Therapeutic Massage vs Massage Therapy for Relaxation

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Massage therapies are becoming more and more popular. In 2018, this industry was valued at $18 billion, and compared to the $6 billion registered in 2005; this is a huge positive change. Based on the latest statistics, 16% of men and 21% of women have reported booking a massage in the last 12 months. 

The main reason why these therapies are so popular is due to variety. There is a wide range of massage techniques clients can choose from. Every massage technique has unique features. Some are better for promoting muscle function and healing process, while others are ideal for recreational use. 

But, one of the most common questions that often pops us is what’s the difference between therapeutic massage vs massage therapy that keeps the stress at bay, like relaxation massage therapy. Here, we will talk about these two different massage therapies, what makes them different, and how they can help. Let’s take a closer look at therapeutic vs relaxation massage therapy. 

Therapeutic Massage vs Massage Therapy for Relaxation – What to Pick?

The choice between a therapeutic massage vs massage for relaxation, comes down to one important factor, and that is what do you plan to gain from your therapy? For example, do you want the therapist to focus on specific areas, or do you expect them to massage the entire body? 

therapeutic massage-vs-massage therapy for relaxation

Both therapeutic and relaxation massages use different techniques. A therapeutic massage focuses on certain spots to treat the muscle tightness and strain, while a relaxation massage covers almost the entire body. 

Here is how you can define both therapeutic and relaxation massage to figure out the differences and similarities between the two. 

Therapeutic Massage

A therapeutic massage is often considered a healing treatment. People who suffer from a certain disorder, chronic pain, or delayed healing after an injury often choose to get a therapeutic massage. 

The main difference between a therapeutic massage vs massage therapy for relaxation is the range of motion. Therapeutic massage uses techniques that people may find painful since they are concentrated on a specific area. 

During a therapeutic massage, some therapists may use neural muscular therapy to ease the tension in the connective tissues. The goal is to target the muscle deeper in the connective tissue and untangle the knots. This is known as the “deep stripping” compression technique. 

Anything from too much work, stress, muscle strains, can cause these knots to form. This technique is used to boost blood flow to untangle the knots, reduce muscle tone, and help with chronic pain. 

Relaxation Massage

A relaxation massage, on the other hand, relies on specific Swedish techniques that soothe the stress. The techniques are a lot softer, smoother, and easier to deal with. They consist of short circular movements and long rhythmic strokes that boost blood circulation and help with the adhesions.

With this type of massage, you can expect the therapist to use different elements to elevate your experience, for example, essential oils, hot stone, or light movements. During a relaxation massage, the therapist is expected to accommodate their techniques based on the client’s needs. The idea is to help them relax without using too much pressure on any specific area.

What Do Therapeutic and Relaxation Massage Have In Common?

Since we’ve already discussed the differences between therapeutic massage vs massage therapy for relaxation, let’s talk about their similarities. What many people may not be familiar with is that both of these massages share some similar effects. 

According to research, the primary use of either of these massages is to:

  • Encourage relaxation
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Treat muscle pain
  • Improve the quality of sleep

That means that both of these massages are expected to provide similar results when it comes to relaxation, stress relief, muscle pain, and sleep. However, they use different methods to achieve these results. 


Both therapeutic and relaxation massages have something unique to offer. When it comes to providing stress relief, relaxation, better sleep, and reducing muscle pain, both of these massages provide similar results. But, they use different methods and techniques to achieve them. 

If you are in the mood for something more relaxing and smooth, a relaxation massage would be a great choice. However, if you want a more thorough technique, the therapeutic one is the ideal pick.