Different Types of Massage Therapy Explained

Over 32 percent of American adults surveyed, received a massage from 2011 to 2016, according to the American Massage Therapy Association. Further, employment of massage therapists is projected to grow 26 percent from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means there is a large need for massage therapists.

Ready to become a massage therapist? Interested in the different types of massage therapy? There are many different types of massage therapy to choose from and each have their own benefits. The different types of massage include Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, hot stone massage, prenatal massage, reflexology, shiatsu massage, sports massage therapy and Thai massage.

Type #1: Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is the foundation for many types of massage therapy. During a Swedish massage, the massage therapist will perform various massage strokes. The specific massage strokes include effleurage (gliding) strokes, petrissage (kneading) strokes, friction, tapotement (percussive) strokes, and vibration. The Swedish massage techniques can vary by continuity, depth, direction, duration, excursion, intention, pressure, rhythm, sequence, speed, and touch.

Swedish massage movements help warm up the muscle tissue, increase circulation, lengthen muscles, release tension and break up muscle knots. These different movements are combined with joint movement to relax and energize the body.

Type #2: Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage offers deep pressure to release muscle tension. The focus of deep tissue massage is on the surroundings of muscles, bones and joints including the muscle tissue, tendons and fascia. This type of massage is used to improve posture and increase range of motion. Deep tissue massage helps break up scar tissue that forms in muscles from injury, poor posture, inflammation and repetitive motion.

Type #3:  Hot Stone Massage

Hot stone massage is the application of smooth, basalt mineral stones which are heated and combined with oil. This type of massage is designed to relieve muscle stiffness and reduce fatigue while restoring body energy. The hot stones may be placed in many different places on the body. Placement depends on muscles stiffness. Massage therapists may hold the hot stones as they massage the body using long strokes, circular movements, vibration, tapping and kneading.

Hot stone massage helps relieve muscle tension and pain by increasing blood flow to the stiff muscles of the body. Hot stone massage can help reduce spasms and increase flexibility and range of motion. This type of massage can also help reduce stress and anxiety

Type #4 Prenatal Massage

Massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve fatigue, reduce headaches, help control blood pressure, strengthen the immune system and help relax mothers during labor. It can relieve muscle aches and joint pains. It can also improve labor outcomes and newborn health. Prenatal massage is especially beneficial in the second and third trimesters, when the extra weight in the belly of the mother puts a strain on the back.

There are also benefits for the unborn baby. Some diseases and conditions are associated with stress during pregnancy. Maternal stress can be hard on a developing fetus and massage therapy helps reduce stress and anxiety in mothers-to-be, helping the unborn baby.

The father-to-be can also benefit from prenatal massage therapy. Attending a prenatal massage session will give the husband techniques to bring home to better support his pregnant wife. It can also help strengthen the bond between mother, father and baby.

Type #5: Reflexology

Reflexology is a type of massage used to relieve tension, based on a theory that there are reflex points on the hands, feet and ears linked to different parts of the body. Reflexology works by increasing circulation to the corresponding organ or area of the body. Reflexology may also work by stimulating the release of endorphins, a group of feel-good brain chemicals that reduce pain and diminish the negative effects of stress. The benefits of reflexology include decreased anxiety, headache relief, increased circulation, and promotion of healing.

Type #6: Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage is an alternative technique that uses the massage therapists’ thumbs, hands, elbows, knees and feet to focus on the body’s natural acupressure points. This massage pressure helps to improve the body’s energy and balance. Shiatsu massage helps increase energy, improves recovery from injuries and can stimulate the digestive system. This type of massage can also help reduce stress and tension, relief headaches, and improve circulation.

Type #7: Sports Massage Therapy

Sports massage therapy is ideal for the treatment of injuries and preventative treatment. This type of massage can help prepare athletes for an event and reduce recovery time while training. Sports massage therapy deals with the health of muscle and connective tissue. It can also be used for range of motion, tone, symmetry, increased circulation, balance of muscle and quality of posture. The benefits of sports massage therapy include the reduction of muscle tension, promotion of relaxation, reduction of muscle hypertonicity, increased range of motion, decreased muscle stiffness and fatigue after exercise, decreased muscle soreness, reduced swelling, enhanced athletic performance. Sports massage therapy can also help prevent injuries when massage is received regularly.

Type #8: Thai Massage

Thai massage is like assisted yoga and uses stretching and pressure to increase flexibility, relieve muscle tension, restore balance to the body and increase energy. The massage therapist may use their hands, knees, legs and feet to assist clients in different yoga movements to stretch muscles and apply deep muscle compression. The benefits of Thai massage include headache relief, reduction in back pain, muscle pain relief, increased range of motion, and improved circulation.

Interested in learning more about the different types of massage therapy? Ready to become a massage therapist? Upon graduation, Massage Therapy Program students will receive diplomas and be qualified to seek entry-level positions as clinical, medical, or deep tissue massage therapists in wellness clinics and centers, spa environments including resorts and franchises, and self-employment.

Contact us to learn more about how you can become a massage therapist today.