Three Common Massage Modalities

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You would have a hard time finding a person who doesn’t like a good Euro-Spa massage—and those who say they don’t care for it probably have never actually had a good massage.

But what, exactly, is a good massage?


Well, the purpose of massage, of course, is to release tension in the muscles sometimes this can be localized in—as in the shoulders or the feet—there are many different types that can help provide specific health benefits.


The most common type of massage therapy sought today, this what most people refer to when they talk about massage.  Swedish massage, though, is really a combination of a few basic movements (which can be common to various types of massage):

  • Effleurage: long, sweeping strokes, typically at the start and end of a massage; used as a kind of warm-up and cool-down of the muscles (a bit like stretching before and after exercise
  • Petrissage: kneading and rolling the muscles, like with dough
  • Friction: applying deep pressure to problem spots using knuckles, fingertips, or the thumbs
  • Tapotement: rhythmic tapping and sometimes fast, percussive movements—like chopping or even, sometimes, pounding

This type of massage is best as an every-day, multipurpose solution tension issues.  It can release cramped muscles and is great for overall relaxation.


While Swedish massage provides a generalized benefit to the body, as a whole, a deep tissue massage applies pressure to specific trouble points.  In addition, while Swedish massage is relaxing, deep tissue massage can be painful and torturous thanks to the heavily focused pressure and kneading of severely knotted muscles using elbows or the knuckles.

This modality may not appear attractive but athletes, especially, find it helpful, particularly in its ability to encourage quicker healing.  In terms of healing, too, this modality can also well suit those in physical therapy recovering from injury.


Much like deep tissue massage, Trigger Point Massage focuses on releasing tension in very specific areas of the body. This type of massage is not designed for overall relaxation as the massage therapist will use this particular modality to target only problem muscles.  While this massage does use some deep pressure techniques similar to deep tissue, it does not target muscles; instead it focuses on releasing trigger points.

A trigger point is a specific, tight area within muscle tissue which can cause pain somewhere else in the body.  This is why you can have a sore back that causes neck pain which then causes a headache.  Basically, then, this therapy involves relieving cramping among a series of connected muscles.

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