Three Common Massage Modalities

In the Western world, the term “massage” typically generates thoughts of a specific type of massage, even though there are lots of different types.  Each of these different types of Euro-spa massage has different origins and also serves different health needs. Let’s take a look at a few of these types of massage and how they can help you.


That “massage” mentioned above is this type: Swedish massage.  Most people in the West who say they need a massage or book an appointment for a massage are typically interested in Swedish massage. As a matter of fact, this is the most popular type of massage in the world because it is quite effective at relieving tension and stress without extreme pressure or painful methodology.  Swedish massage relies on consistent, medium pressure and varying strokes to encourage blood flow and speed healing. There are three varying strokes:

    • Effleurage—long and sweeping, these are the first strokes applied as they are intended to warm up the muscles and lengthen them before deeper, more effective work can be applied; these strokes are also applied at the end of the massage to restore balance
    • Petrissage—this is the deeper tissue kneading and rolling strokes that introduce more heat through the use of friction from fingertips, thumbs, and knuckles to address more specific tension issues
    • Tapotement—percussive and rhythmic, this tapping and fast pounding “stroke” looks and feels a bit like chopping, and is used to increase blood flow in order to warm—and relax—specific problem areas


Essentially, “deep tissue massage” is just a more intense, concentrated form of Swedish massage, though is not necessarily intended for whole body relaxation.  Swedish massage is used more often for general health benefits, whereas deep tissue massage is not something you would pursue all the time.  Deep tissue massage can be “painful” but the pain should be a type of relief, if the pressure is applied correctly.  The goal is to release tension that may be trapped deeper in the muscle or in deeper muscle layers.


Trigger point massage, basically, branches off of deep tissue massage, applying similarly strong technique to very specific areas of the body.  This modality is specifically designed to focus on releasing isolated spots of tension and not necessarily overall muscle relaxation as a whole (like you would achieve through a Swedish massage, for example).