Although there are over 150 different massage techniques and bodywork therapies practiced throughout the world, less than 30 are used regularly in spas and clinics.
Just like a handyman must learn how to fix a variety of problems to repair our appliances, a massage therapist must learn different techniques of massage in order to address and maintain our bodies.
For some, it takes many years beyond massage school to study and understand the advanced techniques required for in-depth training, before actually providing the therapy in their practice.
However, to help correct and ease the pain of common medical problems, a massage therapist must be familiar with several types of massage therapy, and have studied many medical issues in order to know how to fix the problem.
Some techniques require a special massage table in order to provide optimal care for the client.
These popular types of massage (and other related therapies) are often found in spas, clinics and private practices. A regular massage table is fine for these techniques. Some, like animal massage or Thai massage, may require no table at all!
Many of these require the therapist to travel to specialized training facilities in order to study and be observed by certified trainers and teachers.
Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) teaches how to actually stretch your client's muscles before therapy.
Acupressure often used as firm pressure on specific muscle issues by using thumbs, fingertips, knuckles or elbows.
Alexander Technique is not one of the techniques of massage, but rather a method of self-care that teaches how to function with more ease and less strain to change bad postural habits.
Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy (AOBT) is a modification of ancient styles of barefoot massage.
Asian techniques include Shiatsu, Ashiatsu (using feet), acupressure, Tui Na, Ayurvedic, Qigong or Chi Nei Tsang, which are all different forms of Asian massage and bodywork.
Bowen Therapy a non-invasive hands-on therapy (not one of the techniques of massage) performed by a certified Bowen practitioner who makes a series of short, gentle rolling moves using thumbs or fingers, with light pressure, across certain precise points on the body.
Energy Work looks at different types of energy healing that therapists may choose to study after massage school.
Esalen Massage is designed to allow the body to re-connect with the mind to begin to attain true peace and serenity. Not considered one of the techniques of massage, but many therapists study it.
Hellerwork is a structural integration therapy (not really one of the types of massage therapy) that uses deep tissue and movement education to educate on the connection of the body, mind and spirit.
Oriental Massage includes many massage techniques: (TuiNa (push and pull), Amno (rub and press), Dian Xue (acupressure points), and Wai Qi Liao Fa (energy work), with a focus on energy re-establishment.
Rolfing is a structural integration of the soft connective tissue to align the major body segments.
Visceral Manipulation is a gentle therapy that focuses on the organ ligaments of the body and their ability to move freely.
You can read more about different types of massage at Massage Therapy Trends .
Learn many different techniques with this 7-volume DVD set Deep Tissue Massage and Myofascial Release: A Video Guide to Techniques by C.M.T. Art Riggs, Certified Advanced Rolfer. It is a loaded with instruction useful to massage therapists who want to expand their skills and learn not only massage techniques, but working with medical conditions and pain syndromes.