Choosing the Right Type of Massage

Not sure what type of massage is right for you? There are several popular styles of massage; each one has its own unique benefits, making some more effective than others when treating certain conditions. We offer two basic types of massage at East Lake Acupuncture & Wellness, which can be customized to meet your individual needs. 



Swedish massage is the most common form of massage therapy in the United States. In Swedish massage, therapists use long, smooth strokes, kneading and other movements focused on superficial layers of muscle.

Swedish massage improves circulation by bringing oxygen and other nutrients to body tissues. It relieves muscle tension and pain, increases flexibility and mobility, and helps clear lactic acid, toxins and cellular waste from muscle tissues, reducing pain and stiffness in muscles and joints. 



I Like a Heavy Pressure, Should I Get a Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It is especially helpful for chronically tense and contracted areas such as stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders. This massage focuses on up to three areas of concern and is not generally a full body massage, though many facilities will advertise a "full body" deep tissue massage, they are usually referring to massage with a little more pressure than a Swedish. It is very difficulty to do a full body deep tissue massage in one hour and even more difficult to do it correctly. 

How Does Deep Tissue Massage Work?  

When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, there are usually adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation. Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, the massage therapist often uses direct deep pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles in slow movements.


Is Deep Tissue Massage painful?

At certain points during the massage, most people find there is usually some discomfort and mild pain. It is important to tell the massage therapist when things hurt and if any soreness or pain you experience is outside your comfort range. Please don’t try to “tough it out” if the pressure is too much.

There is usually some stiffness or pain after a deep tissue massage, but it should subside within a day or two. The massage therapist may recommend applying ice or a topical cream to the area after the massage. Be sure to drink plenty of water, you'll bounce back more quickly.

Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage 

Unlike classic Swedish massage therapy, which is used for relaxation or general muscle tension, deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, which is why a true deep tissue massage is not a full body massage.



Neuromuscular Therapy aka "Medical Massage" or "Manual Therapy"

Neuromuscular therapy is a highly effective for clients who present with chronic pain and is often successful in reducing or eliminating even longstanding painful conditions. Some of the techniques can also be applied to acute injuries and for post-surgical care and often help improve performance in sport or dance and to prevent injuries due to these activities.


Is Medical Massage Like a Regular Massage?

Neuromuscular assessments, examinations and therapy primarily address ischemia (tight tissue with reduced blood flow), myofascial trigger points (hypersensitive points within muscles that give rise to referred phenomena, including pain), neural entrapment (pressure on nerves by muscles and other soft tissues), and nerve compression (pressure on nerves by osseous and other bone-like tissues, such as cartilage or discs), postural assessment (assessment of the position of the body as a whole), and dysfunctional gait patterns (manner of movement when walking), with constant consideration for many other perpetuating factors, such as hydration, nutrition, breathing patterns, and psychological stress. 

Medical massage is generally referred to as "manal therapy."


Medical Massage vs. Regular Massage

At first glance it is easy to mistake manual therapy for a regular massage. They often feel similar, however, there are differences between these two treatment methods. This would explain why most insurance will pay for manual therapy (billing codes 97110/97140) but not massage. Massage is manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments) to enhance a person's health and well-being and reduce stress and tension. There are many of styles of massage (called modalities). With massage you have control over who, what, when and where. With manual therapy the frequency, duration and modality are generally dictated by a physician and the service provided by a medical massage therapist.

When a person gets a massage they can choose the therapist, frequency and modality. They can go as often or as little as they like and for any reason or for no reason at all. Massage is a great way to reduce stress and muscle tension and weekly massage can do wonders for a person’s overall health. 

Medical Massage (Manual therapy) Explained



Medical massage aka "manual therapy" is a targeted massage modality to address pain, injury and dysfunction. Where it differs from massage is that the patient is evaluated by a physician (MD, physical therapist, acupuncturist or chiropractor) and a treatment plan is created with the intent to restore or dramatically improve function. The treatment plan often involves a variety of modalities ranging from manual therapy to ultrasound therapy.


Here’s where the difference between massage and manual therapy become clearer. With manual therapy a patient is required to get treatment on a set schedule, generally two or three times per week at first and then once a week for a total of (on average) four to six weeks. Progress is monitored and modalities are selected based on an individual’s progress and may vary from week to week accordingly.


A good example is frozen shoulder. Massage or manual therapy are both going to help improve this condition. However, usually when a person gets massage the therapist asks if there any areas the client wants special focus on and that area receives some extra attention. 

A client may request only that area be worked on or that it be incorporated into a full body massage. It’s completely up to the client.

With manual therapy the therapist is generally working under the order of a physician whom has evaluated the condition and designed a treatment plan tailored to the patient with the goal or restoring or significantly improving function. In the example of a frozen shoulder, the therapist would likely be limited to certain modalities and would be required only to address the muscles groups, joints, tendons and ligaments affected.

Those areas would be targeted and range of motion tested and retested each visit and treatment plans modified accordingly.