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 therapeutic 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, therapeutic massage 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 therapeutic 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.