If you are thinking of training in massage therapy it is important to understand what massage is, what its benefits are, what different types there are and where you might expect to work as a therapist.

Massage is recognised as one of the oldest therapies, with references in medical texts dating back nearly 5,000 years.

Due to the growth in demand for massage therapy by the public and as a larger number of people are taking a more active role in looking after their health, the profession has grown and so have the many different styles of massage.

Brief descriptions of the different types of massage taught by the Western School are given below, but whatever style is being used, there are a wide number of possible beneficial effects which may be experienced by the recipient.

• release of tight, tense muscles

• reduction or elimination of aches and pains

• improved circulation

• increased range of motion

• improved elimination of toxins

• reduction of stress, anxiety, lethargy, depression

• improved sleep patterns

• increased energy and sense of vitality

• enhanced sense of well-being


The development during the 19th century of what we now know as Swedish massage is often credited to Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish fencing master and Johan Georg Mezger from Denmark.

This is regarded as the most common form of massage. Focusing on the musculo-skeletal system and using recognised movements to manipulate the soft tissue of the body, it can help reduce muscle spasm and relieve pain.

As well as affecting each of the physiological systems of the body, Swedish Massage also has the psychological effect of either invigoration or relaxation.


The remedial therapist, who will be initially qualified in Swedish Massage or equivalent, becomes more of the detective and the focus of the desired outcome becomes more specific.

Using a structured testing protocol enables the therapist to identify specific conditions and problems, e.g. muscle strain, ligament sprain, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, etc.

In addition to Swedish Massage strokes, extra techniques are used to ensure the most beneficial outcome, e.g. myofascial release, neuromuscular (MET, PNF) and trigger point work and active, passive and resisted movements.


The Sports Massage therapist will use Swedish and Remedial Massage techniques to address situations particular to the sports setting. Conditions may present more in the acute, rather than the chronic, stage but treatment can be both preventative as well as therapeutic. Sports Massage can be used for athletes during warm-ups and cool-downs, as part of a training regime, in pre-, inter- and post-event settings or as part of the rehabilitative process following injury.

The objectives of Remedial Massage are to:

• reduce pain

• increase range of movement

• restore appropriate balance

The objectives of Sports Massage are to:

• reduce pain

• increase range of movement

• restore appropriate balance

and to:

• support the sportsperson during training

• enhance athletic performance

• reduce injury time

• reduce risk of re-injury


The therapist will be qualified in both Remedial and Sports techniques and will have experience working either from home, in a clinic or for a sports club or gymnasium.

More complicated conditions will be treated, e.g. spinal vertebral rotations, restricted neck movement, pelvic instability, spinal misalignments, vertebral rotations, restricted neck movement, pelvic instability.

Muscle energy techniques (MET) are used at advanced level.


Seated Acupressure Massage (SAM) is a highly effective form of massage based on traditional Japanese techniques and is becoming highly popular in airports, shopping centres & businesses, with benefits for the client, the employer and the therapist.

During the On-Site sequence, or Kata, the client is firstly relaxed and then re-energised by working on pressure points on the back, head, shoulders, arms and hands, many of which correspond to where an acupuncturist would place a needle.

A typical session will take around 15 to 20 minutes and usually utilises an ergonomically designed chair.


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