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The Definitive Guide of Massage Types
Find a massage therapist job! Popular Massage Therapy Types
The Big List of Massage Therapies & Massage Therapy Types including Reiki, Infant, Shiatsu, Acupressure and more...
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Massage Therapists

The Massage Therapist Profession

The American Massage Therapy Association defines massage therapy as "a profession in which the practitioner applies manual techniques and may apply adjunctive therapies with the intention of positively affecting the health and well-being of the client".

Therapeutic massage is often used for aid in recovery from injury, stress relief and relaxation, and as treatment for illness or pain. Techniques can be varied and specialized, but most commonly fall into several basic categories, such as Swedish, trigger point, neuromuscular, deep tissue and sports massage.

Massage therapists work in hospitals, chiropractic offices, health clubs, nursing homes, cruise ships, on site (in airports, at public events, etc.) and spas, among other places.

Popular Massage Therapy Types

Sports Massage

Sports Massage is the fastest growing massage technique. Sports massage is a system of movements including stretching, gliding, compressings. Sports massage's main focuses on the manipulation and rehabilitation of the soft tissues and blood circulation and flow. Sports massage is primarily used for sports training, injury prevention and rehabilitation -- it allows athletes to train more efficiently.


Reflexology is a massage method massage that relieves nervous tension through the application of finger pressure (especially to the feet). It's goal is to achieve balance within the body.


Invented in 19th Sweden, Swedish Massage was designed as a system of therapeutic massage and exercise for the muscles and joints. Parts of the body are kneaded and rubbed to increase the body's blood circulation and promote relaxation.

Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy combines the use of fragrances in lotions and inhalants with massage techniques to affect mood and promote well-being.

Shiatsu Massage (acupressure)

Shiatsu a 5000 year old healing technique, is a type of therapeutic massage which combines pressure by the thumbs and palms to those areas of the body used in acupuncture. It's goal is to increase blood flow, increase one's energy and promote well-being.

Pregnancy Massage (pre-natal massage)

Pregnancy massage is massage therapy designed for the expectant mother. The mother's body is adjusted to ensure comfort and safety for both the baby and mother. Pregnancy massage is used to reduce stress, reduce anxiety and depression, relieve aches and pains and decrease swelling.

Neuromuscular Therapy

A soft-tissue therapy that massage the the central nervous system (including the musculoskeletal system). Based on principals of neurological laws including the central nervous system and pain maintenance, the objective is to relieve the underlying cause of the pain.

Rolfing (Deep Muscle or Connective Tissue Massage)

Rolfing is a technique used to put pressure on the the deeper soft tissues of the joints.


Through movement therapy techniques and deep-tissue work, Hellerwork focuses on the body's realignment and structural balance . Typically, Hellerwork is comprised of 11 sessions with each session lasting an hour an a half. The hour and a half session involves 30 minutes in movement education and a one hour massage. The goal is for clients to reach an elevated state of self-awareness via communication. Hellerwork massage is often used in addressing chronic tension and stress. Plus, it aids in relaxation and increased motion range.


Water is used in Hydrotherapy to assist in the massage and healing process. There are many types of hydrotherapy including ice packs, heat therapies, whirlpool, steam baths, and body wraps. Hydrotherapy is typically administered in a spa setting.

Infant Massage

Infant massage's popularity has increased due to it's increased use in hospital neonatal units. Often it is used to help premature infants grow and gain weight. Typically, infant massage is prescribed to remedy colic, induce sleep, promote relaxation and improve neurological development. Infant massage is typically taught to parents, so the administration can assist parents in bonding with their new borns.

Lomilomi Hawaiian

Lomilomi Hawaiian Massage is a gentle but powerful touch that gives immediate and lasting results. This traditional Hawaiian art form focuses on breaking down the tissue into small areas and focusing on these small areas. Lomilomi is based on a scientific theory for healing, focusing on and treating the stresses cause allowing for a long term resolution. Lomilomi can be applied to specific muscle or to the whole body.

Myofascial Release

This type of massage is a very effective hands-on technique used to eliminate pain and restore emotion and coordination. This type of massage is used to treat restrictions in the body's contractile connective tissues (muscles) and non-contractile supportive connective tissues (fascia) by the application of gentle traction, pressures and positioning. Fascia is a complex supportive web throughout the body affecting all components of the musculoskeletal, nervous and visceral (organ) systems. It surrounds groups of muscle fibers, and entire muscle groups and organs. While it is not contractile, it can be passively elastically deformed. That is how it retains tensions from physical and emotional traumas. It is also involved when a person suffers chronic pain or physical dysfunction. Chronically tense muscles restrict blood flow and fatigue the body. Both fascia and muscle tissues can become shortened if they are improperly used. As well, layers of fascia can stick together. Myofascial release techniques are used to coax muscles in spasm to relax, and break adhesions in the fascia. Bodies respond to these therapies by releasing tension that has been stored in the fascia, thus allowing more functional flexibility and mobility of the muscles, fascia and associated structures.

Myofascial Release for Fibromyalgia

Myofascial Release is a technique involves holding the area of restriction until it releases, affecting the superficial fascia by rearranging and organizing the fascial network. This serves to reduce fascial adhesions and ease pain. It is a gentle hands-on technique that is modified to fit the individual client's needs. Superficial fascia is a layer of connective tissue located beneath the skin. It covers the whole body and is normally smooth. Restrictions occur when parts of this network become stuck and "glued" together. For additional detail on Myofascial release, check the listing above. Go to top


Reiki is designed as a gentle, soothing healing technique to reduce stress, relieve pain, and facilitate healing. Vital energy is transfered via the practitioners hands to the patient to promote healing and wellness.

Other Massage Types

  • Clinical Massage
  • Repetitive Use Injury Technique (RUIT)
  • Muscle Release Technique
  • Lymphatic Massage
  • Massage and Cancer
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