Types of Massages and Their Applications

Massages have been around since ancient times and are used to relieve pain. Learn more about the different types of massages.
Types of Massages and Their Applications

Last update: 05 August, 2021

There are many different types of massages and there are innumerable applications that can improve our health and well-being. Although massages can be given using different techniques, we’re going to focus on chiro massage. This type of massage is done using only the hands, not with any tools or utensils.

History of massage

Massages have been around since ancient times and have been used to relieve physical, emotional and psychological pain. In general, they’re useful for improving our physical and emotional state. In addition, it’s great for:

  • Improving the quality of life and our well-being
  • Eliminating or reducing pain
  • Helping with relaxation
  • Decreasing stress
  • Improving quality of sleep

Massages have been around since ancient times. In India 1800-1500 BC (Ayur-Veda); in China around 1000 BC (Houng-Ching); Egypt, Greece, Rome, and in Muslim medicine. There are numerous references to its therapeutic applications by authors such as Herodicus (500 BC), Hippocrates (450 BC), Claudius Galen (130 BC), and Avicenna (Abu Ali Al-Husayn Iber Sina), (930-1037 AD), among others.

More recently, the Swedes have introduced some great massages to the world. They’re called Swedish massages and are currently the most popular massage in the whole world. Massage has continued to be used to this day as an art or relaxation technique. It’s also used to improve overall health and well-being. Today, it’s a broad speciality that varies in type and use.

Chiromassage definition

The widely accepted definition of massage is:

“A set of organized and methodical maneuvers or manipulations normally practiced without the aid of instruments, on a part or the totality of the body causing, directly or indirectly, aesthetic, hygienic, therapeutic and preventive effects.”

Types of massages

There are many types of massages that have evolved over time. Some have been enhanced by new additions to the practice, but retain the distinctive features of the original massage. Others, on the other hand, stand out for their combination of several types of massage or the incorporation of new techniques and maneuvers.

Types of massages


This type of massage only uses the hands and doesn’t require any other tools, instruments or devices. Chiromassages are effective because of the reflex physiological response of the treated area with increased blood flow and decreased pain. This is also a result of the pressure, which can reduce muscle fatigue by relaxing the treated area.

Despite its antiquity and diffusion, as scientific evidence on its effects is limited, official medicine doesn’t always recognize its benefits. Chiromassage has many benefits, but we can’t ignore the warnings for people with illnesses, injuries, or those who are pregnant.

Types of massages and their applications


This is the most widespread massage. Although it can be applied to specific parts of the body, it’s generally a massage that’s given to the whole body. It’s performed with gentle and shallow maneuvers that are intended to help reduce nervousness or stress, improve sleep quality, and relieve emotional tension. It’s one of the most common applications in the fields of beauty and personal care. 


This is a short massage that lasts between fifteen and twenty minutes. The masseuse will exert greater pressure to act on the deepest muscle layers. This type of massage is done on a specific part of the body and is best for sedentary people, who don’t have highly developed muscles and who are obese. It tones, activates the muscles, and increases blood flow that will carry any accumulated toxins away.


This is an energetic massage aimed at the elongation and relaxation of the muscle fibers. It’s used for recovery after sports practice or for preparation before it. Also, it shares the toning and increased circulation objective with other massages. However, it’s also designed to mobilize lactic acid, which is the bodily fluid that causes stiffness. 

Man giving massage

Lymphatic drainage

The mission of this massage is to promote lymphatic system circulation and prevent fluid accumulation, especially in the lower extremities. The masseuse will massage your whole body, following the direction of circulation to the heart. They’ll go from the lower extremities, upper extremities and abdomen where more fluid accumulates, producing an increase in volume towards the heart.


Shiatsu is a Japanese massage that’s performed by the masseuse pressing with their fingers. Shi: fingers; atsu: pressure. This technique is based on the different pressure points in the body, in a similar way to acupuncture. By putting pressure on the nerve endings, the body’s vital energy (Ch-Qui) will flow and balance. As a result, your overall health will improve, unlocking different parts of the body and returning their function to the internal organs.

Reflex massage

This is one of the types of massages that are based on the application of pressure to different areas of the body (feet, ears, trigger points, mouth, wrist, etc.) – areas far away from the area of pain. The masseuse will take advantage of the nervous and energetic communication of different areas in order to see an effect on the body.

The therapeutic effects are based on the physiology of the reflex arcs where the nerve fibers collect information from the affected area. Then, they emit the pertinent muscular, vascular or nervous command, influenced by the original pressure point.

Effects of massage on organs and structures


  • Cleanses and removes flaking cells (dead cells)
  • Cleanses and empties sweat glands or sebaceous glands
  • Sensitive analgesia. Reduces feelings of pain or discomfort
  • Vasodilation. Increases blood flow to the skin, which becomes warm and red
  • Improves cream or medication absorption through the pores
  • Cleanses dead cells in the hair follicle and stimulates the scalp

Adipose tissue

  • Dissolution of adipose cells by pressure, increased temperature, and blood flow
  • Helps with reabsorption of fat tissue and its storage as reserve energy


  • Increase in temperature and catabolism
  • Improves motor plate contractility and tonicity
  • Relieves, delays and reduces fatigue
  • Promotes circulation and relieves muscle pain


  • Increases temperature which improves edema reabsorption; this prevents joint stiffness

Blood circulation

  • Increased peripheral blood flow. Capillaries carry more blood and do it more quickly
  • Hyperemia: increase in the amount of blood reaching the tissues
  • Greater oxygenation of all body structures
  • Improves venous return and, therefore, prevents edema formation. Also, it improves metabolic waste and toxin elimination

Digestive system

  • Helps with peristaltic movements and digestive function
  • Can prevent or improve constipation or diarrhea

Nervous system

  • Analgesic effect: reduces pain
  • Improves motor nerve stimulation and, therefore, increases muscle tone, contractility and strength
  • Improves irrigation and, therefore, nutrition of the peripheral nerves
  • Psychic relaxation that helps reduce tension, stress and, therefore, feelings of pain or discomfort

General effects of chiro massage

Chiromassage’s effects are grouped into three large groups: mechanical, reflex and psychological.

Mechanical effects

  • Increased tissue elasticity
  • Pressure and stimulation of joint tissues (ligaments, muscles, tendons and bones)
  • Relieves muscle cramps
  • Improves arterial, venous and lymphatic circulation. This improves nutrition as well as waste elimination, including lactic acid which causes stiffness.

Reflex effects

  • Balances and tones the autonomic nervous system
  • Reduces pain

Psychological effects

  • Emotional and psychological relaxation
  • Improved sleep rhythms and emotional state
  • Increases overall well-being and improve brain motor ideation


The different types of massages have innumerable applications that can improve our health and well-being. However, it’s important that a professional carries them out, as poor execution can be counterproductive.

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