How to choose the right type of massage for you

types of massage

Massage is defined as the manipulation of the body’s soft tissue. This broad definition of the term massage englobes a wide variety of styles or techniques with different names, some of them also requiring a much higher level of qualification and specialisation than others, making it feel like a different profession altogether. In fact, we could separate the term masseur/masseuse from the term massage therapist, this last one referring to those having a high qualification and using a more goal oriented approach with measurable results. This separation unfortunately doesn’t happen in the UK. 

 

The profession of massage therapy is not regulated in Europe and the UK, it’s not a career you can choose to study at the university, which means that professionals with very different levels of qualification all fall under the same umbrella term of masseur/masseuse, someone with a week’s course and someone with a degree level 3 year qualification. 

 

This lack of regulation is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because it affects the reputation, importance and professionalism of massage therapy. It’s a blessing because this lack of regulation allows massage therapy to grow and adapt at the same speed science is growing, which is FAST! While other medical professions that also address the musculoskeletal system have to go through approved protocols and regulatory processes that require time,  massage therapy doesn’t, it’s more experimental and dynamic and it happens simultaneously as new knowledge happens. 

 

Historically, massage was used to treat pain and ailment. In ancient societies massage was a big thing. With the recent historic connotation that massage is still trying to shake off, with massage parlours at the top of it all, massage doesn’t have a reputation to be a “professional career” and it’s not respected as such in this country. While massage it’s still seeing only and defined by many medical professions as a good thing to book yourself in to release some stress from your body and/or mind, the reality is now a days far from the reputation and connotation it has, with massage therapy and highly qualified massage therapists being one of the most if not the most effective way of dealing with musculoskeletal pain and injury rehab. 

 

Both the great variety of styles available to choose from and the lack of regulation within the profession can make it really difficult for both parties. On one hand, our population struggles to choose the right type of massage they need at a given time as well as lacking information or having the wrong information about what a massage can actually do, with a great majority wrongfully believing that massage is reserved for pampering and relaxation and consumed mainly by females. On the other hand, highly qualified therapists find it hard to separate themselves from the rest of the less qualified masseurs, making it really difficult for these highly qualified massage therapists to be respected and understood as professionals and to find their place within the system. They’re in no-mans land, without a stablished professional reputation like that of similar professionals (physiotherapy, osteopathy or chiropractic care). 

 

Massage is defined as the manipulation of the body’s soft tissue. This broad definition of the term massage englobes a wide variety of styles or techniques with different names, some of them also requiring a much higher level of qualification and specialisation than others, making it feel like a different profession altogether. In fact, we could separate the term masseur/masseuse from the term massage therapist, this last one referring to those having a high qualification and using a more goal oriented approach with measurable results. This separation unfortunately doesn’t happen in the UK. 


The profession of massage therapy is not regulated in Europe and the UK, it’s not a career you can choose to study at the university, which means that professionals with very different levels of qualification all fall under the same umbrella term of masseur/masseuse, someone with a week’s course and someone with a degree level 3 year qualification. 


This lack of regulation is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because it affects the reputation, importance and professionalism of massage therapy. It’s a blessing because this lack of regulation allows massage therapy to grow and adapt at the same speed science is growing, which is FAST! While other medical professions that also address the musculoskeletal system have to go through approved protocols and regulatory processes that require time,  massage therapy doesn’t, it’s more experimental and dynamic and it happens simultaneously as new knowledge happens. 


Historically, massage was used to treat pain and ailment. In ancient societies massage was a big thing. With the recent historic connotation that massage is still trying to shake off, with massage parlours at the top of it all, massage doesn’t have a reputation to be a “professional career” and it’s not respected as such in this country. While massage it’s still seeing only and defined by many medical professions as a good thing to book yourself in to release some stress from your body and/or mind, the reality is now a days far from the reputation and connotation it has, with massage therapy and highly qualified massage therapists being one of the most if not the most effective way of dealing with musculoskeletal pain and injury rehab. 


Both the great variety of styles available to choose from and the lack of regulation within the profession can make it really difficult for both parties. On one hand, our population struggles to choose the right type of massage they need at a given time as well as lacking information or having the wrong information about what a massage can actually do, with a great majority wrongfully believing that massage is reserved for pampering and relaxation and consumed mainly by females. 

On the other hand, highly qualified therapists find it hard to separate themselves from the rest of the less qualified masseurs, making it really difficult for these highly qualified massage therapists to be respected and understood as professionals and to find their place within the system. They’re in no-mans land, without a stablished professional reputation like that of similar professionals (physiotherapy, osteopathy or chiropractic care). 


Having a local massage therapist you can trust and seek help from when and if needed can be life changing. An example of that from the clinic are those clients who avoided imminent surgery with a handful of treatment sessions. 


It is important to choose the right thing. You don’t walk into a Chinese restaurant expecting to eat Spanish food. It is a very different experience finding yourself in the hands and the clinic of, for example, a highly qualified myofascial release massage therapist than it is finding yourself in the hands of someone with a week’s course in Swedish that works at a Spa. Depends what you’re looking for at a given time, one will be more indicated than the other. 

types of massage

How to choose the right type of massage for you

 

There are a lot of different techniques, a quick google search will bring up a big list with fancy names. 

 

There are also a lot of therapists out there, as many as in any other professionSome people motivated and serious about their profession and are focused on specific goals, like treating pain, stress relief, chronic illness… etc and others don’t take it as seriously and aren’t focused on anything other than checking their watch wishing time would go faster. 

 

The right massage for you is a combination of the right technique with the right massage therapist. 

 

The first thing you need to know is what your problem or need is and why you need a massage as well as what you want the experience to be. 

 

If you have pain or are dealing with a clinical presentation and need professional treatment for it I recommend you research your local area and find someone with a high level of qualification. This person will most likely work from a clinic or similar place. 

 

If what you’re looking for is your typical pampering session with lots of oil, vapour and scents, more the experience of the setting than the treatment itself, I would recommend you visit your local spa. Some massage therapists might include this in their session but most won’t focus so much on this as they will on the  treatment itself. 

 

Another thing worth pointing out here is the fact that massage focused in the treatment of pain or injury doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be painful. There is a big misconception when it comes to this. More pain doesn’t mean better. Although the therapist might cause some discomfort as they treat the problem area, a good treatment should always feel relaxing and soothing for the client with relaxation being a powerful part of the treatment itself. 

How to choose the right type of massage for you

 

There are a lot of different techniques, a quick google search will bring up a big list with fancy names. 

 

There are also a lot of therapists out there, as many as in any other professionSome people motivated and serious about their profession and are focused on specific goals, like treating pain, stress relief, chronic illness… etc and others don’t take it as seriously and aren’t focused on anything other than checking their watch wishing time would go faster. 

 

The right massage for you is a combination of the right technique with the right massage therapist. 

 

The first thing you need to know is what your problem or need is and why you need a massage as well as what you want the experience to be. 

 

If you have pain or are dealing with a clinical presentation and need professional treatment for it I recommend you research your local area and find someone with a high level of qualification. This person will most likely work from a clinic or similar place. 

 

If what you’re looking for is your typical pampering session with lots of oil, vapour and scents, more the experience of the setting than the treatment itself, I would recommend you visit your local spa. Some massage therapists might include this in their session but most won’t focus so much on this as they will on the  treatment itself. 

 

Another thing worth pointing out here is the fact that massage focused in the treatment of pain or injury doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be painful. There is a big misconception when it comes to this. More pain doesn’t mean better. Although the therapist might cause some discomfort as they treat the problem area, a good treatment should always feel relaxing and soothing for the client with relaxation being a powerful part of the treatment itself.