The term "massage therapy" can refer to many different types of treatments, but generally "therapists press, rub, and otherwise manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body" (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine - NCCAM definition).             
Types of Massage
  • Acupressure: Pressure on acupuncture points to stimulate flow of energy or chi.
  • Craniosacral Massage: Light touch manipulation of the head and sacrum designed to restore optimal cerebrospinal fluid movement.
  • Deep Tissue Massage: Encompasses a number of techniques that work on muscles and other connective tissues.
  • Infant Massage: Gentle massage on infants often taught to parents to help ease infants to sleep and aid in parental bonding.
  • Lymphatic Drainage: Massage of lymphatic system to aid in the flow of lymph and a reduction of edema.
  • Myofascial Release: Technique directed at treating restrictions and adhesions in the fascia and muscles.
  • Myotherapy: Trigger point therapy that includes re-eduction of the muscles.
  • Neuromuscular Therapy: A technique directed at compression of trigger points.
  • Pregnancy Massage: Performed during pregnancy with attention paid to special positioning and contraindications.
  • Reflexology: Treating reflex points on the hands, feet and ears that are thought to correspond to internal tissues.
  • Shiatsu: A form of Japanese acupressure traditionally performed fully clothed on a mat on the floor.
  • Sports Massage: Centered on the needs of an athlete based on the sports in which that train and compete; combination of a variety of techniques.
  • Swedish Massage: Massage focused mainly on relaxation; there are five basic strokes that involve kneading, long strokes, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping (effleurage, petrissage, friction, percussion, and vibration) that are the basis of many other techniques.
  • Thai Massage: Work performed on the floor that consists of assisted yoga-like positioning of the body, along with gentle rocking and stretching.
  • Therapeutic Touch: Energy work focused on balancing the body's aura through gentle, above-the-body manipulations of the energy field.
Definitions taken in part from the NCBTMB website.