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7 Popular Types of Massages

popular types of massagesThese techniques are in demand from massage therapists

Becoming a massage therapist is an interesting and important way to care for people. This profession combines techniques and methodologies that take into account the overall health of the client and also tend to provide an immediate sense of well-being and relaxation. Massage can be a valuable component of anyone’s self-care routine.

Massage therapists find employment in a wide array of venues, allowing them to choose the setting that suits their skills and lifestyle demands. From spas and hotels to the neighborhood gym, there are many different kinds of opportunities to grow your professional massage practice.

Massage therapy students tend to train in several styles of massage, including some of the most popular techniques. A good program provides both theoretical and hands-on learning. Below are brief descriptions of some of the forms of massage that might appeal to you as you consider your career focus:

1. Swedish massage: Possibly the best-known style, this modern massage is based on a Western understanding of the body’s physical structure and functioning—in contrast to a more traditional focus on energy centers that is routed in ancient Eastern thought and practice. Long, gliding strokes are the hallmark of this technique, along with five basic methods to increase circulation.

2. Hot stone: Massage centers promoting this technique seem to be popping up all over. In these treatments, the therapist heats stones to a tolerable level and then places them on strategic areas of the body to loosen muscles. This often is used to enhance a Swedish massage.

3. Deep tissue: This system of physical manipulation targets specific areas of the body to release deep tension and strain. The rigorous pressure gradually encourages taught muscles to release and allows for a better flow of blood and oxygen to those muscles. While related to Swedish massage, the deep tissue bodywork of this massage relies on a more intense pressure.

4. Thai: Described as an active form of massage, this popular technique includes aspects of yoga, stretching, and rhythmic compression, as the therapist manipulates and moves the client’s body into different positions. It helps to improve the body’s elasticity and range of movement. Today’s practitioners use a synthesized approach that draws upon practices from many countries over the centuries.

5. Prenatal: Given that an expectant mother’s body goes through dramatic changes, both skeletal and circulatory, this massage provides safe therapeutic touch through a gentle and specialized technique that avoids any strain. It can also help to relive the many discomforts of pregnancy—some mildly annoying and others painful.

6. Shiatsu: A type of Japanese bodywork, this technique uses the manipulation of pressure points to encourage the proper flow of energy and restore balance to the body. This form of massage is based on a concept that the body has channels, or meridians, that are thought to connect with emotional and spiritual qualities of certain body parts, for which they are named. This practice has been known to aid in digestion.

7. Reflexology: With roots in ancient healing traditions, this technique is grounded in the idea that distinct areas of the body are connected. The massage therapist can activate pathways between these parts to correct or encourage the flow of energy, thus reestablishing harmony and removing symptoms of pain and strain.

No matter which style of massage you choose to practice, you can help people relieve the stress, strain, and anxiety of everyday life through this popular service. Learn more about what a massage therapist does and you could be on your way to a new career in healthcare!

This post is part of the weekly blog of the Harris School of Business. We’re dedicated to supporting all our students in pursuing their career goals. Reach out to us for more information about our massage program or other career training programs.