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Types Of Bodywork/Modalities

Massage and Bodywork – General Discussion

In general, there are two basic categories of massage and/or bodywork: Spa/Relaxation and Medical/Treatment. I did not say "therapeutic" because even spa sessions can be therapeutic.

As for specific modalities, there are literally dozens from which to choose. When most people think of massage, they think of basic Swedish massage. This consists of long, gliding strokes (effleurage), kneading and squeezing (petrissage), rubbing (friction) and tapping (tapotement). All of these techniques can be done light or deep and for either relaxation or treatment. They can be therapeutic because they affect heart rate, circulation and blood pressure. They are also effective in treating various muscle aches and pains, sprains and strains.

But they just scratch the surface of what can be done by some of the advanced, specialized modalities.

Here is a sample list from “The Encyclopedia of Bodywork” by Elaine Stillerman. Actinotherapy, Acupressure, Acupuncture, Alexander Technique, AMMA therapy, Applied Kinesiology, Aromatherapy, Aston-Patterning, Aura Therapy, Ayuervedic Medicine, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Bindegewebsmassage, Bioenergetics, Bowen, Breema, Chi Nei Tsang, Cupping, Deep Tissue, Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, Esalen Massage, Feldenkreis, Hellerwork, Hydrotherapy, Johrei, Light Therapy, Lymphatic Drainage, Moxibustion, Muscle Energy Work, Myofascial Release, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT), Ortho-Bionomy, Polarity Therapy, Qigong, Reflexology, Reiki, Rolfing, Rosen, Russian, Shiatsu, Swedish, Thai, Therapeutic Touch, Tibetan, Touch for Health, Trager, Trigger Point Therapy, Watsu, Yoga, Zero Balancing, Zone Therapy.

The above list is only a portion of what she lists in her encyclopedia. And her encyclopedia is NOT all inclusive. As examples, she does not list Craniosacral Therapy and only one form of Lymphatic Drainage (there are actually several ways to do lymphatic work). Nor does she list Acutonics, which is working with the acupoints and meridians vibrationally using precision tuning forks. In addition, many of the individual modalities can more appropriately be grouped under umbrella headings. For example, Alexander, Feldenkreis, Heller, all forms of Myofascial Release including MFR and Rolfing, can be grouped together under the catch-all category of Structural Integration work.

Modalities that I have found particularly effective for soft tissue dysfunctions, and ones I specifically recommend, are Myofascial Release (MFR), Craniosacral Therapy (CST), Acupressure, Lymphatic Drainage Therapy, Polarity Therapy, and Directed Energy.

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