Remedial massage

Written by Katherine Nicholls

Katherine Nicholls

Therapy Directory Content Team

Last updated January 2023 | Next review due July 2024

Designed to reduce pain and tension in soft tissues, remedial massage utilises a range of massage techniques. Here we’ll explore what remedial massage involves, how it differs from other massage types and what to expect from a remedial massage session.

What exactly is remedial massage?

Remedial massage is a hands-on body treatment often used to treat a specific injury or concern. Someone trained to offer remedial massage will have the expertise to assess you before the treatment, to understand what the concern is and which techniques would be best suited during the massage. 

As this approach is typically used to help with issues (and is sometimes called medical massage), there is also likely to be a treatment plan. This may involve exercises for you to do at home and a plan of regular massage sessions. 

A variety of techniques are used in remedial massage, including effleurage (light strokes used to stimulate lymphatic drainage), deep strokes (deeper pressure to increase circulation and muscle tone), wringing (lifting, squeezing and releasing soft tissues to increase mobility), compression (direct pressure to warm up muscles) and skin rolling (fingers and thumbs used to clear superficial tissues of obstruction). 

The overall aim of remedial massage is to reduce pain, normalise muscles, joints and soft tissues, and to promote mobility. The massage itself promotes natural healing and relaxes muscles. It can be used for a range of concerns, but is commonly associated with:

  • back pain
  • headaches caused by muscle tension
  • sports injuries and conditions (like tennis elbow)
  • joint pain 
  • trapped nerves

For chronic pain conditions, you may be advised to attend regular massage sessions to maintain progress. For an injury you may only need a limited number of massages, your massage therapist will be able to explain more. 

What is the difference between massage and remedial massage?

While remedial massage uses many of the base techniques from Swedish (or classic) massage, it is more focused on addressing injury or pain. Swedish massage can help ease pain too, but its main aim is to promote relaxation and reduce stress. 

Remedial massage is also different from deep tissue massage and sports massage. Deep tissue massage works on the whole body, with the therapist using a deep pressure throughout. In a remedial massage, the therapist will change techniques and pressure, focusing on problem areas. Sports massage and remedial massage can both be used in similar ways, to treat injury for example, but sports massage is more geared towards those who exercise/play sports regularly and are keen to improve performance. Remedial massage can be suitable for anyone who wants to ease pain and heal. 

If you’re not sure which type of massage would be best for you, consult a massage therapist, letting them know what you hope to gain from a massage and they should be able to advise on the type that would be best suited. 

Benefits of remedial massage

If you’re considering remedial massage, here are some of the benefits to consider. 

Promotes relaxation

By their very nature, many massage types are relaxing. Remedial massage is no different, with a keen focus on reducing tension. Offering both body and mind time to relax and be present, having regular massages can do wonders for your overall well-being.

Reduces tension

A great deal of pain and injury can be caused by tight, tense muscles. Remedial massage looks to dissolve this tension and reinstate elasticity to the muscles. This can prevent injury, reduce pain and improve mobility.

Improves mobility

As mentioned above, reducing tension can go a long way in making stiff muscles more malleable. Remedial massage can also be used on joints, helping to break down scar tissue and encourage blood flow to the area. 

Eases pain

Reducing tension in muscles and encouraging blood flow can all help to ease pain caused by tight muscles. Techniques can be used to aid injury recovery and pain caused by trapped nerves to ease pain there too. If you live with a chronic pain condition, you may be encouraged to have regular maintenance massages to help with the pain, long-term.

Encourages natural healing

Whether you’ve got an injury or have simply overworked your body, remedial massage can support the body’s natural healing process. It does this by aiding tissue repair, improving circulation and encouraging muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients. 

What to expect from remedial massage

As with all massages, your appointment should begin with a consultation. This is where your massage therapist will talk to you about why you’ve come to remedial massage, any conditions of injuries you have and what you hope to gain. A remedial massage therapist can then assess your condition, to decipher your treatment plan.

You will then have the massage, likely lying down but you may also be asked to sit in a chair, depending on the focus of your massage. Afterwards, your therapist will let you know if there is any aftercare you should be aware of and, if necessary, any advice to help maintain progress between sessions. 

Are remedial massages painful?

While a remedial massage is likely to be a relaxing experience, as it is designed to treat pain and injury, you may notice some tender areas as your massage therapist works. There may be a little discomfort, and this may be necessary to get the effects you’re after, if you’re in pain, don’t hesitate to tell your therapist who can adjust their approach. 

If you’re ready to book an aromatherapy massage, you can use our search tool to find a massage therapist

Disclaimer: At Therapy Directory we verify that massage practitioners have qualifications and insurance, or membership of a professional body, associated with massage only. We encourage you to check they have the specialised skills required to offer remedial massage specifically.

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