Remedial Massage: The Complete Guide

Apr 11, 2022

From easing muscle soreness to improving posture and relaxation, massage therapy can be used to treat a range of physical and psychological conditions.

There are several different types of massage; each one carrying its own unique benefits. Remedial massage is one of them.

The following guide aims to teach you the fundamentals of remedial massage, what’s involved in remedial massage and how remedial massage differs from other massage types. It will also touch on the importance of remedial massage, who can benefit from remedial massage and how to become qualified in remedial massage therapy.


Understanding the basics of remedial massage


Remedial massage is often used for the prevention and management of injuries. It can also be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. Read on to find out what remedial massage is and how it differs from other massage types.


What is remedial massage?

Remedial massage is a hands-on massage modality that incorporates many different massage techniques to treat and prevent pain and injury. Specific techniques used include deep tissue release, trigger point therapy, myofascial release and joint mobilisation.

Remedial massage targets musculoskeletal imbalances or chronic/acute pain. Treatment is used to identify and repair any damaged areas in the body including inflamed, tense, knotted or immobile tendons and joints. Remedial massage is often used to treat soft tissue injuries, but can also be an effective treatment for nerve compression, arthritis, delayed onset muscles soreness (DOMS) and neck and back pain.

What is involved in remedial massage?

Remedial massage aims to have the client feeling better and to notice marked improvements in their pain and mobility. To achieve this, a remedial massage therapist will begin by assessing the client and understanding their needs. This initial assessment will often include looking at a client’s posture, flexibility and muscle strength to identify any possible underlying causes of pain.

Next, a treatment plan is drawn up. This treatment plan is uniquely tailored to the client and will incorporate different remedial massage techniques. Depending on the client, these techniques can include:

  1. Deep tissue massage
  2. Trigger point therapy
  3. Dry needling therapy
  4. Myofascial release or cupping
  5. Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) involving assisted stretching
  6. Joint mobilisation
  7. Manual lymphatic drainage

Each of these techniques offers different benefits as well as sensations to the body. Clients can expect to feel some firm pressure that may produce mild discomfort depending on their pain tolerance. However, remedial massage is designed to release pain and, therefore, clients should never expect any type of long or excruciating pain during their session.

After the session, the client will be given an at-home treatment plan to practise in between massage sessions.


Difference between remedial massage and deep tissue massage?

Remedial massage and deep tissue massage often go hand in hand, especially in the treatment of sports injuries and recovery. While remedial massage uses deep tissue techniques, the two are their own separate modality.

Remedial massage focuses on treating a specific area or injury caused by muscle tension, postural imbalance or soft tissue injury. As such, remedial massage is a more targeted treatment for pain. It combines deep pressure and trigger point therapy to put pressure on the deep muscles in order to alleviate pain, while joint mobilisation techniques are used to improve joint flexibility and range of motion.

Deep tissue massage is used for generalised muscle soreness, tension or pain. It uses very firm pressure in the form of lengthening and cross friction massage to get to the deeper muscles, tendons and surrounding connective tissues. Deep tissue massage is particularly good for removing scar tissue and is therefore often used for treating common injuries sustained by athletes and active clients who are prone to sporting injuries or muscle overuse.


What’s the difference between myotherapy and remedial massage?

Remedial massage and myotherapy can often be confused for the same thing. They both treat a range of non-specific muscle pain and work to improve joint function and mobility. However, there are some differences between the two.

Remedial massage is commonly used to treat muscular injuries or pain that may also contribute to poor joint function. Remedial massage can be a great way to treat the symptoms of musculoskeletal pain or dysfunction caused by these damaged muscles or tendons.

Myotherapy treats both the immediate symptoms and underlying cause of musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, aiming to correct any postural imbalances that are causing pain. Myotherapists will assess each joint in the body to identify dysfunction and then use trigger point therapy and other techniques to treat the client.


How does remedial massage complement other massage types?

Remedial massage takes a holistic approach to ease pain, prevent injuries and improve the body’s recovery. It uses a combination of massage techniques which can be soft and gentle or deep and rhythmic, depending on the client’s needs. Each massage type complements the other, forming a fully integrated treatment that works in providing relief and improving joint mobility and muscle function.

Remedial massage is a unique modality that can be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with other massage therapy practices to provide a client with the benefits they need.


Importance of remedial massage


Aside from pain relief and improved joint mobility, remedial massage plays an important role in healing and facilitating the body’s core functions. In fact, remedial massage can have profound positive effects on the immune system, blood circulation and sleep regulation.

Let’s define the key benefits of remedial massage and who can most benefit from regular remedial massage therapy.


What is remedial massage good for?

Remedial massage is effective in treating a range of physical conditions and ailments, including:

  1. Muscle pain, tension and tightness
  2. Neck pain
  3. Back pain
  4. Whiplash
  5. Scoliosis
  6. Jaw pain and tightness
  7. Frozen shoulder
  8. Arthritis
  9. Sciatica
  10. Tennis elbow
  11. Plantar fasciitis
  12. Muscle cramps and spasms
  13. DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
  14. Stress and anxiety
  15. Joint pain and tightness

Remedial massage can also be used to help:

  1. Improve muscle recovery
  2. Repair scar tissue
  3. Prevent muscular atrophy
  4. Assist in lymphatic drainage
  5. Back pain and tenderness related to pregnancy

Many clients seek remedial massage therapy to address either one or a mix of the above symptoms and conditions, as well as a form of relaxation to assist with stress and mental tension.


Benefits of remedial massage

Besides treating the above conditions, remedial massage provides additional mental and physical benefits, including:

Improved blood circulation

Remedial massage encourages healthy blood flow, helping to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the muscles and speeding up the body’s healing process.

Boost immunity

Pain in the body can lead to an increase in stress that puts the body’s nervous system into overdrive. Remedial massage allows the immune system to function optimally by increasing circulation, improving lymphatic drainage and encouraging the healthy production of mood-boosting and disease-fighting hormones.

Enhanced mental alertness

After a remedial massage, clients often feel more alert and clear-minded. This clarity occurs as a result of the relaxation and relief remedial massage provides both the body and mind.


How often should you be getting a remedial massage?

One of the most common questions massage therapists hear is how often should I get a remedial massage?

This can be a difficult question to answer as it largely depends on the client. For example, clients that are highly active, prone to injury or are dealing with chronic pain may benefit from multiple remedial massage sessions. Whereas, clients who present with an acute injury like whiplash or a back injury from lifting a heavy object may do well with just one or two sessions followed by an at-home treatment plan.

Regardless of your symptoms, remember – there is no such thing as too much when it comes to massage! However, it’s best to first consult with a qualified remedial massage therapist who can then perform an assessment and provide you with a tailored treatment plan.


Can you have a remedial massage when pregnant?

It can be confusing for expectant mothers when it comes to navigating what treatments are safe for both themselves and their babies. Luckily, there are many benefits of getting a massage when pregnant.

Massage during pregnancy can help relieve muscle pain including back pain and sciatica. It is also a great way to relieve stress and anxiety as well as reduce swelling in the arms and legs.

Remedial massage is considered safe during pregnancy, so long as it’s performed by a qualified massage therapist. If you are considering getting a massage while pregnant, always consult with your doctor first.


How to become a remedial massage therapist


Whether you’re an existing massage therapist wanting to learn remedial massage or you’re considering starting a career as a massage therapist, the following section will help guide you on the steps you should take.


What skills do you need to be a massage therapist?

There are a lot of different skills that will help you to become a successful massage therapist. Massage therapists have a unique role since they perform both manual tasks along with front-facing customer service skills such as booking appointments and handling money. For that reason, a successful massage therapist must have a combination of hard and soft skills including the following:

Communication skills

Massage therapists deal with people from all walks of life. The job typically involves communicating with people and having to demonstrate active listening skills. You will need to be clear and concise so that clients understand what you are saying. Part of communication is knowing how to interact with people and understanding body language so that you can accommodate a client and have them feel comfortable with you and their session.

Time management

As a massage therapist, it’s important to know how to manage your time so that you are giving every client the time and care they need.

Physical fitness

You will need to have a degree of stamina and dexterity to comfortably perform in your role as a massage therapist. You will be working a lot with your hands and arms so it’s important to regularly exercise and incorporate a stretching/recovery routine so that you are at your physical best.

Business savvy

A massage therapist relies on clients to maintain their business. In order to do this, you need to have some sense of business know-how. For example, being able to market via social media, produce advertising campaigns and network with other industry professionals is useful in order to build and grow your business.


What qualifications do you need to be a massage therapist in Australia?

A great starting point is a Certificate in Whole Body Massage. This course is fully approved nationally, comprehensive and gives students the fundamental skills and knowledge when starting massage therapy. No experience is needed and after completing Discover Massage’s weekend course, you can start working as a massage therapist immediately.

This course is also available for remote students wanting to begin their career in the industry through Discover Massage’s Whole Body massage Course Online. Providing live feedback, coaching and online support throughout, you can also begin your career as a massage therapist here.

Once having completed the Certificate in Whole Body Massage, the CIV in Massage Therapy Practice and the HLT52015 Diploma in Remedial Massage are the next steps. These courses are for advanced students that want to upskill and specialise in remedial massage. However, if you are new to the industry, completing the Certificate in Whole Body first is highly recommended, allowing you to start earning an income as a massage therapist whilst completing further training and education.


How do you get certified as a massage therapist?

In order to treat clients safely and effectively, you need to become a certified massage therapist.

To gain certification as a massage therapist, you need to complete a course in massage therapy and meet all the requirements set out in that course. From there, you will have to become a member of an association such as the Massage Association of Australia or the International Institute for Complementary Therapists so that you can obtain your Professional Indemnity Insurance which will protect you, your business and your clients.

If you wish to start your own massage business you will need to register your business with an ABN.

It’s important to remember that a career as a massage therapist requires ongoing learning. In order to stay up to date with industry trends and be comfortable performing a range of massage modalities, you need to be open to upskilling and retraining throughout your career.


Do you need to be strong to be a massage therapist?

While massage therapy is an active job, there’s a common misconception that you need to be physically strong to be a massage therapist. While it does help to be physically fit and have strong hands, it is not a requirement.

One of the more difficult aspects of this job is the manual repetitiveness which can lead to physical exertion and exhaustion. To combat this, strength training for massage therapists can help prevent pain from overuse and keep your body in top shape so that you can deliver your treatments more effectively.


Start your remedial massage career today


Remedial massage forms a vital part of a client’s pain treatment and recovery process. Intended as a targeted treatment for pain and injury, a remedial massage therapist draws on different massage types to help relieve pain and prevent further injury.

For anyone interested in becoming a remedial massage therapist, it pays to look into a remedial massage course. With an industry-recognised qualification, you can work as a remedial massage therapist or start your own massage business in Australia.

Discover Massage Australia provides industry-recognised massage courses including a Diploma in Remedial Massage to help you kickstart your career as a remedial massage therapist.

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.