As you may or may not know, the world of massage is constantly growing and gaining new methods of practice. In the world of massage therapy we call these methods “modalities”. A single therapist can practice multiple modalities and use different techniques from each one during a single session. With all the technical words and jargon floating around, some of it gets misinterpreted (i.e. deep tissue massage does not necessarily mean hard pressure). So, how do you know which type of massage is best for you?
Below we will discuss just a few of the more common modalities of massage therapy. If you are interested in more specific modalities please feel free to comment on this post and I will send you links of how to learn more.
When people think of massage this is usually the type of massage they think of. This includes long, sweeping strokes as well as varying pressure and “kneading” motions. Because of the nature of the strokes, this type of massage encourages good circulation of blood and lymph. This type of massage can be very healing and relaxing. What most people consider deep tissue massage is Swedish techniques used with a much firmer pressure.
This type of massage does not necessarily mean there is a great deal of pressure applied. Deep tissue describes how your therapist works with soft tissues. In this case, the therapist will be working deep within the muscle belly; working through fibers to create increased range of motion (flexibility) and decrease muscle spasms.
Deep Tissue Friction
This modality is particularly beneficial for those who have had recent injuries or surgeries. Once an incision or acute inflammation has healed, deep tissue friction may be applied. The objective of DTF is to create a more functional scar by breaking up scar tissue and helping the collagen fibers form in a more organized fashion. By doing this a person can gain greater ease of movement, less visible scars, and increased circulation, which is vital for an area to regain good functionality.
Many women find relief from aches, pains and low back issues with massage during pregnancy. The body goes through many physical and emotional changes during pregnancy and massage can be an immense comfort during the transition into motherhood. Typically, massage is not performed until the 2nd trimester. And, if you have any complicating factors (i.e. diabetes, pre-eclampsia, positive Homan’s sign, etc.) a note is usually required from your OB stating that you are safe to receive massage therapy. This type of massage is able to be modified in many ways to allow for the comfort of mother and baby.
Typically, the client and therapist are both clothed in loose clothing and working on mats on the floor. Thai techniques can also be incorporated into table massage as well though. Thai massage can also be known as a type of assisted yoga with focus on deep stretching and breathing to encourage the flow of “prana” or life energy. Thai massage can be both relaxing and invigorating!
Reflexology is based upon the theory that there are reflexes in the ends of energy channels in the body (i.e. the hands and feet. And sometimes the ears) that have reflexes which correspond to organs within the body. By applying pressure and stimulating these organs reflexology creates balance.
Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) or Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger points are spots within a tight muscle that are tender when pressed and can cause pain in other regions than the area being directly pressed (therapists called this referred pain). There are different types of trigger points that have many different causes (physical, emotional and chemical factors). Neuromuscular techniques can be both gentle and aggressive in treating trigger points, but all encourage the muscle to relax and bring blood back to an area where it was restricted before.