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.
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.