Types of Massage Therapy

Massage therapy has an assortment of techniques and over eighty styles. Massage therapy schools often develop programs that focus on one or two areas of massage rather than all eighty styles.

Massages are classified by categories. The categories are relaxation, deep tissue, neuromuscular, circulation, energy, Eastern approaches, structural/postural, movement, and special populations.

Relaxation massages are the most familiar, with Swedish massage the most known type. Swedish massage is a system used to energize the body. Five basic strokes that are directed toward the heart manipulate soft tissue and provide relief from stress.

Deep tissue massages include medical massages. Medical massage therapists must have a firm background in anatomy and pathology. There are specific treatments for diseases, pain, and recovery from injury. Pfrimmer Deep Muscle Therapy is an example of a deep tissue massage.

The purpose of the neuromuscular massages is to balance the muscular system with the central nervous system. Its perspective is that pain begins from the central nervous system. These massages focus on releasing spasms or eliminating trigger points. For example, Trigger Point Myotherapy involves systematic use of compression, passive stretching, and corrective exercises to lessen pain in the muscles.

Circulation-enhancement massages include types of massages that promote the increased movement of blood flow to various parts of the body. One specific type, the Vodder method of massage, is specifically for circulation enhancement of the lymph system. It uses light and rhythmic spiral movements along mapped vessel pathways.

Energy massages are types of gentle massages that create balance in the body’s chakras and joints and promote a feeling of well-being. An example would be Polarity Therapy. Energy has positive and negative poles in body cells. The body is massaged gently to balance the positive and negative energy. From this massage, patients feel relaxed and have a sense of well-being.

Eastern massages are part of a large category of techniques brought by Oriental therapists to the Western world. Shiatsu massage is a type. Shiatsu comes from Japan and is a series of finger-pressure techniques that coincide with acupressure points. Its purpose is to restore balance to a person’s life energy.

Structural/postural and movement massages deal with posture and the overuse of one’s body and joints. These massages attempt to address chronic pain in the back and neck. Rofling massage is an example. It attempts to move major body segments back into their proper alignment. It utilizes physical manipulation and movement to bring vertical alignment from the head to legs. The physical manipulation involves lifting the head and chest and lengthening the body trunk.

Special populations massages are massages given to athletes, senior citizens, and the disabled. The techniques must be modified for use on these clients. One type of special populations message is a stone massage. During a stone massage, a therapist heats up round smooth stones and places them at various points on the body. The heated stones allow the muscles to relax, which makes the later massage techniques more effective. In special populations, the muscles, either because of minimum activity or ailments, are very stiff and need some additional measures to increase a patient’s comfort. Stone massages can be classified as a relaxation massage because of their wide use in spas.