Swedish - A Swedish massage is what most people think of when they think of a massage. It's a true massage. It involves the Massage Therapist actually rubbing (massaging) the clients body. Many modalities of massage don't involve massaging the body and some modalities of massage don't even involve touching the body.
Sports - A sports massage isn't very strictly defined. Any modality that works well for an athlete will work well for someone who's not an athlete. The techniques used in sports massage are the techniques that work well on someone who has just performed an athletic event. Also, it can be techniques used to prepare a person for activity before an event.
Neuromuscular - A neuromuscular massage involves the therapist using postural assessment, muscle testing, exercise and stretching to balance the nervous system. This system is widely accepted by western medical doctors.
Myofascial Release - This modality involves the therapist turning or pressing the fascia (connective tissue that covers muscle) in a direction that causes the therapist to feel either increases or decreases resistance. Ironically, either direction may work. If the direction that increases resistance doesn't work, the therapists will try the other direction and vice versa.
Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT) - is a gentle, light-touch, noninvasive technique that offers qualified therapists a natural complement to their existing health care protocols. Within the context of breast care, LDT can help alleviate numerous conditions related to pregnancy, including engorgement, sore nipples (transient, chronic), plugged ducts, wounds, fissures, ulcerations, bruises and dermatitis (eczema).
Reflexology - A reflexology massage involves the therapist massaging various areas of the feet to promote health in various areas of the body. In general, the big toe represents the top part of the body (the head), the bottom of the heal represents the lower part of the body and the middle part of the foot represents the middle parts of the body.
Tui na - Originating in China tui na massage stimulates points on the body that correspond to acupuncture points. The therapist primarily uses the back of the hand to quickly roll back and forth over these points.
Acupressure - Acupressure uses pressure in points of energy flow. Pressure at these points is supposed to balance energy in the body (Chi). The points are very close to acupuncture points and in reality probably are the same points.
Shiatsu - Shiatsu means finger pressure and is a Japanese form of acupressure. A Shiatsu treatment involves balancing the meridians of the body by pressing and holding certain points for 2 to 3 minutes each. Meridians are energy channels through which chi (energy) flows through the body.
Energy Work - The client passes spiritual or psychic energy, usually from the universe, into the client. Alternatively, energy in the client is balanced by the therapist.
Polarity Therapy - Polarity Therapy involves balancing the positive and negative forces in the body (yin and yang) by holding various points on the body and passing energy through these points.
Aromatherapy - An aromatherapy massage involves incorporating scents from plants (essential oils) into the massage. Different scents are supposed to trigger different areas of the brain to allow healing of various conditions. Most of these conditions are psychological. Certain scents relieve anxiety, some relieve depression, others have a calming effect. So basically, they all are supposed to elevate mood (just different kinds of mood).