Massage Modalities Continued

Massage Modalities

Even More Massage Modalities

Last week we looked a few of the massage modalities that I have been exposed to in school.  Today, we’ll hit on a couple more.  As always…I welcome your questions and comments!


I touched on Swedish as a descriptor last week; but for those who perhaps aren’t aware of the Swedish massage technique, I’ll explain further.  Swedish massage is comprised of 6 different styles of strokes (effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, vibration, friction, and compression) which are to be varied and combined for a Swedish massage.

This is the most commonly offered style of massage and one that most people are aware of and comfortable with.  Actually, in the rest of the world…outside of the United States and Dutch speaking countries, this style of massage is referred to as Classic.

In my program, this was our first modality offered and probably the one that I am most comfortable with at this point.  In fact, if the programs that you are looking at do not have a strong curriculum for Swedish Massage, I might ask why.

Obviously if you are studying Thai or Shiatsu specifically you may not see this…but otherwise, Swedish instruction provides an excellent basis to develop and build strong skills.


Based on the theories and practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shiatsu works on the body in terms of a series of meridian points.  With a basis in the understanding of yin and yang, shiatsu comprises ten organ based meridians (think paths that travel within the body) as well as other paths.

If this sounds confusing to you, it is.  But, Shiatsu and a general understanding of TCM is included on many licensing exams.  So, when you’re looking at an educational program, be sure to ask about their instruction in Shiatsu or TCM.

In addition, I will say that I too was a bit overwhelmed trying to learn about the anatomy and physiology as well as the kinesiology of the body according to Western Medicine principles while also exploring TCM.  But, once I really started to explore the two systems at the same time…I understood how the two complement each other in a way that I never would have previously!  So, be patient with yourself!!

Energy Palpation

One of my instructors said that “Reiki is like the gateway drug of energy work.”  I have no background in reiki, but it is definitely something I will be studying as soon as I finish this initial 1000 hours!

Energy bodywork encompasses a wide variety of theories including polarity therapy, chakra work, craniosacral therapies, and can also include reflexology.  My introduction to energy work included learning to gently apply conscious thought and contact to two areas of the body in an effort to restore flow to blocked energy paths.

My Western Medicine belief system struggled with this theory.  Until I tried it.  Energy work is an amazing way to bring awareness and relief in bodywork without much physical effort.  It does however require a clear mind and patience…lots of patience!

Connective Tissue Therapy

This, my friends, is magical!  At least for me, CTT was one of my favorite modalities to work with.  Connective tissue by definition is what connects and separates different parts of the body.  This type of massage is based on the concept of thixotrophy.

Think about placing your hand on playdoh, or ooblek or kinetic sand…just about any child’s manipulative toy.  Don’t push down, but rather let your hand and the heat from your palm allow for your hand to slowly and smoothly sink through the layers.  This is connective tissue therapy.

It’s slow, smooth and amazing!  However, it can take a lot of time.  If I am working with a client and thinking about doing this, I will always communicate that to them.  One stroke can take up to 30 minutes to complete.


These descriptions are not meant to be taken in place of instruction.  Remember…I’m still a student too!

Just looking at the curriculum for a massage certification program can be daunting.  But, remember…it’s one day at a time.  These are still only a few of the many modalities available for your practice.  Massage is an opportunity to let your creative self shine!

Until next time….breathe