Types of Massage

There are many different types of massage and various massage strokes used by massage therapists. Below are some of the most common types of massage:

What type of massage is right for you?

Abhyanga Massage

Abhyanga Massage is an ayurvedic massage performed using herb-infused oils such as sesame, almond, coconut, sunflower, etc.  It may be performed by a massage therapist or by oneself.  Often followed by a warm bath, Abhyanga massage is meant to nourish the entire body. It is said to offer many benefits including joint lubrication, increased circulation, stimulating hair growth, softening and smoothing skin, and facilitating the release of toxins that may have accumulated during the previous night.

Acupressure Massage

Acupressure is an ancient healing practice where manual pressure is applied with the fingers to acupoints on the body.  It is often referred to as acupuncture without the needles. When these acupoints are pressed, muscular tension is released and increased circulation of blood occurs.  Most importantly, by accessing these acupoints, any blockages in the body’s natural energy flow (Chi) are removed, and the body is able to heal itself.

Amma Massage

Amma Massage is based on the principles of Chinese medicine.  By pressing, stroking, stretching, and using percussive manipulations with the thumbs, fingers, arms, elbows, knees, and feet, the therapist reaches acupressure points along the body’s fourteen major meridians. By releasing any blockages along these meridians, homeostasis or balance is returned to the body.  Typically, no oils are used in Amma massage.

Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy massage is massage performed with the use of natural plant extracts called essential oils. The oils are extracted from herbs, flowers, resin, wood, and roots. Each oil has its own healing properties and specific oils are used to treat specific health problems.

Asian Massage

Releasing the flow of our body’s vital life energy (Chi) is at the heart of Asian massage practices. Using manual pressure and manipulation, the therapist evaluates and releases any blockages to this energy flow to attain a state of balance or homeostasis throughout the body enabling it to heal itself. There are various types of Asian Massage including acupressure, Amma Massage, Ayurvedic massage, Chi Nei Tsang Massage, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Shiatsu, Thai Massage, and many more.

Ayurvedic Massage

Ayurvedic massage is massage performed with warm oils designed to help remove toxins from the body. Ayurveda Massage gets its roots from India. It’s a technique that focuses on the body’s chakras and marmas, which are similar to the acupoints referenced in Chinese medicine.  There are many types of Ayurvedic Massage including abhyanga, gandharva, marma, pizichilli, shirodhara, and vishesh.

Seated Chair Massage

Seated chair massage is just what it sounds like- massage performed while the client is seated in a specially designed massage chair. It is provided to fully-clothed clients in a variety of settings, including corporate events, private parties, and even in airports.

Couples Massage

Couples massage is massage performed on two people simultaneously by two massage therapists, often with the recipients positioned side by side.  It provides an opportunity for friends, loved ones, or even business associates to enjoy the massage experience together.

Craniosacral Massage

Craniosacral massage is a form of bodywork where the therapist manipulates the synarthrodial joints of the cranium in order to treat a wide range of health issues throughout the body.  The pressure administered during a craniosacral massage is light but its effect on the cerebrospinal fluid are said to aid in the healing of the entire body.

Deep tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is massage aimed at manipulating the deeper layers of muscle, tendons, and facia in the body in order to help relieve chronic aches and pains, break down adhesions, lengthening muscles, and increasing range of motion. Deep tissue massage is not necessarily a relaxing massage.  In fact, it can be somewhat painful as the therapist is often treating muscles that have been injured or are particularly tight from being overworked.

Foot Massage

Foot Massage is massage that focuses on the feet.  A typical foot massage is aimed at soothing the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the feet.  Foot reflexology and acupressure, on the other hand, go beyond the mere benefit to the feet and treat the entire body including bodily organs through manipulation of acupressure points on the feet.

Geriatric Massage

Geriatric Massage is massage specifically geared toward the elderly. As we age, we have different physical requirements and more precautions are often necessary when receiving a massage. Certain massage strokes and techniques may be contraindicated for the elderly.

Infant Massage

Infant massage is massage performed on an infant.  At birth, touch is the most developed of our five senses, and infant massage has many developmental and other health benefits. It also provides an opportunity for mother and infant to bond.

Lomi Lomi Massage

Lomi Lomi massage is often referred to as “Hawaiian massage” as the technique was passed down from generation to generation among the Hawaiian people.  Long flowing strokes are used and the massage is traditionally accompanied by rhythmic chants and other rituals.

Myofascial Release Massage

Myofascial release massage is massage aimed at releasing the connective tissue that supports our muscles (myofascial tissue). The massage therapist uses techniques such as trigger point therapy to release adhesions in the myofascial tissue or areas where a contraction of muscle fibers has occurred.

Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy massage is massage tailored to the specific needs of expecting mothers.  Pregnant women obviously cannot lay on their stomachs during massage, so special adjustments must be made to ensure their comfort and the comfort of the unborn child.

Reflexology Massage

Reflexology massage is the application of pressure to the hands, feet, and ears of the recipient to help heal the systems and organs of the body.


Reiki is a spiritual healing technique originating in Japan that focuses on the energy flow in the body.  The practitioner uses light touch and even just proximity to unblock and increase the natural energy flow throughout the body.

Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage is massage where the massage therapist uses his or her fingers, thumbs, palms, and elbows to apply pressure to the muscles and other soft tissue of the body in order to remove blockages, usually at acupoints in the body, where energy (Chi) flow is blocked or constrained.

Sports Massage

Sports massage is therapeutic massage tailored to the specific physiological and biomechanical need of athletes. The goal is often to either prepare an athlete for a sporting event, or to help an athlete to recover following an event. Sports massage can help relieve pain associated with strenuous physically strenuous activity, or to increase flexibility and range of motion.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is the most common type of massage therapy.  Long fluid strokes are used to relax the recipient and relieve any stress and tension that may burden them. The massage therapist applies oils or lotions to the skin to reduce friction and to soothe tired muscles.

Thai Massage

Thai massage, often called “lazy man’s yoga” is a massage technique that involves considerable stretching with little or no effort required of the recipient. Thai massage is often performed with the subject fully clothed.

Therapeutic Massage

Therapeutic massage is most easily understood when contrasted with relaxation massage.  Therapeutic massage is directed at specific muscles, or muscle groups, in order to treat an injury, or to prepare certain muscles for expected strenuous activity (i.e. Sports massage).  Relaxation massage (i.e. Swedish massage), on the other hand, covers the entire body and is meant to relax the recipient and promote stress relief.

Tui Na Massage

During Tui Na massage, the therapist kneads, rolls, presses, and rubs the muscles as well as the areas between the joints in order to stimulate acupoints. Range of motion techniques are also used by Tui Na massage therapists to lengthen the muscles and allow the flow of energy to continue throughout the body.

Watsu Massage

Watsu massage is a combination of water and shiatsu often performed in a pool, hot spring, or other aquatic medium. It involves passive stretching and allows to therapist to more easily manipulate the client’s body.

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