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Massage Therapy Review: Types of Massage Therapy

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Massage Therapy Review

Massage Therapy Review: Types of Massage Therapy

This Massage Therapy Review groups several hundred of types of massage and bodywork into categories for easy comparison.

Massage Is Both Ancient and Evolving

Massage is one of the oldest, continuously practiced forms of healing. It is still highly valued around the world today for its health benefits.

Massage Therapy combines ancient techniques that have survived the test of time with recent discoveries of modern medicine. As gifted new practitioners contribute their own unique expertise, new types of massage therapy are born. 

This massage therapy review gives you a sense of what the different types of massage are, what they have in common and how they differ. But first, are you wondering what bodywork is and how it relates to massage therapy?

How Does Bodywork Compare to Massage Therapy?

The definition of massage therapy is covered in What is Massage Therapy? At this time, however, there is no exact, widely agreed upon definition of bodywork.

“Bodywork” is a broader term that includes any touch therapy that manually manipulates the body in various ways to re-pattern, enhance movement, relieve pain or structurally change the body.

Bodywork often includes the Oriental massage types and any modalities that don’t quite fit the definition of massage therapy.

Don’t worry about the terminology. It is just a way to categorize the many diverse mind-body therapies that are used by massage practitioners!

Types of Massage Therapy in a “Nutshell”

Massage therapy consists of many overlapping therapies that integrate mind, body and spirit. Most massage therapists practice multiple therapies. These therapies are called modalities.

Many types of massage therapy fit into more than one category. For example, an increasing number of modalities such as Touch For Health blend Western massage techniques with Oriental massage techniques. Nearly all massage is relaxing and beneficial for many conditions but certain modalities focus on treating specific injuries or medical conditions.

Types of Massage Therapy by Category:

  • Oriental Massage or Asian Massage focuses on the acupuncture meridians of the body. Many of these therapies have their roots in ancient China or Japan. This category includes acupressure, amma, tui na, shiatsu, ashiatsu, watsu, jin shin do and Thai Massage.
  • Subtle Energy Healing therapies are based on ancient life force energy principles. The therapist uses a light touch or “near” touch to channel healing energy into your body. These therapies include Reiki, Zero Balancing, Polarity Therapy and Therapeutic Touch.
  • Structural Integration and Myofascial Release manipulate the web of connective tissue or fascia to improve postural alignment and biomechanics. Examples are Rolfing, Hellerwork, Bindegewebsmassage and Myofascial Release.
  • Movement Reeducation and Repatterning therapies include Aston-Patterning, Trager, Feldenkrais and the Alexander Technique.
  • Medical Massage is a “results oriented” therapy used to treat specific conditions diagnosed and prescribed by a doctor. Sports Massage, Orthopedic Massage and Neuromuscular Therapy are used to treat injuries and medical conditions in a clinical setting.
  • Relaxation and Wellness Massage therapies de-stress, rejuvenate and  help alleviate the aches and pains of daily life. They are an important part of your wellness strategy. Swedish Massage, Hot Stone Massage Therapy, the Oriental massage therapies, Reflexology and many others can also apply here.
  • Animal Massage Therapy provides the same health and performance benefits you enjoy from your massage to your animals. Equine Massage Therapy and Canine Massage Therapy are especially popular.

A more extensive list of massage types can be found in Types of Massage Therapy A-L and Types of Massage Therapy M-Z.

Who Offers These Types of Massage Therapy?

Spas, health clubs and clinics typically offer a limited “menu” of the most popular massage modalities. These modalities are the focus of Top 10 Most Popular Types of Massage Therapy.

Some of the less common types of massage and bodywork can be more difficult to find. Try searching the internet for a practitioner in your area. Some types of massage such as Rolfing have their own website with a listing of practitioners and their locations.

I hope you found this Massage Therapy Review helpful. I’d love it if you would leave me a comment below or come over to my Facebook page and share your ideas!

With love,

Heather Beach



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