Types of massage therapy

There are a variety of different styles, types and techniques of massage utilized by massage therapists. We’ve provided a description of some of the more popular and well known types of massage being used today.


Craniosacral therapy (also called CST, also spelled CranioSacral bodywork or therapy) is an alternative medicine therapy used by osteopaths, massage therapists, naturopaths, chiropractors, and occupational therapists. A craniosacral therapy session involves the therapist placing their hands on the patient, which they say allows them to tune into what they call the craniosacral system. The practitioner gently works with the spine and the skull and its cranial sutures, diaphragms, and fascia. In this way, the restrictions of nerve passages are said to be eased, the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the spinal cord is said to be optimized, and misaligned bones are said to be restored to their proper position. Craniosacral therapists use the therapy to treat mental stress, neck and back pain, migraines, TMJ Syndrome, and for chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia.

Deep Tissue Massage



Deep Tissue massage is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscle and the connective tissue or fascia. This type of massage focuses on the muscles located below the surface of the top muscles. Deep tissue massage is often recommended for individuals who experience consistent pain, are involved in heavy physical activity, such as athletes, and patients who have sustained physical injury. It is also not uncommon for receivers of Deep Tissue Massage to have their pain replaced with a new muscle ache for a day or two. Deep tissue work varies greatly. What one calls deep tissue another will call light. When receiving deep tissue work it is important to communicate what you are feeling.




Hydrotherapy, formerly called hydropathy involves the use of water for pain-relief and treating illness. The term hydrotherapy itself is synonymous with the term water cure as it was originally marketed by practitioners and promoters in the 1800s. A hydrotherapist therefore, is someone who practices hydrotherapy. According to the International SPA Association (ISPA), hydrotherapy has long been a staple in European spas. It’s the generic term for water therapies using jets, underwater massage and mineral baths (e.g. balneotherapy, Iodine-Grine therapy, Kneipp treatments, Scotch hose, Swiss shower, thalassotherapy) and others. It also can mean a whirlpool bath, hot Roman bath, hot tub, Jacuzzi, cold plunge and mineral bath. These treatments use physical water properties, such as temperature and pressure, for therapeutic purposes, to stimulate blood circulation and treat the symptoms of certain diseases.



Myofascial Release


Myofascial release is a form of soft tissue therapy used to treat somatic dysfunction and accompanying pain and restriction of motion. This is accomplished by relaxing contracted muscles, increasing circulation, increasing venous and lymphatic drainage, and stimulating the stretch reflex of muscles and overlying fascia.




Prenatal Massage


Prenatal massage is similar to massage during non-pregnancy in terms of the goals (relaxation, pain relief, increased circulation & mobility, etc.). However, due to the changes undergone during pregnancy, modification are made. To accommodate swollen tender breasts and a growing belly, special pillows, positioning and techniques are utilized to ensure comfort for both the expecting mother and baby. With increasing weight, a changing center of gravity and the many other changes associated with pregnancy, prenatal massage can help provide relief and a sense of well being that is much deserved.





Shiatsu (指圧) (“shi” meaning finger and “atsu” meaning pressure.) is an eastern (oriental) born therapy that uses pressure applied with thumbs, fingers and palms to the same energy meridians as acupressure and incorporates stretching. It also uses techniques such as rolling, brushing, vibrating, grasping and in one particular technique developed by Suzuki Yamamoto, pressure is applied with the feet on the persons back, legs and feet (special set up is required for the “foot” shiatsu).



Sports Massage


Sports massage is actually a form of Swedish massage that is delivered to athletes. Most commonly, sports massage focuses on increasing blood and lymphatic fluid flow, reducing and eliminating pain as well as tender trigger points, and increasing range of motion of the affected area. Sports massages can be broken into 4 distinct types – the pre-event sports massage, the post-event sports massage, the restorative sports massage and the rehabilitative sports massage. As the names indicate, each type of sports massage has a different focus for the athlete as they are delivered at different times during their training and performance schedule.



Stone Massage

Himalayan Salt Stone massage

Himalayan Salt Stone massage

A stone massage uses cold or heated stones to apply pressure and heat to the body. Stones coated in oil can also be used by the therapist delivering various massaging strokes. The hot stones used are commonly river stones which over time, have become extremely polished and smooth. As the stones are placed along the recipient’s back, they help to retain heat which then deeply penetrates into the muscles, releasing tension.



Swedish Massage


Swedish massage uses five styles of long, flowing strokes to massage. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber) and vibration/shaking. Swedish massage has shown to be helpful in reducing pain, joint stiffness, and improving function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee over a period of eight weeks. It has also been shown to be helpful in individuals with poor circulation. The development of Swedish massage is credited to Per Henrik Ling, though the Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger adopted the French names to denote the basic strokes. The term “Swedish” massage is not really known in the country of Sweden, where it is called “classic massage”.


Trigger Point Therapy


Trigger points or trigger sites are described as hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers. Trigger point practitioners believe that palpable nodules are small contraction knots[ambiguous] and a common cause of pain. Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or local twitch response. The local twitch response is not the same as a muscle spasm. This is because a muscle spasm refers to the entire muscle entirely contracting whereas the local twitch response also refers to the entire muscle but only involves a small twitch, no contraction. The trigger point model states that unexplained pain frequently radiates from these points of local tenderness to broader areas, sometimes distant from the trigger point itself. Practitioners claim to have identified reliable referred pain patterns, allowing practitioners to associate pain in one location with trigger points elsewhere.


How does therapeutic massage relieve stress and tension?

Psychologically, massage relieves fatigue, reduces tension and anxiety,calms the nervous system and promotes sense of relaxation and renewed energy.

Research has shown that therapeutic massage has direct effect on our Autonomic Nervous System(ANC).The ANC is divided into the sympathetic nervous system( fight-or-flight state) and the parasympathetic nervous system (non-alarm restorative state). Sympathetic stimulation initiates an accelerated heart rate,blood is delivered to muscles,elimination and digestion are inhibited,adrenal secretion of epinephrine/adrenaline and norepinefrine hormones are increased. Parasympathetic system stimulation causes a reduced heart rate,increased digestion and elimination,and increased circulation to the internal organs in relaxation/restorative response.






One hour long,relaxing massage seems to sedate the sympathetic system and stimulates parasympathetic system. Research has shown that massage therapy influences the levels of the stress-related adrenal hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine) and increases the levels of serotonin,dopamine, endorphins and enkephalins, neurochemicals related to elevated moods and pain control.

The psychological effects of massage should not be underestimated. Many people suffer from stress and find that massage promotes relaxation and mental alertness as it soothes away minor aches and pains. For a lot of our clients, regular massage helps to keep them feeling more youthful and encourages them to pay more attention to proper nutrition,exercise and good health practices.







Is massage therapy for everyone?










First and foremost rule in providing massage therapy : “Do no harm!”

When we define massage as a form of touch that is applied in a therapeutic manner, then it is true that massage of some form is beneficial to nearly everyone. However, there are situations where particular manipulations and techniques may not only be uncomfortable for the client but also could be dangerous.

Often during an interview or during the course of the first massage, conditions that the client may not be aware of become apparent that are contraindicated and should be refereed to the attention of a physician.  In massage, contraindication means that conditions may exist in which it would not be beneficial to apply massage to a part or all of the body.I know it is the last thing you want to hear from a massage therapist while laying on massage table, expecting to just relax and finally get that pain worked our of your body. To prevent this from happening we recommend that you get clearance from physician before starting massage therapy sessions.

While massage therapy has been credited with being a benefit in helping patients  recover from various illnesses and injuries, in case of some acute injuries or chronic diseases, the client’s physician must be consulted before massage treatments are given. Some of the conditions that might require physician’s recommendations in writing are :

 Once all contraindications are ruled out, don’t put relaxation, reduced stress and pain-relief off any longer. Schedule today and allow us to share the countless benefits of safe, relaxing therapeutic massage.