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Table 1 Proposed taxonomy of massage practice

From: Development of a taxonomy to describe massage treatments for musculoskeletal pain

Principal Goals of Treatment Relaxation Massage Clinical Massage Movement Re-education Energy Work
Intention Relax muscles, move body fluids, promote wellness Accomplish specific goals such as releasing muscle spasms Induce sense of freedom, ease and lightness in body Hypothesized to free energy blockages
Commonly Used Styles (examples*) Swedish massage, spa massage Sports massage Myofascial trigger point therapy Myofascial release Strain counterstrain Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Strain counterstrain Trager Acupressure Reiki Polarity Therapeutic Touch Tuina
Commonly Techniques (examples**) Gliding Kneading Friction Holding Percussion Vibration Direct pressure Skin rolling Resistive stretching Stretching – manual Cross-fiber friction Contract-relax Passive stretching Resistive stretching Rocking Direction of energy Smoothing Direct pressure Holding Rocking Traction
  1. * While some styles of massage are commonly used in addressing one of the four principal treatment goals, some may be used to address several distinct treatment goals.
  2. ** By varying the intent (or purpose) for a technique, many of them can be used in massages with different principal treatment goals.