Most of us agree that a massage is a great way to relax and work out some knots and muscle tensions, but it seems these days that there are countless varieties of treatment on offer. There’s hot stone massage, Thai massage and Indian head massage, as well the more familiar types, like Swedish and remedial massage.
Swedish massage is probably the one that most people are familiar with – a long, luxurious, soft-pressure rubdown with some oils which makes for a really relaxing treat. It’ll improve your sense of wellbeing and maybe get your circulation going a bit, but it doesn’t have the same physically therapeutic impact as a deep tissue massage or a remedial massage.
People who are looking for something firmer and harder than a Swedish massage often look at deep tissue and remedial massages, but the two types of therapy are different to each other as well as to Swedish massage. Here’s how.
Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage uses broadly the same sort of strokes and techniques as Swedish, but it’s firmer, with more pressure so that it hits deeper muscles. It can be uncomfortable, but deep tissue fans describe it as a “good pain”.
It’s just as, if not more, relaxing than a Swedish massage, but you can feel some aches the day after (although they’re good aches, obviously…) and this massage is great for athletes and anyone wanting to recover from a lot of exercise.
Remedial massage is targeted at a particular area of the body, whereas deep tissue massage is an all-over pummelling. Remedial massage doesn’t necessarily involve hard pressure, especially if the person is recovering from an injury.
Remedial massage therapists need to study and train for longer than many other massage therapists because they need to know more about the underlying tissues and how they interact with each other. They can also spot more significant problems and advise clients to see their doctor if necessary.
If someone’s recovering from, say, a shoulder injury, a deep tissue massage will certainly help, but it won’t offer the same targeted benefits as a remedial massage because it won’t focus so much on the finer structure of the joint, ligaments and muscles. A remedial massage therapist will also take time to look for improvements (or indeed, deterioration) in the affected part so that the client can really make progress.