At Redwood Massage & Sauna, we like to design the massage using techniques that meet your goals for the session. Rather than offer you a long list of types of massage, we find out what you have come in for, pick an approach that will meet your goals, and choose the techniques that we feel will work the best and that the massage therapist is competent in.
Of course, if you ask for a particular type of massage, we will schedule you with the person most qualified.
“Massage” is generally thought of as a service provided to a client lying on a table (or sometimes sitting in a chair). It is usually passive, meaning all the client has to do is lie there and relax while the massage therapist strokes, rubs or otherwise affects the body of a client who is draped by towels or a sheet. Usually oil or lotion is used to lubricate the skin.
“Bodywork” is used interchangeably. Below are some definitions of most popular types of massage/bodywork:
Swedish massage – generally intended to improve circulation and enhance flexibility. Five basic strokes are used, and you will see these same strokes in almost all types of massage in some form. As originally developed, Swedish massage also involved stretching and exercises. Today, many people think of Swedish massage as light, relaxation massage, but it can be quite strong and therapeutic, depending on how the techniques are applied.
Soft tissue massage – all massage is soft tissue, which refers to just about everything but the bones. “Soft” has nothing to do with the amount of pressure used. We believe that the amount of pressure is a matter of personal taste – a light touch can be just as effective as a stronger one, depending on the preference of the client and the skill of the massage therapist.
Deep tissue massage – deep tissue refers to the deeper layers of soft tissue – muscle, fascia, tendons and ligaments, and not to the amount of pressure used. Deep tissue massage can be done with light pressure if done right – think of moving a huge rock – you can push with all your might, which is how most people, including poorly trained massage therapists, think of deep tissue work – strong pressure, killer elbows digging in. Or you can take a board, pry it under the rock and gently get it moving in the desired direction – this is the concept behind effective and accurate deep tissue massage. Although we find that most people like a firm to strong touch, they also like to feel good and relaxed – therefore we strive to work with “strong hands and a gentle touch”.
Relaxation massage – as you can see from the definitions above, this can be any type of massage applied in a soothing manner to facilitate the release of stress. Pressure can be light to very deep. Uses an oil or lotion.
Sports massage – refers to techniques chosen for the purpose of optimizing physical well-being and athletic performance. It can help to decrease the likelihood of injury, as well as to assist in recovery from strenuous work-outs and injuries.
Sports massage is often appropriate for active seniors who are concerned with maximizing functional ability while reducing injuries.
At Redwood Massage & Sauna, we primarily offer sports massage for the maintenance purposes listed above. Sessions can be scheduled whenever needed – regular sessions that are part of the athlete’s training, or a day or two before or after competitive events. They can be whole body or just focused on areas of stress or injury.
During events, like races, sports massage is most often done at the site before the race, as a short session that is part of the warm-up and stretching, or post-event, with stretching to cool down.
Oncology massage – adapts techniques to the needs of the cancer patient or survivor with a focus on creating a healing space.
Pregnancy massage – also referred to as massage for the child-bearing year, as it includes massage to help the new mother after giving birth. It can consist of any techniques to help the woman as her body, mind and hormonal system prepares for birth and motherhood. Post-partum it helps restore the body and hormonal system and helps the new parent adapt to the changes of motherhood, including new sleep patterns. Specialized knowledge includes knowing appropriate positions for the comfort of the woman and points where strong pressure is contraindicated. Generally involves oil or lotion.
Trigger point massage – also called neuromuscular therapy – works to release areas of adhesions in muscle and fascia (connective tissue). Generally involves strong pressure to localized areas of sensitivity with stretching to restore the muscle to its’ proper length. Can be with or without oil or lotion.
Thai massage thoroughly incorporates elements of gentle rocking, deep stretching, elaborate point work and rhythmic compression to create a singular healing experience. No oil is used.
Orthopedic or clinical massage – usually involves more systemized problem solving than other types of massage, but using most of the same basic and some specialized techniques for prevention and rehabilitation of injuries. Often will include some analysis of posture, functional use and movement patterns. Generally uses oil or lotion.
Esalen massage – uses gentle long slow techniques (and oil or lotion) to enhance self-awareness and promote deep relaxation by activating the senses.
Medical massage – when used to mean massage done in a medical setting, such as a medical office or hospital, can be orthopedic or be a palliative, soothing massage for critically ill patients or those recovering from illness and surgery. Can be done with or without oil or lotion.
Aston-Patterning® uses postural analysis, massage, deep tissue work and movement education to release unnecessary tensions and teach more effective ways of using the body.
Hot stone massage – any style of massage using hot rocks as tools to warm and help relax the muscles and provide more pressure.
Reflexology – focuses on points on the feet, hands and sometimes the ears to improve health. The theory is that these points work through a system of reflexes to affect the function of the organs of the body to improve health. Generally no oil is used.
Acupressure – applies pressure to points on the body based on Traditional Chinese medicine to affect health. In actuality, many of these points are also trigger points. With good technique, the pressure can release knots as well as balance energy. Can be done with or without oil or lotion.
Shiatsu – A Japanese form of massage working ones pressure points and stretching, also to balance energy, release tension and relax muscles. Generally done without any oil, through clothes or a sheet. Some practitioners use their feet as tools.
Ayurvedic massage – based on the ancient Hindu text, the Vedas – various techniques to relax the body, restore well-being and balance energy. Usually does involve oil or lotion, sometimes with specific healing herbs mixed in.
Tuina – a Chinese style of massage using techniques similar to Swedish massage, done with oil. Often uses more finger pressure and stretching than Swedish.
Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy – a deep westernized version of shiatsu done with oil or lotion using the feet for part of the session. The massage therapist holds onto bars on the ceiling. While it is strong it is generally extremely soothing – the feet apply a gentle pressure that feels like giant soft hands.