The Right Touch

Sandra Gill, CMT, LMT
9130 Clayton Street
Thornton, CO 80229

Sandra Gill, CMT, LMT

Different Styles of Therapeutic Massage

Overview of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork

Therapeutic massage and bodywork can be defined as the application of various massage techniques to the muscular structure and soft-tissues of the human body. These massage techniques may include stroking, kneading, tapping, compression, vibration, rocking, and friction to the muscular structure or soft-tissues of the body. This also includes non-forceful passive or active movement, the application of various techniques intended to affect the energetic systems of the body, and body movement re-education. The use of oils, lotions, powders, or other lubricants may also be utilized during a massage session. All of these bodywork techniques address irritated areas in the muscles to break the cycle of pain.

Therapeutic massage and bodywork specifically exclude diagnosis, prescription, skeletal structure adjustments, or any other service, procedure, or therapy requiring a license to practice orthopedics, physical therapy, podiatry, chiropractic, osteopathy, psychotherapy, acupuncture, or any other professional branch of medicine.

How is Massage Therapy and Chiropractic Care Different?

Chiropractic care addresses skeletal structure. Massage therapy addresses soft-tissues: muscles, fascia, tendons and ligaments. Most chiropractors acknowledge that when muscles are tight, effective adjustments are difficult and may not last. As is often quoted, "Bones go where muscles put them. Bones stay where muscles keep them." So, chiropractic care and massage therapy work together for greater client benefit.

General Explanation of Therapeutic Massage

Therapeutic massage is the application of various massage techniques to help alleviate medical concerns of muscular and other soft-tissue origin which usually involve pain or dysfunction of muscles and movement. Clients may be referred by their physicians or healthcare providers.

Swedish Therapeutic Massage

Perhaps the most well-known form of therapeutic massage. Typically long, relaxing strokes primarily used for full-body massage and stress relief. This soothing technique incorporates gliding, kneading and compressing strokes to improve circulation and lymphatic flow. Deeper strokes may also be used to break down adhesions which may develop in muscle or other soft-tissue. Adhesions most commonly occur after surgery, injury or in areas of chronic body tension.

Deep Tissue Work

This includes Neuromuscular techniques, Cyriax Cross Fiber Friction, Trigger Point Therapy and Myofascial Release, all of which are designed to help the body release chronic injury, realign scar tissue, remove noxious nodules of waste, and release adhesions.

Muscle Energy Techniques

Also called PNF, these simple techniques allow muscle re-education, permitting greater range of motion. Most often used after an injury to "reset" a muscle (or series of muscles).


Trager utilizes rhythmic rocking movements to relax the body and mind. This style provides movement re-education for the body. The goal of this massage style utilizes movement to loosen the joints. Trager is considered a "massage from the inside-out."

Sports Massage

Consists of specific components designed to provide warm-up, reduce injuries, alleviate inflammation, etc. For amateur and professional athletes before, during, after, and within training regimens to help athletes obtain maximum performance, quicker recovery, while lessening chance of injury.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)

MLD assists and accelerates healing during the acute stage of injury or trauma. It blends soothing, gentle, rhythmic, precise wave-like movements increasing the movement of lymphatic fluid in the body.

Chair Massage

An invigorating 10 to 20 minute employee performance "booster" massage that helps to reduce stress and increase productivity. Provided at the work site. (See Chair Massage for additional information.)

Energy Work

Humans are energetic beings and massage helps to balance our energy. Styles include Zen Shiatsu which is based on ancient Chinese medicine, and balances the body's Qi (energy, or life force) to keep body systems in perfect harmony. Varying degrees of pressure is applied along points and meridians (pathways of energy flow) throughout the body to encourage and balance the flow of energy and promote well-being. Polarity Therapy is a gentle, holistic method of therapeutic massage applicable to numerous health concerns and useful in a personal health maintenance regimen. Polarity Therapy is central to this concept of a life energy, which is in constant pulsation from positive to negative poles via a neutral position, creating fields and energetic lines of force. Reflexology eliminates tension, improves circulation, and stimulates the body's natural healing process using a scientific foot massage. Based on "the feet are a 'mini-map' of the body" principal, and each body part and organ corresponds to a specific area of the foot. A steady pressure is applied to specific points, freeing blockages in the nervous system and improving energy flow. (See Reflexology Map for additional information.)