Millions of Massage Modalities?

Exactly how many methods of massage (or modalities) are there in the world of massage therapy? This seems like an easy question, yet it may be one that is impossible to answer.

I did a quick search online about the subject, and immediately became confused. According to Wikipedia, there are 29 different types of massage. That sounds like a lot, right? I then searched thebodyworker Web site and found over 78 different types of massage listed there.

So my original question may end up without an answer as information – on the Web, at least – makes the task of defining what differentiates one type of massage from another difficult. For example, on thebodyworker site, geriatric massage is listed as a type of massage. While there is definitely a method of massaging seniors that differs from that of regular massage therapy, are modifications in the method and focus of massaging enough to make geriatric massage its own type of massage?

And this brings us all the way to the question of what exactly is regular massage therapy. In America, a lot of people would answer, “Swedish massage”, when asked what is “regular” massage therapy. In Thailand, China, and other parts of the world, the answer would no doubt be different, and just as correct. Keep in mind that Swedish massage was not even really defined until the mid-1800’s, and didn’t really gain popularity in the United States until the 1920’s and 30’s.

Looking at what the New School for Massage, Bodywork & Healing in Chicago teaches in its curriculum can help us determine what a generally accepted skill set for a licensed massage therapist in America might be. The curriculum features 600 hours of courses in which Swedish massage and bodywork techniques are featured, and triggerpoint theory, cranial-sacral therapy, mysofacial release, and deep tissue modalities are taught.

While it seems like these modalities would be enough to make any massage therapist a competent professional, how many modalities mastered does it take to make a truly skilled massage therapist? What about a master therapist?

Write your answers to this question if you have the time (and, indeed, if there are any that you’d care to venture). It will be interested to see what responses come in.

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