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Massage Therapy - Types and Benefits

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Physical therapy and massage therapy are equally useful and beneficial. This article explains massage therapy, its types, and benefits.

Medically reviewed by

Mohammed Wajid

Published At September 30, 2022
Reviewed AtJune 6, 2023

What Is a Massage?

A certified massage therapist exerts gentle or significant pressure on the muscles and joints of the body during a massage session. As a result, this holistic health care technique applies high pressure to myofascial connective tissue limits in order to relieve pain and restore motion.

What Are the Benefits of Massage Therapy?

The benefits are:

  • Increase circulation.

  • Improve the quality of sleep.

  • Relax and lengthen muscles.

  • Release endorphins.

  • Enhance circulation.

  • Boost mental alertness.

  • Stimulate the movement of lymphatic fluid.

  • Improve immune function.

  • Reduce anxiety and stress.

What Is the Difference between Physiotherapy Massage and Spa Massage?

If you expect a spa massage when you go to your physical therapy massage appointment, you will be sadly disappointed.

Physical therapy massage is performed in a clinical setting and entails highly personalized treatment with the goal of restoring overall function by:

  • Improving flexibility and range of motion.

  • Pose improvement.

  • Scar tissue reduction.

During a physical therapy massage, the therapist focuses on resolving a specific issue in a specific body location. They want to get the player back on the field or assist their patient in walking without a walker. Physical therapists usually work with patients for a limited time. They aim to help the patient get healthier and continue with their lives. Massage therapists are trained in specific techniques and must maintain their qualifications and continuing education seminars.

What Are the Types of Massage Therapy?

Physical therapists do a variety of massage techniques, including:

  • Active release therapy.

  • Deep tissue massage.

  • Sports massage therapy.

  • Reflexology.

  • Trigger point release.

  • Soft tissue massage.

  • Myofascial release.

Trigger Point Release Therapy:

Trigger point treatment, as the name implies, focuses on certain "trigger sites" throughout the body. Trigger point therapy aims to get rid of the trigger points. In most circumstances, trigger points induce discomfort in a distinct place of your body. When performing trigger point therapy, the therapist will use their thumb or a tool to provide particular indirect pressure to the trigger point until the knot is released. Neck and shoulder pain respond well to trigger point therapy.

Trigger point massage targets specific muscle and connective tissue locations with high levels of neurological activation. Because of the innervation of the muscles and joints, these "trigger points" allude to pain in other locations.

This is particularly helpful in idiopathic pain or pain with no identified etiology. Trigger points in another might cause chronic pain in one region. This aids in the long-term treatment of neck, shoulder, back, and leg discomfort. Trigger point massage can help with chronic headaches and temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ).

Active Release Therapy:

Active Release Therapy (ART) combines manipulation and movement to treat your body's soft tissue, muscles, tendons, fascia, and nerves. ART is more targeted with each muscle and takes them through the full range of motion.

ART is beneficial in the treatment of specific injuries, including:

  • Repetitive Strains.

  • Adhesions.

  • Shin splints.

  • Tennis elbow.

  • Joint dysfunction.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Tension headaches.

  • Sciatic nerve pain.

  • Tissue hypoxia.

  • Plantar Fasciitis.

Soft Tissue Massage:

It includes therapy for soft tissues such as:

  • Muscle.

  • Fibrous tissue.

  • League.

  • Special.

  • Nerves.

  • Blood vessels.

  • Tendons.

  • Skin.

Soft tissue massage works in a wide range of depths, durations, and pressures and is used to restore and maintain normal flexibility in muscles. It is especially useful on a muscle that has become tight and shortened and also provides relief to those suffering from:

  • Headaches.

  • Plantar fasciitis.

  • Prolonged sitting.

  • Tennis elbow.

  • Low back pain.

  • Upper back and shoulder pain.

  • Poor posture, including slouching.

  • Facial tension.

  • Stiff neck.

  • Arthritis.

  • Rehabilitation following surgery.

Soft tissue massage is generally used after the muscle has been "warmed up" by a lighter massage technique.

Soft tissue massage is known to:

  • Increase circulation.

  • Decrease pain.

  • Increase muscle flexibility.

  • Decrease muscle spasms.

  • Improve overall mobility.

Deep Tissue Massage:

Deep tissue massage involves applying deep pressure to the parts of the body that are in pain or dysfunction. High levels of pressure can help knotted muscular tissue that is not getting enough blood flow. Deep tissue massage uses a deliberate application of pressure. Massage therapists go through the body with their knuckles and elbows to reach the deeper tissues near the bone. It is perfect for sportsmen with a lot of muscular mass who are constantly stressed out from training and competition. It improves physiotherapy patients by assisting in their rehabilitation and scar tissue removal. Deep tissue massage is the best treatment for the neck, shoulders, and other areas, and it can be an important part of overcoming back and neck injuries treatment plans.

Sports Massage Therapy:

Athletes who want to retain their flexibility and avoid injuries both on and off the field might consider sports massage. It is a mix of approaches that concentrates on the sections of your body that are employed in your sport. Sports massage therapy, including deep tissue massage, can help break down scar tissue while boosting circulation. This minimizes muscle tension and discomfort sensations.

Myofascial Release:

Myofascial Release, often known as Myo, is a type of physical therapy used to treat myofascial pain syndrome. This approach targets the muscles' tough, thin, and elastic connective tissues.

The goal of the therapy includes:

  • Help you relax.

  • Lengthen and realign the fascia that has been tightened.

The therapist utilizes slow, persistent pressure on the muscle when performing myofascial massage. This combination, when used with a stretching technique, loosens the tight, stiff areas. Myofascial release aims to reduce pain while also restoring a complete range of motion.


This atypical technique of massage therapy, also known as zone therapy, leverages the body's innate reflexes to locate trigger points. The certified massage therapist divides the body into ten zones to find the trigger point: five on the left and five on the right. The nerve signal travels from the foot through the body to relieve muscle tension and pain after pressure is applied.

Is Massage Therapy Better Than Physical Therapy?

Depending on the disease being treated, both physical therapy and massage therapy are effective. Physical therapy is the ideal option if you are healing from an injury or need to regain body function. Massage therapy, on the other hand, is a great way to relax and ease tight muscles. Massage therapists employ a variety of therapeutic techniques to help people overcome chronic pain and enhance their general function. The key to getting the proper treatment for your needs and lasting effects is to choose the right form of massage therapy.

Which Massage Styles Are Best?

Long, gliding strokes to quick, percussive strokes are among the massage types available. Registered massage therapists typically utilize oils and lotions to achieve benefits, although they may also use their hands. However, before you choose the best massage methods, you must first determine why you require massage therapy.

There are various reasons, such as:

  • Relaxation and stress control.

  • Symptom relief.

  • Help with a certain health condition.


Whether you are healing from an injury or surgery or you have a chronic condition, physical therapy massage can help relieve pain, strengthen muscles and other soft tissues, and reduce stress. If you want to improve and enhance your posture, reduce tension, and relieve discomfort after an exercise, physical therapy massage can assist. For more information, ask your health care physician for a referral to a physical therapist in your region.

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Dr. Muthu Laakshmi. G
Dr. Muthu Laakshmi. G


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