What is the difference between the various types of massage?

Remedial massage, Deep tissue massage, Sports massage, Swedish massage, Myofascial release, Neuromuscular release, Soft tissue release, Trigger point massage, Lymphatic massage … the list seems endless. But what is the difference between the various types of massage?

When we were studying at the Northern Institute of Massage the then principal, Eddie Caldwell, would often be asked by new students what the difference was and if the Institute taught them. His answer was yes they ran courses for different types of massage but would add “do you know, at the end of the day it’s all skin rubbing”. Now this isn’t strictly true. There are differences, and they don’t just involve rubbing of the skin. But Mr Caldwell’s down-to-earth approach always manages to put things into perspective.

Massage, although an ancient art, is constantly being updated as variations in procedure or new therapeutic techniques are added to the toolbox. Unfortunately these new techniques are often padded out, inflated and given a new name in order to create a whole new therapy. It might be cynical to suggest that the reason for this …

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Is Massage An Art Or A Science?

Let’s cut to the chase. The answer to the question ’is massage an art or a science’ is that it is both. Massage is one of the oldest practical arts and one of the newest sciences.

Ok, that was easy enough but now we have answered that question let’s take a closer look at what we actually mean by massage being an art and a science.

Art in this context could be defined as: the application of human creativity and imagination using practical and personal skills. Science is the pursuit of knowledge and the exploration of the world based on evidence.

Put simply science teaches to ‘know’ and art teaches to ‘do’.

The Art of Massage

The art of massage involves more than the practical skill of a well developed sense of touch and may involve the following:

Thinking intuitively

Being intuitive is not an excuse for woolly mindedness or delusional thinking. It is a practical way of making sense of a complicated and immediate situation. An instinctive strategy for dealing with novelty in an urgent and complex world. …

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how can massage help with osteoarthritis?

Arthritis: Myths and Facts

Osteoarthritis is an inevitable consequence of getting older

It is commonly thought that osteoarthritis is due to wear and tear as we age – but this isn’t inevitable and is far from the full story. There are several factors thought to increase the risk of developing the condition including genetics and having a joint injury in the past, especially if it was overused before it was given enough time to heal. Recent studies suggest osteoarthritis may be caused by activation of a chain reaction in the bodies defence mechanism causing low grade chronic inflammation.


Regular massage therapy can lead to improvements in the sypmtoms of osteoarthritis

Recent studies on the effects of massage for arthritis symptoms have shown regular use of massage therapy led to improvements in pain, stiffness, range of motion, hand grip strength and overall function of the joints. Arthritis Foundation


Osteoarthritis is made worse by being big and heavy

It isn’t so much about how big you are and more about …

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How Poor Posture Causes Neck and Shoulder Pain

We are all aware that poor posture can lead to neck and shoulder pain, but what are the processes involved?

The fact is we are designed to be hunter gatherers. In the natural state we would spend a good deal of the time standing, walking, running and generally moving about but in the modern world we spend much of our time sat at a desk, driving a car or slumped in front of the TV. Even if we don’t work at a desk, many of us have jobs that involve us looking down or maintaining the same bent over posture for hours on end (including masseurs I might add). Poor posture can also have a psychological root. Poor self esteem, anxiety and depression can result in this postural pattern. Negative emotions are expressed through flexion of the spine – the desire to curl up into a protective ball. Tall people who don’t wish to stand out from the crowd can also develop the slumped forward head posture. Maintaining the same posture causes unrelenting pressure on the same muscle groups and causes muscle fatigue. Naturally under these circumstances we slump forward, develop rounded shoulders and what is called a forward head posture.

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woman feeling neck and shoulder pain due to stress

How Does Stress Cause Neck and Shoulder Pain?

Before we consider how massage works and how it can help resolve musculoskeletal pain we need to look at some of the ways the muscular system can become dysfunctional. Therapists are often asked ‘what caused my problem?’ and the answer, unfortunately, is not always simple. In the next two articles we will follow the process of dysfunction for two common causes of neck and shoulder pain.

There is an interesting moment in the BBC News 24 countdown sequence. The tension builds as the drums beat and the pips match the time signal. Images of various correspondents, working both home and abroad, are flashed across the screen until we see John Simpson talking to camera in a war zone. An explosion occurs behind him and John, the consummate professional, continues to speak to camera. His body does react however. In fact all the people around him react in the same way. His head drops down and his shoulders rise up as he ducks.

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hands giving swedish massage

Introduction to How Massage Works

It is well established that Remedial Massage can be an effective treatment for many musculoskeletal problems. But how does Remedial Massage actually work? In this series of articles we will discuss the benefits of this form of therapeutic massage and examine some common conditions that can be successfully treated.

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