Types of massage – how many are there?

How many types of massage, or modalities, do you know? Swedish, Deep Tissue, Shiatsu, Thai, Hot Stone, CranioSacral, … the list goes on and on. In fact, according to Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP), there are as many as 250 types of massage and bodywork… and growing! These modalities range from an energy work that doesn’t need touch such as Reiki to a deep, rigorous bodywork such as Rolfing. Various modalities use different strokes, techniques, approach, pressure, movement, target area, and more. Here is a good glossary for the different types of massage and bodywork. http://www.massagetherapy.com/glossary/index.php

If you thought 250 types are a lot, many modalities come with different flavors. Different massage schools teach one modality differently. Teachers can add their flavors as they teach while massage therapists can add their flavors as they learn based on their experiences, beliefs, limitations, knowledge, etc. Hence the birth of more modalities.

Let’s take an example of the most common massage modality in the US: Swedish massage. It is a gentle, relaxing massage modality that uses oil and long strokes. (By the way, a Swedish person once told me that there was no “Swedish massage” in Sweden.) Some therapists start with the clients lying face up while others start them face down. Some start with the head while others start with the back or feet.

So what’s the best modality? There is no one modality that’s perfect for everything. As long as we are alive our bodies and minds are always changing and so do their needs. The best modality depends on what you need at the moment. For example, if you are stressed out lately and want to relax, Swedish massage may be the one. If you are an athlete and looking to recover quickly from the sporting activities, Sports Massage may be the one. Many massage therapists are skilled in different modalities. Consult the massage therapists in your area to discuss what is best for you. How to find a good massage therapist? I will cover the topic in the future blog. Stay tuned!

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