Types Of Massage Therapy

man receiving massage

What is “Massage Therapy?”

Massage is “the systematic manual or mechanical manipulations of the soft tissues of the body by such movements as rubbing, kneading, pressing, rolling, slapping (we don’t slap here), and tapping for the purpose of promoting circulation of the blood and lymph, relaxation of muscles, relief from pain, restoration of metabolic balance, and other benefits both physical and mental.” Source: The Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massage, Beck, Mark. Tarrytown, N.Y.; Miladay Publishing Co., 1988.

What Exactly Are Muscle Knots?

Massage therapy typically focuses on a specific biomechanical problem such as; chronic soft tissue pain, rehabilitation following injury, and reduction of stress all of which contribute to underlying issues in the tissue. When you say that you have muscle knots, you are referring to myofascial trigger points. Of course there are no actual knots involved!

The true nature of “muscle knotting” is unclear. The main theory is that a trigger point (a small patch of tightly contracted muscle fibers within a muscle) is in an isolated spasm affecting just a portion of muscle tissue unlike a whole muscle spasm which would be a “charlie horse” or cramp. That small patch of “knotting” cuts off its own blood supply, further irritating the muscle or joint.

Your massage therapist treats myofascial trigger points (muscle knots) utilizing a variety of techniques and strokes. Working with purpose and positive intent referenced as “conscious oriented touch” in the massage world. A standard therapeutic massage session sequence would include; Effleurage, Petrissage, Friction, Tapotement, and Vibration.

Types of Massage:

  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Myofascial Massage
  • Swedish Massage
  • Trigger Point Therapy

Massage Techniques:


Effleurage is a gliding stroke using full hand contact in a centripetal direction (toward the heart). Effleurage warms the skin and muscle preparing for increased depth of the tissue. This is a soothing stroke.


Petrissage is a kneading stroke, repeatedly lifting, grasping, wringing or squeezing muscle mass gently. Often times, petrissage is referred to as “milking” the muscle tissue. This technique is used with alternating hands, fingers, and thumbs. It has been described by clients that this stroke feels like one hundred fingers massaging the tissue in unison.


Friction is characterized as deep movements which compress the skin and moves the superficial tissue (muscle layers closest to the skin) against the deep tissue. Friction can be circular, longitudinal (parallel to muscle), or cross-fiber (transverse). This is a precise detail oriented technique achieved by using fingertips, thumbs, and the heel of your therapists hand.


Tapotement also referred to as percussion are movements that strike with brief, rapid alternating hand movements. The icing on your cake is the perfect metaphor to describe tapotement It’s the finishing touch. For example the “karate chop” massage the standard massage cliché we’ve all seen on television, the technical term for that method is hacking.


Vibration is a continuous gentle and rhythmical trembling movement by a hand or mechanical device placed firmly on the body. Vibration includes; rocking, stationary with fingers, during traction of a limb, and can include shaking, lifting, and jostling.

We tailor sessions to meet individual needs and develop treatment plans that execute the highest level of success for our patrons. Call us today to make an appointment!


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Koenig Family Chiropractic
85 Samoset Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
(508) 746-5899