Common types of massage techniques explained

Common types of massage techniques explained

If you’re needing a massage but you’re not sure which type is right for you, tune in! Here we explain some of the most popular varieties.


When it comes to massages, not all are created equal.

Different techniques are designed to achieve different outcomes. Some massage styles may focus on certain parts of the body, while others are more holistic.

Here are some of the common types of massage techniques explained.

Swedish massage

Swedish massage is a whole-body massage that’s primarily designed to relax the body. “It’s actually the first skillset when learning how to massage,” Chisholm massage teacher and course co-ordinator Neil Minto says.

The therapist will usually use a combination of kneading, circular motions, long strokes towards the heart and gentle joint movements.

“Usually it’s all across the back, down the back and front of the legs, sometimes the abdomen, arms and face,” says Neil. “You start light, go a bit deeper and then come back to light. It’s more of a general whole-body massage to relax.”

Swedish massage is best for those who are looking for a lighter touch and more of a relaxing experience.

Deep-tissue massage

Among the benefits, deep-tissue massage can help alleviate muscular soreness and tightness, enhance balance and prevent injury.

Expect your massage therapist to use deep finger pressure to relieve tight spots from the underlaying areas of your muscles and connective tissues.

You may find the massage uncomfortable at times, but afterwards you will likely feel some improvement.

Trigger-point therapy

Trigger-point massages are designed to release trigger points in the body that hold tension and cause pain. In some instances, these tight areas can refer pain to other parts of the body.

If you feel like you have knotted muscles, trigger-point therapy may work wonders.

Therapists usually use broad, flowing strokes to release your trigger points and get to the source of the problem.

Sports massage

As the name implies, sports massage is for those who have a musculoskeletal issue associated with playing sport.

Issues like tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, hamstring or calf strains, or shoulder impingements may all be treated with sports massage.

The therapist may focus on specific areas needing relief, or they may conduct a full-body massage using deep pressure and strokes to knead tightness. They may also suggest stretching techniques to help with any issues.


Reflexology is a technique whereby gentle to firm pressure is applied to the feet. This is usually done without cream or oil.

Reflexology is said to relax the body and release blockages in specific areas that cause pain or illness.

If you’re not keen on undressing for a full-body massage or you don’t feel comfortable being touched elsewhere, this option could be a good introduction to massage.


Aromatherapy massage incorporates essential oils into the massage treatment. The oils may be applied to your skin (diluted) directly and/or you may inhale them through a diffuser.

This type of massage is often associated with emotional healing, and is said to relieve muscle tension, reduce stress, anxiety and depression and enhance your mood.

Hot stone massage

As the name implies, hot stone massage uses heated stones to relax and massage the body. The therapist may use the stones in addition to massaging with their hands.

From easing muscle tension to improving blood flow, there are all sorts of therapeutic benefits to hot stone massage.

Indian head massage

Originating in India, this type of massage focusses on acupressure points along the head, face, neck and shoulders.

It has been practiced for thousands of years in India to relax and unwind, based on Ayurvedic philosophy.

Proponents say it helps with stress, tension, mental fatigue, headaches and mood issues, among other benefits.

Remedial massage

Remedial massage is the title of a qualification, rather than a type of massage.

It involves targeted treatment for pain, injury or specific musculoskeletal issues. Pressure can be strong and deep or gentle and shallow, depending on what the therapist is treating.

“Therapists have that based skillset of the Swedish massage, so the relaxation side of things, but they then add on top of that trigger-point therapy, myofascial release and a few other different skillsets like stretching techniques.”

If you have neck, shoulder or back pain, headaches, arthritis, chronic pain, fatigue, mood disorders or sports or other injuries, remedial massage may help.


Like remedial massage, a common misconception is that myotherapy is a type of massage. However, it’s actually the title of a qualification.

Myotherapists treat and prevent soft tissue pain and join movement immobility caused by muscle or myofascial dysfunction.

During the consultation, the myotherapist will ask a lot of questions to understand your issue. They will assess the affected areas of the body and work with you to figure out the best treatment plan.

Treatments may include massage (usually remedial techniques), dry needling, trigger-point therapy, joint mobilisation, and other techniques.

Are you keen to know more about our where a career in massage can take you? Learn about our massage qualifications today.