Types of Massage Therapy Specialties

Learn about the many types of massage therapy specialties you can choose to advance your career.
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Massage Therapy Career Facts

Massage Therapy Specialties

Becoming a massage therapist is a rewarding career path that can lead to so many different work settings and even different specializations.

If you are interested in becoming a massage therapist then you’ll want to learn about the types of massage therapy specialties below.

Traditional Massage Therapy

Traditional massage therapy, or basic massage therapy, is the most common form and not so much a specialty.

However, underneath the umbrella of basic massage therapy, which consists of applying pressure, motion, tension and vibration to soft tissues, are other types of massage therapy specialties.

These types of massage therapy specialties include Swedish massage, Shiatsu, deep tissue massage, sports massage, and holistic body work.

Without even needing special education beyond your massage therapy school and licensing requirements, graduates will find opportunities providing these specialized massage therapy practices in a variety of work settings such as cruise ships, spas, hotels, resorts, athletic clubs, gyms, and health and wellness clinics.

Chair Massage

Now, you might be asking yourself what is chair massage? Have you ever seen the massage therapists working near the food court in the mall? This is called chair massage where the patient is sitting face down in a massage chair while the massage therapist works on their body.

This is a mobile massage therapy specialty that enables massage therapists to travel and bring their massage therapy chair and equipment with them directly to their customer’s location.

You can get creative in the markets you serve as a chair massage therapist, they often visit patient’s homes, hotels, airports, convention centers and more.


Hypnotism and hypnotherapy are real medical practices that help to relieve stress and other symptoms.

A specialized massage therapist can become a hypnotherapist providing an alternative treatment through the client’s subconscious and a variety of meditation and relaxation techniques.

It is common for hypnotherapists to also perform massage, psychotherapy, acupuncture, and other holistic and even homeopathic treatments.

Infant Massage

You might be asking, what is infant massage? or why massage an infant? and both are legitimate questions.

Infant massage is a type of massage therapy specialty dedicated to practicing on babies. The purpose of infant massage is to stimulate growth and development in developing infants.

This specialty requires some additional training due to the delicate nature of infant clients.

Medical Massage

Medical massage has gained popularity with the medical and healthcare community and is much more talked about these days.

Medical massage differs from basic massage in that it targets the patient’s specific ailments and injuries seeking specific medical recovery results.

Whereas basic massage may help with relaxation, tension, stress and pain, medical massage could target a precise health condition in the patient.

Sports Massage and Sports Therapy

Similar to some physical therapy practices, sports massage therapy is one of the most rapidly growing types of therapy for amateur and professional athletes.

This type of massage practice is designed specifically for preventative care to avoid injury, increased mobility and performance, as well as recovery and rehabilitation from injury.

Myofascial Release Therapy

Myofascial release therapy pertains to the manual massage practice for stretching and expanding the fascia, or connective tissue surrounding muscle tissue, to provide additional structure and support.

By releasing stiff bonds around fascia muscles and bones, pain can be eliminated while mobility and posture restored.

Myofascial release therapy is essential for mobility and helping your muscles move freely in their natural range of motion.

Prenatal Massage

Like infant massage, prenatal massage is performed on pregnant women but in this case for specific issues with pain. Prenatal massage is designed to minimize pain and swelling around the neck and back while increasing circulation throughout the body.


Originally created by the Egyptians and adopted by ancient Chinese, Reflexology is one of the few massage therapy specialties taught in nearly every massage therapy school program.

It involves applying pressure specifically to the hands, ears, and feet in an effort to heal certain organs.

Other Types of Massage Therapy Specialties

If you haven’t already learned about a type of massage therapy specialty that interests you then you will want to also learn about the following massage therapy specialties:

Reiki – Reiki massage is an ancient Japanese medicinal method designed to help patients feel more conscious and more connected with others and life in general.

Shiatsu – The art of Shiatsu is nearly as popular as the Swedish Massage here in the U.S. and you can find many massage therapists offering this type of specialized massage that uses thumb pressure to work with the body’s energy medians.

Spa Therapy – Spa therapy programs train students in essential oil therapy, nutrition, aromatherapy, massage, medicinal facials and/or other natural healing techniques that are commonly provided in spas.

Stone Therapy – You have likely seen photos of people with black stones on their backs laying on a massage table, this is Stone Therapy. Stone therapy uses hot or cold perfectly smooth stones, usually marble or basalt, alongside a massage. Hot stones help relax the tissue allowing the massage therapist to work deeper into the patient’s tissue while cold stones may be used for specific symptoms such as sinus congestion.

Thai Bodywork – Designed to loosen the body, Thai bodywork combines a number of massage therapy techniques such as yoga, general stretching, acupuncture, mediation, acupressure, reflexology and energy balancing techniques.

Trigger Point Programs – Trigger point massage targets a very specific pain point or area of numbness. Utilizing ischemic compression on these specific areas helps to break up any blockages of blood flow contributing to the sensitivity of the area while also freeing up tendons, muscles, ligaments, and fascia.

Careers Related to Massage Therapy

In addition to massage therapy specialties, you may also be interested in another similar career.

Physical Therapy, like massage therapy, practices on healing the body through natural methods such as stretching and massaging while also bringing additional modern technologies and medicinal practices into the methodologies.

If you are interested in becoming a massage therapist or advancing your career then you might want to learn about a becoming a physical therapy assistant.

Here are a few other careers related to massage therapy:

  • Physical therapy aides
  • Neuromuscular therapist
  • Craniosacral therapist
  • Athletic trainers
  • Exercise physiologists
  • Fitness trainer
  • Aerobics Instructor
  • Some types of occupational therapists

If you are looking for a career similar toĀ massage therapyĀ then search our site for more information on related career paths such as aĀ DietitianĀ or a Physical Therapy Assistant.

If you are interested in becoming a massage therapist or pursuing a related career, then click the blue button that says “find schools” to be matched with the best massage therapy school or other specialty program for your needs.

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