Skip to main content
Blue Pacific Massage   Benefits of Massage  Your Massage Therapist  Specials  Yoga  On Site Chair Massage   
Massage Techniques > Picture Example > Frequently Asked Question >  
Massage Techniques

Massage Modalities
      Scroll Down for Definitions of the Different Massage Modalities
Swedish Massage
Swedish massage uses five styles of long flowing strokes. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber) and vibration/shaking. Swedish Massage refers to a variety of techniques designed to relax muscles by applying pressure to them against deeper muscles and bones, and rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart. Swedish Massage may provide relief from stiffness, numbness, pain, constipation, and other health problems. The main purpose of Swedish massage is to increase the oxygen flow in the blood and release toxins from the muscles.The lymph system and veins (whichcarry blood back to the heart) both rely on muscle action, rather than heart pump pressure, to operate. Many believe it is safe to apply light pressure in the opposite direction.Other possible benefits include stimulation of circulation, an increase in muscle tone, and a balance of the musculo-skeletal systems. Swedish massage shortens recovery time from muscular strain by flushing the tissues of lactic acid, uric acid, and other metabolic wastes. It increases circulation without increasing heart load. Swedish Massage also stimulates the skin  and nervous system while at the same time relaxing the nerves themselves. As it can help reduce emotional and physical stress it is often recommended as part of a regular  program for stress management. It also has  specific clinical uses in a medical or remedial therapy.

Deep Tissue
Deep tissue massage is a type of massage aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia, also called connective tissue. Deep tissue massage uses many of the same movements and techniques as Swedish massage, but the pressure will generally be more intense. It is also a more focused type of massage, as the therapist works to release chronic muscle tension or knots (also known as "adhesions.") at times using the thumb, fingers, fist, elbow and forearm and some therapists may use different mechanical aids Deep tissue massage is used to release chronic muscle tension through slower strokes and more direct deep pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles not with the grain. Deep tissue massage helps to break up and eliminate scar tissue. Deep tissue massage usually focuses on more specific areas and may cause some soreness during or right after the massage. However, if the massage is done correctly you should feel better than ever within a day or two.

Acupressure therapy utilizes the same principles of acupuncture. In acupressure, the same points on the body are used as they are in acupuncture,using finger pressure instead of the insertion of needles. Acupressure is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which relies on applying pressure to certain points of the body to relieve the symptoms of various complaints. It is also a form of bodywork; many massage therapists integrate acupressure into their massage treatments. An acupressure session may leave the client feeling energized, and usually less stressed as well, acupressure can also relieve an assortment of symptoms. Acupressure aims to restore the flow of energy throughout the body, thereby promoting health and well-being Acupressure, continues to be the most effective method for self-treatment of tension-related ailments by using the power and sensitivity of the human hand. Acupressure can be effective in helping relieve headaches, eye strain, sinus problems, neck pain, backaches, arthritis, muscle aches, tension due to stress, ulcer pain, menstrual cramps, lower backaches, constipation, and indigestion. Self-acupressure can also be used to relieve anxiety and improve sleep. There are also great advantages to using acupressure as a way to balance the body and maintain good health. The healing touch of acupressure reduces tension, increases circulation, and enables the body to relax deeply. By relieving stress, acupressure strengthens resistance to disease and promotes wellness.
Trigger Point
Trigger points are hyperirritable nodules associated with dysfunctional contractile tissue that illicit a pain response when digital pressure is applied. There are several different classifications of trigger points depending on where they are located and whether they refer pain
when palpated. Trigger points are classified by Travell and Simons (Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction, second edition, 1998) according to their response to pressure and their location. An active myofascial trigger point is a hypersensitive spot associated with a palpable nodule
located in a taut band of muscles that prevents full lengthening of the muscle and refers pain or other defineable sensations to referal areas when digitally compressed. A latent myofascial trigger point is tender when compressed but does not refer pain to other areas. Latent trigger points can become active trigger points with continued stress. A primary or key trigger point in one muscle can activate a satelite trigger point in another muscle. When the key trigger point is inactivated the satelite trigger point also inactivates. A Satelite trigger point forms as a direct result of dysfunction of the primary myofascial trigger point. When pressure is applied to the trigger point a sensation of pain, tingling, numbness, or some other sensation radiates from that point to another area of the body that is not associated by nerve or dermatomal segment. If this happens that point is defined as an active trigger point deactivating that trigger point often relieves the related pain. The trigger point is the most tender point in the band. The therapist will locate and deactivate them using finger, knuckles, or elbow pressure. One technique is to pick up the muscle fibers in a pincer grip. Trigger-point therapy uses a combination of stretching and deep manual pressure applied to specific trigger points to relax the knotted muscles and break the cycle of pain.
Reflexology is a system of massage used to relieve tension and treat illness, based on the theory that there are reflex points on the feet, hands, and head linked to every part of the body. Based on  ancient Chinese therapy, reflexology involves manipulation of specific reflex areas in
the foot, hands, and ears that correspond to other parts of the body. Sometimes referred to as zone therapy, that which involves application of pressure to these reflex zones to stimulate body organs and relieve areas of congestion. Reflexologists believe that the act of applying pressure to various reflex points results in a reduction of stress which, in turn, promotes positive physiological changes within the body. Reflexology sessions are thought to improve the functioning of the circulatory system, allowing nutrients to flow throughout the body more efficient, it is also thought to improve the supply of blood the muscles, helping to relax the muscles and reduce tension. It is believed the application of reflexology procedures relieves pain and benefits many autoimmune problems. Reflexology is also believed to decreases the pain associated with inflammation while reducing the swelling that may result from injury. Stimulation of the lymphatic reflexes not only helps to reduce edema from an injury but also the edema that may arise from a defective kidney or circulatory problem. A large majority of clients who experience reflexology sessions find them to be pleasant, and relaxing experiences.
Shiatsu is Japanese for "finger pressure;" it is considered an alternative medicine. The use of finger and palm pressure, stretches, and other massage techniques some using the  hands, thumbs, elbows and knees. Shiatsu acupressure massage uses merely the same points as acupuncture. The basic acupressure healing techniques are applied on the twelve body meridians. Along these energy meridians are situated the acupressure points. The pressure on the points is made slowly and soft but deep.Shiatsu is may alleviate disorders such as depression, anxiety, nausea, stiffness, headaches, arthritis, cramps, or pulled muscle.

Sports Massage
Sports massage is a form of bodywork geared toward participants in athletics.  It is used to help prevent injuries, to prepare the body for athletic activity and maintain it in top notch condition, and to help athletes recover from workouts and injuries. There are 3 basic forms in sports massage, pre-event massage, post-event massage, and maintenance massage. Sports massage is that which addresses specific needs of athletes and may considt of Swedish massage, cross-fiber friction massage, deep compression massage, trigger point therapy, deep tissue and so on depending on what results your looking to achieve. Timing During training, before or after events, to enhance performance, or promote healing  post injury. A person does not need to be a top tier athlete to benefit from sports massage. Anyone who exercises or seeks to improve their overall physical fitness may benefit from the massage treatment.
Hot Stone Massage
Hot Stone Massage is using stones that are immersed in water and heated in an electric heating device until they are within a certain temperature range. The stones may be placed at specific points on the back, in the palms of the hand, or between the toes.The hot stones are usually made of basalt, a type of rock that is rich in iron, so they retain heat. Techniques used during hot stone therapy include massaging or stroking the body with a heated stone, Cold stones may be used on areas of inflammation or muscle injury. The heat warms and relaxes the muscles, which allows the therapist to apply deeper pressure, if desired. The warmth of the hot stones improves circulation and calms the nervous system. Some massage therapists place stones on points that are thought to be energy centers of the body to rebalance the body and mind.The heat can help relieve muscle tension and allow the body to relax and be at ease. A hot stone massage can also help with inflammation, injury, back pain, poor circulation, osteoarthritis, arthritis pain, stress, insomnia, calm nervous system, and even mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, positive effects of hot stone massage include cardiovascular health as the blood will better circulate, musculoskeletal systems as it wears away the tenseness and the nervous system benefits from the relaxation you will experience.The use of stones for healing purposes dates back thousands of years.
Aromatherapy is the ancient science of healing, relaxing and energizing by the use of plants and their parts. The massage in Aromatherapy will concentrate on more relaxing strokes, while the selection of essential oil used during the massage will create the effects desired, since they are chosen for their therapeutic effect, and not the fragrance as such.Each essential oil has different healing properties. For example, some calm while others energize.
Polarity therapy is a holistic, energy-based system that includes bodywork, diet,for the purpose of restoring and maintaining proper energy flows throughout the body. The underlying concept of polarity therapy is that all energy within the human body is based in electromagnetic force and that disease results from improperly dissipated energy. Polarity therapy, a form of energy healing, works by aligning and unblocking the human energy fields inside of the body by working with the whole person including their body, spirit and mind. A polarity therapist can use a variety of techniques from light to deep bodywork, nutrition, cleansing, yoga and movement. The Polarity practitioner uses the reverberation of the energy in the hands to establish harmony in patterns of energy in the Client and to release tension and to re-establish a pattern where the body can heal

Neuromuscular Therapy
Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) is a very specialized form of manual therapy. By definition, Neuromuscular Therapy is the utilization of static pressure on specific myofascial points to relieve pain. This technique manipulates the soft tissue of the body (muscles, tendons and connective tissue) to balance the central nervous system. In a healthy individual, nerves transmit impulses to the body very slowly. Injury, trauma, postural distortion or stress cause nerves to speed up their transmission, inhibiting equilibrium and making the body vulnerable to pain and dysfunction. It is therefore necessary to stabilize low levels of neurological activity to maintain normal function and overall health. As a therapy, NMT enhances the function of joints, muscles and biomechanics (movement) and it releases endorphins, the body's own natural pain killers. It is an effective part of a comprehensive massage therapy program, complementing all other health care modalities.
Neuromuscular therapy is used to address these 5 elements that cause pain, Ischemia, lack of blood supply to soft tissues which causes hypersensitivity to touch.TriggerPoints, those highly irritated points in muscles which refer pain to other parts of the body. Nerve Compression, pressure on a nerve by soft tissue, cartilage or bone. Postural Distortion, the imbalance of the muscular system resulting from the movement of the body off the longitudinal and horizontal planes. Biomechanical Dysfunction, imbalance of the musculoskeletal system resulting in faulty movement patterns such as poor lifting habits, bad body mechanics daily activities, during sports and recreation activities or everyday work activities. With neuromuscular therapy your therapist will apply pressure for 8-12 seconds to each area being treated which prompts a therapeutic response in the tissues. If pressure is too light, it does not produce the necessary stimulation of nerve receptors to produce the desired therapeutic response. Although, pressing too hard or too long can cause the body to treat the pressure as an intrusion, which may trigger an autonomic reaction resulting on tightening of the area, particularly if there is inflammation in the tissues. Optimal success is achieved by applying pressure to trigger points or ischemic areas 3-4 times for 8-12 seconds rather than a longer duration. This is because the therapist's goal is to interrupt the physiopathological reflex circuits.
Manual Lymph Drainage Massage
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a type of gentle massage which is intended to encourage the natural circulation of the lymph through the body, pioneered by Dr. Emil Vodder in the 1930s for the treatment of chronic sinusitis and other immune disorders.The lymph system depends on intrinsic contractions of the smooth muscle cells in the walls of lymph vessels (peristalsis) and the movement of skeletal muscles to propel lymph through the vessels to lymph nodes and then beyond the lymph nodes to the lymph ducts which return lymph to the cardiovascular system. The primary function of the lymph system is to defend the body against disease by cleansing, detoxifying and nourishing the body's tissues. Thus, when the lymph system is blocked, toxins and plasma may accumulate causing interference with cell nourishment and depressing the immune system. Symptoms that are said to respond well to MLD are a weakened immune system, chronic congestion (sinus etc), rheumatoid arthritis and the healing of wounds, burns and scars. MLD is also often incorporated into the treatment and control of Lymphoedema. Manual lymph drainage uses a specific amount of pressure and rhythmic circular movements to stimulate lymph flow.
During the 1940s biochemist and philosopher Ida Rolf PhD created a therapeutic system she called structural integration. The name that has stuck for her work is Rolfing. Rolfing helps to improve posture and bring the body's natural structure into proper balance and alignment. This can bring relief from general aches and pains, improve breathing, increase energy, improve self-confidence, and relieve physical and mental stress. Rolfing has also been used to treat such specific physical problems as chronic back, neck, shoulder, and joint pain, and repetitive stress injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome. Many amateur and professional athletes, including Olympic skaters and skiers, use Rolfing to keep in top condition, to prevent injuries, and to more quickly recover from injuries.
Reiki considered a spiritual practice that was developed in 1922 by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui.These teachings were continued and adapted by various teachers. This technique commonly called palm healing and considered a form of complementary and alternative medicine and is sometimes classified as oriental medicine by some professionals.When using this technique practitioners claim to transfer healing energy in the form of ki through the palms.The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words - Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and Ki which is "life force energy." Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit.Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. Reiki practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above the person receiving treatment, with the goal of facilitating the person's own healing response.People use Reiki to promote overall health and well-being. Reiki is also used by people who are seeking relief from disease-related symptoms and the side effects of conventional medical treatments. Reiki energy has several basic effects: it brings about deep relaxation, destroys energy blockages, detoxifies the system, provides new vitality in the form of healing universal life energy. Although there are a few positions in which the practitioner is in contact with the patient (such as cradling the head), most Reiki treatments do not involve actual touching. The practitioner holds his or her hands a few inches or farther away from the patient's body and manipulates the energy field from there.
Pre Natal Massage
Pre Natal or pregnancy massage is way to reduce stress and promote overall wellness. Massage relieves many of the normal discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as backaches, stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches and edema (or swelling). In addition, massage reduces stress on weight-bearing joints, encourages blood and lymph circulation, helps to relax nervous tension-which aids in better sleep-and can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes. The mother's body must be properly positioned and supported during the massage, using pillows and padding. Proper positioning ensures comfort and safety for the mother and baby, some massage techniques, such as deep tissue work, cannot be used. Certain areas of the body should be avoided during pregnancy.
Post Natal Massage
Regular massage during the Post Partum period can be very beneficial to the new mom. Physical discomforts and symptoms are addressed, as well as your emotional state.Massage benefits include Re-establishing pelvis structural integrity, supports healthy lactation, reduces stress hormones, facilitates the healing of bladder disorders, post-episiotomy soreness, helps to relieve neck, shoulder and back pain, supports a healthy emotional state and aids in maternal bonding. Myofascial stretching of the scar tissue that forms after a Cesarean Section helps your scar support without restricting.
Infant Massage
Infant Massage offers many benefits to both you and your baby. Usually infant massage is done by the mother, father or primary care giver. Benefits of infant massage include helping you to learn about your baby, relaxes parents, promotes a pleasurable experience, stimulates production of oxytocin (Oxytocin is a hormone which can be produced by both male and female persons during massage. It is useful as a pain reliever and has a calming effect on the person.) Helps baby feel loved, promotes better sleep patterns, facilitates body awareness. boosts immune system, sensory stimulation, improves blood circulation, helps digestion, balances respiration, relief for teething pains, help waste elimination. Many Practitioners do infant massage but most are trained to teach the parent the different techniques used.
Watsu performed in a pool of warm waist deep water. Watsu incorporates stretching, massage, joint mobilization, breathing exercises, and dance with Shiatsu to relax the body and ease the mind. This type of bodywork is recommended for a wide range of people including older individuals because Watsu is gentle and nurturing, far less invasive than some other massage techniques such as myofascial release or deep tissue. Watsu massage involves a series of continuous flowing movements and stretches. The warm water supports your body weight and at the same time relaxes your muscles. The series of movements and stretches are so gentle and harmonious that most patients do not even realize that their body muscles are being stretched and massaged. Watsu massage helps to release muscular and joint restrictions, relaxes the body and mind, and promotes stretching of the muscles. watsu helps to correct ailments and promote healing. The name Watsu is derived from the words ‘Water’ and ‘Shiatsu’.

Petrissage is a kneading, squeezing, wringing or lifting of the skin or underlying soft tissue. It too can be done superficially or deep. Variations of Petrissage are frequently used to release restricted fascia or to break up adhesions.
Tapotement (also called percussion) is a rapid, rhythmic, compression of the tissue. It can be done with the fingers, closed fist, or flats of the hands. It is frequently used in Sports Massage and is used to stimulate the tissues. It can also be effective to overcome drowsiness and restore
Vibration includes jostling, shaking, rocking, and quivering motions. It can be done both slowly and gently (very relaxing), or rapidly and with vigor (to stimulate or tonify).
Friction is specific circular or transverse movements, generally across the grain of fiber of the underlying tissues. It is not a sliding/gliding action like Effleurage and is focused on a confined area. A variation called Cyriax Cross Fiber Friction is a very specific treatment technique frequently used to break up adhesions and scar tissue.