Chances are, you or someone you know has enjoyed a massage therapy session in the last week or two. It’s no longer something reserved for special occasions, or beach vacations. The health benefits of professional massage therapy have come into the spotlight in recent years, with more and more people seeking out quality massage therapists as a part of their overall health and wellness regimen.

The Mayo Clinic, one of the most trusted medical organizations, lists a whole plethora of health benefits associated with massage therapy, including the reduction of stress, pain, and tension in the muscles. It’s also mentioned that doctors may recommend massage therapy to people are being treated for cancer, heart disease, fibromyalgia, and other health issues.

Athletic performance is another area where the benefits of massage therapy are obvious. Virtually all professional sports teams employ a massage therapist in order to enhance wellness, treat soreness, increase blood flow to muscles and ligaments, and boost overall performance.

But even if you’re convinced that regular or semi-regular massage therapy is worth a try, you may have trouble knowing what kind of massage therapy is best for you. After all, the list of massage services at your average spa can be somewhat confusing. Should you go with a Swedish massage, or Shiatsu? What about deep tissue massage, sports massage, Thai massage, or muscle therapy? What’s the difference between these things, and which one is the best fit for me and my treatment goals?

These are common questions you may ask, but there really are no definite answers to be found. Different people respond to different styles of massage in different ways. Some people like a variety of massage therapy styles, while others prefer the routine of a familiar type of treatment (knowing what to expect can actually make things more relaxing).

If you’re just starting out as a new massage therapy patient, consider booking a Swedish massage (which is offered at the vast majority of spas around the country). Swedish massage is simple, effective, and incredibly relaxing when performed correctly. This first appointment is also a great time to ask about different styles of massage. In many cases, therapists are happy to perform a few different types of therapy in the same session, in order to give you a sense of the differences and similarities.

More important than the type of massage you choose…

You might know from experience that certain types of massage therapy work better for you than others – or you may have to find this out by talking to people, and by trying two or three different types of massage therapy for yourself. Either way, the practitioner you choose is a lot more important than the type of massage you choose. In other words, finding a skilled massage therapist who works with you on your treatment goals, and proactively communicates with you about the different types of therapy available, will lead to the best experience overall – no matter what type of massage therapy you settle on!