When my subdivision has its semi-annual barbecue, we are treated to a generous selection of salads – lettuce salad, pasta salad, bean salad, cole slaw, potato salad, Caesar salad and more.
Even within those categories salads show strong differentiation. In lettuce salads, for example, I’ve seen several kinds of lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, broccoli florets, cheese, carrot shreds, strawberries, apple slices, croutons, crushed corn chips, pine nuts, assorted dressings and other ingredients. Similar ingredients in different proportions affect the flavor, texture and appearance.
No single salad at the barbecue is best. You can’t point to one and say it is the only correct way to make a salad. If you even can choose a favorite, it probably is not the same favorite your spouse or neighbor would choose.
Similarly, there are many styles of massage – Swedish massage, lymphatic drainage, reiki, corporate chair massage, shiatsu, tui na, Thai yoga massage, barefoot deep tissue massage and more.
The broad category of Swedish massage uses various techniques to apply therapeutic pressure and manipulate the body’s soft tissue: effleurage (gliding strokes), petrissage (kneading), friction (rubbing), oscillation or vibration, tapotement or percussion (drumming) and compression.
Like the salad maker who uses several varieties of lettuce, as a massage therapist I may use an assortment of techniques within each category. In tapotement, for example, I might drum with the side of my hands, loose fists, stiff fingertips, cupped hands, or flat hands. Another massage therapist might use the same techniques but on different muscle groups, using greater or lesser pressure and for longer or shorter time.
Another massage therapist might work muscle groups in a different order, use different strokes on some muscle groups or play different music during the session. She might use oil when I would use lotion, do more, fewer or different therapeutic stretches or not use hot towels on clients.
Although our massages are different, we both are doing it right.
You as the massage client can ask for deeper or lighter pressure, more time on especially tight, aching muscles, or other ways to customize your session. This clear communication helps me make it the best massage – for you.