There are probably well over 100 types of massage, massage modalities, massage therapies and strokes. This is a basic overview of some of the most popular that can help your practice be a great success.
ACUPRESSUREAcupressure technique utilizes pressure of the hand, fingers, elbow or other tools used to apply pressure to specific acupuncture points on the body. The pressing of these key areas on the body promotes better blood circulation and helps to relieve tension. Benefits from acupressure are many and range from relief of headaches to treating constipation. A therapist will use different pressure points depending on what the ailment or pain complaint might be. Many therapists might include a form of acupressure in any number of relaxation or therapeutic massages. Ancient healing art of
Traditional Chinese Medicine
ACUPUNCTUREAs the name implies, needles are placed into the skin along specific meridians and into Acupuncture points of the body. Acupuncture is very similar to Acupressure – difference being of course is that needles are used instead of fingers, hands, etc… This technique focuses on the “Qi” or energy flow of the body within the twelve main meridian pathways. This type of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is said to have many benefits in aiding treatment of ailments ranging from breathing difficulty to migraines to arthritis to name a few. Recent research continues to show positive results with treatment using Acupuncture.
AROMATHERAPYAroma and the olfactory system of the body in conjunction with essential oils theoretically treats conditions ranging from stimulating circulation to treating depression. Different herbs have different healing qualities. Basil might be used to treat a migraine, where Oregano might be used to cure an infection. The scent of the oils can be diffused into the air while a client is receiving a massage as an example of application.
AYURVEDAAyurveda is much more than a massage modality, but needs to be mentioned within this page of information because of the importance and history involved with Ayurveda. Ayurveda is an actual complete medical belief and philosophy developed in India (5000+ years ago) that is used to bring the mind and body to a deep inner peace creating harmony and life balance. Ayurvedic massage stems from this practice and takes into account the energies of the five elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth. The Ayurvedic physician then determines massage type and type of treatment combined with specific oils and herbs to get the most desirable healing results.
BOWEN TECHNIQUECreated by Australian resident, Thomas Ambrose Bowen – This healing modality is relatively new. Interestingly enough, Tom never received any formal training as a massage therapist and attributes his knowledge coming from God. Tom developed and practiced this modality successfully on many clients starting in the mid-1950’s. This technique uses gentle pushing pressure and small movements in certain areas of the body to stimulate it’s own healing resources.
BREAST MASSAGEStudies suggest that Breast Massage can improve the breast shape and size. The breast is made up of fatty tissue, glands and lymphatic ducts and nodes. This practice is met with some skepticism because some view the female breast as a sexual organ. Breast massage involves kneading, rubbing and light pressing of the tissue to help increase circulation as well as benefit the breast that has had surgery and contains scar tissue. This practice can save a life by detecting lumps that may be related to cancer.
CHAIR MASSAGEChair massage continues to gain popularity because of the flexibility of where this massage can be performed. Offices, events, airports and malls are just a few places that you will find a therapist working on clients on a portable massage chair. This type of a massage allows the client to remain fully clothed and rest in a comfortable sitting position. While seated the therapist can work the head, neck, arms, hands, back and legs quite effectively. Many large companies recognize this type of therapy for employee wellness programs.
CRANIOSACRAL THERAPYCraniosacral Therapy involves gentle manipulation of the bones of the skull. Alignment and balance of the craniosacral system that encompasses the cranium (including the face and mouth), bones of the skull, fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, and down to the sacrum. The theory is the therapist uses light pressure in key areas of the craniosacral system to activate the natural healing of the body by moving the fluid within this system to remove restriction and enhance natural balance, energy flow and function to the nervous system. Some common problems that are treated with craniosacral therapy include chronic pain, chronic headaches, scoliosis, whiplash, muscle tension and even the common cold to name a few.
DEEP TISSUEThis type of massage goes beyond the surface of the skin and underlying soft tissue to deep areas of the muscle and right to the “belly” of the muscle. As the name suggests, “deep” is the key word here. This type of massage also involves the manipulation of the fascia. Fascia is like a web, that runs through the entire body. This connective tissue, when traumatized, inflamed or restricted can create a great deal of pain and restrict motion of the body.
Release of toxins, opening and balancing the fascia and release of ligaments and tendons are all taken into consideration when using this technique.
Deep slow strokes using the hands, palms, fingers and elbow can cause some tenderness and soreness the day following a massage using deep tissue massage.
EFFLEURAGEA French word meaning to “skim” or “to touch lightly on” is a series of massage strokes used in Swedish Massage to warm up the muscle. A smooth, light, rhythmic stroking movement. A mild massage technique.
HEALING TOUCHHealing touch is taught to and used extensively in the nursing profession. This biofield therapy is used as an energy approach to promote health and healing. Healing touch was developed by Janet Mentgen, RN., B.S.N. , who has practiced this therapy since 1980. This therapy uses a combination of energy based modalities to aid in treatment of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. This therapy uses non-invasive techniques by the hands to influence the energy field surrounding the body to clear, energize and balance the human body.
LIFESTREAM MASSAGEA combination of Swedish massage, semi-deep tissue techniques and relaxation strokes. Lifestream is taught for several reasons. One is the comfort and treatment of the client within a good massage. The second is to teach the therapist methods to give an effective 60 minute massage in a busy spa type environment and keep up with the demand load in such a way to protect the therapist from burnout and injuries produced with repeated motion use by the therapist. Lifestream teaches effective use of biomechanics and believes that deep tissue technique need not be painful. A massage therapist that has learned Lifestream can do more massages a day making more revenue. This technique is in demand at health spas where there can always be a full booking schedule.
HAWAIIAN LOMI LOMI MASSAGEThis means “rub rub” in Hawaiian. This modality uses a type of cross-fiber friction across soft tissue and muscle. Lomi Lomi uses long continuous strokes and a relaxing touch. The moves are similar to Swedish massage using broad, fluid strokes with both hands, forearm and elbows for pressure.
Lomi Lomi takes into account the healing “entire” self. Physically, emotionally, mental and spiritual. The therapist will normally use prayer during a session and utilizes the intuitive to find and restore harmony, energy flow and balance to the entire being.
HOT STONE MASSAGE / STONE SPIRITSAn incredible massage that gives your blood vessels an ebb and flow affect (hot and cold) that leaves you feeling like a “limp noodle” sense of well being at the end. A total of up to 84 stones are used including basalt stones (the hot stones) and marble (the cold stones).
Hot stones are heated to 137 degrees and used like extended hands of the therapist while the client lays on a bed of hot stones that loosens tight and sore muscles of the back. Cold stones (marble) follow the hot and reduces inflammation while creating balance.
This therapy includes a variation of Swedish, Deep Tissue, Lomi Lomi, Myofascial Release, Energy Work, Geo Thermo Therapy and Hot Oil Treatment. Relaxes, rejuvenates, soothes, opens up tight muscles, removes toxins, tones and balances the body.
LYMPH DRAINAGE MASSAGE, LYMPHATIC MASSAGEThe lymphatic system consists of lymph vessels, lymph nodes, and tissue such as tonsils, spleen, and thymus. The lymphatic system is the defense mechanism against infection and disease and aids in removing excess water from the tissue spaces. The lymphatic system does not have a pump like the circulatory system has the heart. This part of the body relies on gravity, body motion and natural flow to circulate within the body.
There are several methods to lymphatic massage ultimately promoting and encouraging the flow with rhythmical controlled strokes to find a path for drainage. This technique helps restore the connective tissue, removes inflammatory toxins, and helps the immune system to be more efficient.
Lymphatic massage is used to treat arthritis, fatigue, pain in joints, cellulite and more.
MEDICAL RX MASSAGEIt is becoming more common for a physician to write a prescription to treat many types of ailments and disease. Often times a physical therapist will be used in conjunction with a massage therapist to achieve desired results of treatment. This type of massage can vary greatly from area specific to full body massage.
MYOFASCIAL RELEASE THERAPYJohn F. Barnes P.T. , the authority on Myofascial Release, comes to mind when this therapy is mentioned. He is considered to be a visionary and teacher of the highest caliber. John travels extensively and teaches his techniques in his hands-on seminars.
This type of therapy treats the fascial system using gentle pressure application where fascial restrictions are found on the body. This therapy is used to treat trauma, restriction of motion or inflamed pressure that influence a fascial damaged area and produces pain and discomfort that might be found in back pain, fibromyalgia , TMJ, restricted motion, spasm and much more.
NEUROMUSCULAR THERAPYBy definition, is the utilization of static pressure on specific myofascial points to relieve pain. A neuromuscular therapist will be well versed in biomechanics and kinesiology. This therapy uses soft tissue manipulation based on the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system to relieve pain and treat dysfunction created by an underlying cause. Through training a therapist understands and can treat these symptoms taking in account the location of myofascial trigger points and the extent of pressure to apply at these points. Pain is felt in these areas due to lack of oxygen and nutrients in this location. This technique opens these areas up and gives relief to pain.
PETRISSAGEMassage of the skin is gently lifted and squeezed. Kneaded. Stroking motion of massage. Massage technique.
POLARITY THERAPYThe theory behind this holistic approach is based on every cell in the body having a positive and negative pole and the electromagnetic energy in and surrounding the body. This therapy can be performed with the client fully clothed or/and as a complementing treatment in combination with other modalities. Gentle manipulation and palpation is used to bring harmony and balance back into the location where disease, pain or illness is found. Some conditions treated with polarity therapy includes arthritis, asthma, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, stress, PMS, depression and more.
RAINDROP THERAPYDefects in the curvature of the spine caused by dormant viruses and bacteria are treated with antimicrobial essential oils. Raindrop therapy combines aromatherapy, reflexology, massage and moist heat to restore structural balance to the body. This therapy uses a sequence of essential oils including Thyme, Oregano, Cypress, Peppermint, Wintergreen, Basil, Marjoram, Aroma Siez along with a blend of massage oils. This is sprinkled onto the spine using various techniques and then the oils and blends soak into the skin and soft tissue, reducing inflammation and eliminating virus and bacteria.
REFLEXOLOGYReflexology can be used on feet, hands or ears. Specific areas on the feet, hands and ears correspond to certain parts of the body (internal glands and organs are included). The theory is that pressure applied in certain areas send signals to the corresponding location, gland or organ through the nervous system helping to provide balance to the desired area. Stimulating these areas can be used to reduce pain, ease addiction, relieve stress and tension and improve nerve and blood circulation to name a few.
REIKIReiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that promotes healing. Reiki is powerful, simple and can be learned by anyone. Discovered by Dr. Mikao Usui in the early 1900’s, laying on hands – similar to this – has been practiced for thousands of years.
Since Reiki is an energy directed modality technique, some people have trouble understanding exactly what Reiki is. The only visible part to this treatment is the practitioner placing hands on the clients body.
Reiki is a state of mind. Reiki comes from love, compassion and kindness. Energy flows through the practitioner’s body and into the person receiving the treatment.
Hands are placed on landmark areas of the body for 10 minutes at a time for each location (90 minute session) – this is an average, some locations of the body require less – some more. The practitioner goes into a meditative state and visualizes symbols and colors that have been taught to the practitioner. Along with each symbol – the name of the symbol is visualized in the mind.
The body, aura, emotional state and chakras are all taken into account during a healing session. The person administering often times gets “feed-back” images of the body while in the session that might be communicating ailment or illness in the body that requires extra care. The person receiving the treatment may not even be aware of these “problem” areas.
ROLFING / STRUCTURAL INTEGRATIONManipulation of connective soft tissue with the understanding that the myofascial system retains memory of past trauma and injuries. To correct these imbalances this therapy is approached with the principle that muscles work in pairs (opposing muscles) and the fascia surrounding these muscles are worked in a cause and affect pattern to produce balance, harmony and regained structural alignment to the area of dysfunction. The combination of techniques used in Rolfing works to relieve bound up fascia so it returns to it’s original length.
SHIATSUShiatsu means “finger pressure”. Similar to acupressure, this technique incorporates the pressure of fingers, palms, elbows, knees and feet that unblocks the flow of life energy at specific acupuncture points and restores balance. Shiatsu recognizes the Yin (negative) and the Yang (positive) as the two energy forces and the Five Elements as governing through the energy meridians to vital organs. Shiatsu is used to treat a variety of problems and conditions including muscle cramps, headaches, chronic pain, digestive problems and more. Treatments stimulate blood, circulation and lymphatic flow and is believed to provide the body with greater resistance to disease.
SPORTS MASSAGESports massage is used as a preventive medicine for many athletes before, during and after sporting events. A combination of techniques such as Swedish massage, Shiatsu, Trigger point and Relaxation before an athletic event can prepare the athlete for increased performance. During events to keep the muscles loosened and warmed up to reduce injuries and after a hard workout to rid the body of stress, relieve fatigue and remove toxins and byproducts the body produces in strenuous activity. Massage can make the training and body building experience much more effective.
SWEDISH MASSAGEProbably the most popular massage technique combines several techniques including kneading, rolling, effleurage, petrissage, friction, percussive and taping strokes to aid in stress and tension reduction, improve circulation and blood flow, remove toxic wastes, tone muscles and more. All basics strokes flow toward the heart while circulation increases without increasing pulse rate. Many modalities blend well with Swedish Massage.
THAI MASSAGE Based on Ayurveda and Yoga, Thai massage originated in India and is believed to be over 2500 years old. The therapist uses hands, knees, legs and feet to place the receiver into yoga like positions and stretches. Techniques allow external body stimulation to produce internal effects within the body. Benefits include relaxation, increased energy, increased flexibility, greater range of motion and increased circulation.