Massage Therapy Types – Deep Tissue, Trigger Point and Swedish Massage

There are dozens of massage therapy types and techniques. Knowing what they are and what they do is sometimes confusing. It is hard to ask for a particular type of massage if you do not know what it is called or even what it will do for you. Here we will try to break the mystery into an understandable list of some commonly practiced massage types and what they do.


Massage is the practice of soft tissue manipulation with physical, functional, and in some cases psychological purposes and goals. It involves acting on and manipulating the client’s body with pressure (structured, unstructured, stationary, and/or moving), tension, motion, or vibration done manually or with mechanical aids. Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, forearm, and feet.

Massage can be performed by a massage therapist, or by other health care professionals, such as chiropractors, osteopaths, athletic trainers, and/or physical therapists.  Massage therapists work in a variety of medical and recreational settings and may travel to private residences or businesses.

Deep Tissue 

Deep tissue massage uses deep muscle compression and friction along the grain of the muscle. Deep tissue massage is also called deep muscle therapy or deep tissue therapy. It is a massage technique that focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue and requires more skill and strength than a Swedish massage.

Deep tissue massage helps to break up and eliminate scar tissue. Deep connective tissue massage is a form of intense massage that aims to release myofascial (connective tissue) restrictions in the body, and to break up any restrictive scar tissue.

Deeper strokes can also be used to break down adhesion in muscle and connective tissue, which is common after injury and in areas of body tension. Using deep muscle therapy tools allow both patient and caregivers to apply the same kind of pressure to painful muscles as a regular part of everyday self-care.

Trigger Point Massage 

Trigger Point utilizes ischemic compression of individual areas of hypersensitivity in muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia. Also called a pressure point massage, this involves stimulating hypothetical trigger points that may refer pain sensations to other parts of the body. These trigger points are defined by their referral of pain to distant locations in muscles, connective tissues and organs. Trigger points can present themselves as referred patterns of sensation such as sharp pain, dull ache, tingling, pins and needles, hot or cold, as well as can create symptoms such as nausea, earache, equilibrium disturbance or blurred vision.

Trigger points generally occur in more than one location. Trigger points cause muscle shortening with secondary weakness and decreased range of motion, which can be observed. They can be felt by palpating the muscles; trigger points will consist of tender, hard (or ropy) knots or nodules surrounded by what feels like normal muscle tissue.

Trigger Point Therapy applies pressure to these Nyheter points leading to immediate release of tension and improved muscular functioning. The therapist locates and deactivates `trigger points’, which are often tender areas where muscles have been damaged or acquired a re-occurring spasm or `kink’ that worsens painfully when aggravated. Due to the location of many trigger points, performing trigger point therapy on yourself can be awkward at best, without the use of tools. Manipulating a trigger point elicits referred pain and often slight nausea.

Swedish Massage

A Swedish massage is not related to the country of Sweden, where massages are quite uncommon. Swedish massage, a lighter relaxing massage, aims to increase the oxygen flow in the blood and release toxins from the muscles.

Swedish massage is perhaps the most well known type of massage. This soothing technique incorporates gliding, kneading and compressing strokes, improving circulation and lymph flow. Swedish massage therapy is comprised of five basic strokes and their variations: effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotement (or percussion) and vibration.

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