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Modalities Explained

In the world of Therapeutic Body Work and Massage, there are many modalities (attributes or circumstances that denote mode or manner), that is to say, many forms of application to handle specific needs, issues or conditions.

Most modalities are performed as follows, except where otherwise noted.

How Therapeutic Body Work and Massage are performed:

The client is undressed to his or her comfort level on a comfortable massage table. While fully draped, the therapist applies techniques to parts of the body, only undraping the part he or she is working on. Normally, the client will begin the session face down, however can be face up depending on specific circumstances. Some modalities require the use of oils and gels as well as essential oils, while some do not.


Here are just a few explained:

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is a term used to describe various types of techniques designed to relax the body and increase blood flow by applying pressure to it against deeper muscles and bones. Light, medium and/or firm pressure is used. It increases the oxygen flow in the body and helps release toxins from the muscles. It shortens recovery time from muscular stress and strain by flushing the tissue of lactic and uric acids and other metabolic wastes. It increases circulation without increasing the load on your heart. It stretches ligaments and tendons. It stimulates the skin and soothes the nervous system, reducing stress, both emotional and physical.

The techniques include:

  1. Effleurage: Gliding strokes with the palms, thumbs and/or fingertips
  2. Petrissage: Kneading movements with the hands, thumbs and/or fingers
  3. Friction: Circular pressures with the palms of hands, thumbs and/or fingers
  4. Vibration: Oscillatory movements that shake or vibrate the body
  5. Percussion: Brisk hacking or tapping
  6. Passive and active movements: Bending and stretching

Swedish massage feels good. It is relaxing and invigorating at the same time. It affects the nerves, muscles, glands, and circulation, while promoting health and well being.


Deep Tissue

This type of modality focuses on deeper layers of muscle tissue. It is used to release chronic muscle tension, to break up and eliminate scar tissue, to loosen the muscle tissue so that oxygen and nutrients can circulate freely, preventing inflammation, soreness and restricting knots.

Releasing these 'stuck' fibers is both corrective and therapeutic.

It is done by applying deep finger pressure on the contracted area and it is followed by deep, slow cross fiber strokes on the muscles, tendons and fascia. This type of massage may cause some soreness, however, if done correctly, should be gone within a day or so. With any massage, because toxins are being released, it is recommended to drink plenty of water, however much more so with Deep Tissue therapy.



This is a very light touch approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole body health performance by releasing restrictions in the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid. The soft tissues and fluid that protect the brain and spinal cord. The craniosacral system extends from the skull (cranium) all the way down to the tailbone (sacrum).

This is done fully clothed while relaxing on a massage table. The practitioner applies a very gentle touch, about a nickel's worth weight in pressure, on various parts of the body to locate weak flow, then applying manual techniques that release the problem areas, improving the function of the central nervous system.

This modality deeply improves your body's ability to take better care of you, relieving a wide spectrum of pain, illness and dysfunction.



For thousands of years, the use of plant aromatics have accompanied civilizations to where ever they were led. Now called aromatherapy, it is one of the most loved of today's therapeutics, and for good reason!

Have you noticed that 99% of all products try to have some sort of pleasant smell? Shampoos, creams, cleaning supplies, gels, sprays, soaps, etc. There is good reason for this too! Smells are processed through the limbic system. This is a part of your brain that is connected to memories, emotions and moods. Interestingly enough, a smell can take you to a memory in your past in an instant. Grandmas cookies, mom's apple pie, dad's BBQ. 

There is a huge difference between genuine essential oils and artificial scents. Healing properties come into play when therapeutic grade, genuine essential oils are used.

In massage, essential oils are used through carrier oils or applied directly to the body, all while the aromas released help balance ones state of mind through the limbic system. 

Some can be invigorating, while others deeply relaxing. Others directly release muscle tension or increase the flow of lymph and blood. Eucalyptus for example is good for relieving cold, flu and cough symptoms as well as relieving muscle aches. Lavender is deeply relaxing to the nervous system. Lemon is invigorating and mood uplifting. Tea Tree is highly anti bacterial. So is Clove.

Aromatherapy can be used in almost any modality as well as throughout the day, at home or at work.