Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed or infected skin, skin rashes, unhealed or open wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, fragile bones, or areas of recent fractures. Massage may cause bruising and rarely, hematoma (a localized collection of blood outside of blood cells), venous thromboembolism, and a condition known as spinal accessory neuropathy.


There are many different styles and types of massage. Two of the most common methods of massage are Swedish massage and deep tissue massage. Before you meet with your massage therapist, it is helpful to know difference between the two. When you have a good understanding of both you can explain exactly what type of massage you want and what your goals are for your massage. 

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Deep tissue massages are usually “cross-grain,” moving against the muscles to relieve aches or pains rather than moving  with them. This can sometimes feel a bit more painful as a result compared to standard “relaxation massages.” However, the pressure involved in deep massages is actually a good thing. It provides many of the benefits that this type of therapeutic massage has to offer. Deep tissue massages also tend to be slower-paced and longer than many other massages, ideally about 1.5 hours long, which gives bodily tissue enough time to warm up and then relax.

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A couples massage allows partners to experience massage together in the same area as one therapist works on each person. Some spas turn this into a romantic event that can leave guests starry-eyed, setting the treatment in a special room or suite large enough for two, beachside underneath the stars, or in the couple’s guest room at a hotel or resort. For an extra-special touch, rooms reserved for side-by-side massage treatments may feature cozy spa fixtures such as fireplaces, shower facilities, Jacuzzis, and dual soaking tubs, and some spas offer irresistible amenities like champagne and strawberries as a sumptuous treat. Many spas offer treatments à deux so spa-goers can share a pampering experience with a significant other, but a couples massage isn’t just for romantics—mother-daughter duos and best friends may also enjoy side-by-side services. For couples, this form of massage can offer a double dose of benefits. The tandem treatment invites couples to get a bit closer and reconnect, and it can enhance intimacy and teach each partner how to take care of the other. Plus, select spas allow lovebirds to get in sync by offering sessions that teach massage techniques. Pampering and rejuvenating facials, massages, and other treatments in a half- or full-day increments can make up a whole spa package for couples. For more on Couples Massage, see our guide.
A good massage therapist will never force pressure into the muscle. They will continue to apply pressure until the muscle pushes back against them. The muscle will then slowly begin to release and allow the therapist to move along it. The pressure used should not be painful, but should walk a fine line between pleasurable release of tension and a pain-blocking response from the body (tensing up).

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So what should runners book instead? Anna Gammal, a massage therapist who works with elite runners at the Boston Marathon each year and also massaged athletes at the 2004 and 2012 Olympics, recommends either a sports massage (i.e. targeted therapeutic treatment for the unique physical and biomechanical needs of athletes) or a myofascial release massage (i.e. the application of gentle, sustained pressure on soft tissue restrictions). Both specifically target muscle release and will help improve flexibility, reduce pain and increase range of motion.

Because areas of the feet correlate with numerous parts of the body, your massage therapist can start working with your feet to release pain and tension before moving to the troublesome area to apply traditional massage techniques. A certified Integrative Reflexology® massage therapist can properly stimulate the proprioceptors on the bottom of the feet to help increase stimulation of nerve endings, helping to calm the body.

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Sports medicine A Western massage that addresses specific needs of athletes Components Swedish massage, cross-fiber friction massage, deep compression massage, trigger point therapy Timing During training, before or after events, to enhance performance, or promote healing postinjury. See Massage, Traditional European massage; Cf Deep tissue massage, Manual lymph drainage massage, Neuromuscular massage, Swedish/Esalen massage.
Practiced for centuries by Thai monks, and forming a central component of Thai medicine, Thai massage is believed to have originated over 2,500 years ago in India. Originally developed by Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, the physician to Siddhartha Gautama - the Buddha - more than 2,500 years ago in India. The technique made its way to Thailand, where the original Ayurvedic techniques became combined with principles from traditional Chinese medicine. Read more about how having a Thai massage benefits you and your health.

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