Types of Massages Offered

types of massage therapy

Therapeutic massage

Therapeutic massage draws either from one kind of massage technique, or from an array of approaches that are used in an integrative way to address a client’s specific ailments, discomfort, or dis-ease on any level physically, mentally, or emotionally. For example, massage can ease stress from anxiety or from overstrain of muscles or both. Even in grief recovery one can benefit from a structure that aims to help in a beneficial or ameliorative way. Karen draws primarily from the following kinds of massage and bodywork: craniosacral therapy, medical massage, reflexology, shiatsu, trigger point massage, deep tissue massage (may be similar to neuromuscular massage), yoga asana, and neuromuscular movement therapy, in a therapeutic plan that fits the client to support their natural healing mechanism, addressing general and specific complaints or ailments as needed.

Stretching and exercise can be an important part of massage therapy, and especially part of medical, therapeutic, and deep tissue massage type work. Oftentimes, massage and yoga have their own separate appointments. When Karen uses massage within a yoga session, clients can receive massage or craniosacral therapy, while they are in a resting pose, restorative yoga posture, or at times during hands on adjustments. Karen can also use guided meditation, or mindfulness practices, interchangeably, whether on the massage table, or in a yoga session. Clients can split their time between yoga and massage in one session too. In any case, clients can opt to create a massage plan that includes yoga to help support their healing process for targeted areas or for overall health and wellness.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is a specialized form of massage therapy that focuses on relieving tension in deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue (fascia). Deep tissue massage utilizes many of the techniques in Swedish massage.  However, it addresses constrictions and dysfunctions that lay deeper in the muscles. The practitioner may use elbows, fists, knuckles, finger pressure, and sometimes wooden massage tools to seek out trigger points, break down adhesion, and help relieve the roots of the pain. This could be similar to neuromuscular massage therapy, depending on the practitioner’s style and expertise.

Is deep tissue massage painful?

A common question asked is “are deep tissue massages painful?” A deep tissue massage might feel concentrated at times though overall, it should feel good. A treatment starts with gentler applications to help release tension, warm up, and soften the muscles, so that they may be prepared for more penetrating work. The technique is slower than Swedish massage and encompasses awareness of the client’s sensitivity to increased pressure. In some cases, ice may be recommended after a treatment to help facilitate healing and prevent swelling.

Medical Massage

Medical massage is designed to restore damaged tissue. It addresses a range of specific medical problems including sciatica, carpal tunnel, TMJ, tendonitis, tennis elbow, migraine headaches, bone healing, stiff neck, hypertension, scar tissue etc.…. The protocol usually involves a variety of techniques, as well as ice and /or heat treatments, vibration, exercises and stretching. Medical massage often requires more frequent sessions, but the sessions are shorter, lasting between 15-45 minutes. Aside, neuromuscular massage therapy could be considered a type of medical massage.


Reflexology is a treatment usually done on the feet. It relieves tired, sore feet and induces overall relaxation. The theory behind reflexology is that the foot represents the whole body, and each spot on the foot relates to something on the body. By applying pressure to the feet, the reflexologist can interrupt patterns of stress in the body.

How did the reflexology theory come about?

Reflexology is believed to be born from the ancients and developed over centuries. Reflexology as we know it today is based on zone therapy, that is, parts of the body correspond to other parts within their own zones. An alternative to working on the feet would be either the hands or ears. Eunice Ingham, a physiotherapist for Dr. Joseph Shelby Riley, a student and advocate of the theory, mapped the whole body onto the feet, also onto the hands and ears. In addition, she discovered the reflex technique used today.

How is reflexology applied?

Reflexology is applied by a combination of general massage and “finger-walking” techniques to the feet, hands, or ears. Some other wood therapy massage tools may be added for the feet as well.

Why is reflexology done primarily on the feet?

Reflexology is done primarily on the feet because they are more accessible being a larger surface area than the ears and hands. They are also very sensitive to touch, because comparably they have an abundance of nerves, which also contributes to making the treatment more effective as well. To note, there are 7200 nerves in each foot. Further, the feet are intimately connected to the nervous system. Feet are in a constant state of readiness for receiving information from the body, gravity, and movement. Working closely with the fight or flight, rest and digest mechanism of the nervous system, they literally take us out of danger! When the legs and feet are massaged, and sore points are pressed, they release tension built up in the muscles, and nerves, which in turn reflect this relaxation response to the whole body from head to toe!  


Shiatsu is an Asian massage method to balance the energy flowing through the body.

How is shiatsu done?

Shiatsu is done by applying pressure to meridians (the vessels of energy that flow through the body) and acupuncture points (the relay stations on the course of energy flow). There are 14 meridians and numerous acupuncture points to work on. Traditionally, Shiatsu is performed on the client who is dressed in loose clothing lying on a Shiatsu mat on the floor. It can also be accomplished on a massage table, especially when combining it with other massage techniques.

How does the practitioner come up with a treatment plan for a shiatsu session?

A treatment plan for a shiatsu session is based on the five-element theory like Chinese medicine, Feng Shui or Tai Chi.

What’s the main benefit of a shiatsu treatment?

The main benefits of Shiatsu is for one, it is deeply relaxing. It also helps rejuvenate muscles, nervous, and visceral (organ) systems. Finally, it facilitates balance within these organizations, while enhancing the body-mind connection.

Trigger Point Massage

According to Bonnie Prudden, the creator of Pain Erasure, and this protocol trigger point massage that she refers to as “myotherapy,” anything that “insults” the tissue can cause trigger points in the body. Trigger point massage helps to alleviate those painful spots from the soft tissue of the body, which affects movement of the joints, and causes pain in related muscle tissue. In other words, this modality generally alleviates areas of pain, dysfunction, or constriction that is essentially connected to, and distal from the trigger point. One trigger point release can benefit a whole area or muscle group of pain.

How is trigger point massage applied?

Trigger point therapy applies about seven seconds of pressure to a tender point on the body. This is followed by lengthening the tissue through stretching, and exercising the muscle group that is affected.

What is the benefit of Trigger Point Massage and how do they happen?

Trigger point massage helps to alleviate pain and dysfunction stemming from these tender points, which are areas where muscles have been damaged. This disturbance in the tissue can come about through falls, disease, non-optimal posture, repetitive injuries, even from being born, and other life stressors. The kinds of ailments that can be relieved are backaches, headaches, menstrual cramps, bursitis, trick knees, tennis elbow, and even arthritis.