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5 Different Types of Massage Therapies and Their Benefits

female getting a back massage

There are several types of massage therapy methods. Some of the more familiar treatments include Swedish massage and deep tissue massage, but there are many other types of massages that individuals can receive from a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT), each with their own unique benefits.

1. Swedish Massage

Up close image of a Swedish massage

Swedish massages are the most common type of massage therapy in Canada. Using pressure and friction, the therapist is able to loosen tight muscles and make clients feel more relaxed. The primary goal of a Swedish massage is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by using long strokes that return the blood to the heart. But, besides complete relaxation, Swedish massages are beneficial to an individual’s well-being because it has the ability to:

  • Increase the level of oxygen in the blood
  • Decrease muscle toxins
  • Improve circulation and flexibility
  • Ease muscle tension
  • Decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases sugars in the bloodstream
  • Increase the number of lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that boost the immune system

2. Deep Tissue Massage

female getting a deep tissue massage

With deep tissue massages, the therapist uses finger pressure and the stroking of deep layers to massage tissue areas where muscles are tight and knotted. Individuals often seek deep tissue massages because this method eases chronic aches and pain found in the neck, upper back, lower back, legs, and shoulders. Individuals may visit a massage therapist to get a deep tissue massage because it can:

  • Break down scar tissue and eliminate “knots” or adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue)
  • Improve circulation and limited range of motion
  • Reduce inflammation of the muscles
  • Help individuals recover from injuries such as whiplash and falls
  • Relieve the pain of strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Improve postural problems
  • Alleviate osteoarthritis pain

3. Lymphatic Massage

female getting a lymphatic massage

Lymphatic massage is also referred to as lymphatic drainage. The therapist will use slow and circular motions and pressure to move lymph fluid throughout the lymphatic system. It is most often used to decrease lymphedema, a condition in which swelling occurs when lymph fluid cannot flow normally, resulting in a build up of fluid. Individuals get a lymphatic massage because this type of therapy provides the following benefits:

  • Drains lymph fluid accumulated after breast cancer surgery
  • Reduces swelling (lymphedema) and pain
  • Circulates the lymph fluid to relieve pain

4. Sports Massage

client getting a sports massage on legs

This type of massage is specifically designed with athletes in mind. Athletes often need relief from pain caused by a repetitive motion associated with their chosen activity; this is why they will often seek treatment from a professional massage therapist that specializes in sports massage therapy. Just think of the number of times a tennis player swings his of her racquet – after a short while, that repetitive motion is going to take a toll on the player’s shoulder.  An active individual or athlete may need a sports massage because this type of treatment can help:

  • Quicken workout recovery times
  • Improve range of motion and flexibility
  • Enhance overall performance
  • Reduce muscle and joint pain caused by an athletic activity
  • Help prevent sport-related injuries
  • Promote tissue repair and muscle balance

When an individual is suffering from discomfort and is in need of pain relief, it can be difficult to determine which service is right for him or her. This is especially true for most athletes that require the proper treatment and service so that they can perform to the best of their abilities and prevent further injuries. Physiotherapy and massage therapy share a lot of similarities, but there are also distinct differences. Learn more about the differences between these two services here.

5. Oncology Massage

patient getting an oncology massage

An oncology massage is used by people undergoing cancer treatments. An oncology massage therapist may use just one type of massage or combine various methods, including Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and lymphatic massage during a treatment session. The primary goal of an oncology massage is to make the patient feel relaxed. Therefore, the therapist will often change massage techniques based on the needs of the patient. Oncology massages are considered a complementary treatment for cancer patients and the two main benefits of using massage therapy include:

  • Relaxing the patients both physically and emotionally
  • Relieving physical pain experienced by patients undergoing cancer


If you have any condition that causes pain or discomfort in the soft tissues of your body, whether chronic or acute, you may benefit from massage therapy. Our Registered Massage Therapists can work with people of all ages and treat a variety of conditions that may cause pain or discomfort.

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