If you’ve ever looked at a spa menu and been at a loss for what to pick, you’re not alone. Understanding a little about massage therapies and techniques can help you to enjoy one of the most relaxing things to do in Singapore: getting a massage.
Swedish massage is one of the most common types of massage therapies you’ll see in most spas. This technique uses long, sweeping strokes on the back and limbs; your therapist will also roll and knead your muscles, applying deeper pressure to problem spots with their fingers and thumbs. Swedish massages are oil-based, as the oils allow the therapist’s hands to move more easily across your skin; you may also be given a choice of aromatherapy oils. Swedish massage is an ideal option if you just need your muscles relaxed after a long day or long flight, and for those who have never had a massage before.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage treats specific problem areas in your body. Some establishments may refer to this as sports massage. Many people report that deep tissue massage helps to relieve chronic pain, especially pain caused by repetitive stress and posture misalignment. Your therapist will apply deep, concentrated pressure on certain areas to force the muscles to relax and get all the way down to the deep musculature. If it sounds like it could be painful, you’re right! Most deep tissue massage can cause some sort of discomfort, and you may feel stiff after it’s over. With a skilled practitioner, this soreness should go away in a couple of days and your muscles will feel better over time.
There’s a reason Thai massage is known as a lazy person’s yoga! In Thai massage, you normally wear a pair of loose cotton pajamas, and you’re more likely to lie on a firm mattress on the floor than a massage table. Your therapist will stretch and you into yoga-like positions throughout your massage, and crack your fingers, toes, neck and back. This isn’t a massage during which you can expect to doze off, but it is a great way to release tension and become more aware of your breathing and posture.
Ayurveda is a form of alternative medicine originating in India and actually comprises a whole system of therapies including diet and exercise. Most Ayurvedic massages use the principles of Ayurveda, and aim to balance the body through massage techniques and oils. You may be in a standing or sitting position during the massage, and many Ayurvedic massage establishments may offer separate massages for different parts of the body; for example, you could just pick a head massage. Practitioners may also apply warm poultices to the body to relieve muscle tension.
The practice of reflexology involves applying pressure to the hands and feet; practitioners believe that each section of the hand and foot corresponds to a different part of the body. Foot reflexology outlets are commonly found all over Singapore and many people use it as a form of foot massage rather than to treat any specific illness. Your therapist will use acupressure to massage your feet; in most reflexology establishments, you can simple lie back in a comfortable chair while you enjoy your massage, so it’s the perfect way to give your feet a break after a day of sightseeing and shopping!
Javanese and Balinese Massage
Javanese and Balinese massage therapies originate in Indonesia, and are oil-based massages. Therapists use deep thumb pressure around the body’s energy meridians to release muscle tension, and long strokes of their palms to improve circulation. The pressure can be harder and more painful than what you’d expect from a Swedish massage. Many Javanese massage outlets in Singapore also offer post-natal treatments.
It is important to consult with your doctor before undertaking any massage therapy.