Massage Styles And Techniques: Learn The Many Different Types

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There are many massage styles and although an experienced therapist should be able to adapt any treatment to meet the needs of their client, some techniques may be more suitable than others. A good massage therapist continues to increase their knowledge by taking courses and workshops during the year to improve their skills and stay up to date with current trends by relearning skills, incorporating new ideas and methods. There are a wide variety of massage styles and these can be used along with massage accessories to help relive physical pain and discomfort such as a TENS unit, hot stone massages, warming pads and rollers….

  Oriental Massage

list of massage modalities


Shiatsu: originating in Japan as a therapy for emotional and physical pain, and based on ancient massage techniques, this is often described as ‘acupuncture without needles’. Pressure is applied to-key points along the energy channels of the body to stimulate energy flow.

Tui Na: This deep vigorous massage enjoys the same status in China as acupuncture. It aims to prevent and treat diseases of the mind, emotions and spirit, as well as the body. Practitioners manipulate the muscles, joints and work to re-balance qi levels in order to restore health.

Ayurvedic Massage: This is part of the ancient Indian life system that covers health, emotions and spirituality. The treatment is aimed at improving consciousness and therefore overall health. Massage aims to rebalance the body type, which is defined according to the three energetic principles or doshas. The 3 dosha types are Vata, Kapha and Pita

 receiving reiki treatment in the health spa

Thai Massage: In this whole body strategy, pressure is applied to stimulate energy flow. Energy lines are called sen lines and this type of massage benefits both the giver and receiver. Thai massage is a very energetic style of massage

Reiki: Japanese hands-on healing technique transfers healing energy of the universe from the giver to the receiver. The word Reiki means ‘universal life energy’. Reiki is very soothing and calming and is excellent for re-balancing the whole mind and body.

Indian Head Massage: One of the oldest known therapies, this has been used in India for nearly 4,000 years. Massaging the head is a wonderful release for any mental or  emotional stress.

Indian head massage and reflexology are two styles of massage that can be included in a massage routine if appropriate. Indian head massage is good for releasing stress and reflexology for stimulating energy flow. stimulate the flow of lymph fluid that may have accumulated as a result of illness, injury or poor diet.

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Western Styles Of Massage

sports massage

Sports Massage: This includes deep tissue massage and can be performed before exercise as part of a warm-up routine and after exercise to help drain away waste products and relax tired muscles.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage: (MLD) Developed over 50 years ago by Dr Emil Vodder, this uses specialist techniques to stimulate and re-balance the lymphatic system, which carries waste out of the body and fights illness. MLD uses a gentle, relaxing pumping action to stimulate the flow of the lymph fluid which may have accumulated as a result of illness, injury or poor diet.

Hydro-massage: This is an underwater massage performed in a warm bath, usually in a spa.

Hydrothermic massage: In this form of massage, the client floats on pillows of warm water heated at 35°C (95°F) and remains face up throughout the massage.

Reflexology Profile Of Feet

Reflexology: By applying pressure to specific points, known as reflex points, on the hands and feet, the reflexologist links to body organs associated with these different reflex points. Working on a particular point stimulates the flow of energy and encourages healing.

Stress therapy: On site massage This involves working over the clothes, often in an office environment, with the client sitting at a desk with the head on a pillow.

Hot stone massage: Originating in Arizona in the USA, this type of massage uses special basalt stones heated in water, or a heating pot  and allows the therapist to address problem areas with healing heat and deep pressure.

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Massage Techniques Conclusion

As you can see, there are many varieties of massage techniques available to treat physical issues. One style may be more suitable and achieve better results for that particular client, which is why it can be useful to learn a few different styles. Plus it makes the work more interesting for you as you deepen your knowledge.

Many of these techniques have an ancient history and a proven record of effectiveness such as the Ayurvedic system, Reiki and Reflexology, with knowledge carefully passed down through the years. If you can learn a variety of massage styles and techniques, you have a portable life skill at your finger tips to take anywhere and make a difference in peoples lives to relieve pain, bring peace and comfort, ease anxiety and even bring peace towards the end of a persons life.

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2 thoughts on “Massage Styles And Techniques: Learn The Many Different Types”

  1. Sarah Anderson

    I didn’t know there were so many different styles of massages. I’ve always been curious about how the hot stone massage works though. Do they just use the hot stones, or do they also do things with their hands?

    1. Hi Sarah,
      thanks for commenting and asking…! Its actually a great thought as you are probably not the first to ask it. There are many different styles of massage and each has its individual niche to help people whether its sports massage, Swedish massage or relaxation massage for example, or even massage combined with kiniesiology. Which type depends on your needs at the time.

      Hot stone massages are deliciously relaxing as the warming heat of the stones penetrates deeply into stiff, tight and sore muscles over a longer period of time. You can work the hot stones over the muscle groups, or leave them to work their magic in one place. As you work, your hands and intuition will tell you what your clients body needs. You can continue on to massage other areas of the body in the meantime.

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