Massage: What's the Difference?

Jarrod C. Fritz



With any business, a consumer always wants to know what the differences between competitors or other providers are, and what makes them unique. The other concern for a consumer is, “What’s in it for me?” The massage profession is no different!


I often hear the phrase, “It’s all the same,” or people generalizing massage as a luxury where someone rubs oil on you while you listen to relaxing music by candlelight. That’s like saying it’s OK for a general physician to do brain surgery.



I’d like to briefly discuss some of the major differences between a “regular” massage and therapeutic massage.


Many people understand massage from what they see on TV, in movies, or what they have heard from friends, which is usually in regards to a relaxation massage in a spa setting. This is typically an atmosphere of dim lighting, very relaxing calm music, and maybe even some aromatherapy. The goal of these types of massages is to achieve relaxation and calm the body, with no specific attention to any particular problem. There is usually no additional education required, aside from basic schooling, to provide this type of massage. Additional education can definitely make a big difference in the treatment.


One of the biggest differences between a therapeutic massage and a “regular” massage is that therapeutic massages are usually set in a clinical environment that includes a well-lit room, maybe some upbeat music, and may even utilize flexibility training. Therapeutic massage is done with the intention of identifying specific problems that affect normal everyday life, and treating them through higher education in such studies as biomechanics, applied kinesiology, and even exercise science.



It’s important to understand that one modality is not any better than the other, but that they provide different results. Choosing the right type of massage for your goals will make the biggest difference in YOUR results!