Remedial Massage vs Deep Tissue | Which Is Best For Me?


If you’re looking to book a massage appointment, you’ve probably noticed that there’s no shortage of treatments to choose from. From Swedish to Thai, Shiatsu to hot stone, and remedial to deep tissue, figuring out the right massage can be a pretty daunting task.

To help you on your way to relief, we’re going to break down two often confused massage types – remedial massage vs deep tissue massage. We’ll look at the benefits and what they’re best suited for, as well as the key differences between the two.

What is remedial massage?

Remedial massage is a complementary therapy, often recommended for issues such as chronic complaints and sports injuries. Muscle issues can resonate throughout the entire body, and a remedial massage can help trace pain back to its source, managing both the symptom and the cause.

It may be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as physiotherapy, to help manage an existing injury and help speed up the body’s natural recovery processes. A remedial massage therapist requires much more specific training than a day-to-day therapist and will likely see their clients for a much longer, more regular period of time. You will need to work closely with your practitioner throughout the process, so they can fully understand where the pain originates and how best to help manage and relieve it. And because remedial massages often deal with injuries, therapists need to consider pain thresholds carefully – this means that communicating clearly with them is absolutely key.

Your remedial massage therapist will use a variety of techniques throughout the process, including trigger point therapy, myofascial release, stretching, thermotherapy, and cryotherapy. Some deep tissue massage techniques may be used, and this is likely where the mix-up between the two massage types comes in – here, deep tissue is part of the remedial massage process, rather than the whole experience! If you’d like to know more, we have a full breakdown of remedial massage techniques right here.

Unlike most other massage types, remedial massages are generally not considered to be a luxury or a form of relaxation. Because of its targeted, focused nature and its use as part of on-going treatments and rehabilitation, it’s generally viewed as more of a remedy and corrective treatment rather than a relaxing treat. The good news is that this means it can be discounted by private health insurance cover. As long as your practitioner has a diploma in remedial massage, is registered with an association and it’s covered by your policy, you may be able to claim part of your treatment back.

Remember that you don’t need to have a referral or an injury to get a remedial massage. Anyone from office workers to sports stars can book in and benefit from one!

What is remedial massage best suited for?

Remedial massage can help manage a huge range of ailments, and if you’re suffering from a specific injury, it may be recommended as part of the recovery process. Here’s a few issues remedial massage may be able to help with:

As well as offered targeted, specific pain relief and management, remedial massage has plenty of other benefits. These include:

What is a deep tissue massage?

Now let’s move on and take a look at deep tissue massage.

A deep tissue massage gets right into the inner layers of your muscles. It has its roots in Swedish massage, using many of the same movements and techniques, but is a much more intense treatment, requiring a lot more pressure. You can expect a blend of circular movements, deep kneading, tapping, fiction, and vibration.

Like remedial massage, it’s great for people with sports injuries and chronic pain. It’s also a good choice if you have scar tissue, as it can help break down the adhesions and collagen fibres that limit movement and cause stiffness. You might find that a deep tissue massage is incorporated as part of a larger remedial massage program, used in conjunction with lower pressure techniques.

It can be either a full body or a targeted treatment, with the therapist using a mix of techniques and pressures to give your muscles time to recover between the more intense periods. You can certainly expect a degree of discomfort with a deep tissue massage, but it’s important to communicate clearly with your therapist to make sure it stays within your personal pain threshold. Too much pain isn’t just rough in the moment either – while it’s normal to feel a little sore a few days after a deep tissue massage, you don’t want to make it worse!

What is a deep tissue massage best suited for?

As with remedial massage, deep tissue massage suits a variety of ailments. Amongst other things, you might find it can aid with the following:

Massage is generally considered a low risk activity, but because deep tissue massage uses very firm pressure, it’s important to consider if it might be right for you. If you are pregnant, have a history of blood clots, are taking blood thinners, have a bleeding disorder, or are undergoing cancer treatments, you should consult with a doctor first.

Anyone with osteoporosis or other bone-related issues should also steer clear. The firm pressure may cause fractures, so it’s best to stick with gentler forms of massage and also consult your doctor if complications arise.

Benefits of Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage has plenty of benefits, including:

Deep tissue vs remedial massage

So, what are some of the key differences between remedial and deep tissue massage?

While they’re often used to treat similar ailments, it’s perhaps best to think of remedial massage as a much more targeted, goal-focused treatment. It may be working alongside other therapies and treatments, aiming to relieve and rehabilitate a specific injury. Generally, you should expect to attend a series of sessions, with regular assessments and check-ins from your therapist.

Though a deep tissue massage can also home in on specific areas, full body massages are quite common. And while deep tissue massage can be used within a remedial massage treatment plan, it may not form part of a wider rehabilitation program and can simply be a one-off treatment.

That said, both remedial and deep tissue massage are accessible by anyone, without the need for a specific injury to work with or referral from a doctor or specialist.

There are also some differences in terms of experience. Neither lean too hard into the traditional idea of massage as relaxation, but deep tissue massage in particular comes with an expectation of “good pain”. No massage should ever be excruciatingly painful, but some level of discomfort is to be expected with a deep tissue massage. You might also find that remedial massages take place in much more clinical environments, though that isn’t always the case.

The most noticeable difference between the two is that the cost of a remedial massage can be subsidised by private health insurance, while a deep tissue massage cannot. This might make the decision between the two a lot easier for some people!

Other options

Remember that the important thing is that whichever massage style you choose, it works for you and your body. Perhaps neither remedial nor deep tissue sounds like what you’re looking for, and that’s perfectly fine! There are still plenty of types to choose from.

For example, Swedish massage uses similar techniques to a deep tissue massage, but with a lot less pressure. Thai massages are sometimes referred to as “assisted yoga”, with a focus on knee work, stretching, and active participation throughout. You may want to include hot stone or, reflexology as part of the treatment. It’s all about what you hope to achieve from the session.

Whatever route you plan to take when it comes to massage treatment, the best practice is to do your research and figure out what’s best for you. Explore your options, reach out to friends and family for recommendations, and, if necessary, consult your doctor.


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