Top 15 Massage Types For Releasing Stress


While there are many strategies to help you relax, massages are amongst those that are expressly designed to release stress.

Massage uses various types of techniques to release tension pent up in the muscles of the body through a scientifically backed method of therapeutic touch and the massage therapist’s healing hands.

There are many different types of massages available, all with their own styles, goals and methodology. But, the one thing they all have in common is that they can relieve stress, alleviate muscle tension and bring you to a place of peace and tranquility.

1. Swedish Massage

This unique massage style is one the most prominent methods used by professionals. The Swedish massage is both effective and gentle, garnering great results every time.

It is performed by administering taps, gentle stroke, muscle lifts, and chopping motions to the upper layers of muscles.

The gentle touch of these techniques has been proven to decrease stress and tension held in the muscles of the upper and lower back, neck, and shoulders.

2. Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage is a Japanese method of massage therapy that incorporates very specific touch and pressure into the technique.

Similar to acupressure, Shiatsu practices applying pressure using the fingers, palms, and thumbs to certain “meridians”, or pressure points, of the body.

Other techniques are also incorporated into this massage style including:

  • Stretching
  • Brushing
  • Rolling
  • Grasping
  • Vibrating
  • Pressure applied by the masseuse or masseur placing their feet on the client’s back, legs and feet.

3. Aromatherapy Massage

Possibly one of the most enjoyable massage methods is the aromatherapy massage. The client experiences a soothing massage accompanied by one or more scented essential oils, to enhance the healing effects of the massage. Aromatherapy is a widespread practice that is believed to entice various feelings and emotions in order to heal fatigue, stress, anxiety and even mood.

Scents are selected by the massage therapist depending upon the needs of the client.

Aromatherapy Oils can be:

  • Energizing
  • Relaxing
  • Stress-reducing
  • Rejuvenating
  • Calming
  • Used to alleviate sadness and improve mood

Lavender, one of the most common essential oils, is one of the more popular scents used during aromatherapy due to its calming effects, as well, as a variety of other uses.

4. Watsu

A combination of Shiatsu and hydrotherapy, Watsu is a massage method that uses both water and pressure to massage away stress. The technique incorporates placing both client and massage therapist in a comfortably warm pool of water about 3-4 feet deep.

Watsu uses a lot of movement and pressure during the massage that is softened by the cushioning effect of the water.

Shiatsu comes into play as the therapist uses pressure and other techniques to release stress while the patient stays warm, relaxed, and supported in the water. Watsu is believed to activate energy lines stimulated through the Shiatsu techniques.

5. Stone Massage

An intense but effective massage, the stone massage uses stones, which, are heated or cooled to certain temperatures that are then laid onto the body.

The stones can also be used to administer massaging movements and strokes by being coated in oil and gently pressed against the muscles.

Stones used for the heat massage are river-smoothed stones that are heavy enough to apply healing pressure but light enough to avoid discomfort.

Some believe that the stones are symbolic of the forces of nature as they are smoothed and molded by the gentle but influential power of the river. The smoother the stone, the more healing energy it is believed to hold.

The stone massage is performed by placing heated or cooled stones along the client’s back, specifically upon the meridians seen in acupressure techniques. The stones then help the body retain their healing heat which in turn enter the muscles and melt away stress.

In addition to river stones, some massage therapists use a tool called a body rock. The body rock is carved from stone or found and smoothed for comfort. It helps to enhance the therapist’s strength during the massage and helps focus the pressure being applied to the body.

Many therapists use this tool directly on the skin but it can also be paired with massage oil or even used over the client’s clothes.

6. Deep Tissue Massage Therapy

For those carrying deep stress and tension in their muscles, the deep tissue massage is the best option.

It is made to release austere stress and tension within both the muscles and the connective tissues, also known as fascia.

While other massage methods focus on the top muscles, deep tissue massage therapy targets those muscles located below the top muscles, deep within the body.

Athletes, laborers, construction workers, and others who are involved in serious physical activity are often those who benefit most from a deep tissue massage. There are actually varying types of deep tissue massages to match the client’s overall needs.

Deep tissue massage means to literally apply a deeper pressure in order to reach the deeper muscles. This type of massage therapy goes beyond relaxation and comfort and is used to treat muscular and skeletal disorders.

Unlike the deep pressure massage, deep tissue massage therapy does not target the whole body, but only a certain section depending upon the client’s discomfort.

The pressure in a deep tissue massage can be directed to the deep muscle layers as well as the superficial and fascia muscles and tissues.

No matter what body structure needs the healing effects of a deep tissue massage, a skilled massage therapist can work with different muscles and areas.

This massage type is also very intense, making it quite dangerous for an inexperienced masseur or masseuse to work on a client with real disorders or tension problems.

If a deep tissue massage is given by anyone other than an experienced professional, it could result in injury and other serious problems.

7. Thai Massage

This massage method was invented in India and is thought to be at least 2500 years old. It is based on Ayurveda and Yoga and employs the entire body.

The massage therapist uses not only their hands, but also their knees, feet, and legs to manipulate the client into Yoga-inspired positions and stretches.

The gentle but deep pressure and outside stimulation from the therapist help to release stress as well as tension and promote relaxation in the client.

Thai massage comes with the benefits of increased energy and flexible, better circulation, and a wider range of painless movement.

8. Lymph Massage

This massage type targets the lymphatic system, which is one of the body’s most important mechanisms.

The lymphatic system, while incredibly useful, can also be very sensitive. When disease and infections threaten the body, the lymph nodes, which are located all throughout the body, swell and enlarge.

Lymph massages are most useful for clients with moderate to chronic fatigue, joint pain, cellulite, and arthritis.

The lymphatic system is the body’s defense against illness and infection. It combats these factors by removing all excess water from the tissue spaces throughout the body and strengthening the immune system.

While this system is helpful, it relies on motion, homeostasis, and gravity to stay balanced within the body. When the lymphatic system falls out of balance, a lymph massage can help put things right again.

A lymph massage can be performed a number of ways, each of which promote safe and healthy drainage of all excess water.

9. Lifestream Massage

The lifestream massage is mixture of Swedish massage, relaxation strokes, and partial deep tissue techniques.

Therapists who learn this massage type are able to master comfort, effectiveness, and efficiency when it comes to daily massages.

Through biomechanics and a deep understanding of other massage types, therapists can become experts in the lifestream massage technique.

10. Healing Touch

The Healing Touch massage is used by specially trained nurses who work with patients fighting various types of disease and other conditions daily.

It is designed to administer a touch that is both calming and reassuring to ill patients to increase trust between them and their health care providers.

The healing touch massage is part of biofield therapy and it is used as an alternative energy approach that will encourage health and healing in patients.

Janet Mentgen, RN, B.S.N, developed Healing Touch therapy and has practiced it for the last 34 years. Healing touch incorporates energy-based modalities to help treat various paint types affecting the following:

Physical Health
Mental Health
Spiritual Health
Emotional Health

By using non-invasive touch techniques, Healing Touch allows the therapist to use their hands to stimulate the energy field in and around the body to help clear, revitalize, and balance the body.

11. Amma

This traditional Japanese massage is also known as “Anma”. It is a form of massage that is designed to balance a person’s energy depending upon the values of Chinese medicine.

This massage type is over 5000 years old and it involves various techniques that use stroking, stretching, percussion manipulations and more.

By using the fingers, thumbs, knees, elbows, and feet to provide acupressure along the fourteen key meridians, also called energy pathways in the body, Amma is effective at releasing stress, tension, and relieving pain.

The massage therapist uses consistently fluid motions during the massage to help the energy between both them and their client flow together smoothly.

Amma can be executed with the client clothed as there are typically no essential oils or lubricants needed. The client can sit or lie down during the massage, but for best results, a lying down position is encouraged.

12. Balinese Massage

Balinese massage therapy incorporates a number of gentle techniques meant to help the client feel relaxed and calm throughout the procedure and for hours afterwards.

It is performed by using practices such as kneading, stroking, skin folding, applying various degrees of pressure, and Balinese hot stones to relax the muscles and relieve stress.

Aromatherapy oil is also used with this massage type to help boost its healing effects.

As a result of this massage therapy, the client’s oxygen levels, energy flow, and blood circulation are greatly increased, making them feel alert, calm, and healthy.

13. Dry-Water Massage Bed/Aqua Massage

This massage type is one of the more obscure methods in existence, though of late it has gained in popularity since it is offered at popular malls and many of the resorts in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It uses jets of water, rather than the massage therapist’s hands to massage the muscles.

This technique can be done in one of two ways:

The first option is where the jets of water actually make contact with the client’s body for a deeper massage.

The second option has a protective barrier that stops the water from coming into contact with the client. The client instead lies on a foam pad, covers up with a plastic sheet, and then is sprayed by jets of warm, soothing water.

It is incredibly similar to using a shower head on sore muscles and skin at home and uses the same ideas and techniques on a grander scale to increase the effectiveness of the healing touch.

This type of massage can work wonders in the right situations, especially on those suffering from soreness and muscle aches from disorders such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.

14. Traditional Chinese Massage

Two types of traditional Chinese massage exist – Tui na (推拿) which focuses on pushing, stretching and kneading the muscle and Zhi Ya (指壓) which focuses on pinching and pressing at acupressure points. Both are based on principles from Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Though in the Western countries Tui Na is viewed as massage, it is not. Massage of Chinese Medicine is known as Anmo (按摩), which is the foundation of Japan’s Anma.

Within the foundation of Tui Na, Traditional Chinese Medicine principles are followed, from Meridian Applications to Herbal Formulas, Qigong Therapy and heated herbal application (Moxa). Technique applications such as friction and vibration are used as well.

15. Hilot Massage

Hilot is a traditional healing technique from the Philippines that uses massage, joint manipulations, and herbs such as banana leaves. Hilot is claimed to relax muscles, reset sprained joints, assess and treat musculoligamentous and musculoskeletal ailments, aid in giving birth and post-birth recovery for mother and baby, and to induce abortion.

Getting Massages

Typically reputable spas are the best places to get a massage as there will be licensed and trained therapists who understand the proper techniques. This is important because massage, when done improperly, can cause injury.

If this will be a first time visit, it might be wise to research the spa to see if there are any online reviews for the particular place you wish to visit.

Chiropractic And Physical Therapy Offices

Messages are also given at chiropractic and physical therapy medical offices, and, if there is some type of therapeutic need it might be billable under your medical insurance policy.

Home Massage

It is also possible to hire a masseuse to come to your home for a massage. Many reputable and experienced massage therapists are mobile and they bring the massage table to you.

Last Updated on October 13, 2023