Modalities, a fancy word for methods. Massage therapy has over time changed and molded into different modalities/methods. Here I just want to go over in a nut shell some of the basic massage modalities which are seen at spas and practiced by most independent massage therapists.
: Most people will identify Swedish massage as your basic massage, which focuses on circulation and relaxation. Swedish massage is based on Western concepts of anatomy and physiology, using techniques such as (but not limited to) gliding, kneading, and cross fiber friction. All Swedish massage involves the usage of a lubricant whether oil, lotion, or a combination.
: The definition of this method ranges from school to school and therapist to therapist. Here is what I find to be the closest and simplest definition. Specific manual techniques and stretching used for specific muscles/muscle groups and joints for optimal physical usage for activities and sports. Designed to reduce and treat injuries, provide warm-up for athletes before (pre-event), during (event), and after (post-event) an event or training.
Deep Tissue Massage:
Knuckles, elbows, heavy pressure, oh my! Much of deep tissue massage techniques are used slowly through the different layers of tissues to achieve a release with “good pain”, where a client can feel a pain which slowly diminishes from the release of tension in the tissues. Of course communicate with your therapist when there is discomfort and pain that is out of your pain tolerance. Techniques are used in specific areas of tension, adhesion as well as areas of injury or limited movement. The techniques applied are slow with varied pressure from light to very heavy/deep pressure, moving through the different layers of tissues to help restore and release adhesions and tension areas for normal movements.
A therapeutic treatment which can be applied to the young and old. It is a scientific study of reflexes and the application of specific techniques that work reflexes found in the feet, hands and ears, which corresponds with the whole body, including the tissues, organs, and the nervous system. Techniques have been proven to calm the nervous system, improve flexibility in wrists, feet, legs and hands, and improving circulation just to name a few effects.
Hot/Cold Stones Massage:
Ooo! This sounds exotic? Yes there are cultures like the Hawaiians, Native Americans, Egyptians, and also Ayurvedic medicines in India who have been using this natural alternative medicine to heal and cleanse the body and spirit throughout history. The thermal therapy with hot stones can allow the tissues to warm and have a softening effect on tissues for easier manipulation, or with cold stones cool down on areas where there is inflammation, swelling, or even bloating. Oils, stones, and possibly hot towels are used with these treatments.
There are many modalities of massage so please do some research for yourself, ask questions, and yes referrals are great but make sure you have a good line of communication with your therapist or the establishment you will be visiting.
Photo by Tara Angkor Hotel