Massage Techniques Rating Scale

Find your best massage technique with our unique massage modality rating system and helpful tips

best massage technique

In our effort to provide helpful resources for consumers, we have created a standardized rating summary, characterizing each massage modality. Please scroll down towards the bottom of each massage modality page to view our ratings (Please note that our scoring is based on a personal opinion of our expert content writer.  It may be biased and subject to debate).


Characteristics of Acupressure

Relaxation **

Therapeutic ****

Intensity: Moderate to Very Strong

Lubrication: no

Undressing: no

Tip: Depends on facility

Explanation of Characteristics and their Parameters

Relaxation (1 – 5 Stars): The numbers of stars indicates the degree of modality being geared towards relaxation. Please remember that relaxation itself can be highly therapeutic too.  However, if the modality is mainly intended for relaxation purpose, the therapy tends to be less focused and rather more general, whole body treatment.  It is ideal for wellness and occasional relaxation.

Therapeutic (1 – 5 Stars): The number of stars indicates the degree of modality being geared towards therapeutic treatment.   If you are seeking massage therapy for specific injuries or chronic pain, you may want to consider the modality with 4 or 5 stars in this category. Please also pay attention to the ratio between “relaxation” and “therapeutic”.  If you find the modality with only 1 or 2 stars under “relaxation” and 4 or 5 stars under “therapeutic”, the modality is highly intended for therapeutic purposes.  Then, the modality may not be the best, if you are healthy and seeking an occasional relaxing experience on Sunday afternoon.

Intensity (minimum – mild – moderate – strong – very strong): This scale represents how much force is typically used by the therapist during the session.  Please keep in mind that high intensity of the therapy does not necessarily correspond with the higher therapeutic scores.  For example, an amount of force used with lymphatic drainage can be very subtle, but the therapy is used for specific medical applications.

Lubrication (Yes – No): Whether or not, the therapy is administered by using lubricants such as oil or lotion.

Undressing (Required – Not required): While some massage modalities such as shiatsu can deliver the pressure through the clothing, most Swedish massage strokes are intended to be administered directly against the skin. If the therapy is conducted without the cloth, a professional massage facility will provide sufficient draping.

Tip (less likely – Depends on facility – likely): We added this category, because many clients are quite confused about the tipping issue when it comes to massage.  While they do not want to embarrass themselves by not leaving a tip, they also worry that they may offend some therapists by offering the tip. While we cannot be sure regarding tipping etiquette, we can provide a general idea based on the particular massage modalities practiced, type of practitioner and facilities.