During Swedish massage, massage therapists apply massage oil to your skin to facilitate various massage strokes, including the smooth, gliding strokes called effleurage. Other classic Swedish massage moves include kneading, friction, stretching and tapping.
Swedish massage promotes relaxation, eases muscle tension and creates other health benefits. It can be slow and gentle or vigorous and bracing, depending on what the therapist wants to achieve.
Feel free to state your preference for pressure during Swedish massage. It can range from light to firm. Swedish massage usually includes some deeper work on areas of specific muscle tension. If you want more intensive work and firmer pressure, ask for a deep tissue massage.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is a type of massage aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia, also called connective tissue. Deep tissue massage uses many of the same movements and techniques as Swedish massage, but the pressure will generally be more intense. It is also a more focused type of massage, as the therapist works to release chronic muscle tension or knots (also known as "adhesions.")
Trigger Point Massage
Trigger points are described as irritable spots in skeletal muscle. They are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers. Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or local twitch response. It is the therapist's goal during the session to identify and release trigger points in the body to aid in relief from chronic and/or referring pain.
Hot Stone Massage
Hot stone massage is a variation on classic massage therapy. Heated smooth, flat stones are placed on key points on the body. The massage therapist may also hold the stones and use them to massage certain areas of the body.
The hot stones are usually made of basalt, a type of rock that is rich in iron, so they retain heat. River rocks are normally used because they are so smooth - they have been smoothed over time by the river's current.
The stones are immersed in water and heated in an electric heating device until they are within a certain temperature range. The stones may be placed at specific points on the back, in the palms of the hand, or between the toes.
The heat warms and relaxes the muscles, which allows the therapist to apply deeper pressure, if desired.
The warmth of the hot stones improves circulation and calms the nervous system.
Some massage therapists place stones on points that are thought to be energy centers of the body to rebalance the body and mind.
Cupping is type of therapy that pre-dates just about every form of bodywork ever used. Ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures used this form of therapy to promote healing and well-being.
Using cups fashioned from, earthenware, silicone, glass or bamboo, therapist are able aid clients in reduction of pain and inflammation, increase blood flow, relaxation, and overall well-being, to name a few of its benefits.
This is done by placing the cups on various areas of the body and creating suction to achieve the desired effect. The suction can be created mechanically, with the use of a machine or manually, using a hand pump.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being.
The inhaled aroma from these "essential" oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing.
Reflexology, or zone therapy is an alternative medicine involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet, hands, or ears with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques with or without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on a system of zones and reflex areas that reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.
*This information and more can be found at About.com, wikipedia, webmd, or aromatherapy.com by Cathy Wong or Anitra Brown.