This is the most common type of massage therapy in the United States. It is also known as simply massage therapy.
Massage therapists use long smooth strokes, kneading, and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil.
Swedish massage therapy can be very gentle and relaxing and is great for stress relief. If you've never had massage before, this is a good one to try first.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. The massage therapist uses slower strokes or friction techniques across the grain of the muscle.
Deep tissue massage is used for chronically tight or painful muscles, repetitive strain, postural problems, or recovery from injury. People often feel sore for one to two days after deep tissue massage.
Muscles that have been chronically tight don't receive the same blood flow and oxygenation compared to muscles that are not chronically tight. That is why some soreness can be expected. Once those deeper muscles have been released and resume normal function and can get the nourishment they need most clients find relief that lasts longer than a traditional Swedish massage.
The most effective type of massage therapy for lower back pain is neuromuscular therapy. Neuromuscular therapy is also called trigger point myotherapy. The American Academy of Pain Management recognizes this form of massage therapy as an effective treatment for back pain caused by soft tissue injury (such as a muscle strain).
Neuromuscular therapy consists of alternating levels of concentrated pressure on the areas of muscle spasm. The massage therapy pressure is usually applied with the fingers, knuckles, or elbow. Once applied to a muscle spasm, the pressure should not vary for ten to thirty seconds.
Neuromuscular therapy will feel painful at first, but the pressure of the massage should alleviate the muscle spasm. At this point, it is extremely important to communicate with the massage therapist regarding the pressure - whether the pressure is too much, too little, getting better, getting worse. The therapist should listen and respond accordingly. The massage therapy pressure should never be overly painful. In fact, most people describe the pressure as “good pain”.
Following a neuromuscular therapy massage, any soreness that presents itself should fade after twenty-four to thirty-six hours. The muscles that were tight should remain noticeably more relaxed for four to fourteen days, depending on stress, activity level, and severity of back pain prior to beginning massage therapy.