Massage Schools Directory

Types of massage therapy.

What are the different massage types? What kind of massage therapies does a massage therapist?

A listing of popular massage therapy types.

What are the different types of massage therapy?

Massage therapists manipulate the soft tissue muscles in the body through various techniques that involve touch. The hands are primarily used to perform massage but the elbow and forearms may also be used. Massage is generally intended to improve circulation and relieve stress. It can also be used to reduce pain. There are over eighty different types or modalities of massage that therapists use. Below is a list of the most popular massage types.
  • Swedish Massage is the most common type of massage offered and is what most people think of when they imagine a massage. It is uses kneading, friction and long stokes to increase oxygen flow and release toxins from the muscle tissues. Besides relieving stress, it can help to reduce healing time for muscle strains.
  • Deep Tissue Massage is similar to Swedish massage but it focuses on the layers of muscle that are beneath the surface. It can help to release tightly knotted muscles with firm pressure and deep finger strokes.
  • Trigger Point Therapy is an even more focused type of massage. Trigger points are the most sensitive spot in a taut band of muscle fibers, and cause pain to other parts of the body. The therapist will try to locate the trigger point and disarm it using finger strokes. More than one session may be required for relief. Neuromuscular massage and myotherapy are similar.
  • Sports Massage is also similar to both Swedish and deep tissue massage but it is specifically adapted to treat athletes and their unique needs.
  • Pregnancy massage is a prenatal massage therapy for the structural, and emotional well-being of the baby and mother. This massage is a combination of deep tissue and Swedish massage where treatments are applied throughout pregnancy.
  • Shiatsu is a traditional form of acupressure from Japan. It is based on the belief that to be well, energy, or ki, must be free to flow through our bodies. It uses the fingers and palm to release blockages that create imbalances and cause pain or disease. It is a holistic approach to massage.
  • Ayurvedic Massage is a form of therapy that originated in India. It is also a holistic system that aims to establish calm and harmony in the recipient. Herbal oils are used to restore balance. It may be performed by one or two therapists.
As you can see from this short list, massage types range from the scientific to the more exotic. Most massage therapists are able to perform more than one type of therapy, depending on their client's needs.