Types of Massage Therapy

Many people think of massage therapy as a basic concept: massage = back rub. However, it’s not quite that simple.

Massage therapy is actually made up of many different types of practices and techniques.

If you are interested in becoming a massage therapist, it is important that you become familiar with the different kinds of massage therapy that are practiced. This article will help get you started.

If you are not interested in becoming a massage therapist, this article can still be helpful to you. Not only will you learn about some different types of massage therapy, but the information you learn may help you discover what type of massage is best for you.

Overview of Massage Types

Here’s a brief overview of the massage therapy types that will be discussed. You can find more detailed information in the sections below.

Massage Therapy Description
Hot stone Utilizes smooth hot stones
Shiatsu Specifics points of pressure are held for two to eight seconds
Sports Typically used to address injuries and enhance athletic performance
Prenatal Gentle massage used to promote relaxation
Swedish Most common and popular
Aromatherapy A Swedish massage using scented plant oils
Deep Tissue Focuses on specific muscle knots
Chair Uses a special chair and addresses the upper back
Thai More active than most. Combines yoga, stretching and massage

Hot Stone Massages

This type of massage therapy sounds a lot like what it actually is: massage using heated stones.

The stones can be used in two ways:

  1. They can be placed on particular areas or points of the body. In pictures, they are most commonly shown along the spine, but can also be placed to address specific problem spots. After the stones rest on the client they are removed and the masseuse uses their hands to finish the massage.
  2. Alternatively, the heated stones can be used as a tool to perform the massage. This means that the masseuse will use the stones rather than their hands to massage.

No matter which way the stones are used, the ultimate goal of a hot stone massage is to relax muscles and promote circulation.

Shiatsu Massages

Shiatsu is a type of massage that focuses on the use of a massage therapist’s fingers. It originated in Japan and literally means “finger pressure.”

Those who practice shiatsu apply pressure to specific points on a client’s body. These points are thought to be a part of the path that relates to an individual’s energy. By rhythmically working through this path, a masseuse is said to be able to increase the flow of energy.

People most commonly report experiencing less fatigue and stress after a shiatsu massage.

Sports Massage Therapy

This type of massage therapy is typically used on athletes to promote a strong performance and healthy recovery.

Sports massage addresses current and past injuries, as well as improve flexibility. The massage strokes tend to be faster than many other types of massages and assisted stretching is often incorporated.

Prenatal Massage

Prenatal massages are also known as pregnancy massages. This type of massage is extremely specific to each individual client.

To be a prenatal massage therapist, you will need to have specialized training and certification. This is because certain areas and techniques must be avoided while working with pregnant women. The body positioning for a prenatal massage also requires specialized knowledge.

Swedish Massage Therapy

Lotions and oils are used in this massage therapy. When most people say they are going to get a massage, this is the kind of massage they are referring to.

It is offered in a variety of locations, such as:

  • Gyms
  • Spas
  • Clinics
  • Wellness centers

Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy is a specific type of Swedish massage that uses scented oils from flowers or plants.

Also called essential oils, they are thought to possess natural healing properties. The scented oils can address different needs that a client has, but most are used to relax, ease pain or uplift the spirit.

Deep Tissue Massage

This massage style is the most aggressive. Although it is thought to be painful by some, it can be extremely effective on large muscle knots.

Through the use of slow, concentrated strokes the massage therapist is able to address problem areas that cause extreme discomfort or pain.

Chair Massage

Many malls have areas for weary shoppers to take a break and get a massage. You may have seen them before.
People will stay fully dressed and sit in a special type of massage chair while a masseuse massages their upper body. This type of massage is known as a chair massage.

Chair massages can be appealing for those who have a small issue that can quickly be worked out.

Thai Massage

Thai massages are not your standard massage. As the massage recipient, you will lay on a mat while the massage therapist moves your body through a variety of stretches and yoga positions.

Similar to a shiatsu massage, it focuses on rhythmic movements that are tied to the body’s energy. Thai massages help to increase range of motion.

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