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What is the difference between a therapeutic massage and a regular relaxation massage?

All Massage is the manipulation of  muscle and connective tissue using various techniques, to enhance function, aid in the healing process, decrease muscle reflex activity, inhibit motor-neuron excitability, increase circulation, promote relaxation and well-being, and as a recreational activity.

Thus all massage is therapeutic in nature because it affects the largest organ in your body—your skin.

professional masseur doing massaging of female neckThe intention and techniques are what make a therapeutic massage different from a relaxation massage.

Therapeutic Massage vs Relaxation Massage

A therapeutic massage is intended to affect certain areas whereas a relaxation massage generally covers most areas of the body. Many therapists use specific neural muscular therapy and connective tissue release techniques during a therapeutic massage. With that said, Swedish massage is the most common protocol for a relaxation massage.

Communication also differs in each type of massage.

In a therapeutic massage, it is essential for the client to be an active participant and give the therapist feedback on pressure, sensation, and changes. In many relaxation massages, the client does not have to be active and can feel free to fall asleep.  A massage does not have to be either a therapeutic massage or a relaxation massage. Your massage sessions are most likely a combination of both.

The Benefits Of Massage

  • Assists with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays
  • Enhances immunity by stimulating lymph flow
  • Exercises and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles
  • Helps athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts
  • Improves skin
  • Increases joint flexibility
  • Reduces fatigue, depression and anxiety
  • Enhances sleep
  • Improves energy, concentration and circulation
  • Alleviates low-back pain and improves range of motion
  • Promotes tissue regeneration, reduces scar tissue and stretch marks
  • Pumps oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs which improves circulation
  • Relaxes and softens injured, tired, and overused muscles
  • Releases endorphins
  • Relieves migraine pain

Most people experience a sense of emotional perspective and clarity after receiving a massage which helps promote overall health and healing.

Research shows that with massage:

  • Arthritis sufferers report fewer aches and less stiffness and pain
  • Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak air flow
  • Burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety
  • High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones
  • Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping
  • Preterm infants have improved weight gain

Schedule an appointment online – We look forward to working with you!

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Beth Schiffman
Many Lives Chinese Medicine
Acupuncturist Redwood City
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