Glossary of Massage and Bodywork Terms
Acupressure: An Asian therapy
that involves pressing points along the body’s meridians (energy
channels) with fingers, thumbs or palms of the hand, to stimulate
ki (also qi or chi) and bring balance and health.
Amma: An Asian therapy that manipulates
vital points (tsubos) along the energy meridians with the fingers,
elbows, knuckles and feet, to create energetic balance and health.
Aromatherapy: The therapeutic
use of aromatic essences and essential oils extracted from plants.
Aston Patterning: Includes gentle
massage, which releases daily and accumulated tension; myo-kinetics,
which releases structural holding patterns within the soft tissue;
and arthro-kinetics to release skeletal holding.
Bach Flower Remedies: Formulas
developed by immersing a flower petal in water and exposing it to
sunlight to extract its healing essence.
Body Mind Centering: Movement
re-education and hands-on re-patterning, utilizing movement, touch,
voice and understanding how the mind is expressed through the body.
Body Rolling: Stretching and
self-massage on an exercise ball.
Breema Breathwork: This method
uses stretching, rhythm and breathwork on a clothed client lying
on a padded floor.
Chi Nei Tsang: Tibetan abdominal
massage combined with qigong exercises.
Connective Tissue Massage: Believed
to be a precursor to other forms of deep-tissue work and some forms
of structural integration, such as Rolfing.
CORE Bodywork: A myofascial and
structural therapy integrating four phases of treatment, including
massage, myofascial therapy, structural balance and integration.
Cranialsacral Therapy: Sometimes
referred to as CranioSacral Therapy, it involves manipulation of
the cranial bones in conjunction with the sacrum (low back), spinal
adjustments, dura mater and cerebral-spinal fluid.
Deep-Tissue Massage: Utilizes
various techniques to affect the deeper tissues of the body, such
as fascia and other non-superficial tissues.
Esalen Massage: Combines Eastern
and long, sweeping Western massage strokes, and places emphasis
on empathy, nurturing and the healing relationship.
Feldenkrais Method: Movement
education and re-patterning designed to give clients body awareness
and to reduce pain and discomfort stemming from poor body mechanics.
Geriatric Massage: Various touch-therapy
methods used to alleviate suffering from health problems associated
with old age.
Hakomi: Body-centered psychotherapy
utilizing physical and psychological probes to evoke emotional and
body responses to produce new self-awareness and health.
Hellerwork: Focuses on the structural
integration of body alignment with gravity.
Hydrotherapy: The use of water
in its many forms (hot, cold, spray, pressure, immersion) for therapeutic
Infant Massage: Various gentle
touch-therapy methods for infants, performed by parents.
Jin Shin Do: A form of acupressure
that holds vital points for prolonged periods.
Lomi Lomi: An ancient and still-popular
Hawaiian massage technique that utilizes the elbows and forearms
and long, connecting strokes to relax the body.
Manual Lymph Drainage: Aims to
create greater mobility of the lymph fluids through gentle stroking
of the lymph channels and internal organs.
Medical Massage: The application
of massage techniques to treat specific physical conditions, sometimes
by diagnosis of a physician. Medical-massage therapists have extended
Myofascial Release: A method
of affecting connective tissue by applying pressure in the direction
of fascial resistance.
Myotherapy: A trigger-point technique
that manipulates points with specific pressure.
Neuromuscular Therapy: Massage
techniques applied specifically to muscle, fascia and ligaments
for pain relief.
Pfrimmer Deep Muscle: Deep, cross-fiber
technique that uses the thumbs and fingers as the primary tools.
Polarity Therapy: Manipulates
the body’s magnetic energy fields through touch, diet and
exercise, to create a balance of body, mind and spirit.
Pregnancy Massage: Various touch-therapy
techniques used to alleviate the strain and discomfort of pregnancy.
Reflexology: A system of pressing
points on the feet and hands to affect health in the rest of the
Reiki: Energetic healing system
that utilizes gentle hand placements and channels healing energies
through the practitioner to the recipient.
Rolfing: Also called Structural
Integration, this method strives for realignment of the body’s
structural relationship with gravity and consists of deep-tissue
work on the fascia, conducted over 10 sessions.
Rosen Method: Direct, gentle
touch; focus on client breathing, relaxation response and verbal
cues, to help the client become aware of unconscious muscle tension.
Rubenfeld Synergy Method: Integrates
elements of body/mind therapies, Gestalt theory and hypnotherapy.
Seated massage: Acupressure or
massage techniques used while client sits fully clothed in a portable
massage chair. Sometimes referred to as corporate, workplace or
Shiatsu: A Japan bodywork system
that employs the thumbs to press upon tsubos (energy points) along
meridian lines, to create energy flow and health.
Somatic Therapy: Refers to the
mind/body connection utilizing the fundamentals of Freud, Alexander,
Reich, Feldenkrais, Gestalt, Hakomi, Rolfing and other therapy techniques.
Touch, movement, bodily awareness and visualization are all components
of somatic therapy.
Sports Massage: Massage techniques
used before, during and after athletic training and competition.
Swedish Massage: Stroking, kneading,
percussive, vibration and friction massage strokes.
Thai Massage: Works sen lines
(meridians or energy pathways) with rhythmic pressing combined with
stretches and joint movement, performed while a clothed client lies
on a floor mat.
Thai Yoga Massage: Blends Thai
massage, yoga and Ayurvedic principles.
Therapeutic Touch: An energy
technique where the hands are held up to six inches away from the
body to gauge areas of imbalance and move energy to where it’s
Touch for Health: Uses muscle
testing for assessing and acupressure for treating imbalance.
Trager Work: Involves rocking
and shaking movements ranging from gentle to vigorous that loosen
restrictions in the joints and promote relaxation.
Tuina: Chinese massage utilizing
a variety of hand movements to stimulate acupressure points.
Watsu: A system of holding shiatsu
points and stretching clients in body-temperature water.
Zero Balancing: Combines energetic,
anatomical and structural evaluation, gentle touch and re-alignment,
performed on a clothed, seated client.