Is there really a difference between medical massage and relaxation massage?

While both medical and relaxation massage offer benefits, such as reduced stress and tension, there are significant differences between these two types of massage.

Relaxation Massage
Relaxation massage uses classic Swedish massage techniques, designed, as the name suggests, to relax the patient. Pressure typically ranges from light to medium with a whole body focus. These massages may be given in spas, resorts and providers’ offices. Benefits from relaxation massage include reduced stress hormones, increased blood circulation, lowered blood pressure, improved function of the lymphatic system (which rids organs and muscles of metabolic waste), increased flexibility, relief of muscle soreness, immune system boosts and lowered risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure, to name a few. The results are often universally beneficial, depending on the health of the individual. Even in a relaxation massage, it is important to communicate any health issues and/or concerns you may have.

Medical/Therapeutic Massage
Medical massage is a more targeted form of massage, personalized based on the health concerns of the patient. While many patients still experience relaxation, this is not the sole focus. Medical massage is often completed as a collaborative approach with traditional medical care. Medical massage is used not only to treat injuries, but illness as well. Oftentimes, the massage is performed in a clinic, hospital or practitioner’s office, by a professional trained in advanced modalities.

How can you know if medical massage will help with your illness or injury? First, talk to your doctor and licensed medical massage therapist. There’s a growing body of research that shows significant benefits to patients who employ massage for a variety of ailments, some of which are listed below. Be sure to provide the massage therapist with the latest on your medical condition, including any medications you are taking.

  • Chronic aches and pains
  • Auto accident injuries
  • Certain autoimmune disorders, such as Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cancer palliative care massage
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic headaches and migraines
  • Depression, PTSD and other mental health conditions
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Fall related injuries