All of us have different tastes and definition of what fits us best – it doesn’t matter even if it’s the smallest things or the biggest ones. It’s interesting (and sometimes confusing) how someone prefers burgers over pasta, slippers over sandals, beers over whiskeys, and many more. It’s the same thing with a massage – it’s not that one is greater than the other, rather, most of the time it’s just really about our preferences and what suits our lifestyle and current body situation.

There are a lot of massages to choose from and they can be categorized in numerous ways differently. The list below consists of 4 of the most common and popular types of massage, together with their brief description and what they are best for.

  1. Swedish massage. Nearly equivalent to “massage therapy”, the standard type of massage offered in most gyms, spas, clinics, and wellness centers is Swedish massage which made it one of the most popular among its type. It is a gentle full-body massage that’s perfect for people who are first-timers or those who are new to massage. Swedish massage can help release muscle knots and is also a good choice for full relaxation.

Unlike the energy-centric style of Asian massage, Swedish massage is based on the Western concepts of anatomy and physiology. This massage is best if you are seeking a full-body muscle relaxation, you want to relieve minor pain (it can be particularly helpful if you’re healing from an injury), have a lot of muscle tension, and/or is sensitive to touch.

  1. Aromatherapy massage. Aromatherapy is the combination of soft, gentle pressure, and soothing touches of Swedish massage with the enhancement of essential oils (scented plant oils). The massage therapist will normally decide which oils to use, however, you can let them know if you have a favorite or prefer a different one. Essential oils will be diffused during the massage and these shall be absorbed through your skin. This type of massage is not advisable if you are sensitive (or have allergies) to essential oils or to certain plants and flowers since the oils are usually extracted from those.

Nevertheless, aromatherapy massage is best for people who want to have an emotional healing element added to their massage. Essential oils provide a soothing scent and are believed to have healing attributes, for example, lavender and rose extracts are known for their relaxing properties. This type of massage can also help in boosting your mood, reducing stress and anxiety, decreasing symptoms of depression, and easing muscle tension and pain. It is also a great choice if you are suffering from headaches, insomnia, several digestive disorders, and back pain.

  1. Shiatsu Massage. Shiatsu is a form of Japanese massage that involves placing specific pressure using the therapist’s fingers, hands, palms, and elbows to certain parts of the body. Its main purpose, like its traditional Chinese medicine origins, is to stimulate acupressure points on the body to enhance the flow of energy and help regain its balance. Unlike the aromatherapy and Swedish massage, you can be fully clothed during a Shiatsu massage because no oil or lotion is going to be used on your body.

Shiatsu is believed to help increase our body’s energy, improve recovery from injuries, and provide great digestive system stimulation. It is also frequently done to reduce stress, treat arthritis, insomnia, back and neck pains, sinus problems, and many more. A Shiatsu massage is for the whole body; however, a therapist may focus on areas of your body that need additional concentration.

  1. Thai massage. Thai massage is more active and energizing than the other forms of massage and its main difference between the first 3 massages on the list is that it involves a lot of stretching. It is a unique combination of assisted yoga (the therapist will be the one to move you in a sequence of posture) and passive stretching. The therapists will utilize their palms and fingers in applying pressure to your body. You should also expect that you will be stretched and twisted into several positions. Just like during a Shiatsu session, you can also remain fully clothed during this massage.

Because it involves a lot of movements, Thai massage is the best choice for people who want a more active form of relaxation. It is also great in reducing and relieving pain and stress, improve body flexibility, blood circulation, and raise our energy levels (its main principle is to align the body’s energies). Additionally, Thai massage has also been useful in treating balance problems, migraine symptoms, and reducing back pains.

In general, massage therapy is performed to remove body pain, stress, and for a person to find holistic healing and relaxation. However, even though they all seem similar, each type of massage has its own specialty and distinction from one another and knowing this can help you decide which one suits you best.