To most people, massage is really something you only do while at a spa or on vacation as a means to relax and destress. Indeed, the most popular type of massage is Swedish massage, which is a medium-pressure combination of kneading and rolling that is good for improving blood flow and working out tension.
But at every Euro-spa destination spa you may also find several other types of more intense massage. These may not seem as pleasant, at first, as the traditionally relaxing modalities but these more powerful techniques are not necessarily intended just for releasing tension. As a matter of fact, some of these more extreme techniques can be quite painful but, when done properly, can more effectively relieve specific types of pain and even some symptoms of chronic conditions.
DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE
Of all the less common extreme massage modalities, deep tissue massage is probably the most familiar. This modality is wide ranging in its overall severity. The severity, then, can depend on the type of stress you might be trying to relieve. And yes, it can be quite painful—notably more painful than Swedish massage—because deep tissue massage focuses squarely on relieving tension from specific trigger points. These trigger points tend to become stressed from repetitive use and are more commonly aggravated in athletes.
Similar to deep tissue massage, Thai massage can be painful but it does not have to be. The range of this “pain” has to do with the combination of deep, rhythmic compression and yoga stretches. The stretch improves flexibility and circulation better than a massage by itself. For Westerners, then, this type of massage can be very painful at first because many people in the West do not stretch as part of a daily routine. But the more comfortable you become in the stretches, the more your body relaxes and the more pleasant the experience of Thai massage becomes.
Perhaps the most painful of these extreme massage modalities, “rolfing” is a trademarked system of soft tissue manipulation and movement of the body’s natural “myofascial tissue.” This is actually the network of connective muscle tissue that supports posture and movement. Rolfing, then, might be considered the deepest type of tissue massage as it not only encourages relaxation but can even ease patterns of pain and inflammation throughout the body.