What is the Best Type of Massage for Pain?

What is the best type of massage for pain?  It really depends on what type of pain you have.  Deep tissue is indicated for sore muscles.  But Swedish helps you to relax.  Read more to find out what type of massage you should have. 

Why Should You Get a Massage?

Most of us would agree that a massage is a wonderful treat because it feels so good to be manipulated by a trained therapist.  Studies show that gentle, appropriate touching can increase our endorphins.  Like a hug!  But there are other benefits, which have actually been verified by science.

Other benefits include:

  • Lowering heart rate and blood pressure
  • Improving circulation and therefore improving energy and alertness
  • Reducing minor muscle soreness and tension
  • Reducing stress

You most likely will feel more relaxed after your massage, which is a wonderful benefit in itself.  I find I sleep really well after a massage.  

Science has not concluded that massage can actually relieve chronic pain, although some claim that it does.  Personally, the fact that I feel relaxed after a massage helps me cope with my pain.  Pain can cause anxiety, tight muscles, and depression.  Massage releases endorphins.  Which are the happy hormones, thus lifting your mood.

What is the Best Type of Massage for Pain?

Who Should Get a Massage?

Really anyone can, but there are some precautions for certain individuals.  

If you have infections or broken bones, you should not get a massage.  And you should be under a doctor’s care for those! 

Any bleeding disorders should prevent you from a massage.  This includes deep vein thrombosis and a low platelet count.  

Although some arthritis may respond to massage, severe osteoarthritis sufferers shouldn’t get a massage. 

And finally any open wound, burn or severe abrasion should not be touched.   

If you don’t have any of these issues, then by all means try a massage.  Children can get massages.  But a consent form should be required.  And if a person is elderly, they should be assisted when climbing on the table and getting off.  

Who can provide a massage?

I recommend you see a licensed, certified, or registered therapist.  Find out what your state guidelines are.  Your doctor might be able to recommend someone they trust.  

Speak with your therapist about what you want, what your health issues are and ask what you can expect.  I had a massage once that exacerbated my pain so I felt worse afterwards.  So now I speak up and explain my problems.  

What is the Best Type of Massage for Pain?

Does Insurance Cover Massage?

The definitive answer is there is no definitive answer.  Massage can be considered an alternative care medicine, and therefore might be a procedure recommended by your doctor.  

Therefore it is recommended that you have a conversation with your doctor.  Find out if they are willing to authorize this treatment.  

Then call your insurance company.  Dialogue with them to find out if they are willing to cover it and if so, what they require to pay the therapist.  By all means, have all your ducks in a row before you go for treatment.  

What Type Of Massage Should I Get?

First we need to define the most common types of massage.  They are as follows:


A gentle type of massage, this one is especially good for a first time massage.  There will probably be light kneading, stroking and minimal joint flexion.  

Deep Tissue

This massage is, as the name implies, a deeper treatment.  The therapist uses a more penetrating finger movement, with the goal of relaxing muscles and tendons.  It is good for muscle soreness.  

If you are sensitive to someone pushing on your body with their fingers, this is not the massage for you.


This practice combines a Swedish massage with the addition of essential oils.  The oils are used on the body and in a diffuser.  You can choose the oil or your therapist will recommend an oil.  

I recommend you get familiar with some essential oils before you use this type of massage.  In fact, I wrote an article about them.  See Pain Relief With Essential Oils. Do They Work?

What is the Best Type of Massage for Pain?


This is a more active massage where you will be manipulated by stretches.  Therefore you will be practicing yoga type stretches and be involved in the movement.  The therapist uses their hands and fingers to massage while you are moving.

Hot Stones

The therapist adds hot stones to the treatment.  These stones are placed where the person is experiencing tension or pain.  The addition of the heat serves to relax the area.  You still receive the manipulation by the massage, but the stones add to pain relief.  

Additional Note

In every case except Thai, you will need to take your clothes off.  If you want, you can keep your underwear on.  You should do what is most comfortable for you.  You should be able to ask for a male or female therapist, depending on your comfort level.  

A female friend of mine had a male therapist which she didn’t mind, but because he was stronger than what she was used to, she hurt afterwards.  Please discuss with your therapist what you can tolerate and any concerns you have.  

There are some other more specific massages available.  Here is an article from Healthline that outlines a few more options.  

Advice For After a Massage

These guidelines are what you should do after you have a massage.  

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Stretch and relax
  • Eat; a heavy meal is not recommended
  • Just continue to nourish your body


What is the best type of massage for pain?  My conclusion is, it depends on your pain.  All the above can address pain.  Deep Tissue may not be for you if you have sensitive nerve pain.  And Aromatherapy may not be a choice if you are sensitive to smells.  

Hot Stone massage has the additional advantage of the heat assisting to relax tightness.  I love to use heat when my pain is radiating down my leg.  

I personally choose Swedish and discuss with my therapist what results I am hoping for and then trust their training.  Once you find someone who helps you, stick with them!  

Comments Please

What has been your experience with massage? Do you have a question? Please leave a comment below to help us all in managing our pain.

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2 thoughts on “What is the Best Type of Massage for Pain?”

  1. Oh my, massage is so relaxing, so much so that reading this article makes me want one so bad. I’ll probably look into it this weekend, just because I deserve it. Lol.

    I had no idea that there are so many types of massages and I like that they are really helpful for body pains.

    Out of the types of massages you wrote about, I like the deep tissue and hot stones types the most because of how well it would help with soreness and muscle pain, especially for great for people with body pains. But like you said, I am one of those people who are quite sensitive and won’t be so comfortable with intense fingers on my body, so I am a fan of the hot stones, until I can learn to ease into the deep tissue massage.

    Thank you for this.


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