What is Swedish Massage?

Swedish massage is usually what people in the western world are referring to when they say they got a massage. The focus of Swedish massage is on anatomy and physiology, as opposed to Asian massage techniques that focus on lines of energy that flow through the body. A Swedish physiologist, Per Henrik Ling, is credited for developing a system of medical gymnastics that later evolved into what we know today as Swedish massage.

What Is the Difference Between Swedish and Thai Massage?

Each type of massage has a fundamentally different ideology that influences how the massage is performed. These differences are large enough that some people can have different results depending on which type they get.

Swedish massage has an emphasis on physiology with a specialization in releasing knots, tension, and pain through a variety of different techniques. Some of these techniques include:

  • Kneading
  • Friction
  • Effleurage
  • Stretching
  • Tapping
  • and more

The massage therapist can also adjust the intensity of the massage from gentle to grueling at the request of the client. Swedish massage also allows the client to focus on massaging particular parts of the body that need more relief.

Thai massage is often referred to as “lazy yoga” because of how much the client moves, flexes, and stretches compared to a Swedish massage. The client is stretched, pulled, or manipulated to invigorate muscles, rather than rubbing or massaging the muscles themselves. Blood flow throughout the body is often controlled by the massage therapist, who can temporarily restrict blood flow to some parts of the body to release that pressure and allow the blood to rush back into the body part. It feels warm and energizing!

Which Type of Massage Is Right for Me?

The short answer is that it depends! You need to be sure to pick a massage that is right for your body and what your body needs. Thai massages are excellent for increasing flexibility and circulation, while Swedish massages take special care to alleviate specific pain points in the body.

Another thing to consider is your personal comfort level with things like massage oils and nudity. In a Swedish massage, the client is usually nude and covered in a massage sheet or towel. Clients can also choose to keep their underwear on if they are nervous during their first few visits. The massage therapist only reveals the part of the client they are working on, and these massages are performed in private. Modesty is always preserved for the client. The nudity is required in order to use the massage oils that traditionally come with a Swedish massage.

If you are uncomfortable with the nudity involved in a typical Swedish massage, or your skin could react negatively to the massage oils, consider trying a Thai massage. Thai massages are performed while the client is fully clothed and does not use any massage oils. These massages are also often performed in rooms with space for multiple people to be massaged at the same time.

Share With Us!

Which type of massage do you prefer and why? What benefits have you enjoyed from it? Share with us on Facebook!

Students of the Month: Lakieta and Essence

At Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage, we see students come and go. We love watching them grow and develop as professionals and people while they are here. It’s amazing to watch them channel their excitement and passion for massage to become experts. Each of our students has a unique path that led them to a career in massage. No matter the path that led them here, we’re glad to have them at OSTM. We think that our students are some of the most incredible individuals and students out there. They astound us on a daily basis!

Because we have such high-caliber students here, we like to select one from each campus to highlight every month. These are our students of the month. They are the students who progress quickly and bring their peers along with them. This month the students we chose to highlight are Lakieta Smith from our Syracuse campus and Essence Brooks from our Rochester campus.
ostm students of the month

Lakieta Smith

We love having Lakieta at OSTM! She works hard and takes the time to learn and understand as much as possible. She has an awesome attitude and even approaches challenges with a smile on her face. We think this is one of the most important characteristics our students can have. When a student brings a great attitude like this to school, it rubs off on other people. It’s contagious!

Healing Hands

Lakieta is a woman of many talents. She used to work as a DJ in Buffalo, New York. That’s a pretty big career change. When asked what led her to choose massage therapy as a new career she said, “The world needs more healers.” Lakieta is also a mother and she told us that parenthood also played a role in her choice when she said, “I dedicate my life to my daughter and she has brought out a true nurturing side of me I never knew I had. Along with that came more of a drive to continue on finding my greater purpose in the universe.”

We’re so glad these things led you to OSTM, Lakieta. You have been amazing to have around. We will miss you when you graduate!
essence brooks standing in front of onondaga school of therapeutic massage sign

Essence Brooks

Essence is one of our 15-month students at our Rochester campus. She started in October 2017 and immediately struck us as an outstanding student. Essence’s instructors describe her as being open minded, upbeat, and always willing to help others. This willingness makes having Essence in class an absolute pleasure. It also makes Essence very teachable which is one of the reasons she has excelled so quickly during her time in school.


For Essence, it was the career possibilities and flexibility that drew her in. She was excited about how many different paths a massage therapist can take. She also loved that many massage therapists choose to be self-employed and that she could pursue that opportunity herself. Essence is always asking her instructors and classmates questions and spends a lot of time in OSTM’s free tutoring program to improve. With this display of hard work, we have no doubt that Essence will be able to accomplish whatever she sets her mind to! We’re excited to see what she does after graduating.

Follow in Their Footsteps

Are you ready to start building a career as a massage therapist? You can become the next student of the month like Essence and Lakieta. Contact us to learn more about what it takes to become a licensed massage therapist. We can help you get started on the road to a career you can love!

Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage and Community Engagement

onondaga school of therapeutic massage community engagement

At Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage we are always trying to make a difference in our community. How do we do this? With events like our Hometown Heroes appreciation, Back to School Drives, and more. We love partnering up with service organizations in New York to help other people.

Our Most Recent Project

In November we worked with the Food Bank of Central New York to bring meals to people who needed them.

One in eight Americans struggle with providing food for themselves and their family members. The following statistics apply to the people in New York who need help providing food for themselves and their families:

  • 30% are under 18 years old.
  • 91% are under the federal poverty level.
  • 41% have less than $12,000 of annual income.

The Food Bank of Central New York

The Food Bank of Central New York provides more than 30,000 meals every day to these people in need. Talk about making a difference. At OSTM we saw an opportunity and wanted to be a part of the cause.

We decided to have a non-perishable food drive at our campuses and donate the food. Students and massage clients alike could donate to the cause. When all was said and done we gathered 461 pounds of food.

students at the food bank of central new york

Coming Together

There are a lot of reasons that we love being involved in community builders like this. One big one is that we get to see people come together to serve. We love linking arms with organizations like the Food Bank of Central New York. We also love seeing how eager and willing the public is to step up and help out! It’s a humbling experience for both staff members and students of OSTM. We believe it helps us be better professionals and members of society.

Keep in Touch

Are you asking yourself why you didn’t know about OSTM’s food drive? We want you to be in the loop on all of our future community engagement events. We want you to be able to join us in strengthening and serving. How can you do this? Follow us on Facebook. This is a great way to stay up to date on what events are going on and how you can be a part of the OSTM team. As a bonus, you’ll be in the loop on how you can get discounts on massages.

Ready to Join the Team

If you’re thinking about building a new career in massage, come visit us. We want to help you become part of the OSTM team where you can learn massage and help in the community. Join the OSTM family and start building your dream career today.

Students of the Month: Shaina and May

We have so many talented students here at the school that it becomes difficult for us to pick just one student of the month each month. These students have really shined in the past month as prime examples of what it means to be talented massage therapists! Hard work and persistence pays off, and it’s doubly true in a results-oriented field like massage therapy. These students are exemplary in their learning, and we are so excited to see what they can do in the future!

Meet Shaina Bienvenue

Shaina is one of the newest students at OSTM, but right away she’s making a huge impact! She is a student in our 15-month evening licensed massage therapist program who started with us on September 1, 2017! Shaina is a superstar at the school because of her helpful and cooperative spirit. She’s always willing to put extra effort into helping other students succeed alongside her. Not only does she work hard at school, but she also finds time in the day to hold a job and perform well there! Her authenticity, diligence, and compassion for others is contagious, and that’s why she is our student of the month for October!

Healing Hands

When asked of her reason for choosing massage and her goals, Shaina stated, “I’ve wanted to do this since I was 13. I have moved, changed jobs, and started school all at the same time.  I want to specialize in autoimmune since [it has] affected a lot of my loved ones. Eventually I’d like to also do lymphatic drainage or infant massage in the far future.” Way to go Shaina, you’re an inspiration to all of us!

Meet May Yang

May Yang is a student in the 6-month licensed massage therapist program who will be graduating in December 2017. She has a bachelor’s degree in human services and has always had a passion for helping others. She knew that massage therapy could be a rewarding career for both her and her clients. When May first made the decision to pursue a career in massage therapy, she shared that she has become more self-aware in regards to her own health and wellness. She knew she wanted to find a career in the industry due to her passion for living a balanced and healthier lifestyle and wanted to share that with others!

Holistic Health & Lifestyle

Once licensed, May’s goal is to educate her clients and help them understand the benefits of massage therapy. For her this includes providing consultation as well as helping clients prevent, heal, and cope with stress and injury. She wants to provide them with the ability to relax and enjoy massage therapy. May developed her first business plan for her massage practice named “Body Balance, Massage & Wellness” where she plans to incorporate the benefits of therapeutic massage and yoga together. Her business model incorporates nature and the outdoors into her practice while using the health benefits of massage and yoga to improve her client’s’ quality of life. Such an admirable goal, May! Keep up the great work!

Craft a Future Fit for You

At Onondaga, we do everything we can to empower our students to create careers that are suited for their individual dreams. Learn more about us to begin crafting the dream career for yourself today!

Why do Massages Feel Good?

Massages feel good because they release “feel-good” endorphins into the body, similar to a runner’s high. They can also feel good because the brain releases oxytocin which is a natural chemical that reduces pain and can serve as an antidepressant. Massages can also feel good as a chemical response to human contact, similar to feeling good from affectionate contact from friends or family.

The Endorphin Rush

The body responds to the world around it in so many ways! Endorphins are a natural response to something good for the body. Endorphin rushes can come from thrills like roller coasters or cliff jumping, or from fat-burning exercise like running or swimming. Not only that, but endorphins are also released as a response to some forms of pain as a means to help manage it. Even eating extremely spicy food can give you an endorphin rush! Massage gives the same sensation both from the “good pain” of massaging sore muscles, but also from the increased circulation.

Knotty Knotty Muscles!

Knotted muscles form when there is a buildup in protein and lactic acid that can cause pain from lack of blood flow. Massaging knotted muscles helps to release that buildup and increase blood flow, providing oxygen to parts of the muscle that weren’t getting enough before. It feels great not only because the pain is triggering a release of endorphins, but also because circulation is increasing and inflammation from the knot is being released. This is why some back and shoulder massages can “hurt so good”!

The Human Element

Human contact is essential in emotional well-being. Embraces, handshakes, and even cuddling are all in their own class of endorphin sources. Interpersonal contact is proven to reduce stress, improve mood, and contribute to well-balanced health. Massage is important for both physical and mental health!

Massage Therapy and You

Massage therapy is a growing field with an increasing number of options for both the therapist and the client. Where you can choose so many kinds of massage and whether you want one at home or in a spa, it’s an exciting time to be in the world of massage! Check out our licensed massage therapist programs to begin building the career of your dreams!

How We Create a Positive Culture at Onondaga and Why It’s Important to Us

massage therapist working

When choosing a school, you should be looking at the culture they maintain on campus. A school’s culture are the things that are important and what the overall feeling is like at that school. At Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage, we understand the importance of school culture. We know that it can make a difference in the quality of our students’ education.

Because culture can play such a big role in the way our students feel about their educational experience, we do what we can to build a positive one.

Here’s some of the things we do at OSTM to build a culture of caring:

Time to Have Fun

What we do is a blast! We love to see our students and staff members have fun, joke around, and be themselves. We encourage our students and instructors to create a fun atmosphere. It’s an important ingredient in creating a culture where students can feel comfortable in their surroundings.

group of onondaga school of therapeutic massage students

Reach Out

At OSTM we make reaching out and helping others an integral piece of our culture. We strive to give our students ample opportunity to help and serve others not only in school but in the communities that our campuses are part of.

Why do we think that helping others is an important factor in school culture?

One reason is to help our students give back and to make a difference in the lives of those we serve. These things are important to us as a school and we want to pass that onto our students. We’ve noticed that when our students get a chance to help others, it almost always makes them more grateful and humble. It also gets them excited to continue being a source of positivity after they graduate.

Check out some our recent community engagement events:

Want to get involved in our next community event? Follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on what’s going on!

Encourage Others

Our instructors and staff members love seeing students thrive. The most rewarding part of being an OSTM instructor is getting to watch the transformation that students go through. Because of this desire to help you succeed, instructors will be some of your biggest fans as you go through your journey to a new career.

massage therapy student giving a massage

OSTM instructors are not the only members of your support system as you go to school. Our students are also amazing. They go above and beyond in helping each other learn and grow. When you become an OSTM student, you join a family.

Want to see how strong the support is from staff, instructors, and other students is at OSTM? Book a tour and come see for yourself.

Find Balance

A balanced and healthy life are important to finding success. We do what we can to help our students learn how to create this kind of lifestyle. From flexible class schedules to continuing education workshops, we are dedicated to giving our students the tools they need to achieve their dreams without sacrificing other things that are important.

Choosing a Career in Massage

Becoming a massage therapist can lead to an exhilarating career and we’re ready to help you start building it. Contact us to get started. Our admissions representatives can answer your questions about what it takes to become a licensed massage therapist in New York.

Back to School Drive: A Great Success

At Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage, we place a lot of value on learning, growing, and living a balanced life. We love getting involved in the community and providing service to others in order to achieve these goals. We understand that being involved with good causes will help the students and staff of OSTM become more humble and happy.

students involved in back to school drive

Recently, our Syracuse and Rochester campuses were both involved in helping giving back to the community. Here’s what they did and how it unfolded:

Back to School

As the school year was about to start in August, we wanted to help kids who didn’t have what they needed. It’s important for children not only to have what they need for school, but to be excited and confident going into the first day of class. At OSTM we want to help young kids learn to love education!

What We Did

In order to help kids and parents out with the hustle and bustle of back to school, we had a school supplies drive at each of our campuses during the month of August. Clients who scheduled massages could bring in school supplies for kids and get a discount. Supplies that we collected for young students included:

  • Subject notebooks
  • Folders
  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Highlighters
  • Pens and pencils
  • Glue
  • Backpacks
  • Much more

small school child receiving school supplies

Our Partners

Each campus partnered up with a charity organization in the area to help connect the kids with the school supplies. In Rochester, Cameron Community Ministries helped us identify children that needed supplies and connected us with those children. In Syracuse, we partnered with Vera House which helps women and children who are victims of domestic violence. These organizations are pillars in their respective communities and played key roles in helping us get the supplies to where they needed to go.

The Results

It’s safe to say that our school supply drive was a huge success. There was a massive outpouring of generosity and kindness. Our students, staff, and partners were all excited to be a part of the project and the clients who donated were more than happy to do so. When diverse groups of people work together to serve others like this the results are amazing. While the children we helped received useful tools for their education, the people who benefited most were those who donated and organized those donations. When you help someone else do something that they can’t do for themselves, it changes you most of all.

Thank You!

OSTM is grateful for the help and service of everyone who was involved in our back to school drives. The opportunity for OSTM students to be able to participate in a service to the community has helped them grow personally and professionally. Thank you to all of our clients who made donations, Cameron Communities Ministries, and Vera House! We couldn’t have done it without you.

two kids saying thank you for the school supplies

Looking into the Future

You can count on OSTM to continue searching for ways to help and serve others. We are always looking for opportunities to help our students learn the importance of building and strengthening the community. If you are thinking about becoming a massage therapist, book a tour with us. You can become part of the OSTM team where you can become a licensed massage therapist and get involved in great causes. We can’t wait to meet you!

Holiday Stress Test

The holiday season has arrived! It’s an exciting time of year. You get to spend time with family and friends, go to parties, give and receive gifts, and eat lots of sweets. There’s a lot of good things that come with the holiday season, but for some it can also be a stressful time of year. Take our holiday stress test to get an idea of how much stress you’ll have to cope with this season.

Are you ready for the holiday season? Don’t forget to schedule your massage to help things go a little smoother this year.

Students of the Month: Chiedu and Naomi

The road to becoming a massage therapist is unique to other educational experiences. At Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage, school can take anywhere from 6 to 15 months. Students have the flexibility to finish school in a time frame that works for them and they can choose to take classes day or night. During this time, students are taught a myriad of techniques, modalities, processes, and much more.

There’s a lot to learn in a short amount of time, even if you choose the 15 month graduation track. We like to highlight students who show that if you have a passion for learning and helping others, you can learn and master the material! For the month of September we chose to highlight Chiedu from our Rochester campus and Naomi from our Syracuse campus.

Chiedu Monu

Meet Chiedu Monu

Chiedu wanted a career that would give him the satisfaction of helping people every day and the ability to create his own work schedule. How did Chiedu know that he could have these things as a massage therapist? He saw his wife, who is a practicing massage therapist, enjoy scheduling flexibility and the reward of helping others and he wanted that for himself. Chiedu began pursuing his dream at Onondaga in September 2016 and will be graduating in December 2017. Chiedu brings a big smile, positive attitude, and good work ethic to school with him every day. Everyone who works with or around Chiedu ends up having a better day as a result and that’s the kind of student we love to have around!

Big Plans

Chiedu’s wife is already running her own massage therapy business and when Chiedu graduates, he plans to add his expertise to the operation and help grow their business. We asked Chiedu to tell us about one thing he would like to accomplish when he starts working with his wife and this is what he said: “I would like to educate the general public on the health benefits of massage. There really isn’t anyone who wouldn’t benefit from regular massage treatments, especially if they want to be the best version of themselves. Massage Therapy was once looked at as a luxury experience, however, I believe it’s a necessity in today’s busy and hectic day and age.”

That’s a great goal, Chiedu! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish when you graduate and start working as a massage therapist. We have no doubt that you will do great things.

naomi plyter

Meet Naomi Plyter

Naomi has been described as diligent and conscientious by her instructors and peers. She has excelled in her studies and has received amazing feedback from her clients in the Student Massage Clinic. Naomi is authentic and compassionate and shows it by lifting other students up and helping them overcome their roadblocks. We love having students like Naomi because they make the environment positive and help everyone achieve greater balance. Thanks Naomi!


Naomi’s compassion also shows in what she wants to do as a massage therapist. When we asked her about what she plans to do when she graduates Naomi said, “The experience that I’ve had at OSTM has opened up different ideas of what I would like to pursue in massage. I initially came to the school set on working with pregnant women and infants/young children only, but as I continue through the courses, the goal has changed slightly. I would still like work with pediatrics, but also with those that are going through PTSD. I’m not yet certain where this will take me or how many more turns I’ll need to make before finding my niche. Knowing this, I am excited at the opportunities that I have now that I wouldn’t have had without learning from all the different instructors, the perspectives of my classmates, and clinic experience.”

Naomi is all about helping and serving others and that will help her become a great massage therapist. Way to go Naomi!

Build a New Career

If you’re interested in a career that is flexible and rewarding, contact us! We can help you begin your journey to becoming a massage therapist. You can follow the examples of Naomi and Chiedu and start a career helping others. Schedule a tour today and you can see what it’s like to be a student at Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage. We can’t wait to see you!

Student of the Month: Katy and Gabriela

Going to school to become a massage therapist requires hard work, ambition, and dedication. At Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage, there is no shortage of this. Our students display their great work ethic everyday. Because we have such amazing students, we like to highlight a few who have played a key role in making the atmosphere at OSTM what it is.

For this month, the students who stood out from the crowd are Katy Osborn from our Syracuse campus, and Gabriela Goff from our Rochester campus. Great job Gabby and Katy!

student of the month katy

Meet Katy Osborn

Katy is a relatively new addition to our 12 month program, but her ambition and determination set her apart immediately. She was chosen as a student of the month because of her kindness and display of servant leadership. She is always looking for opportunities to learn and help others.


Yoga, meditation, and living a balanced life are important to Katy. When asked what she wants to do after graduating from OSTM she said, “When I complete my year at OSTM, I hope to end up working with a chiropractor or physical therapist as a sports massage therapist. I am really interested in working with clients after an injury and helping them to get back to their sport, or to help athletes recover after a long race or difficult game. Ultimately, I hope to merge my love of yoga with massage. I might own my own business or learn shiatsu massage or just offer private yoga classes and massage services as I travel. I am really looking forward to exploring many different paths in front of me!”

Katy’s excitement and optimism about her future career is a great attribute. We can’t wait to see what she accomplishes!

Meet Gabriela Goff

Gabriela, or Gabby, is an amazing student that has been a part of the OSTM family since January. A recent client left some feedback after an appointment with Gabby.

“I came in to your clinic today at the recommendation of a friend who receives massage weekly to help with arthritic pain. I was greeted by my Student Massage Therapist, Gabby, and was immediately put at ease. Gabby listened to what was going on in my life and the difficulties I was having with pain in my forearms and legs. I could sense nothing but positivity coming from Gabby who gave me my massage and checked in with me frequently to ensure I was comfortable and that the right amount of pressure for me was being used. Afterwards, she gave me some stretching exercises and had me speak with her Clinical Supervisor to recommend some additional things I could do to help with my own arthritis. 50 minutes on the massage table with Gabby and I felt better than I have ever felt with any medication my physician prescribed me. I made sure to rebook an appointment for next week with Gabby and wanted to thank her for just being the phenomenal person she is and the amazing therapist she will become when she graduates.”


Gabby’s positive attitude and willingness to go out of her way to make others, like this happy client, feel great are just a couple of the reasons she was selected. Her amazing attitude is contagious and makes OSTM a brighter place. Her stellar academic performance also stands as a testament to her great work ethic. Gabby serves as a great example for other students on how to succeed and help others succeed. Way to go Gabby!

Start Your Flexible Future

Want to learn and build a career in the company of incredible students like Gabby and Katy? You can start building a flexible career with OSTM. Contact us or schedule a tour to learn more about how to get started.