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What is Therapeutic Massage?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Therapeutic massage is massage which is offered with the goal of obtaining a therapeutic benefit. It differs from relaxation massage, performed to help someone relax. While this type of massage is often relaxing, the end goal of the session or series of sessions is not relaxation. This type of massage is offered at a number of spas and massage studios, and many massage schools teach therapeutic techniques to their students.

Therapeutic goals can vary considerably between massage therapists and clients. In some cases, massage is recommended by a health professional and may be performed as part of a larger treatment plan. For example, someone in physical therapy for an injury might have regular therapeutic massage to loosen muscles, improve muscle tone, and increase flexibility. Likewise, it can be used to supplement wound care, cancer care, and a variety of other treatments.

Psychotherapists may also utilize or recommend massage in their work. In addition to having physical benefits, therapeutic massage can also be psychologically beneficial and may be used to increase trust, promote relaxation as part of a therapeutic program, alleviate severe depression, or to treat other conditions. Psychotherapists might even recommend back to back massage and therapy sessions to facilitate psychotherapy.

People can also use this type of massage as a standalone treatment. Some people receive massage regularly to keep themselves in good physical condition; athletes, for example, regularly make appointments for sports massage, which is a form of therapeutic massage specifically designed for people who engage in athletic activities on a regular basis. Massage may be used as part of a general wellness program for people ranging from secretaries worried about muscle strain to construction workers who want to keep their muscles loose, strong, and flexible.

People of all ages can benefit from therapeutic massage when it is performed by a competent and fully qualified practitioner. Massage is also suitable for people with disabilities, expecting mothers, and people in treatment for medical conditions, although some special precautions may need to be taken to protect the health of the client. People who are not sure about whether or not massage is appropriate can consult their medical care providers to learn if there are any contraindications.

Basic therapeutic massage can be performed on nude and draped clients or fully dressed clients, depending on comfort level. Techniques from a variety of massage styles may be incorporated, with the massage therapist tailoring the sessions to the needs of the patient. When discussing massage therapy, people should be sure to bring up problem areas which they would like to see addressed, and to discuss their medical history so that the massage therapist can adjust the specifics of the session to avoid causing medical complications.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon187940 — On Jun 19, 2011

You need to go to a school to receive hands on training in order to be eligible to sit for the National Certification Exam - providing your state accepts the NCBTMB. There are certain standards that must be taught, but besides those basics, training remains up to the school you choose. Watch out for scammers though, and if something doesn't feel right, go with your gut!

By musicshaman — On Sep 17, 2010

Do all therapeutic massage schools teach the same kind of massage? For instance, are there basic massage techniques that every massage therapists have to learn, or is it different at each school?

By lightning88 — On Sep 17, 2010

How can I get basic therapeutic massage training? Is it possible to get it without going to a school? Somebody recently gave me a therapeutic massage chair, and I want to use it, but I don't have any training. How would I go about learning how to use this?

By FirstViolin — On Sep 17, 2010

I am such a fan of therapeutic massage therapy -- it is such an intimate, though non-sexual experience. Especially if you go to the same massage therapist every time, you can really get so many benefits from having someone that you trust and are comfortable with touching you asexually.

Of course, therapeutic massage is good no matter where you get it -- I think that even the therapeutic chair massages they offer in health food stores have their benefits.

But in order to get the full benefits of a therapeutic health massage, I think you really do need to go for several months at a time, preferably to the same person. That way you can fully relax and get all the benefits of a massage.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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