As the old saying goes: No two massages were created equal. Okay, sure – that’s not quite the adage, but it still holds true.
A massage is essentially the practice of putting pressure on the body to relax and reinvigorate your muscles, and techniques can vary hugely between countries.
Here are what massages entail in some of the countries they are most popular in, just so you’re fully clued up next time you go abroad in need of a little relaxation.
There are so many different types of massage in China, and some are quite daunting. Fire or knife massage anyone?
One of the major practices is Tui Na which thankfully doesn’t involve anything dangerous. It uses kneading, chopping and various other pressure movements to clear blockages in the body’s channels – a core belief in Chinese medicine. It is often combined with other traditional practices, like cupping or acupuncture.
In Japan, a key traditional massage technique is Shiatsu. No, it’s not a type of dog (that’s a shih tzu) – it actually means “finger pressure” in Japanese.
It was developed from ancient Chinese medicine, and is all about working to balance the body’s vital energy: Qi.
Shiatsu is by no means an intense sports massage, instead it employs comfortable pressure across the body to balance energy flow. It’s big on the combination of the physical and mental to get the best results.
Think twice before stripping off for a Thai massage, because they are traditionally done fully clothed. Also unlike your typical massage, no massage oils are used (which makes sense, so you don’t get lotion all over your outfit).
Thai massages are also known as yoga massages, because the therapist will get you to adopt certain yoga-like positions throughout the treatment. This, combined with the kneading of deep tissue, should leave you fully stretched out by the end of the session.
Ayurvedic medicine is a type holistic medicine that dates back thousands of years in India. It is centred on the belief that in order for you to be fully healthy, your body and mind need to be balanced – and this is taken into account in Ayurvedic massage.
This kind of massage features specially tailored blends of heated oils, and gently focuses on different pressure points throughout the body. Indian head massages are particularly popular using these methods.
Okay, so the truth is, Swedish massages didn’t actually originate in Sweden. They were actually developed by Dutch practitioner Johann Georg Mezger in the second half of the 19th century.
You traditionally start on your front with your face in a cradle, before your therapist performs long strokes across your body using their hands and oils. You can opt for lighter or harder pressure, depending on your preference.
If you’re looking for the massage to release muscle tension and pain, opt for a deep tissue massage.
Balinese massages are popular in Indonesia, and are considered a mixture of Indian and Chinese massage practices.
With Balinese massage, you will be unclothed under a towel and your therapist will use aromatherapy oils to focus on different pressure points across the body. Often, hot stones are also used, for deeper relaxation.