The Fitness Zone

Comparing Remedial Massage to Standard Massage Therapy

Dec 07, 2023 | by AIF

Remedial massage and standard massage therapy are both popular forms of bodywork that aim to promote relaxation, provide pain relief, and improve overall well-being. However, they differ in their approaches, techniques, and intended outcomes. In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between these two modalities, and help you understand which one might be best suited for your needs.

Understanding remedial massage

Remedial massage is a specialised form of massage therapy that focuses on targeting specific areas of your body to address musculoskeletal issues. It is typically used to alleviate pain, increase mobility, and improve overall physical function. The core principles of remedial massage involve identifying and treating the root cause of a client’s symptoms, rather than simply providing temporary relief.

The core principles of remedial massage

One of the key principles of remedial massage is the belief that the body has the ability to heal itself. By manipulating soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments, a skilled remedial massage therapist can help stimulate the body’s natural healing process.

Furthermore, remedial massage recognises that the body’s structure and function are closely interconnected. It understands that imbalances and dysfunctions in one area can have a ripple effect on the rest of the body. By addressing these imbalances and dysfunctions, therapists aim to restore overall balance and promote optimal health.

Techniques used in remedial massage

Remedial massage therapists use a variety of techniques to help correct musculoskeletal issues. These techniques are tailored to the client’s individual needs and goals.

Deep tissue massage is one of the techniques commonly used in remedial massage. It involves applying firm pressure to release tension and adhesions in deeper layers of muscle tissue. This technique can be particularly effective for addressing chronic pain and injuries.

Another technique used in remedial massage is trigger point therapy. This technique targets areas of tightness and hyperirritability within muscles. By applying direct pressure to these trigger points, therapists can help relieve pain and restore normal muscle function.

Myofascial release is yet another technique employed in remedial massage. It involves gentle sustained pressure and stretching to release restrictions in the fascia, a connective tissue that surrounds and supports muscles and organs. This technique is especially useful for improving mobility and reducing pain.

Stretching plays a crucial role in remedial massage, as it helps improve flexibility, lengthen muscles, and restore range of motion. Therapists may incorporate passive, active, or dynamic stretching techniques into their sessions to further enhance the benefits of the massage.

Benefits and potential side effects of remedial massage

Remedial massage offers numerous benefits for physical and mental well-being. It can help reduce muscle tension, alleviate pain, improve circulation, enhance joint mobility, and promote relaxation. Additionally, remedial massage can contribute to stress reduction, improved sleep quality, and increased overall body awareness.

However, like any form of therapeutic treatment, remedial massage may have potential side effects. These can include temporary soreness, bruising, increased fatigue, or a temporary worsening of symptoms before improvement occurs. It is important to communicate with your therapist about any concerns or existing health conditions so that they can tailor the treatment to your specific needs.

By using various techniques such as deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, myofascial release, and stretching, you can, as a remedial massage therapist, alleviate pain, increase mobility, and improve overall physical function. 

Unraveling standard massage therapy

Standard massage therapy, also known as Swedish massage, is one of the most widely practiced forms of massage. It focuses on providing relaxation, stress relief, and overall rejuvenation. Unlike remedial massage, which targets specific issues, standard massage therapy aims to benefit the entire body and promote a sense of well-being.

When you step into a standard massage therapy session, you are greeted by a tranquil environment designed to enhance your relaxation experience. Soft, soothing music fills the air, and the room is dimly lit to create a calming ambience. The therapist welcomes you with a warm smile and invites you to make yourself comfortable on the massage table.

The basics of standard massage therapy

Standard massage therapy typically involves long, flowing strokes, kneading, and circular motions to help relax muscles and improve circulation. Therapists may use their hands, forearms, or even their elbows to apply the desired pressure. This type of massage is often performed on a massage table with the client undressed to their level of comfort and covered with a sheet or towel.

As the therapist begins the massage, you immediately feel the tension in your body melting away. The long, sweeping strokes glide effortlessly across your skin, releasing any knots or tightness that may have built up over time. The therapist’s expert touch and intuitive understanding of your body’s needs create a harmonious dance of relaxation and healing.

Common techniques in standard massage therapy

In addition to the basic strokes mentioned above, standard massage therapy may also incorporate other techniques such as tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (circular pressure), and vibration (rapid shaking or trembling movements). These techniques are used to further stimulate the muscles and provide a deeper level of relaxation.

Advantages and possible drawbacks of standard massage therapy

Standard massage therapy offers numerous benefits, including relaxation, stress reduction, improved circulation, and enhanced mental well-being. It can be an ideal choice for those seeking a gentle and soothing experience.

During the massage, you find yourself drifting into a state of blissful tranquility. 

The worries and stresses of everyday life fade into the background as the therapist’s skilled hands work their magic. Your mind becomes clear, and a sense of calm washes over you, leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

However, standard massage therapy may not be as effective for addressing specific musculoskeletal issues or providing deep structural changes. If you have chronic pain, tension, or an injury, remedial massage may be a more suitable option for you.

Key differences between remedial and standard massage

While both remedial massage and standard massage therapy share some similarities, there are several key differences that set them apart. Understanding these differences can help you determine which approach is most appropriate for your needs.

Approach and methodology: remedial vs standard massage

Remedial massage takes a targeted, problem-solving approach. It aims to identify and address the root cause of physical issues, using specific techniques to promote healing and restore balance. In contrast, standard massage therapy takes a more general approach, focusing on relaxation and overall well-being.

Effectiveness: remedial massage vs standard massage therapy

Remedial massage is often more effective in addressing specific musculoskeletal issues, such as chronic pain, injuries, or postural imbalances. It employs a range of techniques that target problem areas directly, helping to relieve pain and improve function. Standard massage therapy, while effective for overall relaxation, may not offer the same level of targeted therapeutic benefits.

Choosing between remedial and standard massage: factors to consider

When choosing between remedial massage and standard massage therapy, it is essential to consider your specific needs and goals. If you are experiencing pain, limited mobility, or have a specific condition or injury, remedial massage may be the better choice. On the other hand, if you are seeking relaxation, stress relief, and overall well-being, standard massage therapy can provide the desired benefits.

The role of massage therapists

Whether you opt for remedial massage or standard massage therapy, it is crucial to find a skilled and qualified massage therapist. These professionals play a vital role in ensuring your safety, comfort, and overall therapeutic experience.

Skills and training required for remedial massage therapists

Remedial massage therapists undergo extensive training to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to address specific musculoskeletal issues effectively. They are well-versed in anatomy, physiology, and various therapeutic techniques. Additionally, they may have specialised certifications or additional training in areas such as sports massage, pregnancy massage, or oncology massage.

Skills and training required for standard massage therapists

Standard massage therapists also receive comprehensive training in various massage techniques and relaxation therapies. While their focus is generally more on providing overall relaxation and stress relief, they are still knowledgeable about anatomy and physiology and possess the skills to deliver a rejuvenating massage experience.



The Australian Institute of Fitness
The Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) is the largest and longest established fitness training organisation in Australia, with dynamic training methods and expert course coaches nationwide - spanning fitness, massage and nutrition. The AIF qualifies more fitness professionals than any other provider in Australia, as well as offering a broad range of continuing education courses (CEC), upskilling resources and partnership programs for existing industry.

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Disclaimer: Where Certificate III in Fitness, Cert III/Cert 3, or Fitness Coach is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Fitness, Cert IV/Cert 4, or Personal Trainer is mentioned, it refers to SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Program™ is mentioned, it refers to Fitness Essentials and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Plus+ Program™ is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Massage or Cert IV/Cert 4 is mentioned, it refers to HLT42021 Certificate IV in Massage Therapy. Where Diploma of Remedial Massage is mentioned, it refers to HLT52021 Diploma of Remedial Massage.