What is Massage Therapy?

What is Massage Therapy

Photo attributed to freedigitalphotos.net/Tina Phillps

Massage is a general term for a range of therapeutic approaches with roots in both Eastern and Western cultures. Technique can vary greatly depending on the form.

Massage does not have to hurt to help. You can gain therapeutic benefits from a relaxing massage, which doesn’t hurt a bit, or you can seek out more aggressive treatment options, which can cause some discomfort. Trigger point therapy and friction are examples of techniques, which are briefly uncomfortable, but very helpful for many conditions. If you don’t want heavy pressure, say so. Massage therapists want to help you. If you’re wincing under the pressure and tightening up, that will work against the goals of massage, which is to invite your body to relax, reduce pain, increase well-being, and have long, supple muscles. Massage therapists aren’t in the torture business. Let your therapist know what feels good and what doesn’t.

Recognize that your needs and pain threshold might change with each visit.


Swedish Massage

Swedish Massage is the most commonly practiced form of massage. It integrates ancient Eastern techniques with modern Western principles of anatomy and physiology. Swedish Massage is a very relaxing and therapeutic style of bodywork. It is typically a full body massage with long, smooth strokes intended to relax, decrease stress and improve muscle tone. It combines oils or lotion with an array of strokes such as rolling, kneading, and percussion to help the body improve its circulation. The benefits of this type of bodywork are wide-ranging and include relief from aches and pains, decreased stress levels in the body, enhanced mental clarity, improved appearance, and greater flexibility.


This type of massage is specifically tailored to your body during and after pregnancy.  The goals of pre-natal and post-natal massage are similar to those of classic massage, to relax and relieve sore muscles, increase circulation and mobility, impart a sense of wellbeing, help you sleep better, and help your body and mind feel good. Pregnancy massage is performed on a massage table while lying in a side position with many cushions and pillows supporting your body and your baby for your utmost comfort.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep Tissue Massage is a form of bodywork that aims to relieve tension in the deeper layers of tissue in the body and seeks to improve the function of the body’s connective tissues and muscles. This specialized massage is a highly effective method for releasing chronic stress areas due to misalignment, repetitive motions, and past lingering injuries. Due to the nature of the deep tissue work, open communication during the session is crucial to make sure you don’t get too uncomfortable. Keep in mind that soreness is pretty common after the treatment, and that plenty of water should be ingested to aid with the flushing and removal of toxins that will have been released from the deep tissue during the session.

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger Point Therapy is a style of bodywork that focuses on stimulating and releasing “trigger points” in your body. Trigger points are tender areas of tension similar to acupressure points, except they occur in the belly of the muscle rather than along the energy pathways of the body. These “knots” are built up throughout a person’s life due to physical, mental, and/or emotional stress. During a session, focused pressure is applied through a variety of techniques order to release your trigger points. This process can be quite painful at times, yet the effects are lasting and profoundly transformative.

MyoFascial Release

MyoFascial Release is a technique that seeks to free the body from the grip of tight connective tissue, thus restoring normal alignment and function and reducing pain. Therapists apply mild, yet deep, sustained pressure to stretch and soften the fascia.


Reflexology is a science based on the premise that there are zones and reflex areas in the feet which correspond to all glands, organs, parts and systems of the body. Unlike other foot massages that intend to mostly relieve tension in the feet themselves, reflexology is a far more in-depth science that aims to harmonize your entire body. According to reflexology, every part of the human body is mapped into your feet. Reflexology treatments have been found to be highly effective for conditions such as allergies, headaches, and depression.

Reflexology is a The physical act of applying pressure using thumb, finger and hand techniques are used to these reflex areas results in the reduction of stress which promotes physiological changes in the body.

Cranial Sacral

Cranial Sacral Therapy is a gentle yet powerful technique that is effective in releasing neck pain, back pain, and mental stress (among other things). It does this by optimizing the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the spine and around the skull. Developed by physician William Sutherland, this therapy provides a very soothing and relaxing healing experience.

Hot Stone Therapy

Hot Stone Therapy is a style of massage where heated stones are placed at specific sites on your body to deepen relaxation and promote circulation in your muscles. Muscles that are heated with these stones release tension and stress much more deeply and quickly than with a traditional massage. The overall experience is very relaxing, nurturing, and rejuvenating.

Medical Massage Therapy

Medical massage therapy is an outcome based massage specifically targeted to an area of concern. An assessment of Range of Motion ROM and pain level, as you move through the motion, is done before and after each treatment with a goal in mind. Typically, the ideal treatment plan calls for weekly visits ranging from 6-12 weeks along with at home stretches and self-massage.

Many forms of massage therapy can be applied by your therapist to achieve this goal. Some of the modalities that may be incorporated are:

  • Positional Release
  • Trigger Point Therapy
  • Myofascial Release
  • Stretching Procedures
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