This week is apparently Spa Week — but you already knew that — which is as good a time as any to pay a complete stranger to rub the stress out of your gross, naked body. Massages can be both enjoyable and therapeutic, but there are lots of different kinds — so you need to know what you’re looking for. What would be best for working out the tense knots in your upper back caused by the stress you’re under may not be best for simply relaxing for an hour to get away from that stress. Also, you may want to get a nice tug! So here’s a rundown of several different kinds of massage.
SWEDISH MASSAGE is the most common type of massage therapy in the U.S. Message therapists gently knead your muscles in long, circular motions, making this ideal for relaxing and/or beginning a porn, but probably not ideal if you have sore muscles you need to heal.
AROMATHERAPY MASSAGE is supposed to be great if you’re stressed out and could use a few minutes of quiet to smell some redolent oils and listen to the sounds of the Costa Rican rain forest waft out of a wood-grained stereo.
SHIATSU sounds like some intense martial art that masseuses practice on people’s backs, but it’s actually rather pleasant. This form of Japanese bodywork uses localized finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence along acupuncture meridians. Each ‘pressure point’ is held for eight seconds, supposedly helping the body improve its energy flow. Basically, it’s like getting a rubdown from Mr. Miyagi.
Conversely, DEEP-TISSUE MASSAGE is for people whose backs are so full of Gordian knots that only a serious work-over can relieve their pain. These massage therapists use slow, against-the-grain strokes to target deep layers of muscle and connective tissue.
For a relaxing HOT STONE MASSAGE, heated rocks are placed on strategic points on the body to heat and loosen tight muscles. A massage therapist might also apply pressure, but the warmth of the rocks itself is supposed to do the trick. Pro tip: Make sure the person is using hot rocks, not hot ancient Biblical inscribed medallions.
REFLEXOLOGY is a fancy name for a foot massage. That’s why foot-massage barkers stand outside their little corner massage parlors like Sirens calling to weary pedestrians: Call it whatever you want, but foot massages feel good.
THAI MASSAGE is similar to Shiatsu in that it utilizes certain pressure points, but it requires you to do more than just lay on a table like a fattened crocodile. Instead, a masseuse contorts your body into a sequence of poses that supposedly reduce stress and increase flexibility. If nothing else, it’s probably the most fun way to get a massage. Well, except for …
… a HAPPY ENDING. We hear that certain establishments with which we’re totally unfamiliar allegedly offer such a service. Just let the people who work there bring it up first … trust us.