Lymphatic vs Thai vs Clinical Neuromuscular Therapy vs Swedish Massage—Which is Best For Me?

Man getting a professional massage at a medical spa in Asheville

Are you feeling stressed, burnt out, or in pain? Massage therapy may be the answer to these issues, and many others. Though it’s often thought of as a luxury experience, massage is an important treatment that has been shown to reduce stress, help treat diseases and ailments, and improve your overall well being. 

What is massage therapy?

Licensed massage therapists use touch and a variety of techniques to manipulate the tissues of the body in specific ways to help treat disorders, encourage healing, improve clinical outcomes, and increase overall wellness. With over 80 types of massage techniques available, it may be challenging to identify the optimal massage technique for your wellness. Here, we explain four of the most popular massage techniques and their potential benefits. 

Massage therapy is proven to safely and effectively treat a range of physical, mental, and emotional conditions.

Swedish massage

Excellent for patients who are new to massage therapy, this technique offers personalized options and variable pressure, making it a beneficial baseline massage treatment. 

Swedish massage techniques relax and/or stimulate the body using long, flowing strokes, kneading, tapotement (repeated movements), and cross fiber friction (strokes across the grain of a ligament, tendon, or muscle). Swedish massage is the most common form of massage; it can help you achieve full body relaxation and increase your overall wellness

Benefits of Swedish massage:

  • Reduces muscle pain and tension
  • Improves circulation
  • Relieves headaches 
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Encourages relaxation 

We often recommend Swedish massage to first-time patients as it can allow you to receive comprehensive physical and mental health benefits while becoming accustomed to therapeutic and healing touch. Once familiar, you may choose to continue receiving Swedish massage or explore other modalities based on your wellness needs. 

Clinical Neuromuscular Therapy 

Ideal for patients who have a specific injury, chronic pain, or who want to prevent injury from repeated stress.

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) is a form of soft tissue massage that aims to alleviate chronic muscular and nervous system issues and disorders, as well as postural problems and repetitive movement injuries. NMT focuses on 2-3 areas per session, and usually involves deep stripping and cross fiber friction to treat trigger points in muscle fibers.

During NMT massage, your therapist will often start with myofascial stretching and skin rolling, to loosen up the superficial fascial layers and increase blood flow to the area. Your therapist will then use alternating levels of concentrated pressure and friction to release areas of strain and tension in the muscle. These areas are called tender or trigger points, and can be the cause of ongoing muscular pain symptoms. Trigger points often lead to referral pain, which refers to a phenomenon in which areas other than the trigger point itself experience pain, neuropathy (numbness), or paresthesia (tingling). After the muscles are relaxed, lactic acid will be released from the muscle, which will allow the muscle to receive increased blood flow and oxygen to encourage healing. 

Benefits of NMT:

  • Reduces or eliminates pain
  • Improves flexibility
  • Increases ease of movement
  • Improves posture
  • Balances musculoskeletal and nervous systems

Lymphatic massage

Best for patients who wish to improve lymphatic function, reduce swelling, or treat lymphedema with light pressure. 

Your lymphatic system—a vital part of your immune system—is made up of vessels, tissues, and organs that move lymph fluid through your bloodstream. It is important to keep your lymphatic system working properly as it performs many key functions in your body (i.e. protects your body from illness-causing pathogens and removes cellular waste). 

Lymphatic massage technique consists of shorter, lighter strokes across the skin’s surface towards the heart to restore lymphatic functioning and reduce swelling. Once the fluid is released from your tissues, it can be properly filtered/carried through the lymphatic vessels and nodes to be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Lymphatic massage is beneficial for patients who have a well-functioning lymphatic system who prefer a lighter touch, as well as for patients who suffer from lymphedema (fluid retention).  

Benefits of Lymphatic massage:

  • Increases lymphatic drainage
  • Reduces swelling throughout the body
  • Relieves lymphedema (retention of lymph fluid)
  • Provides support for venous insufficiency (poor vein circulation) 
  • May relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms (joint pain, swelling, and stiffness)
  • May reduce Fibromyalgia symptoms (chronic muscle and joint pain)

Thai massage

Best for patients who want to boost energy levels, improve flexibility, and relieve stress and discomfort using firm, dynamic movements and pressure. 

Centuries ago, Buddhist monks developed Thai massage techniques to bring balance and healing to the body. These techniques have been honed through generations and its benefits have been well studied. Thai massage techniques are more active, using a sequence of therapist-guided yogic movements to stretch and twist your body and are performed fully clothed on a special mat on the floor. Your therapist will apply firm pressure with their fingers, palms, elbows, knees, and feet. Thai massage keeps you present as your therapist draws attention to each part of your body—releasing previously ignored sources of tension. You’ll have a greater awareness of your body following a Thai massage. 

Benefits of Thai massage:

  • Reduces muscle and joint pain
  • Increases flexibility and range of motion
  • Relieves headaches caused by muscle tension
  • Supports sleep quality
  • Helps improve posture

Because Thai massage is intended to center the mind and body, you may also find this technique helpful in easing psychological stress, emotional trauma, and insomnia. 

Asheville massage therapy at Mountain Radiance

There are several massage techniques available at Mountain Radiance to address specific concerns and provide unique physical and mental wellness benefits. Whether you want to relax and unwind, or speed the healing of sickness or injury, our experienced massage therapist will discuss your goals and concerns and recommend the ideal massage technique to optimize your outcomes. 

If you are interested in learning more about massage therapy or the comprehensive range of non-surgical aesthetic treatments we offer, we invite you to schedule your free consultation online or call our Asheville medical spa at (828) 627-2711

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