaiming your energy balance / relaxation and healing
Where to go: The Moving Touch in Hong Kong
This is not close to being an exhaustive list but it surely is my top 5 list. Which is your favourite massage and what are the reasons why you love it?