Massage Therapy Canada

Features Practice Technique
Client Centre: Summer 2005

The following is a partial list representing modalities provided and recognized by the AMTWP. These have undergone AMTWP credentialing to set minimum competency standards.

September 29, 2009  By Massage Therapy Magazine

The following is a partial list representing modalities provided and recognized by the AMTWP. These have undergone AMTWP credentialing to set minimum competency standards. These competencies are set by the AMTWP Therapy Assessment Protocol which include thorough research into each modality’s history, competencies, risks and efficacy, and includes consultation with members and educators of the modality’s complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities used by the public and as recognized and described by the AMTWP. NOTE: This is a partial list and not all Canadian governing bodies have the same modalities acknowledged as falling within their definition of the “scope of practice.” If you are unsure about modalities deemed within the scope of practice of massage therapy in your area, contact your provincial college or association to inquire.

Active Release Technique applies specific myofascial release methods to rapidly treat musculoskeletal pain, stress, and restrictions, caused by damage, injury, or repeated stress to the myofascia. Extremely efficient and effective, some discomfort may be experienced from this fast-acting deep-tissue myofascial work.

is based on the Chinese meridian system. It uses stimulation of a specific point or points to correct the energy flow within the meridians. Release of muscular tension is often part of the treatment. Correction of the energy flows can have general or specific therapeutic effects on any or all systems of the body.

have trained extensively in aromatherapy. They can assess and support the treatment of or enhance a variety of physical and mental conditions through careful selection of quality plant essential oils (not flower essences). Some may use lymph drainage or relaxation massage as part of the application.

Aromatherapy is a general term for the use of essential oils to enhance an environment or treatment. Many therapists will take workshops to learn how to safely use basic essential oils for their treatment environment and for mixing in their oils and creams used during their therapy treatments.

Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy™ is focused on treatments using the complex system of trigger points used (often in a more superficial manner) in massage therapy. These trigger points are the locus which, when released, cause the release of the muscle in spasm or tension. Treatment includes corrective exercises.


Bowen Technique™ is a gentle fascia (connective tissue) focused therapy. Light strokes across the muscle, often at or near the muscle attachments, some gentle tapping, and hydrotherapy induce release of stress patterns and holding in the muscles and connective tissue, reducing pain and increasing the range of motion.

Chair Massage
, also known as On-Site Massage, is a specific, effective de-stressing massage and
acupressure-based treatment done with the client fully clothed in specially-developed massage chairs that can
be taken into almost any professional, public, or private setting. Sessions range from 10 minutes to an hour.

Cranial Sacral Therapy begins by assessing the effects throughout the body of restrictions to the flow (pulses) of the cerebral spinal fluid. A variety of very gentle treatment techniques applied both directly and indirectly release the body’s connective tissues restrictions, and optimize the cerebral spinal fluid flow.

CranioSacral Therapy was further developed and specialized from the osteopathic cranial sacral therapy by the osteopathic doctor, Dr. Upledger.

Feldenkrais™ stimulates the nervous system’s innate self-organizing abilities through sensory motor activities,
freeing us from habitual patterns and allowing new patterns of thinking, moving, and feeling to emerge. It opens the exploration of the biological and cultural relationships of learning, thought, and movement.

Hellerwork™ Structural Integration focuses on the connective tissue patterns of the body. Either an individually tailored program or an 11-part series, it uses a three-pronged approach of gentle deep tissue bodywork with associated dialogue and movement education. Good for injury and repetitive strain treatment.

Infant Massage is not paediatric massage (massage on infants). Rather it is participatory courses in which a
parent learns simple massage techniques to do with their own infants to deepen the parent-child connection, learn health giving and relaxing massage and stretches, and manage some childhood discomforts.

LEVA is a specific machine recognized by Health Canada that is used in clinics to augment massage therapy, physiotherapy, and chiropractic treatments through carefully-modulated microcurrent stimulation of muscle and connective tissue. The specific pulse waveform is gentle, and stimulates healing in the area.

Manual Lymph Drainage improves health and manages certain pathologies by improving the flow of the lymphatic system through light touch massage. It can reduce swelling and have analgesic effects. Some therapists are trained to help manage lymphedema (congenital/acquired), wounds and other skin pathologies.

Dr. Vodder Lymphatic Drainage is the complete system developed by Dr. Vodder in the 1930s by extensive observation of the effects of techniques. The basis for all modern lymphatic drainage medthods, advanced therapeutic applications are part of this training.

Maternal Massage is a specialized focus of massage therapy, sometimes with other added techniques, applied to treat the discomforts and stress of pregnancy, and maintain optimum health and muscle-tone throughout the pregnancy, birth, postpartum and nursing period.

Massage Therapy is the manipulation of the soft tissues (primarily muscle and connective tissue) of the body. It strives to achieve balance and health in the body by affecting the body’s systems. Massage can significantly accelerate the healing process by having a positive effect on the circulatory and lymphatic systems.

Myofascial Release uses gentle stretching to focus on pain or restrictions in the connective tissue that exists three-dimensionally continuously through the entire body. It relies on sensory feedback of, and subsequent response to, the restrictions in the connective tissue perceived by the therapist.

Onsen™ is a combination of three treatment techniques based on fundament myofascial treatment philosophies. The three components, muscle energy technique, post isometric relaxation and transverse friction massage are used together to balance the myofascial system, releasing stress and pain in the body.

Reflexology is based on the ability to cause a healing stimulation of one body part or organ (a reflex response) by stimulation of a specific point or points on distant parts of the body. Most common is foot reflexology, where points on the foot are worked to reflex non-foot body organs. You may find hand and ear reflexologists.

Reiki means Universal Life Force energy. The receiver lies clothed while the giver gently places their Reiki-emitting hands in various positions on the head and body with the intention of enhancing and restoring both balance and healing to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms. It is very relaxing.
Rolfing™ is done either as an individually tailored program or as a 10-part series, using deep tissue bodywork to release the whole-body connective-tissue stress patterns that prevent optimal functioning in gravity. Good for injury and repetitive strain treatment. Rolfing technique application has become more gentle.

Shiatsu is a Japanese adaptation of acupressure focused on promoting the free flow of Qi through stimulation of Tsubos (a system of points similar to those used in acupressure) and through various massage techniques. At times light or deep, it is relaxing, treating stress and optimizing function of muscles and organs.

Sports Massage therapists have a special interest in the needs of professional athletes, and people that regularly participate in sports. The two main aspects are conditioning and injury prevention work, and rehabilitation should injury occur. Usually approached through massage, exercise and stretching programs.

Structural Integration™, a close relative of Rolfing, is done either as an individually tailored program or as
a 10-part series, using deep tissue bodywork to release the whole-body connective-tissue stress patterns that prevent optimal functioning in gravity. Good for injury and repetitive strain treatment.

Touch for Health™ uses muscle testing to determine imbalance in the muscles and organs. Practitioners then use muscle manipulation techniques, acupressure-like treatments, lymphatic massage, some basic cranial sacral therapy moves, and perhaps nutritional or herbal counselling (if so trained) for treatment.

Trager™ is an innovative approach to learning and teaching movement reeducation and neuromuscular release through gentle bodywork and rocking, and a sequence of dance-like movements called Mentastics®. Used for health maintenance as well as rehabilitation, for injury, pain, and neuromuscular disease.
Trigger Point Therapy is similar to acupressure, but focuses only on muscular release points (“triggers”) in the muscle fascia and tendons. Used to effectively treat pain and referred pain caused by injury to, or tightening in, fascia, muscles, and tendons. Usually followed by massage of the involved areas.
Visceral Manipulation
™ is a manual therapy that focuses on improving the function of the internal organs and their associated environment and influence. It uses specific placement of soft manual forces to encourage the normal mobility, tone and motion of the viscera and their connection tissues.

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