Center News

Cutting through the confusion: Understanding different types of massage

Feb. 18, 2014

Massage can benefit some cancer patients, doctors say. But there are many types, and some need to be modified for patients with cancer. To help you understand the various techniques, here is a primer:

Most forms of massage fall under one of two categories: very light touch or deep tissue manipulation.Some examples of the deeper methods include Swedish massage in which the therapist uses kneading, vibration and tapping to relax and loosen stiff muscles.

Methods using direct manipulation of soft tissue and requiring awareness of needed adaptations in technique for cancer patients:

  • Acupressure
  • Ayurvedic massage
  • Fascial release techniques
  • Lomilomi
  • Lymph drainage therapies
  • Neuromuscular therapy
  • Seated chair massage
  • Shiatsu
  • Swedish massage
  • Trigger point therapy
  •  Zero balancing

Methods using principles of subtle energy or very light touch and requiring minimal or no adaption:

  • Bowen Technique
  • Compassionate Touch
  • Craniosacral Therapy
  • Healing Touch
  • Jin Shin Jyutsu
  • Polarity Therapy
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Therapeutic Touch
Read more: 
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a world leader in research to prevent, detect and treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases.