Stress relief you ‘knead’: What massage style is right for you?


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Massages are a great way to ease anxiety, help back pain and rejuvenate your energy supply. And even if a weekly spa visit isn’t in your budget, just one session can help you chill out and feel better.

“Of course, the best thing to do is to go every week or twice a week,” said Yvette Jiang, a massage therapist at Eden Day Spa in New York City. “But you can make the results last if you do stretches at home afterward.”

And when you’re there, make the most of your visit. Don’t eat a big meal before lying down for your treatment to avoid a stomachache afterward, advises the American Massage Therapy Association. When it’s over, make sure to get off the table slowly to avoid dizziness. Then drink plenty of water, especially if your massage was in a steam room.

So whether a massage is a much-needed fix or just a special splurge, here’s a list of a few common treatments and the hurt they fix.


The ailment: Stress
The massage: Swedish
The Swedish massage is one of the most popular in the United States, and works great to ease stress and anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic. The massage therapist uses kneading motions, long strokes, vibrations and taps over the entire body. It’s probably what you think of when you picture a massage — feeling relaxed yet?


The ailment: Back pain
The massage: Deep tissue
This massage gets at deeper layers of muscle to treat pain from strains or past injuries, and it’s the one therapists usually suggest to back pain sufferers.

In one study, participants with low back pain who received deep tissue massages for 10 weeks felt better at the end of the study than those who were treated with medication and physical therapy. Interestingly, participants who were given Swedish massages felt the same benefits as those with the deep tissue massage — good news for massage lovers on the cheap, as Swedish massages often cost less than deep tissue treatments.


The ailment: Pulled hamstring
The massage: Sports
In the middle of training for a 10K and suddenly you can only hobble? A sports massage might be the right pick for you. Even if it sounds like something reserved for pro football players, a sports massage can actually help anyone with a specific area of injury or pain, like a pulled hamstring or a sore knee.

Instead of massaging the whole body, a sports massage targets the hurt area so you can get back on your feet. Even if you’re not injured, sports massages can be great if you’re in training and want to keep your muscles relaxed and ready to take on that tough event.


The ailment: Lack of energy
The massage: Shiatsu
In this Japanese style of massage, therapists apply finger or palm pressure along traditional “energy pathways” to give you a boost and get your “chi,” or life force, in order, according to the Ann Arbor Institute of Massage Therapy. Give it a try if you’ve been feeling sluggish.