The 11 Modalities of Massage

massage therapy program

Tina Simunek, LMT & Massage Program Chair

At Globe University-Sioux Falls, we teach more massage modalities than any other massage therapy program in the region.

Our students have the opportunity to dedicate 11 weeks to one specific modality. By the time they are finished with their education, they are trained in 11 different modalities or specific specialties.

So what are the different types/modalities of massage, you ask?

Swedish Massage

Swedish Massage is probably the most common massage. It is relaxing with commonly a light-to-medium pressure during the massage session. Most salons will have this modality as a requirement. In this class, students learn their core elements, including effleurage, compression, petrissage, friction and many more techniques. The students perfect their flow and rhythm during this course.

Deep Tissue

Deep Tissue is used to manipulate the deep tissue. This technique is moderate-to-hard pressure. Students use elbows, knuckles, forearms and fingers to penetrate deeper into the muscle to help with tension release.

Trigger Point

Trigger Point is another technique that is commonly used and paired with deep tissue work. Massage therapists find specific points on the body that may trigger a referral response in other areas of the body. Clearing the blockages along these pathways will help to elicit a more profound release.

Prenatal/Pregnancy Massage

Prenatal/Pregnancy Massage incorporates basic massage techniques while the client is positioned on her side or with correct cushions. This positioning is also helpful when dealing with individuals who cannot lie face down on our tables, such as with surgery, discomfort or injury.

Special Populations

Special Populations massage is applied to the disabled, geriatric and other populations who require unique consideration. Students will accommodate their clients and alter pressure, techniques and duration based on the population they are working with. This is enhanced with our applied learning opportunities where our students engage in events where a certain population may not have access to our facility.

Hot Stone/Spa Techniques

Hot Stone/Spa Techniques are among the favorites to learn for our students. Along with getting to learn the techniques the students also get to receive each massage to know what it should feel like. Hot stone is one of the more specialty massages that attract a lot of interest. Hot stones are used to relax the tissues on a deeper level and are considered one of the most relaxing massages out there. The rocks provide heat, compression, and the therapist’s slow rhythmic massage is very appealing. Spa techniques are combined in this course such as aromatherapy, scrubs and other basic spa techniques. It’s a way our students learn to enrich the massage experience.

Sports Massage

Sports Massage is another technique that is gaining popularity. This massage helps to treat neuromuscular coordination, muscle tension, muscle injury and tissue dysfunction. This massage incorporates stretching, deep tissue and site specific. Our students need to be aware of contraindications and special indications before performing a sports massage. Knowing restrictions are essential.

Thai Massagethai massage, massage modalities

Thai Massage is one of our more specialty massages.  Thai incorporates slow, rhythmic pressing, deep compressions and stretches to loosen the stagnant energy that can develop in the body. It is based on ancient healing techniques from India and Asia. Yoga enthusiasts love this massage; combining similar positions with stretches leaves your body energized and renewed!

Myofascial Release

Myofascial Release is where therapists manipulate connective tissue using friction, cross-hand stretches and vertical stretches to loosen the body’s connective tissue. This helps the body to relax on a deeper level.

Lymph Drainage

Lymph Drainage is a modality that uses very light, circular massage in the direction of the body’s lymphatic flow. This technique is helpful to reduce swelling after surgery or injury, cellulite reduction and may also improve immune system function.


Craniosacral is another technique to help the massage therapist feel, interpret and move energy through the client’s cranium, spine and lower back. This technique can improve structural imbalances in the body.

Massage therapy is so much more than just one type of technique, and our school will keep abreast of the changing trends. We also offer continuing education events for current therapists.

Want to learn more?  If you have an interest in becoming a massage therapist you can shadow one of our amazing students and get a feel for life on campus, or if you just want to experience a different type of massage call our school to make an appointment today!

Tip: A good massage is equivalent to 8 hours of sleep.

By Tina Simunek, LMT and Massage Therapy Program Chair at Globe University-Sioux Falls