The Difference Between Relaxation and Injury Treatment Massages

Mar 9, 2018

Whether you’ve got a pain in the neck, a sports injury, or are simply looking for a way to relax, you may be considering how a massage could help. Understanding the difference between relaxation and injury-treating massages allows you to make the right choice of massage therapy.

Also known as sports massages or remedial massages, an injury-treating massage is designed to support recovery. Relaxation or therapeutic massages, on the other hand, are designed to rejuvenate, calm, and unwind the body and mind. Here we look further into the difference between the two.

Relaxation or therapeutic massage

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Relaxation massages uses rhythmic, flowing movements to help you calm your body and mind, allowing you to destress and unwind. With a skilled massage therapist, a therapeutic massage is able to calm nervous system activity, boost blood circulation, reduce stress hormone levels, and increase “happy hormones” like serotonin and dopamine.

If you’re dealing with a high-stress lifestyle, relaxation massage is a valuable tool for boosting calmness, reducing anxiety, and improving productivity – helping you get a better nights sleep.

Discover Massage Australia whole body massage technique

The DMA whole body massage is a complete and thorough massage system to effectively massage the entire body. Our course teaches massage therapists to relax and lengthen the muscles, giving their massages the wow factor that sets them apart from all other massage therapists.

Swedish massage

Swedish massage is another type of relaxational massage. With Swedish massage, the massage therapist uses massage oils as they apply smooth, gliding strokes to the body. The therapist might also use techniques like kneading, friction, stretching, and tapping. The firm but gentle pressure can ease muscle tension, heighten relaxation, and calm your nervous system.

Injury treatment massage

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Injury treatment massage, unlike therapeutic massage, is designed to address specific pain points in the body. If you’ve been injured, an injury treatment massage can treat the affected muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues in your body. Also known as remedial massage, injury treatment massage often supports rehabilitation, pain management and injury management. It can also be used to boost range of motion and correct abnormalities in posture.

With remedial massages it’s vital for your therapist to review your medical history and how you have been injured. He or she will assess your range of motion, postural alignment, and conduct tests to determine the type of massage therapy that’s appropriate.

Your treatment plan could involve different techniques like deep tissue massage, myofascial tensioning, cupping, and trigger point techniques.

Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage focuses on aligning deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. It does so by breaking down bands of painful tissue or adhesions in your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This type of massage therapy could reduce tension, support recovery of mobility, and improve healing outcomes in the case of an injury. Deep tissue massage could also be used to help with specific muscle tension, spasms, or pain. It tends to use slower strokes than classic massage therapy, concentrating on problem areas and using a deeper level of pressure.

Myofascial tensioning

Myofascial tensioning assists with releasing your fascia, the connective tissue that holds your muscular system in place. If you’ve been injured, your fascia could be tight, preventing your muscles from moving correctly. If this is the case, it could cause toxins to build up while worsening pain and restricting your range of movement.


Your massage therapist might also use cupping to treat injury. Plastic, silicon, or glass cups are applied to the skin to increase blood flow in the area and release toxins from your muscles.

Trigger points

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Massage therapists might use trigger-point techniques to treat injuries. Trigger points are where small balls of muscle fibre are stuck together, possibly due to injury or other factors like a poor diet and poor postural alignment. With direct pressure and release movements, the therapist can improve blood flow to the area and help the trigger point heal.


Injury-treating massage will usually use stretching techniques to boost blood flow to the injured areas. The stretching technique lengthens your muscle fibres and improves postural alignment.

Other techniques

Your massage therapist could use other techniques like soft tissue manipulation, dry needling, and rehabilitative exercises to help with your healing and pain relief.

Which massage is right for you?

When should you have a therapeutic massage and when should you choose an injury treatment massage? Both types of massage therapy can improve your wellbeing and health.

If you’re looking to destress and boost your health, relaxation massage is the right option for you. But if you’re experiencing pain, tension, restrictions in movement, or other symptoms of injury, you’ll want to have an injury treatment massage. This type of massage is particularly useful for athletes and active individuals who are looking to recover from an injury, enhance sports performance, and improve their recovery time. It’s even possible to organise an injury treatment massage program that’s aligned with your physiotherapy or other medical treatment.

Everything you need to know about massage therapy

Discover Massage Australia has been helping students become qualified, confident massage therapists since 1997. As the oldest and most experienced ‘hands on’ training school in Australia, we deliver industry-recognised massage therapy courses in a fun and friendly environment.Find out more about our course here.

Cameron Aubrey

Cameron Aubrey has over 20 years experience in the massage industry, and leads the team as Course Director at Discover Massage Australia. Cameron holds a Diploma in Remedial Massage, and his expertise runs across a large range of massage techniques, particularly sports, Swedish and whole body massage.