Know Which Kind of Massage You Want and How to Get the Most Out of It

This picture is an accurate portrayal of how I usually feel after a massage: like I’m being cuddled in a warm, peaceful womb-like environment.

Let me start by saying that my father is a certified masseur, and he provided much of the knowledge shared in this blog entry. In fact, I called him earlier to approve this writing.

I’ve definitely been getting a steady amount of free massages from Papa Lu over the years, but I still willingly shell out money to go to other spas and massage therapists often because well, I also enjoy the kind of massages where you strip down naked and lie under sheets. I LOVE MASSAGES, and I want to share that with you.

For those of you concerned about the nudity, please don’t worry. All places that ask you to remove your clothing will let you lie facedown under some sheets in an empty room first, then the masseur will return when you’re ready. And during the session, he or she will position and tuck in the sheets in various ways so that nothing indecent is showing. It’s kind of like a funny dance. Anyway, moving on.

First and foremost, decide what type of massage you’d like. According to my slightly biased father, the ancient Chinese invented massage (and almost everything else) back in the day, and then other countries in Asia came over, learned the techniques, and adapted them to their own liking. The Westerners developed their own styles though but the principles are the same…And that is a very brief generalized history of massage! If someone wants to do a full detailed research, by all means. Below are the most common types of full-body massages:

1. Traditional Chinese Massage: Incorporating the pressure points so important in Traditional Chinese Medicine, “Tui Na” will knead, push, pinch, and stretch you. If it hurts a lot when someone puts pressure on a certain pressure point, that means there’s something really wrong with that part of your body the particular pressure point corresponds to, and the pressure is releasing the pain. If you’re healthy in that area, then the only pressure you’d feel is just the plain force put into it. You usually don’t need to take your clothes off at all for this. Just wear loose clothing. This according to my dad is the best kind of massage because it is the origin of all others.

2. Thai Massage: My dad’s theory is that because Thai people are historically petite and don’t have enough strength, they invented the technique of walking on people’s backs and using elbows on the patient’s body. Usually the ceiling of the room will have special bars for the masseuse to grab on to so they won’t slip. In addition, they will fold and arrange you into various yoga positions to help stretch and release tension. This kind might not bring you much relief during the session, but you’ll feel much better afterwards. My dad does not recommend this style for first-timers.

3. Shiatsu/Japanese Massage: A traditional Japanese home doesn’t have chairs- you just kneel on the cushions laid out on the tatami mat floor. Naturally most Japanese massage places will have you lying on the floor instead of on an elevated surface of some sort. Because of this, the Shiatsu relies much on using the palm and fingers on the pressure points since it’s hard to use force otherwise while sitting on the floor.

4. European/Swedish/Aromatherapy Massage: This type of massage utilizes lotion or fragrant essential oils and you’re most definitely encouraged to get as naked as possible. There are lot of comforting long strokes and less motions that make you yelp out loud.

5. American/Deep-Tissue/Sports Massage: This style focuses on pressure for a sustained amount of time to get to the muscles underneath your skin. The pain is likely to last a whole day after the massage but it’s for the best.

6. Hot Stone Massage: Basically heating up smooth stones of various sizes to put on different pressure points while you lie down. Needless to say, my dad thinks this is a cop-out. It’s good for relaxation and stimulating blood flow, but the benefits are not as much as the other styles. However, this one is good though if you don’t like someone actually touching you. This also might be good if you have never ever received a professional massage before.

Of course sometimes the person may combine several different styles to your needs. Other factors might come into consideration.

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