Swedish Massage is probably the most well-known technique and consists of long gliding strokes performed in the direction of the heart to assist in veinous return. From that description, one can see how Swedish massage can help increase the level of oxygen in the blood, improve circulation, improve flexibility as well as help ease tension.
There are many misnomers around the words Deep Tissue Massage. We have been brought up to think that applying more pressure is better. This is not necessarily true.
When a new client asks me for deep tissue work, I exercise a little caution until I understand what they really need. Certainly deeper pressure can help with chronic muscle tension and is beneficial in getting at the deeper muscles and surrounding fascia. (Fascia is the connective tissue that protects muscles, organs, bones and joints.) I am not a believer in the “no pain, no gain” mantra. I subscribe more to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The porridge should be not too hot, not too cold but just right.
Trigger Point Therapy is more a technique used by massage therapists to target things called trigger points. A Trigger point is a knot of adhesed or ‘stuck’ muscle that results from muscle injury, muscle strain (could be repetitive strain injury or overuse) and trauma. The muscle fibres can restrict fresh blood supply so that the muscle is not getting the nutrition it needs. Concurrently, the muscle fibre is shortened to protect itself from further injury. Trigger point therapy is done by applying stationary pressure on the trigger point (this can be painful but should be within the client’s tolerance) followed by an application of heat and then a stretch. Pressing on a trigger point can also have a referral pattern to another part of the body.
Sports massage, as the name suggests, is geared towards athletes and the specifics of the sport. Again the focus is on muscles and parts of the body that have been overused or stressed. Techniques for before or after an event are different: the object of pre-event is to invigorate and waken the muscles up for performance and to enhance movement along with flexibility. Post event will be more restorative, increase movement of lymph fluid to detoxify and to increase blood flow. The object is also to shorten recovery time.
I will discuss shiatsu therapy at another time because it deserves a blog posting all on its own. However, it is not (as I once heard described by a chiropractor) as another word for trigger points.
May you be well.