There are many different type of massage therapies, which means that there are varying types of massage therapy classes. These classes teach the techniques required for that particular type of massage, whether it is Swedish massage, aromatherapy massage, or reflexology. Each type has very specific elements and techniques, so, while some of the more basic elements may overlap, at some point the instruction in a class for massage therapy will become more specialized and focused on that type.
In the United States, the most common type of massage is the Swedish massage. Swedish massage therapy class teaches long and circular strokes, combined with kneading on the muscle's top layers. Deep tissue massage goes deeper than the Swedish massage, targeting the muscle's deeper layers, as well as the connective tissue. Students in a massage therapy class for this type of massage will learn how to use friction techniques that run perpendicular the grain of the muscle as well as using slower strokes.
Massage therapy classes for aromatherapy massage teach not only massage techniques, but also how to use essential oils to treat certain conditions. Aromatherapy massage is a popular treatment for emotional issues, stress issues, and related conditions. Hot stone massage, ideal for relieving muscle tension, is a lighter massage option than Swedish or deep tissue massage therapies. It employs the use of heated stones on the body. The massage therapist applies gentle pressure to different points of the body, using the stones.
Shiatsu massage therapy classes train students how to use rhythmic finger pressure on acupuncture meridians to restore balance to the body and improve the flow of "chi" or energy. Thai massage, very similar to Shiatsu, also realigns the body and helps to improve the flow of energy. The therapist stretches and moves the person who is being massaged, in a specific sequence that is similar to yoga.
Reflexology is also sometimes known as foot massage. It is based on the correlation that is believed to exist between certain points on the foot and certain organs in the body. Pregnancy massage and sports massage are two other areas in which a therapist can specialize.
In addition to the types of massage, students must also take massage therapy classes in human anatomy and pathology. Online massage therapy classes can be a good way to conveniently get the credits and instruction necessary without the hassle of scheduling time for the classroom. Students can also benefit from a classroom or online massage therapy class in areas such as clinical massage, deep vein thrombosis, ethical case management, and how to develop a wellness center.
Many people do not realize the work and education that goes into massage therapy. Therapists are often working with parts of the body that are damaged or could easily be damaged; therefore, they must learn the proper techniques for handling that area, as well as how to identify damage or conditions that could prove harmful. Massage therapy classes address these topics in addition to the actual massage types and techniques, making for a more well rounded massage therapist.