Therapeutic Massage vs Relaxation Massage
In the past, massage was viewed as a very relaxing time to enjoy. In recent years, Massage therapy has branched out into many versatile areas, but the two main fields are relaxation and therapeutic. It is important to know what to expect for a relaxation massage versus a therapeutic massage so that you can know which would be better for you and are not alarmed if your body is still adjusting three days later.
A general rule of thumb for figuring out what places offer therapeutic or relaxation, is that spas often offer relaxation, while clinics offer therapeutic. This is not always the case as some spas have highly qualified therapeutic specialized massage therapists, but in general spas offer relaxation, while clinics will almost always offer mainly therapeutic. In a relaxation massage you can expect that there will be other elements such as hot stone, essential oils, and that your massage will be light touch. Days following the treatment you can expect to feel little if any soreness, and in general feel good. Many massage therapists myself included, will accommodate those who are looking for a more relaxation inspired massage, however if you have an injury or specific concern, it is recommended to have a therapeutic massage.
Therapeutic massages are different in many aspects than a relaxation. One major way, is the treatment will center on the stretching and manipulations of muscles, and things such as heat packs or essential oils will be applied, but will play a minor role in the treatment, not the focal point. The treatment itself will also be more intense. There will be a brief warming up period, where your tissues will be more lightly worked on in order to get your muscle aware that they are being worked on. This will also prevent severe soreness for the following days. More into the treatment, it will focus on stretching the tissues, and break down of possible scar tissue within your muscles. This can be quite uncomfortable as scar tissue is not a pliable tissue and needs a lot of pressure and manipulation to achieve best results. There can also be passive stretches, where the therapist will position your body in a way that naturally gives your body a stretch. This is a helpful technique because some people often overstretch their tissues and create damage, whereas a professional will know deeper stretches, but execute them in a safe manner. Therapeutic massages are greatly recommended if you have injuries, but they are also beneficial in preventing injuries and keeping your body in a balanced healthy state.
Now that you know what to expect from each you should be able to see which is best for you. If you have never had a massage before and are hesitant, asking for a relaxation massage the first time can be a great option. A good thing to consider when booking an appointment is to ask about the RMT’s level of training. In Alberta massage therapy is not highly regulated, so it’s important to know the training of the person working on you. Some practitioners have been practicing for over 10 years and have around 100-400 hours of training. Because of the years they have been practicing and been taking workshops (as enforced by Massage therapists regulatory bodies) the therapist should be more than qualified to treat you. Currently schools are teaching anywhere from 250 hours to 2,200. If you are looking for results from an injury, someone fresh out of school can be an advantage as all the material is fresh and they are taught the latest medical developments. However for therapeutic value you may want to consider someone with over 250 hours.
In conclusion, massages are so versatile that there is one for everyone. By using some of this guide you should be on your way to finding a treatment well suited for you.