What is the Difference Between Remedial and Relaxation Massage?

Difference Between Remedial and Relaxation MassageMassage therapy comes in many different styles, each with its own techniques and intended purposes. Two common modalities you may come across are remedial massage and relaxation massage. While they both involve hands-on bodywork, these massage types have some key differences in their goals and approaches.

Relaxation Massage

As the name implies, the main goal of a relaxation massage is to promote a state of overall calmness and stress relief for the client. Relaxation techniques aim to quiet the nervous system, increase circulation, and ease muscle tension built up from everyday stresses.

Common relaxation massage styles include:

– Swedish massage

– Hot stone massage  

– Aromatherapy massage

– Lomilomi massage

Relaxation massages typically utilise smooth, gliding strokes along with kneading and vibration movements on the major muscle groups. The pressure is lighter and the pace is slower to encourage the relaxation response in the body.

This style of massage helps relieve muscle tightness, improve blood/lymph flow, and induce feelings of calmness and rejuvenation. It’s not focused on a specific complaint, but rather an overall restorative experience.

Remedial Massage

In contrast, remedial massage is a more targeted therapeutic approach used to treat musculoskeletal injuries, imbalances, or sources of chronic pain. Rather than general relaxation, the goal is rehabilitating a specific condition or area of dysfunction in the body.

Remedial massage therapists use assessment techniques to locate and identify the origins of the client’s Musculoskeletal issues. Treatment involves applying specific techniques such as:

– Trigger point therapy

– Myofascial release

– Sports massage  

– Joint mobilisations

– Muscle energy techniques

These remedial methods utilise deeper targeted pressure and stretching to release restrictions in muscle fibers, fascia, and joints. Some discomfort may occur as the therapist works to realign tissues and break up adhesions.

The remedial massage aims to reduce pain, restore range of motion and muscle balance, and correct dysfunctional movement patterns contributing to the patient’s condition.

While relaxation massage is lighter with a goal of overall de-stressing, remedial massage is deeper and laser-focused on remediating a specific musculoskeletal injury or issue. Many massage therapists integrate both relaxation and remedial approaches in their practice depending on each client’s needs.