I often talk to clients about how the different massage modalities could be arranged on a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum lies the Relaxation Massage, which addresses the whole body with long flowing strokes with the intention to relax mind and body for a deeply restorative experience. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Therapeutic Massage (often called Deep Tissue Massage), which treats the specific areas of the body that are hurting using clinically-based techniques that are often painful ( in a good way) with the intention to altar the physiology of the tissues to relieve pain and restore function in those ares. Right smack in the middle of the spectrum, then, would be the combination massage.
Say your shoulders and neck feel tight and ache from a long day at the computer, you would love for them to release, but stressors at home and work feel piled on as well and you're not up for an intense therapeutic session that will tax the body further. A combination massage may by the right choice for you today. A combination massage will often focus on half the body: for example, upper body with a focus on neck/shoulders/wrists/hands, or lower body with a focus on low back, tight hamstrings/calves, and feet. These are just common examples, and we would focus on whatever you need, but in general, the massage will begin and end with the comprehensive, relaxing approach of a relaxation massage. When we begin to move into areas of complaint, the techniques will gradually begin to incorporate clinically-based techniques to effect real change in the tissues so that when you leave, those problematic areas will feel dramatically different. Before leaving your problematic areas, I will check in with you, and make sure they feel sufficiently addressed. If they do, the massage will again begin to flow into a relaxing, Swedish style session, incorporating those painful areas back into the whole body in a relaxing way as we slowly work toward your next problematic area.
As always, communication is key. At the beginning of a massage, I will check in with you quite often regarding pressure, asking if you would like more or less. The pressure we are looking for ideally feels like it is getting into and addressing the areas that hurts, but should never be so deep that it feels like the surrounding muscles need to tense up to protect the area. Feel free to give me as much feedback as you need to throughout the massage to help me stay within this pressure; you can do so by simply saying "more" or "less" at any point throughout the massage. Also, I will check with you before I leave any problematic area to make sure it feels like we got into what was bothering you in that area. Again, if there still feels like there is a tight, achey area lingering, please let me know and I will continue to work there until those problematic areas feel sufficiently addressed.
A combination massage, though likely to bring about less dramatic changes as a therapeutic massage and less full-body relaxation as a Swedish massage, does have the benefits of being able to offer a little bit of the benefits of both.
Five ways massage can improve your health:
Get better sleep
Boost mental health and wellness
Increase range of motion