Have you been thinking about booking a massage, but have been overwhelmed by the number of choices? How do you know which massage will be best for you right now? The choice you make should take into consideration not only your preference for light or deep pressure, but also your health condition right now (both mental and physical).

One of the best ways to determine which massage is right for you is to speak with a massage therapist. However, if you would prefer to do a little research on your own first, here is a list of your options and the general benefits of each massage for specific mental and physical concerns.

Swedish Massage: relaxation, stress relief, first massage

Swedish massage is the most common form of massage therapy in the U.S., and is therefore the ideal massage for those who have never had a massage before. It is designed to warm up your muscle tissues to release tension, soreness, and toxins. It can be done using lighter or deeper pressure, depending on your preference, and usually consists of long, slow strokes.

Deep Tissue Massage: tight, painful muscles, repetitive strain, postural problems, injury recovery

Deep tissue massage is a slower-paced massage that uses a combination of techniques to increase the pressure applied to the body. The massage therapist usually uses the forearm and elbow to help exert more pressure into the tissues. There are two common forms of deep tissue massage: petrissage (movement much like kneading bread applied to specific areas of the body to increase blood flow) and tapotement (karate chopping movements with high intensity of pressure applied to tissues). Deep tissue massage comes with a certain level of discomfort, but never pain. There should be constant communication with the massage therapist about pressure levels.

Trigger Point Massage: knots where the body holds tension

The purpose of trigger point massage is to work out those painful, tight knots in the muscle. The massage therapist uses their thumb, knuckle, or elbow to apple pressure to these tight points to loosen up the muscle, release toxins, and relieve any discomfort. This massage may be uncomfortable for come clients who don’t like the feel of deep pressure work.

Hot Stone Massage: muscle tension

Hot stone massage is ideal for sore muscles that don’t require deep pressure work. Areas that really benefit from this massage are around the shoulder blades, lower back area, and neck. The warmth adds extra relaxation and relieves soreness quickly. To get the greatest benefit from the hot stones, a longer massage is advised (somewhere between 80-110 minutes).

Prenatal Massage: decrease swelling, relieve aches and pains, ease physical and emotional stresses of pregnancy

It is very important to work with a massage therapist who is trained in prenatal massage and who is familiar with modifications in treatment used to help protect the baby and relieve specific pregnancy-related symptoms, such as edema. This massage is typically done with the client on her side, or on her back with a wedge for support.

Sports Massage: prevent and treat injury, enhance performance

Sports massage is designed mostly for pre- and post-sports event work, such as the day of or the day after a marathon. It is meant to help get the lactic acid buildup in muscles to dissipate, reducing aches and pains and chance of injury.This massage usually moves at a faster pace, and is therefore less relaxing than other forms of massage. Aided stretching is also common with sports massage and is ideal for anyone physically active, whether you are a professional athlete or someone who is just starting a new workout program.