In addition to exercise, eating well and getting plenty of sleep, massage can add to your wellness arsenal during stressful times. It has been shown to have many therapeutic benefits, including lowering blood pressure, easing migraine headaches and dampening the fight-or-flight response, which leads to relaxation.
It can also increase the release of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin, adding to a feeling of well-being. For those with chronic pain or injuries, a regular massage can also aid in muscle healing. And for athletes, it can help with injury prevention and improve range of motion and muscle flexibility.
Some cultures integrate massage into their daily lives, much like regular exercise. In Thailand, for example, it’s common for people to get massages several times a week.
While massage services offered at spas might not be budget-friendly for regular sessions, some spots in the Las Vegas Valley offer memberships, including The Now Massage in Henderson (600 S. Green Valley Parkway #100, thenowmassage.com/henderson), which opened recently.
“The Now was founded on the premise that in today’s stressful, digitally driven society, massage is a necessity, not a luxury,” co-founder and chief creative officer Gara Post says. “We wanted to create an oasis in the city where people can come to relax and recharge without the cost and time commitment of a traditional spa. Our Ritual Membership packages [make] it even easier to make massage a part of your monthly or bimonthly wellness routine.”
There are many types of massages. To choose the right one for you, consider your needs. It’s also important to convey your level of comfort to your massage therapist, Post says. “Be up-front about which style and type of pressure you prefer,” she says. “You should consult with your massage therapist regarding any injuries or concerns you have, skin sensitivities or areas that may need more attention.”
Here’s a primer on how to pick the perfect treatment for you.
This type of massage is one of the most popular and can be found on most spa and wellness center menus. It’s gentle, so it’s ideal for those who are new to massage or sensitive to touch. This type of massage has lots of benefits: It relieves tension by releasing knots in muscles through kneading, long strokes and deep circular motions.
Deep tissue massage incorporates elements of Swedish massage “but with added pressure, specifically on areas of tension and pain in order to reach the sublayer of muscles and fascia, the connective tissue around the muscles,” Gara explains. Benefits include increased mobility, detoxification and pain relief, and a deep tissue massage is a good option for those with chronic muscle soreness or injuries. It’s more intense, but it shouldn’t be painful.
Similar to a Swedish massage, this technique uses heated stones (though cold stones can also be used) placed on different parts of the body, with gentle pressure from the therapist’s hands. The benefits from the added heat include improved blood flow and pain relief. A hot stone massage can also alleviate pain by easing muscle tension, promoting relaxation and relieving stress.
During this full-body Japanese-style massage, therapists use their hands, palms and thumbs to deliver rhythmic pressure at certain points in the body. In addition to reducing muscle tension, it can help relieve anxiety and depression by promoting emotional and physical relaxation. Shiatsu is also a good option for migraine sufferers.
A massage for those desiring a full-body workup to relieve pain and tension. The therapist uses a sequence of movements similar to yoga stretches, twisting your body into various positions. This massage is more active than other types, and its benefits can include increased flexibility and circulation. While other types of massage leave you feeling relaxed, a Thai massage might leave you feeling invigorated and energetic.
While most massage treatments focus on the physical aspects of well-being, aromatherapy massage takes into account the emotional as well, incorporating different types of essential oils, either directly on the skin (in diluted form) or through room diffusers, in combination with gentle pressure. Depending on the oils used, this type of massage can boost the mood, relieve stress and anxiety, and reduce symptoms of depression.
If you’re looking for a quick way to restore your natural energy levels, this type of massage, which focuses only on the feet, hands and ears, can be a good option. Based on ancient Chinese medicine, the theory is that these body parts are connected to certain organs and body systems. Reflexologists apply pressure to these points to release qi, or energy, that might be stuck. The goal is to keep qi flowing throughout the body to keep it balanced and to prevent disease.