Learn About Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy is an ancient form of healing used by millions of people today both for therapeutic benefits and the promotion of relaxation. Explore the many forms of touch therapies in this section from Active Isolated Stretching to Zero Balancing.

  • Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)

    is a type of stretching exercise that is used to promote fitness and athletic ability by stretching muscles and improving flexibility, strength, and coordination. It differs from conventional stretching exercises in that certain exercise techniques are used to stretch muscles when they are fully relaxed. In this way, AIS offers a more controlled and intense stretching routine that has a low risk of injury. Stretches are done in slow sequences. AIS has been used to assist amateur athletes in order to build strength and stamina, as well as for the treatment of pain caused by poor posture, injury, or inactivity.

  • Acupressure

    is an ancient healing art which uses the fingers to press key points on the surface of the skin and stimulate the body's natural self-curative abilities. Based on the same principles of Acupuncture, with no drug-induced side effects, Acupressure is an excellent way to complement conventional medical care and to promote health and wellness. It helps to prevent or relieve a wide range of conditions such as Musculo-Skeletal dysfunctions, physical pains, headaches, insomnia, menstrual problems and psychosomatic stress related disorders.

  • Ayurvedic Massage

    combines energy work on the marman points (subtle energy points) with the use of medicinal oils to promote the health and well being of the subject. One of the oldest systems of medicine in the world, Ayurveda views the human being as intimately connected with the environment and all other life forms. Ayurvedic massage works on both the physical and mental levels, transmitting a life-giving energy that assists all systems of the body to repair and renew themselves.

  • Alexander Technique

    was developed by Frederick Matthias Alexander, an Australian Shakespearean actor, and is a type of movement re-education therapy to improve posture. The goal is to learn to stand and move properly to minimize strain on the body and alleviate muscle tension and aches caused by poor posture. It involves relearning basic movements, such as standing and sitting, and correcting patterns of misuse, such as the way you hold your head. Conditions treated with the Alexander Technique include the following: poor posture; stress and stress-related conditions; anxiety and depression; repetitive strain injuries; and performance enhancement in dancers, singers, and musicians.

  • Amma Therapy

    was developed by Korean-American Tina Sohn. This technique is rooted in the same fundamental principals as Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine, focusing on the balance and movement of energy within the body. These techniques aim to remove blockages and free the flow of Qi, thereby restoring, promoting and maintaining optimum health. The goal is to create a mind/body portrait that includes structural, emotional and energetic imbalances.

  • Aromatherapy

    is the use of essential oils (extracted from herbs, flowers, resin, woods, and roots) in body and skin care treatments. Used as a healing technique for thousands of years by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, essential oils aid in relaxation, improve circulation, and help heal wounds. Specific essential oils are blended by the aromatherapist and added to a carrier oil, such as almond oil, to be used during massage (usually Swedish or hot stone therapy). Each oil has its own unique characteristics and benefits.

  • Chair/Seated Massage

    is a technique that involves the use of a specially designed massage chair that a client sits in comfortably. The modern chair massage was originally developed by David Palmer, but the technique is centuries-old. Some Japanese block prints illustrate people having just emerged from a nearby bath, receiving massage while seated on a low stool. Seated massage includes bodywork and somatic techniques, such as shiatsu, amma, and Swedish massage, provided to the fully clothed client in a variety of settings, including businesses, airports, and street fairs.

  • Cranio-Sacral Therapy

    was developed in the early 1900s by an osteopathic doctor William Sutherland. This technique involves the application of slight amounts of pressure to the bones of the skull and spine. Cranio-Sacral Therapy uses much less aggressive means to accomplish the same goal as chiropractic care, that is to help the body properly align itself both physically and energetically. The application for one minute pressure helps remove blockages of cerebrospinal fluid that hinder the body’s ability to communicate and heal itself. This technique helps reduce pain, fatigue, and depression and can eliminate allergies and sinus congestion.

  • Deep Tissue Massage

    is an aggressive system of manipulation to affect the sub-layer of musculature and fascia. The goal is to free the flow of lymphatic fluid, which supplies oxygen to the muscles and carries away toxins. Strong pressure is applied across the grain of the muscles, and while this technique frequently causes discomfort to the client during the treatment, the benefits can be extraordinary. It helps with chronic muscular pain and injury rehabilitation and is generally integrated with other massage techniques.

  • Duo Massage/ 4 Hands/ Tandem Massage

    is two therapists working in unison on one person. Each therapist works on the opposite side of the body while doing the same movements (mirror massage), or sometimes the two therapists work different parts of the body at the same time (asynchronous). First originated in India thousands of years ago, duo massage brings balance to both the body and the mind. A well designed routine is a seamless dance of both mirror and asynchronous work that incorporates a variety of massage modalities such as deep tissue, stretching and reflexology with long flowing Swedish massage strokes.

  • Geriatric Massage

    is a form of massage designed to meet the specific needs of the elderly population. It involves the use of hands to manipulate the soft tissues of the body, to improve blood circulation, relieve pain, and increase range of motion. Active or passive movement of the joints may also be part of geriatric massage. It can help maintain and improve overall health, as well as regain certain physical functions that have been reduced or lost due to aging. In addition, it can relieve anxiety and depression and provide comfort to touch-deprived elderly patients.

  • Hot Stone Massage

    is a healing treatment that involves the application of water-heated basalt stones to key points on the body. It uses smooth stones of various shapes, sizes, and weights arranged in specific patterns on the body. Stones are heated to allow for greater relaxation of stress-tightened muscles that can then be manipulated more effectively by a massage therapist. The technique reduces stress, anxiety, aching muscles, arthritis, insomnia, and depression. It is usually combined with Swedish Massage.

  • Jin Shin Jitsu

    is a non-massage form of shiatsu developed by Jiro Murai in Japan to heal the body by harmonizing its flow of energy. It uses 26 pressure points termed "energy locks" where fatigue, tension, or illness can trap energy. By applying prolonged, gentle, manual pressure on these points or even movements of the practitioner's hands over such areas without contact, the body and mind are brought into harmony.

  • LomiLomi

    is a system of massage that utilizes very large, broad movements. Two-handed, forearm, and elbow application of strokes, which cover a broad area, are characteristic of lomilomi. It is used to relax the nervous system, increase circulation, and relieve pain. Sometimes meditation, praying or even a change in diet might be part of the treatment. Lomilomi, Hawaiian for "rub rub," is described by teacher Aunty Margaret Machado as "the loving touch - a connection between heart, hand, and soul with the source of all life."

  • Lymphatic Drainage

    was developed in the 1930s by a Danish doctor, Hans Vodder. This technique helps to remove bacteria and toxins from the body, relieve chronic disorders (such as sinusitis, arthritis), remedy back pain and headache, and improve the appearance of scars and stretch marks. A characteristic of lymph system massage is that the strokes are always in the same direction as the muscle fiber, rather than across the fiber, because the lymph system runs in the direction of the muscle fiber.

  • Movement Education

    describes the summation of a variety of techniques that utilize movement re-education and proper body mechanics in combination with massage or soft-tissue manipulation to teach a client how to move in a healthy and sustainable way. After observing the client, the therapist will determine which corrective measures are necessary to accomplish specific goals. Active client participation is important as the practitioner uses verbal instruction, hypnosis and imagery, deep muscle and connective tissue manipulation, and mobilization in the movement re-education process.

  • Myofascial Release

    is a massage technique designed to soothe clients with soft-tissue ailments. Through a combination of stretching and massage, therapists work to relieve tension in the fibrous bands of tissue surrounding muscles, called "fascia." Clients have used myofascial release to address health complaints such as TMJ, chronic back pain, headaches, strains, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Orthopedic Massage

    describes a comprehensive system of treatment rather than one particular technique. It's able to integrate a variety of massage techniques in the treatment of soft-tissue dysfunctions, pain and injuries. According to the Orthopedic Massage Education & Research Institute, four component parts characterize the system of orthopedic massage: orthopedic assessment, matching the physiology of the tissue injury with the physiological effects of treatment, treatment adaptability, and understanding the rehabilitation protocol.

  • Prenatal/Pregnancy Massage

    addresses specific issues associated with pregnancy. Massage during pregnancy can increase blood and lymph circulation; relieve muscle spasms, cramps and myofascial pain; reduce stress; and create a nurturing space to enable a pregnant woman to translate feelings of physical and emotional well-being to her unborn child. Sessions are typically done in a side-lying position and special precautions are taken to ensure a safe massage environment for both mother and baby.

  • Reflexology

    was popularized in the United States by physiotherapist Eunice Inghram in the 1930s. This is an acupressure-type technique performed on the hands and feet and is based on the ancient Oriental theory that meridian lines or pathways carry energy throughout the body. Because each zone or part of the body has a corresponding reflex point on the feet, stimulating that reflex point causes stimulation in the natural energy of the related organ. Crystalline-type deposits and/or tenderness indicate a dysfunction and pressure is applied to clear out congestion and restore normal functioning and health.

  • Reiki

    is the combining of universal energy with individual energy to open pathways of healing. This technique was rediscovered by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui in 1921. He believed that disease was not separate from the body. It was the body out of balance. This method involves placing the hands on or just above the body in order to align chakras and bring healing energy to organs and glands. Treatments work by dissolving or eliminating toxic energy and substances from many levels of one's being, whether it is physical, emotional, or mental. This works to strengthen the harmonic flow of energy within the body.

  • Shiatsu

    is the most widely known form of acupressure, literally meaning "finger pressure" in Japanese, and has been practiced for more than a thousand years in Japan. Shiatsu uses rhythmic pressure for 3 to 10 seconds on specific points along the body's meridians using the fingers, hands, elbows, knees, and sometimes feet to unblock and stimulate the flow of energy. A session may also include gentle stretching and range-of-motion manipulations. Shiatsu is used to treat pain and illness, to relax the body, and to maintain general health.

  • Sports Massage

    refers to soft-tissue manipulation used specifically with athletes to enhance performance, speed up recovery and prevent injuries. It focuses on special techniques that can be used before and after athletic events for maintenance during training and for rehabilitation to help manage injuries. It incorporates deep tissue massage and the pressure applied may be stronger than other forms of massage.

  • Swedish Massage

    was developed in the nineteenth century at the University of Stockholm. This technique is considered the most common form of massage and uses firm pressure to promote relaxation, relieve muscle aches, and improve circulation. Swedish Massage incorporates various types of strokes (gliding, tapping, kneading and friction) and massage oil. This technique was designed to both stimulate and soothe the muscles and nervous system. It is believed that Swedish massage promotes general well-being through interaction with the skin, the body's largest organ.

  • Thai Massage

    is the traditional massage of Thailand and has been practiced for at least 2,500 years. It came to Thailand along with Buddhism and was originally practiced by Buddhist monks in their temples. The work consists primarily of pressure on energy lines and points, and a large variety of stretching movements. The stretching movements of Thai massage often resemble passive yoga asanas. These stretches affect the entire body by increasing flexibility, releasing both deep and superficial tension, and helping the body's natural energy to flow more freely.

  • Trigger Point Massage (Myotherapy or Neuromuscular Therapy)

    is the application of alternating levels of pressure to areas of muscle spasm. The therapist uses fingertips, knuckles, and elbows to apply pressure to these sensitive and sore areas. Pressure is applied to trigger points for a short time (about 7 to 10 seconds per point), which can be momentarily painful but is ultimately greatly relieving. After the treatment, the trigger points, or spasmed areas, should release their lactic acid and begin to absorb oxygen and the soreness should disappear. This technique is particularly effective for treating lower back pain.

  • Tui Na Medical Massage

    is an ancient form of Chinese massage, said to be the inspiration for Swedish massage developed by Per Henrik Ling in the early 1800's. It may seem similar in some ways to Swedish massage, as it includes the same types of strokes used to increase the movement of blood and lymph. However, Tui na practitioners also consider the flow of energy, or Qi, to target areas. It is often used in clinical treatment for injuries of the muscular system. In many cases the client can remain clothed, unless external applications such as liniments, poultices or herbal packs are being used.

  • Watsu (aquatic shiatsu)

    began at Harbin Hot Springs, California where Harold Dull brought his knowledge of Zen shiatsu into a warm pool. Zen shiatsu incorporates stretches that release blockages along the meridians (the channels through which Qi or life force flows). The practitioner holds the patient in the water while rocking and stretching the patient's body. Watsu decreases pain and muscle tension, increases range of motion in joints and muscles, and encourages deep relaxation.

  • Zero Balancing

    was developed by Fritz Smith, MD, and has its roots in osteopathy, acupuncture, rolfing and meditation. It integrates fundamental principles of Western medicine with Eastern concepts of energy. This technique provides clients the possibility of healing by addressing the energy flow of the skeletal system. By working with bone energy, zero balancing seeks to correct imbalances between energy and structure, providing relief from pain, anxiety, and stress. A typical session consists of gentle acupressure on joints and bones.