Here is the second half of Massage Guide: Types of Massage Therapy. It covers massage and bodywork whose names start with L-Z. For a quick summary of the most popular, easy to find types of massage, see Top 10 Most Popular Types of Massage Therapy.
Return to Massage Guide: Types of Massage Therapy A-L.
Manual Lymph Drainage is one of several massage types that deal with promoting flow within the lymphatic system. See Lymphatic Massage.
Medical Massage is typically practiced in clinical settings such as hospitals and physical therapy facilities. Doctors refer patients to Medical Massage therapists for treatment of injuries, rehabilitation from surgery and other conditions. Medical Massage therapists require additional training in anatomy, physiology and pathology as well as knowledge of treating specific conditions.
Myofascial Release practitioners apply gentle, sustained pressure to restricted areas in the connective tissue to relieve pain and inflammation. Normal movement is restored when the fascia releases and lengthens.
Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT), also known as Trigger Point Therapy, is a contemporary Western methodology for treating soft tissue injuries and chronic pain syndromes. Trigger points are hypersensitive nodules of tissue in your muscles and fascia that can also refer pain to other areas of the body. A Neuromuscular Therapy practitioner uses static finger pressure to deactivate the painful nodes followed by stretching. Self-care techniques are also taught.
Oncology Massage Therapy addresses the special needs of people who are coping with cancer. Practitioners of Oncology Massage Therapy receive specialized training that addresses the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, recovery from surgery, depressed immune systems and the risk of developing lymphedema. Benefits include decreased anxiety, nausea and fatigue and an improved sense of well-being.
Oriental Massage, also called Asian Massage, includes a number of ancient traditional healing therapies from China, India, Japan, Thailand, Polynesia and other Asian cultures as well as some more modern adaptations. Many are rooted in the concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine which focus on optimizing the flow of energy or vital life force to facilitate healing and wellness. There are many types of Oriental Massage including the Ayurvedic therapies, Tui na, Jin Shin Do, Shiatsu, Zen Shiatsu, Amma, Thai Massage, Lomi Lomi and others. Also see Chinese Massage and Japanese Massage.
Ortho-Bionomy is a gentle type of bodywork based on the theory that the body will self-heal given the opportunity. The practitioner facilitates that opportunity using gentle movements or by placing and holding the body in static positions which allow the body to release and self-correct. Ortho-Bionomy can also be used at home for self-care.
Orthopedic Massage applies a multidisciplinary approach to treating pain and injuries. A client assessment is performed, then an appropriate treatment plan is created. Sports Massage, Neuromuscular Therapy, Myofascial Release, stretching, strengthening and other techniques may be employed along with self-care protocols. Orthopedic Massage is often used on professional and amateur athletes.
Polarity Therapy is a holistic health care system based on energy balancing. Developed by Randolph Stone in the 1930s-1950s, Polarity Therapy combines eastern theories of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine with Western theories.
Prenatal or Pregnancy Massage can help make pregnancy more comfortable and if received throughout the pregnancy may shorten and ease labor and delivery. Practitioners of Pregnancy Massage learn how to comfortably and safely position you during the different phases of pregnancy and which techniques are safe and effective.
Qigong Massage includes several different types of massage therapies. See Chinese Massage.
Raindrop Technique is a technique developed by D. Gary Young that incorporates Vitaflex techniques with Aromatherapy. A series of different essential oils are ‘dropped’ like rain along the spine and other parts of the body to bring physical, mental and emotional harmony and balance to the body.
Reflexology practitioners stimulate reflex points on the feet, hands and ears that are believed to correspond to internal glands, organs and other structures of the body. Reflexology has been practiced for thousands of years in China and many other native cultures have some form of foot reflexology. It is very relaxing and can be helpful in reducing pain and promoting wellness.
Reiki means “spiritually guided life force energy”. It is a Japanese massage technique based on channeling “ki” or life force energy from practitioner to client in order to relax, revitalize and heal. A Reiki practitioner holds a light touch or “near” touch over a series of points to balance the flow of energy in your body.
Rolfing, also known as Rolfing Structural Integration improves body alignment and function by manipulating the web of fascia (connective tissue) that surrounds and supports the soft tissues of the body. Rolfing also provides movement education. See Rolfing For Body Care. Also see Rolfing Review Part 1 and Rolfing Review Part 2 for my personal experience in receiving the Rolfing 10 Series.
Rosen Method uses touch to create awareness of areas of tension and the underlying emotions and memories. It is not so much a type of massage as a catalyst for emotional release and personal growth. When old muscle tension holding patterns are removed, the associated pain often disappears as well.
Senior Massage works with the special needs of seniors. See Elder Care Massage.
Shiatsu is a type of Japanese bodywork that uses pressure from the fingers, thumbs, palms or knees to stimulate and balance the flow of “ki” or life force energy in the body. Like most other Oriental types of Massage Therapy, Shiatsu is based on principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Sports Massage The purpose of Sports Massage is to support and optimize athletic performance. Sports Massage therapists work with you during every phase of your training, competition, post-event recovery
and even assist with injury rehabilitation.
Strain/Counterstrain, sometimes referred to as Positional Release, uses body positioning to relieve pain. When a trigger point (hypersensitive area) is found, your body is moved to a specific position that takes the tension off of the painful area and feels comfortable to you. This position is held for about 90 seconds after which time the pain is typically diminished.
Structural Integration refers to a type of bodywork developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf which is also called Rolfing Structural Integration. It is based on aligning the body around a vertical axis by working with your connective tissue to release holding patterns. Several types of massage therapy, such as Hellerwork, are offshoots of Rolfing Structural Integration. See Rolfing Structural Integration.
Swedish Massage is famous for its long, smoooooth, luxurious strokes applied with oil or lotion on your bare skin. Other strokes knead your muscles, apply friction, percussion or vibration. Swedish can be light or moderate pressure and can be either slow and relaxing or brisk and invigorating. It is excellent for relieving stress and increasing circulation.
Thai Massage Slow, rhythmic, palm compressions alternate like cat’s paws walking the path of the “sen” or energy lines of your body. You are also moved into various gentle yoga-like stretches. Thai Massage balances the body and mind, increases flexibility and range of motion and offers many other health benefits.
Touch for Health draws from both Eastern and Western concepts of health and wellness. It combines massage, kinesiology, naturopathy and chiropractic principles with acupressure and Traditional Chinese Medicine to balance energy, improve postural alignment and promote health.
Trager incorporates movement education with gentle, pleasurable bodywork. Physical and mental patterns that cause pain and tension are released allowing you to experience greater ease and freedom of movement. You are taught simple self-care movements called Mentastics to reinforce the ease created during the session.
Trigger Point Therapy is one of the types of massage therapy that is based on releasing painful nodules in the tissue. See Neuromuscular Therapy.
Tui Na, also called Tuina or Tui Na An Mo, is a traditional Chinese Massage used to treat injuries and illnesses, especially of children. Chinese martial artists practice Tui na to treat injuries caused by the rigors of training. Traditional Chinese physicians also use Tui na to treat injuries and illness. Like other types of Oriental Massage, Tui Na works with the “qi” or vital energy systems of the body.
Vibrational Healing Massage Therapy (VHMT) is a “clothes on” type of bodywork that strives to return your body to a more fluid, natural state. More about Vibrational Healing Massage Therapy.
Vitaflex is an ancient form of massage that came from Tibet and India. Practitioners of Vitaflex massage stimulate reflex points in various locations on the body to affect healing. Vitaflex massage can be enhanced by the use of essential oils. See Raindrop Technique.
Watsu is a variation of Zen Shiatsu that is performed in warm water. The warm water massages and supports your body while the Watsu therapist keeps you in continuous motion. Your body is smoothly positioned from one stretch to another as you glide through the water. The relaxing effect of moving in water decreases the body’s resistance to the stretch and is believed to increase the effectiveness of the Watsu treatment.
Zen Shiatsu was developed by Shizuto Masunaga (1925-1981), a professor of psychology and shiatsu practitioner. Masunaga used his own modified version of the Chinese acupuncture meridians. Zen Shiatsu practitioners work in a Zen-like meditative state. Penetrating pressure is applied with thumbs, fingers, palms, elbows, knees and feet to relieve pain, aid digestion, balance energy and enhance the body’s ability to self-heal.
Zero Balancing is a “bone-centric” therapy that combines Eastern concepts of energy balancing with Western principles of osteopathy and Rolfing. Zero Balancing practitioners use gentle tractioning and finger pressure in areas of tension in the bones, joints and soft tissue to structurally align, reorganize and balance the body.
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