Western Massage Modalities and Their Benefits | Massage School Blog

Posted July 15, 2018 by Acupuncture & Massage College

Recently, we did an extensive post on the History of Massage Therapy. In it, we mentioned some of the famous Western massage modalities that you may already be familiar with, such as Deep Tissue and Swedish massageAs an Oriental Medicine college, our articles tend to focus on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and it's related healing modalities, such as Shiatsu Massage.

However, our Massage Therapy program extensively covers many Western massage modalities and as such, we wanted to do a follow up to the history article that shows the significance of Western modalities.

Baseball Sports Massage

1950's Baseball Sports Massage

While Eastern massage modalities are based on TCM meridian theory, Western massage is primarily concerned with the muscles. For example, Deep Tissue Massage uses involves circular movements, kneading, and gliding as a way to promote healing and physical relaxation.

Let’s look at some of the different Western Massage modalities.

Western Massage Modalities

Unlike the vast history of Eastern massage, there is not quite as much specific history with Western massages. While the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans practiced massage, there was not a unified system for practicing massage until around the 1800s, which is when Swedish Massage was standardized.

Swedish Massage: The most significant contributor to Western massage therapy was the Johann Georg Mezger. Mezger is credited with being the "father of modern massage therapy" and with inventing with we now know as Swedish Massage. His system is largely based on the calisthenics techniques of Swedish Gymnastic Movement System. However, rather than doing a particular movement for exercise, Mezger found that they could be modified and applied to the body in the form of a massage.

Johann-Mezger-Massage-Therapist-Miami-Massage-SchoolSwedish Massage focuses on long strokes of the hands, elbows, and fingers of the therapist to achieve certain benefits. These benefits include improved blood circulation, improved relaxation, as well as stress relief throughout the entire body. 

Myofascial Release Massage: Myofascial release has been the main attraction for athletes and fitness buffs for the past decade or two. This massage technique first involves touching and searching the musculature for fascia issues. The therapist then applies some pressure to the hardened muscle area and applies a gentle movement technique to help “release” the fascia from this pain. This method offers quite a bit of rewards and may be painful depending on how severe your fascia pain presents. Studies have shown this form of massage to be good for those who have sleep issues and it has been demonstrated to reduce pain, improve quality of life, and anxiety among individuals with fibromyalgia. 

 Bindegeweb Massage: The Bindegeweb massage is a not-so-well known Western massage technique that many know much about. This massage technique, which is informally called the “connective tissue massage,” is a way for people to improve the health of ligaments and connective tissue in the body. This includes the muscle tendons, muscle fascia, bone ligaments, and so on and it can really benefit a wide range of adults and older adults. This massage technique uses dragging motions of the hands on various parts of the body, which help to decrease pain that transmits throughout the body. Bindegeweb massage is very useful for athletes with sore joints, those who suffer from arthritis and connective tissue disorders, and those who are enjoy the feel of the connective tissue massage.

Bindegeweb-Massage-Therapy-School-Miami-FloridaDeep Tissue Massage: Deep tissue massage is the close relative of the Swedish massage and it involves the use deep pressure (deep in the body and not necessarily hard pressure). The use of deep tissue massage has long been used to provide the best functional outcomes for those who are physically active. This technique focuses on working muscular tissue, such that it provides a stretch of the outer fascia layer in the musculature.


This helps to reduce many common ailments including lower back pain, inflammatory conditions, bad posture, as well as boosting athletic performance.

Lymph Massage: The lymphatic drainage massage is a very practical massage technique. For those who suffer from congestive heart failure and other lymphatic conditions, fluid can build up throughout the limbs of the body, which is known as edema. Lymphedema is the most common form of this and the lymph drainage massage can help to improve circulation in the edematous areas of the body. This technique is rather simple in form, as it involves applying small pressure to the fluid buildup area to move fluids out and away from the body. This type of massage is usually most beneficial for those with lymphedema, but it can be utilized by anyone. 


Sports Massage: The sports massage is last on this list and it is a popular massage modality for the athletes and competitors out there. The pre-event sports massage involves precise massage at a precise moment, which is typically the day of the event or the day before. This massage technique is not geared towards healing; rather it is typically used to help the athlete to prepare the muscles for high-intensity physical activity.

Sports-Massage-Acupuncture-Massage-College-Miami-FloridaIf anything, the pre-event sports massage can help to boost mental focus and get the athlete ready for competition. The post-event sports massage is geared mostly at improving the recovery process of the athlete. This is vital in competitive sports and it can certainly help to boost the recovery time for sore bodies.

As you can see, Western massage modalities have many benefits to offer. Luckily, we don't limit ourselves to teaching only one style of massage but choose from many different modalities to ensure that our graduates can treat patients in various manners. To learn more about Massage Therapy Program, visit our program page or download the free career guide below. Acupuncture and Massage College is located in Miami, Florida.

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