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.
Specific body part massage (like hands and feet) are used when there is pain associated with that body part, like arthritis, stomach cramps, or neck pain. The massage is usually focused on that one area.
Spa therapies are usually relaxation, deep tissue, or Swedish massage, and Spa therapies would include hot stone, Aromatherapy or Raindrop Technique.
These are the most popular types of Massage:
Many of the following require travel to specialized training facilities in order to study and be observed by certified trainers and teachers.
Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) teaches how to stretch your client's muscles before therapy.
Acupressure often uses 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
You can read more about different types of massage at Massage Therapy Trends .