These are brief, general descriptions in my own words, to give you an idea of
what to expect from me with different types of massage.
Medical Massage and Manual Therapy
Medical massage/manual therapy is performed with the intent of improving a diagnosed medical condition or area of pain and is prescribed by a physician. It is not any single technique, but can be a combination of many techniques to achieve specific outcomes.
It typically involves more thorough, detailed assessment, specific targeted treatment to the problem area and reassessment continued over the course of multiple sessions. This process involves identifying over-stretched/over-tightened/weak muscles or alterations in posture or range of motion that may be contributing to pain patterns and addressing them specifically. I often recommend some home care and stretching to extend results.
When the outcome-based process of medical massage is applied without a prescription it may also be referred to as clinical massage or treatment massage or orthopedic massage.
Neuromuscular/Muscle Energy Techniques
These, often subtle, techniques are designed to affect the the neurological mechanisms that control a muscle. In other words, they affect the sensory receptors in the tissues to send new signals to the brain and affect the feedback that the brain sends the tissue. They are intended to disrupt dysfunctional neurological patterns and reset a new normal, affecting areas such as muscle tone, tension, movement, range of motion and balance. These may involve: postural assessment, passive, active and resistive movement, stretching, vibration, gentle jostling, compression or traction, and trigger point therapy.
This is the most common type of relaxation massage practiced in America. It incorporates smooth gliding strokes, friction, kneading, percussion, vibration and sometimes range of motion. It usually involves massage gel and is more effective on bare skin. This is type of massage is really relaxing and can help move your body out of a fight-or-flight stress mode into a relaxed state. I generally use these techniques as a warm up to prepare your body for deeper, more specific work. For a more detailed description check out this article: "Swedish Massage ." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine.
Some people expect lots of pain or bruising from "deep tissue" massage. This is not the kind that I practice. After warming up the more superficial soft tissue layers with other types of massage (like Swedish) I use gentle, slow, deeper pressure to focus on specific underlying muscles and fascia. It incorporates some of the same strokes of Swedish gliding and friction but with more focused intentionality to affect deeper muscle tissues.