Relaxation vs. Therapeutic Massage

As a Registered Massage Therapist, I am frequently asked, what is the difference between relaxation and therapeutic massage?

To define relaxation massage: it’s a state of being free from tension and anxiety.  Are you looking to relieve stress, improve circulation, decrease muscular/joint pain or simply improve overall well being?  If the answer is yes, a relaxation massage may benefit you. Relaxation massage is performed using Swedish techniques consisting long smooth rhythmic strokes and small circular movements which in turn help to break down adhesions and promote circulation.  These classic Swedish strokes are extensive and generalized with the intention of leaving you relaxed and rejuvenated.

To define therapeutic massage: it’s relating to the healing of an ailment.  Are you dealing with an injury, looking to relieve chronic pain or suffering from a disorder/dysfunction?  If the answer is yes, therapeutic techniques are concentrated and more specific.  Treatment may start with a thorough assessment and test range of motion to determine the treatment plan.  Referral may be from a Physician or any other manual therapist such as a Physiotherapist or Chiropractor with specific instructions.  Upon treatment, an increase in pressure is applied to target deeper in the muscle and connective tissue. Deep stripping techniques and compression are used to target trigger points also known as “knots”.  Trigger points are caused by muscle stress, overwork, repetitive motion and excessive stretch.  Goals of therapeutic massage include the release of trigger points, decrease muscle tone, lengthen muscle and improve blood flow.

In addition to relaxation and therapeutic massage, many other techniques are available and practiced by Registered Massage Therapists to enhance your treatment… to be discussed in future blogs!

If you are interested in massage therapy, contact a massage therapist to determine the best possible treatment plan for you!

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