Table 1

Proposed taxonomy of massage practice

Level


Principal Goals of Treatment

Relaxation Massage

Clinical Massage

Movement Re-education

Energy Work

Intention

Relax muscles, move body fluids, promote wellness

Accomplish specific goals such as releasing muscle spasms

Induce sense of freedom, ease and lightness in body

Hypothesized to free energy blockages

Commonly Used Styles (examples*)

Swedish massage, spa massage

Sports massage

Myofascial trigger point therapy

Myofascial release

Strain counterstrain

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation

Strain counterstrain

Trager

Acupressure

Reiki

Polarity

Therapeutic

Touch

Tuina

Commonly Techniques (examples**)

Gliding

Kneading

Friction

Holding

Percussion

Vibration

Direct pressure

Skin rolling

Resistive stretching

Stretching – manual

Cross-fiber friction

Contract-relax

Passive stretching

Resistive stretching

Rocking

Direction of energy

Smoothing

Direct pressure

Holding

Rocking

Traction


* While some styles of massage are commonly used in addressing one of the four principal treatment goals, some may be used to address several distinct treatment goals.

** By varying the intent (or purpose) for a technique, many of them can be used in massages with different principal treatment goals.

Sherman et al. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2006 6:24   doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-24

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