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Types of Massage Therapy

The many different types of massage therapy offer something for almost everyone, as the best type of massage depends on individual needs and preferences. Enjoy the following articles.

Neck Massage Technique

Massage Articles

Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy uses the feet to provide a deep compression massage.

Bowen Technique is a pain-relief technique that uses gentle rolling movements to stimulate  healing.

Breema Bodywork uses movement sequences that create a rhythm to enhance the flow of energy through the body.

Chair Massage is done with the receiver seated and usually focuses on relieving tension in the neck, shoulders, back, and arms.

Cupping Massage uses negative pressure to deeply massage muscles.

Deep Tissue Massage works to release deep patterns of body tension.

Esalen Massage focuses on the mindfulness aspect of massage and paying attention to the body.

Geriatric Massage works with older adults, being mindful of the bodily changes brought on by aging.

Hot Stone Massage Therapy uses heated stones to combine the benefits of massage and heat.

Injury Massage discusses how massage therapy can help soft-tissue injuries heal.

Jin Shin Do is an energy healing technique that combines acupressure techniques and Wilhelm Reich's body armoring theories.

Lomi Lomi Massage comes from the Native Hawaiian healing tradition.

Manual Lymph Drainage is a specialized technique used to help reduce swelling.

Polarity Therapy views health as a reflection of the condition of the energy field. Therapeutic methods designed to balance the field for health benefit involve energy-based bodywork, diet, exercise, and self-awareness. 

Scar Tissue Massage reduces excess scar tissue and adhesions caused by injury, surgery, or repetitive motion. 

Swedish Massage uses a variety of classic massage techniques to relax muscles and more.

Sports Massage Therapy helps athletes and regular exercisers improve their workout and potentially prevent and treat injury.

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) releases trigger points, muscle adhesions, and fascial patterns to reduce pain and correct dysfunction.

Visceral Manipulation uses gentle pressure to release tension from the organs and surrounding connective tissue.

Water Massage techniques include Watsu, Aquassage, Waterdance, Jahara Technique, and Healing Dance.

For massage therapy information for our animal friends, see Dog Massage and Equine Massage Therapy.

Asian-Based Types of Massage

Shiatsu Acupressure Massage

The nebulous and imprecise term Asian massage can refer to any touch-based therapy that developed out of the theories of Chinese and other Asian systems of medicine.

Asian bodywork therapy is typically based on working with the flow of energy (chi) through the body on pathways called meridians. Other concepts include yin/yang, the five elements, and chakras. Unlike many Western types of massage done on bare skin, most Asian bodywork is done with you fully clothed.

Acupressure Massage balances your body's energy, releases tension, and increases circulation by applying pressure to specific acupoints (the same ones used in acupuncture).

Amma (also spelled anma) is traditional Japanese massage, which developed based on Chinese anmo (massage) introduced by Buddhist priest Gan Jin Osho to Japan in the sixth century. In the 17th century, Waichi Sugiyama, who was blind, was a central influence in amma development. He set up amma schools for blind people, and blind amma practitioners were common into the 20th century. This technique combines deep-tissue bodywork to muscles and ligaments with the application of pressure to specific acupoints.

AMMA Therapy® uses Chinese medical principles to assess and evaluate imbalances in the body's energy system. This therapy, developed and trademarked by Tina Sohn, includes deep bodywork, diet, herbs, nutritional supplements, and the use of external herbal applications.

Ayurveda Massage is part of the ayurvedic tradition of India and includes abhyanga and marma therapy. Marmas are sensitive zones somewhat similar to the acupoints of Traditional Chinese Medicine but covering larger areas. In addition to marma massage, marma therapy includes aromas, herbs, pranic healing, and yoga practices to balance the ayurvedic doshas (vatta, pitta, kapha). Indian Head Massage is also part of the ayurveda tradition.

Chi Nei Tsang is of Taoist Chinese origin and means "working the energy of the internal organs." Practitioners are trained in Chi Kung, and they mostly massage your abdomen with deep, soft, and gentle touches for the purpose of training your internal organs to work more efficiently. 

Jin Shin Jyutsu is a gentle technique that involves applying the hands or fingers to two or more points on the body at the same time according to established procedures that address particular circulation pathways. This system uses the concept of 52 safety energy locks (SELs) along 12 energy pathways.

Medical Qigong uses breath training, exercises, meditation, and guided visualization.

Reiki Massage is a Japanese healing art that channels energy through the hands.

Shiatsu is the best-known type of acupressure and comes in many styles.  It's a Japanese form of bodywork that uses pressure on points along the meridians. Also see Shiatsu Self Massage

Traditional Thai Massage (Nuad Bo Rarn) uses a combination of stretches, yoga-like poses, pressure along the body’s energy lines, and breathing to open up energy passages and release chronic tension. Traditionally, Thai Massage is done on a mat on the floor with you fully clothed.

Tui Na Massage is a form of Chinese massage that uses smooth gliding and rolling movements of the hands and arms to open stagnant meridian channels and free blocked energy to relieve pain and let the body heal itself.

More Types of Massage Therapies

Woman receiving shoulder massage

The following types of massage and bodywork are ones I haven't yet written about on this site.

Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy uses pressure on trigger points and corrective exercises to relieve pain and correct dysfunction.

Craniosacral Therapy is a technique for correcting cerebral and spinal imbalances or blockages that cause pain. Strictly speaking, craniosacral therapy is not massage, but massage therapists frequently learn this technique.

Kurashova Method is Russian medical massage for correcting physical dysfunction and improving athletic performance.

Myofascial Release uses sustained pressure to release myofascial restrictions, thereby eliminating pain and restoring motion. (Fascia is connective tissue that covers just about everything in the body. Myofascial refers to fascia covering muscles.)

Ortho-Bionomy uses gentle pressure and movements to release chronic stress, help injuries heal, and relieve pain or correct problems due to imbalances in posture and structure.

Pfrimmer Deep Muscle Therapy uses a specific series of cross-fiber movements on the muscles designed to correct damage to soft tissues.

Soft Tissue Release is a specialized technique that uses stretching, movement, and pressure to create freedom and looseness and reduce pain.

Structural integration techniques seek to re-educate the body through movement and touch and systematically release patterns of stress and impaired function. Structural integration techniques require specialized training and are not taught as part of a general massage school curriculum. These techniques include Rolfing, Structural Integration, Hellerwork, SOMA, Aston Patterning, and Kinesis Myofascial Integration (KMI).

Swe-Thai Massage blends traditional Thai medical massage with specific, advanced soft tissue therapies. The Swe-Thai routine was designed specifically by Margie Meshew in 2001 to treat general neck and back conditions.

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Hydragun self massage tool on leg. Click for more information about hydragun.

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