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Massage Therapy Techniques Guide: The Many Types of Massage

Posted by on December 5, 2018

Massage Therapist Utilizing Massage Techniques

As a massage therapist, it is crucial to understand all of the different types of massage and how the massage techniques help benefit clients.  During a massage therapy program at your local vocational school, you will learn about different types of massage techniques, including hot stone massage, Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, reflexology, prenatal massage, sports massage, Thai massage, and Shiatsu massage techniques. Laying down a strong foundation of massage therapy education allows you to help clients be happy and healthy.

Hot Stone Massage Techniques

Hot stone massage techniques treat stress, tension and muscle soreness. Additionally, this type of massage improves metabolism and blood circulation. One of the most significant benefits of hot stone massage is that it stimulates muscle relaxation. Stones are heated using water. Once they reach the ideal temperature, they are placed strategically on the body. The direct heat provided by the stones is helpful for relaxing muscles. The stones are also useful to increase circulation, reduce stress, alleviate pain, and boost relaxation.

Swedish Massage Techniques

Swedish massage is one of the most popular types of massage therapies. The techniques used in Swedish massage provides total body relaxation. Massage therapists who provide Swedish massage use long strokes to help flow blood back to the client’s heart.

In addition to being a fantastic massage for relaxation, Swedish massage techniques are beneficial to increase oxygenation in the blood, to lessen toxins in the blood, for boosting the circulatory system, and soothing tension.

Deep Tissue Massage Techniques

Similar to Swedish massage, deep tissue massage techniques uses more pressure. Deep tissue massage is great for anyone with chronic muscle tension. This type of massage therapy reaches deep muscle layers and tendons. Deep tissue massage helps to lower blood pressure and stress hormones. Additionally, deep tissue massage is conductive for triggering serotonin and oxytocin, known to be mood-boosting hormones.

Reflexology Massage Techniques

Reflexology massage therapy techniques involves massaging the client’s feet, calves, and upper legs. The massage techniques reflexology relieves pain in the toes, ankles, arthritis, and plantar fasciitis. Additionally, it lessens stress and anxiety throughout the body. As a massage therapist, it is critical for clients to communicate any discomfort during their session. Stretching and rest after the reflexology massage is beneficial. Reflexology massage, when done regularly, offers long-term benefits of feeling better and healthier.

Prenatal Massage Techniques

Prenatal massage is an ideal addition to a pregnant woman’s prenatal regimen. Prenatal massage helps alleviate common discomforts of pregnancy including back and neck pain and stiffness, headaches, leg cramps, and swelling. For expecting moms, prenatal massage is helpful for reducing stress on joints and improving circulation. Other benefits include relieving anxiety or depression caused as a result of hormonal changes in the body.

When performing prenatal massage, extra care is required. Clients should be as comfortable as possible with bolsters, pillows, or cushions with a focus on easing strains in the pelvic area and lower back. As the massage client progresses through their pregnancy, the massage techniques can be adjusted. Prenatal massage also helps to release blood toxins and increase the production of serotonin.

Sports Massage Techniques

Sports massage is ideal for all athletes. Sports massage is used to treat sore, stressed, or overused muscles. In recent years, sports massage has gained popularity as part of training programs.

Use of sports massage techniques is often helpful to prepare for events, as well as recovery. Athletes may benefit from sports massage through increased flexibility, improved endurance, reduction in fatigue, and mental clarity. Sports massage uses a techniques and massage tools to help the client achieve objectives, such as relieving aches and pains, warming up their muscles, or assisting the athlete deal with stress or anxiety before a game or event.

Thai Massage Techniques

Thai Massage differs from other types of massage techniques in the fact that the massage therapist doesn’t use any oils. Thai massage clients wear comfortable, loose clothing and lie on a firm mattress or mat placed on the floor. The client poses in a variety of yoga-like positions throughout the massage. The massage therapist uses rhythmic pressure to relieve stress and soreness. Thai massage may be administered in either a one-on-one setting or in a group setting, where multiple people receive Thai massage therapy at the same time.

Shiatsu Massage Techniques

Shiatsu massage is firmly rooted in Japanese medicine and tradition. This type of massage uses manipulation and uses stretching, acupressure, and Western massage to offer holistic healing to the client. Shiatsu massage therapists apply pressure to correct places on the body to treat a variety of issues. Shiatsu massage is great for improving mental and physical well-being, managing pain, and treating disease.

Holistic massage therapy treats the entire body, instead of focusing on one area. Acupressure taps into pressure points using energy pathways in the body. Instead of using needles like acupuncture, shiatsu massage therapists use their fingers to percuss these points.

Shiatsu massage is useful to treat many ailments. This massage technique improves circulation and promotes a healthier immune system. Shiatsu massage treats symptoms including stress reduction, indigestion, nausea, constipation, chronic pain, depression, migraines, muscle pain and arthritis. As a holistic approach, Shiatsu massage is a comprehensive treatment. It increases vitality, physicality, and lifts the client’s mood and emotional well-being.

The Benefits of Massage Therapy

According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), 87% of individuals view massage as being beneficial to overall health and wellness. The demand for massage therapy and its benefits will continue to grow, as well as the demand for more professional massage therapists. There are many different benefits that a client may notice, including:

  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Increased relaxation
  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Increased range of motion
  • Improved soft tissue function
  • Decreased muscle stiffness and fatigue
  • Improved blood circulation

There are also many disorders that massage therapy can help relieve including:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – a painful condition of the hand and fingers caused by compression of a major nerve where it passes over the carpal bones through a passage at the front of the wrist. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome may be caused by repetitive motion.

Fibromyalgia – a chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, and tenderness.

Lower Back Pain – caused by injury to a muscle or ligament in the back.

Migraines – a recurrent throbbing headache, often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision.

Osteoarthritis – degeneration of cartilage and the underlying bone. Osteoarthritis causes pain and stiffness in the hip, knee, and thumb joints.

Sciatica – pain along the sciatic nerve, which runs down the legs from the lower back.

Tennis Elbow – inflammation of the tendons of the elbow caused by overuse of the muscles of the forearm.

Where a Massage Therapist Can Practice These Massage Techniques

A massage therapist has many opportunities to help clients with massage therapy. These locations include clinics, spas, resorts, cruise ships, physical therapy centers,  or medical facilities to support healing. With the help of franchised clinics and spas, massage therapy has become mainstream. Access to affordable massage therapy has spawned an increase in clients looking for massage therapy.

Self-employment gives massage therapists the freedom to work on their schedule and travel to clients. Many massage therapists work on-site at offices or in client’s homes. They have the ability to work on their own schedule and build a business.

Did this information interest you in becoming a massage therapist? If you are interested in the healing powers of massage, you can begin your career in massage therapy at Minnesota School of Cosmetology. Our short-term massage therapy training program is designed to be completed in as little as 5 months with full time enrollment*. Our massage therapy training program is designed as a holistic program that will prepare students to focus on body mechanics of their clients as well as develop positive habits for the therapist. Together, those two areas will provide a foundation that can lead to longevity in the career field.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist and starting a rewarding career in the wellness industry.

*Completion time for this program is defined by 35 hours per week.


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