Here are the definitions and specifics of each modality and the benefits it offers. Please, keep in mind that each therapist is different in the way they offer these techniques, so even though two people may offer the same technique, each one of them will feel different to your body. Therefore, trying different practitioners is always fun and educational and helps you find the perfect body worker for you and your needs. Perhaps, even a different body worker for different days and needs.
Swedish massage (Classical Massage) uses five styles of long, flowing strokes to massage. The five basic strokes are sliding or gliding, kneading, rhythmic tapping, friction and vibration/shaking. Swedish massage has shown to be helpful in reducing pain, join stiffness, and improving function in patients with osteoporosis over a period of eight weeks. It has also been shown to be helpful in individuals with poor circulation. It is even used as a form of therapy for anxiety, stress and depression. This is the most popular type of massage offered by therapists.
Shiatsu (shi meaning finger and atsu meaning
pressure) is a Japanese therapy that uses pressure applied with thumbs,
fingers and palms to the same energy meridians as acupressure and incorporates stretching.
It also uses techniques such as rolling, brushing, vibrating, grasping
and, in one particular technique developed by Suzuki Yamamoto, pressure
is applied with the feet on the person's back, legs and feet. It is designed to help regulate the flow of energy within the body. This type of massage helps produce a deep relaxation increases energy levels and brings balance to the body. Some of the claimed benefits are alleviating migraines and headaches, improving digestion, reducing pain and help with arthritis.
Deep tissue massage is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscle and the connective tissue or fascia.
This type of massage focuses on the muscles located below the surface
of the top muscles. Deep tissue massage is often recommended for
individuals who experience consistent pain, are involved in heavy
physical activity (such as athletes), and patients who have sustained
physical injury. It is not uncommon for receivers of deep tissue massage
to have their pain replaced with a new muscle ache for a day or two.
Deep tissue work varies greatly. The term “deep tissue” is often misused to identify a massage that is
performed with sustained deep pressure. Deep tissue massage is a
separate category of massage therapy, used to treat particular
muscular-skeletal disorders and complaints and employs a dedicated set
of techniques and strokes to achieve a measure of relief. It should not
be confused with “deep pressure” massage, which is one that is performed
with sustained strong, occasionally intense pressure throughout an
entire full-body session, and that is not performed to address a
specific complaint. Deep tissue massage is applied to both the
superficial and deep layers of muscles, fascia, and other structures.
The sessions are often quite intense as a result of the deliberate,
focused work. When a client asks for a massage and uses the term “deep
tissue”, more often than not he or she is seeking to receive a full-body
session with sustained deep pressure throughout. If a practitioner
employs deep tissue techniques on the entire body in one session, it
would be next to impossible to perform; it might lead to injury or
localized muscle and nerve trauma, thereby rendering the session
Myofascial release refers to the manual massage technique for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia, and muscles with the goal of eliminating pain, increasing range of motion and equilibrioception. Myofascial release usually involves applying shear compression or tension in various directions, or by skin rolling.
Trigger Point Massage involves deactivating trigger points
that may cause local pain or refer pain and other sensations, such as
headaches, in other parts of the body. Manual pressure, vibration,
injection, or other treatment is applied to these points to relieve
myofascial pain. Trigger points were first discovered and mapped by Janet G. Travell (president Kennedy's physician) and David Simons. Trigger points have been photomicrographed and measured electrically. In 2007 a paper was presented showing images of Trigger Points using MRI. These points relate to dysfunction in the myoneural junction, also called neuromuscular junction (NMJ), in muscle, and therefore this modality is different from reflexology, acupressure and pressure point massage.
Prenatal massage is tailored to expectant mothers. During the first trimester the
massage is performed much like a non-pregnancy massage, with the
exception of special attention given to certain acupressure points that
will be avoided. During the second and third trimesters, the massage is
given in a side-lying position with the use of pillows and bolsters to
accommodate the growing belly in a comfortable manner.
Hot Stone Therapy is a profoundly calming massage that soothes aching muscles and promotes a
sense of relaxation and restoration. A wide size variety of basalt
stones are heated to appropriate temperatures for both stationary and
dynamic uses, then incorporated with therapeutic massage strokes to
achieve the optimal sense of repose.
body work seeks to access in some way the subtle energies beyond
the physical, and having accessed it, make changes that will bring the bodies
back into better alignment, resulting in greater harmony and health on all
levels. There are different techniques for energy facilitation and a lot of it is conditioned on the practitioners experience, intuition and ability to tap into the energy body.
With most massage/body work you will receive a benefit from a single treatment, however multiple treatments work better as they built on each others' effects and sustain a lasting impression on the body/mind.