Types of massage therapy degrees

Students and practitioners of massage therapy have many choices of specializations. The previous post briefly explained the four most common types of massage therapy as recognized by the American Massage Therapy Association: Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, sports massage, and chair massage. This article will look at some of the other common choices.

Neuromuscular Therapy Massage

Neuromuscular therapy massage is designed to help in the treatment of chronic pain. It targets areas in the neuromuscular system that may cause pain, such as compressed nerves and poor posture, as well as areas that may be sore due to repetitive movements like typing.

Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy massage is a popular therapy for pain, stress, and other discomforts associated with pregnancy. This type of therapy is popular because pregnant women often cannot receive standard medical treatments, like many medications. It is based on traditional massage and uses modified techniques and positions specifically tailored to meet the needs of pregnant women.


Reflexology is a type of massage focused primarily on the feet. The theory is that different parts of the foot correspond to different parts of the body, so massaging those foot areas can enhance full-body well-being. This type of massage is especially popular with people like nurses and elementary school teachers, who are on their feet all day.

Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu is a type of Japanese massage in which massage therapists use their fingertips to target specific points on the body. These points, called “acupressure points,” are believed to be involved in the flow of energy throughout the body. Pressing these points helps restore proper energy flow and balance.

Thai Massage

Thai massage is a special type of massage in which the therapist uses his or her entire body to manipulate the client’s body. Much of the therapy consists of stretching and compressing the joints, as well as pressing on acupressure points.

I mentioned in the previous post that there are dedicated schools for Swedish massage therapy. There are actually dedicated schools for all of these types of massage therapy, as well as general massage therapy schools where you may learn elements of all of them. Some schools offer a core curriculum and then students can choose to specialize in Western techniques (e.g., Swedish, deep tissue) or Eastern techniques (e.g., Shiatsu, Thai). Depending on the environment in which you want to work and the type of massage therapy you want to practice, any of these options may be appropriate.

If you are considering becoming a massage therapist, but aren’t sure what type of therapy you may want to practice, call a couple of schools in your area and see if you can arrange a visit. Seeing the different techniques in action may help you decide which one feels right for you.


American Massage Therapy Association. Types of massage.

WebMD. Massage therapy styles and health benefits.

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