When it comes to massage therapy, there is a vast diversity in the techniques used and its application. However, all forms of therapeutic massage are a result of the same idea. The aim, for massage therapy in general, and for each massage type in particular, is to restore balance between the mind, body, and spirit. As a result, this then makes a positive contribution to a person’s overall sense of health and well-being.
The therapeutic massage tree
There are several different branches on the therapeutic massage tree. These branches represent a number of different therapeutic approaches to the practice of massage.
The Asian branch, for instance, includes therapeutic approaches such as:
- Amma massage.
- Tibetan point holding.
- Thai massage.
All of the massage types found on the Asian branch of the therapeutic massage tree include methods that are derived from traditional Chinese medicinal practice as well as other ancient Asian forms of massage therapy.
Structural and postural integration branch
The structural and postural integration branch of the therapeutic massage tree includes the following types of massage:
- Bindegewebs massage.
- Rolfing massage.
- Looyen work.
- Pfimmer deep muscle therapy.
- Soma bodywork.
- Bowen therapy.
This branch of the tree includes unique techniques that primarily focus on the connective tissue structure of the human body in an effort to positively influence posture as well as biomechanics.
A third branch of the therapeutic massage tree is the neuromuscular branch, which includes:
- Neuromuscular techniques.
- Trager massage.
- Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation.
- Trigger point therapies.
The main aim of these massage types is activation of the tonus receptor mechanism, stimulation of the reflex arch and positional receptors, and the applications of stretching and lengthening.
Manual lymphatic drainage branch
The manual lymphatic drainage branch of the therapeutic massage tree, which includes Vodder lymphatic drainage massage, originates from the basic premise that systemic movement of lymphatic fluid through the applied use of mechanical and reflexive techniques can produce positive contributions to overall health and well-being.
Energetic or biofield branch
The energetic branch of the therapeutic massage tree, sometimes referred to as the biofield branch, includes massage types such as:
- Polarity massage.
- Therapeutic touch.
- Zero balancing.
These systematic approaches which, much like the Asian branch of the therapeutic massage tree, are based on ancient ideas regarding patterns of body energy, incorporate various methods of touch in an effort to stimulate reflexive responses.
Craniosacral and myofascial branch
Massage types found on the craniosacral and myofascial branch of the therapeutic massage tree include the following:
- Craniosacral massage therapy.
- Myofascial release.
- Soft tissue mobilization.
- Deep tissue massage.
- Connective tissue massage.
- Cross-fiber friction methods.
These types of massage focus uniquely on the many aspects of both mechanical as well as reflexive functions of connective tissue in the human body.
Applied kinesiology branch
Touch for health, applied physiology, educational kinesiology, and three-in-one approaches to massage therapy can be found on the applied kinesiology branch of the therapeutic massage tree. These massage types, which tend to blend aspects of other techniques with regard to approach, tend to focus primarily on reflexive mechanism of the human body.
Lastly, there are also many types of massage therapy that are designed for a specific group or groups of people and incorporate combinations of different approaches to massage based on physiologic interventions. Some of these approaches to massage therapy include sports massage, infant massage, seated massage, and prenatal massage.
Though there have been, and continue to be, a vast number of different approaches to massage therapy, the ultimate aim with regard to the practice of massage remains the same. From ancient techniques to newly developed approaches, the goal of massage therapy is to make a positive contribution to a person’s overall sense of health and well-being by attempting to restore balance to the mind, body, and spirit. That is the ultimate aim of each type of massage on each branch of the therapeutic massage tree.