How Many Massage Modalities Are Out There? (Massage Monday #466)

How many massage modalities do you know? In the United States, the most common massage is Swedish Massage which uses gliding strokes with lubricant. Then there is Deep Tissue that goes very slowly to release the muscles at deeper levels. Maybe you have done Hot Stone, Shiatsu, Craniosacral, Myofascial Release… and the list goes on and on.

Guess how many massage modalities are out there? According to Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals or ABMP, as of 2016, which is three years ago, there were more than 350 modalities! And that’s just from what the ABMP members practice.

I had written a blog about this in 2010 before I started YouTube. Back then there were about 250 massage modalities. So between 2010 and 2016, 100 more practiced modalities were added. So who knows how many more modalities are out there now.

They do have a list of glossaries but it’s not very complete unfortunately.

Massage Glossary List

These modalities range from a no-touch energy work to a deep, rigorous bodywork. Each modality is based on different theory, approach, strokes, techniques, pressure, target area, and so forth. 

And even if one modality is taught the same way, it could be different between the therapists who practice it, because the therapist’s energy is different, their interpretation may be different, and it may be taught differently at different schools.

For example, take Swedish Massage. Some schools teach you to start the client face up while other schools teach you to start the client face down. To me, it doesn’t matter as long as the goal is achieved. In this case, a relaxation.

There is no good or bad in how many modalities a therapist knows. From my experience, if a therapist knows more modalities, he or she can apply more techniques or more approaches during a session which is beautiful. But if a therapist learns one special modality and totally masters it, that’s beautiful too. Sometimes there are different mastery levels within a specific modality.

I certainly don’t know 350+ modalities. I’ve taken classes on 25 or so but that doesn’t mean I practice them. Some of them I didn’t care. I have to take continuing education for my license. As you can imagine, there are lots of choices. Sometimes I attend live seminars but lately I’ve been taking the free online courses for CE units that ABMP offers. I love their member perks.

I’m curious how many massage modalities you have experienced whether you are a massage therapist or not. And if you know someone who specializes in a modality and wants to spread the word and educate the public, I would love to interview them so please have them contact me on my website. And I’ll put the link below.

Massage Monday #466 How Many Massage Modalities Are Out There?