Massage Modalities. So many choices…which is best for me?

February 3, 2022

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Massage Modalities. So many choices…which is best for me?

This is a question so many of us ask ourselves, with all the massage choices, how do I know which is best for me? Throughout your life and depending on what you are going through at any specific time, the answer to that question will be different. The best thing for you to do is to educate yourself on what the benefits are of several different modalities and then decide which one you feel will benefit you the most for where you are. Massage therapists are a great resource in helping you figure out what type of massage will be best for you. In an effort to enlighten you and help you decide what type of massage would be beneficial to you, in this blog post, we are going to give you a peek into 14 different massage modalities. Here at Desert Bloom we know health and transformation is not a cookie cutter process and we have made sure to build our staff with that in mind. Our on staff massage therapist is trained in each one of these modalities and would be happy to meet with you to discuss any concerns you have or just to find out what massage would be best for you! Let’s jump right in with Swedish massage!


Swedish massage is one of the most common types of massages you can get. It is performed to energize the body and improve overall health. This type of massage involves actions like percussion, kneading, vibration, tapping and rolling. This technique aims to promote relaxation by releasing muscle tension. Unscented massage oil or lotion is used to protect the skin from friction.  Swedish massage is gentler than deep tissue massage and better suited for people interested in relaxation and tension relief.

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Deep tissue massage therapy isn’t just a Swedish massage with deeper strokes or harder pressure. Deep tissue massages use firm pressure and slow strokes to massage deep layers of muscle and fascia, which is the connective tissue that is in and also surrounds your muscles. This type of massage can be helpful with posture.

Deep tissue massage is a massage technique that’s mainly used to treat musculoskeletal issues, such as strains and sports injuries. It involves applying sustained pressure using slow, deep strokes to target the inner layers of your muscles and connective tissues.


Craniosacral therapy is a gentle hands-on technique that uses a light touch to examine membranes and movement of fluids in and around the central nervous system. This therapy definitely builds upon itself. New Therapists using the basic techniques can help in relieving tension in the central nervous system, promoting a feeling of well-being, by eliminating pain and boosting health and immunity. They will help assist you in bringing balance back to your body, grounding you and helping to release emotional baggage your body is storing. This level of Craniosacral work may provide relief from a variety of symptoms, including headaches, neck pain and even side effects from cancer treatment, among many others

More advanced Craniosacral massage dives deeper into the channels of the central nervous system and may also help with conditions such as: chronic pain, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, speech impairment, multiple sclerosis, stroke or fascial adhesions.   Check with your therapist to see what level of this modality is offered.


Thai massage is a form of therapeutic touch that differs in many ways from traditional massage.  Instead of a massage table, you lie on a mat on the floor while the provider manipulates your body in certain ways to stimulate organs and improve flexibility. This massage combines compression, acupressure, and passive stretching. These increase the range of motion in your joints and muscles. This can also improve your posture and can help with back pain. You will remain fully clothed for a Thai massage, so you should wear clothing that is comfortable and can stretch easily.  Thai massage can be helpful in providing an increased range of motion and help with several issues, such as: back pain, migraine intensity and high stress levels.

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Gua sha

Gua sha is a traditional Chinese healing method in which a trained professional uses a smooth-edged tool to stroke your skin while they press on it. This motion can raise small, red, rash-like dots that show under your skin called petechiae. People use Gua sha to treat chronic pain all over their body. This type of massage is a wonderful option if you suffer from whiplash as it breaks up the adhesions and stuck capillaries. It can also help to heal scars as it created better circulation in the area that is being worked on. The immediate results don’t exactly look pretty, as you can end up with redness and bruising as you heal. However, the end results are often dramatic and some have called it the best massage of their life. This massage can be done on just the face if desired or it can also be added to any other type of massage.

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Reflexology is a type of massage that involves applying different amounts of pressure to the “maps of your body”, considered to be the feet, hands, face and ears. It’s based on a theory that these body parts are connected to certain organs and body systems. When you use these body map points, they connect to certain areas of the body and stimulate those areas. It’s as if that aware is being awoke and encouraged to begin healing. Reflexology is more internally based. Many clients say it feels like they are being worked on from the inside. It is also really relaxing, improves circulation and helps to normalize the body.


An aromatherapy massage is an add-on to a regular massage. It includes all the benefits of a regular massage with the added benefit of a blend of essential oils tailored to your specific needs.

Adding aromatherapy to a massage is a popular multi-purpose way of using supplemental care for health issues. The skin maintains suppleness by absorbing the oils, it offers pain relief, and the aroma’s mental stimulation provides clients with complete relaxation and you will leave feeling renewed; the ultimate massage session. If you find you are not an essential oil type of person, this may not be the massage for you! However, if you enjoy aromatherapy, you may try adding it on to one of the other types of massage such as Swedish, deep tissue, or trigger point massage for added benefits!

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Trigger points are sore, painful spots—also called knots—found in muscles. These knots are sensitive and when pressure is applied, it produces pain in a different part of your body. The most likely places for trigger points to form include the neck, shoulders, and back, but they can manifest in almost any skeletal muscle in the body.

 A trigger point massage helps work out those knots and reduce the pain associated with them. .

Massage is just one form of Trigger Point therapy- these issues can also be addressed through Chiropractic care or dry needling.



Structural massage is a non-invasive technique that identifies the source of pain based on structural imbalances and uses body positioning to relieve tension. When you go in for a structural massage session, a professional will identify the cause of your pain by locating a tender spot. Unlike other massage techniques, structural massage does not use pressure or rubbing to relieve tension, instead, using purposeful poses and positions, it attempts to restructure muscles to relieve long term pain. This type of massage may leave you feeling a little uncomfortable in the deep tissue areas that have been worked on.

This modality can be a great benefit to those suffering from chronic back pain. It can also help lead to fewer muscle spasms, an increase in range of motion, more flexibility, relief from inflammation, improved blood flow and posture. It can help with postural things, such as: kyphosis, scoliosis, lordosis, lateral rotation of limbs, high or flat arches in the feet or lack of motion anywhere in the body!


Cupping is a safe, traditional treatment that helps resolve chronic muscle tightness and pain faster than massage alone.  Maybe you’ve even seen people at your gym or swimming pool with those tell-tale red circles on their backs and shoulders. It’s becoming more common for people to request cupping to relieve chronic muscle soreness. But did you know that cupping can be used to treat many other complaints? It can increase circulation, encourage tissue to release toxins, reduce anxiety, help clear colon blockages, and it can even help reduce stretch marks and scars! It will help improve the skin by flushing new amounts of fresh resources through your muscles, waking them in the process and helping to prevent varicose and spider veins Cupping should not be used on skin that is affected by varicose or spider veins. Cupping massage can be used in other types of massage, in addition, if help is needed to break up tightness in certain areas of muscle.

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In abdominal or belly massage, a gentle massaging movement is used to relax and manipulate the abdominal area. If you’re constipated or having other issues with digestion or abdominal discomfort, belly massage may help. Natural health practitioners believe belly massage can help improve the movement between your internal organs and other tissue in your body.  It is also thought to help ease stress and body tension. Abdominal massages are not recommended for you if you are pregnant or have any of the following: inflammatory bowel disease, Irritable bowel syndrome with spastic colon, a recent injury to the belly area or a spinal injury that your doctor considers “unstable.”


A hot stone massage is a type of massage therapy used to help you relax and ease tense muscles and damaged soft tissues throughout your body. During a hot stone massage, smooth, flat, heated stones are placed on specific parts of your body. The stones are usually made of basalt, a type of volcanic rock that retains heat. Sometimes, cold stones are also used during a hot stone massage. Cold stones may be used after hot stones to calm any engorged blood vessels and to soothe the skin.

This modality can help to: relieve muscle tension and pain, reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, relieve symptoms from autoimmune diseases and boost your immunity. If you like the idea of using hot stones, but feel you are in need of another type of massage as well, just ask your therapist to add this healing modality to the mix.. you won’t be disappointed!

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Pregnancy massage is a type of massage therapy specifically designed to be used during pregnancy. It is also called prenatal massage. Pregnancy massage may help relieve some of the aches and pains of pregnancy. The massage therapist will use a variety of strokes to relax and relieve the muscles in your back, shoulders and hips.  It can help reduce swelling, relieve lower back pain, improve sleep and prepare your body for labor and birth.


Chair massage, also known as seated massage, is a type of massage that takes place on a traditional massage chair, designed to take the weight off the spine and give easy access to the head, neck, back, shoulders and arms. The massage is most commonly done over the clothes and does not require oils or creams.  Chair massages focus primarily on relaxing tense muscles in the shoulders and back, while providing a brief relaxation and boost of energy to deal with the rest of the day. Many companies have seen the benefits of these massages and have started offering them to their employees during lunch hour. If you aren’t working for one of those companies, come on in! Treat yourself to a lunchtime chair massage, it could just make the difference you have been searching for!

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Well, there you have it! 14 different types of massage to help you in your journey towards optimal health! So many people just think of massage as something that is only for relaxation when in reality, these different modalities promote so much more than just relaxation. They bring about healing and wholeness, not just in the body, but in the mind, heart and soul. Massage can be one of the puzzle pieces in your journey that promote healing on all levels and help you reach the place where peace flows freely and consistently in your life. Give us a call today and our staff will help get you set up with our incredible massage therapist who will take the time to figure out what YOU are needing! Then, you can be the judge and decide if massage is a tool you want added to your life journey belt!



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