5 Common Massage Therapy Techniques

5 common massage therapy techniques

Registered massage therapists here in British Columbia have been trained to use many diverse techniques. There are dozens of techniques to be learned and variations of each of them. As a therapist grows into their training, they typically drift towards the techniques that they feel to be the most effective for their practice. Therapists often combine several techniques within one treatment to address the concerns of their clients. For example, if a client presents with a swollen ankle, the therapist may incorporate some light techniques such as lymphatic drainage to the affected area, but apply deeper pressure techniques to the back, neck or shoulders.

Here is a description of 5 popular techniques that one may encounter during a treatment here in British Columbia.

Trigger Point Therapy

This technique focuses on releasing trigger points in the muscles that could be causing localized or referred pain. For example, tension headaches may be caused by tight muscles in your shoulders. When the therapist applies constant pressure to these tender trigger points, the muscle knot should release and the pain will decrease, both in your shoulder and in your head!

Myofascial Therapy

This technique targets the fascia, which is a thin tissue that surrounds every structure within the body. The therapist doesn’t use lotion or oils, as the goal is to target the tissue directly under the skin and deeper structures without sliding over the skin. The technique is applied slowly with a sustained pressure on whatever body part is being targeted.

Lymphatic Massage

This technique is used to help with any swelling, edema or inflammation in the body. This is an effective technique for people who have compromised lymph systems or if lymph nodes have been removed during surgery, for example with mastectomy patients. The technique is very light with specific swooping movements from the hands. The goal is to target the lymph vessels which are very superficial and will easily collapse with deeper pressure.

Swedish Massage

This is the most familiar of all the techniques and is used primarily for relaxation. Swedish massage techniques include effleurage (long gliding strokes), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (percussive motions with the palms or fists), friction (circular or cross fiber movements) and vibration (shaking and rocking of the body).

Deep Tissue Massage 

This technique is applied with firm pressure with the intent of releasing muscle tension and adhesions in both superficial and deep structures. This technique should always be done within the comfort level of the client. Pressure that is too deep will cause the client to tighten up, and be counterproductive to the goal of decreasing muscle tension!

Whatever techniques your therapist chooses to use, ensure that you are comfortable with the technique and that it produces the results you are seeking!



While there may be information related to certain medical conditions and their treatment on this website, please consult your doctor or other healthcare professional to determine if a treatment described in the website is appropriate for you. 

Kirsten Hammond is a Registered Massage Therapist and owner of Evolutions Massage Therapy Clinic- Saanich, BC & Sidney, BC & Brentwood Bay, BC