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To shamelessly quote Dylan: “the times they are a changing”. Life now moves at a break-neck pace as technological advances make accessing information faster than ever before. When everything moves this fast, stress typically enters the picture. Finding peace and balance in the midst of it all becomes a must for maintaining health and well-being. Massage can help! But many people want to know whether they should get a “therapeutic” massage or a “relaxation” massage. So, how does one know the difference between a relaxation massage and therapeutic massage? To put it simply: relaxation massage is actually one of many types of therapeutic massage

Managing stress is integral to a healthy lifestyle. A relaxation massage crafted with techniques to ground, center, and calm can deliver just the therapy needed to keep stress in check. To fully explain this point we will break down the details.

What is a Therapeutic Massage?

According to Learn.org, “Therapeutic massage is the manual manipulation of the body’s soft tissue, and it’s generally used for the reduction of stress and pain. It has been used in many world cultures for more than 4,000 years. Because many diseases are exacerbated by stress, therapeutic massage can help a person become healthier and more resistant to disease.” Therapeutic massage can help with many conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain syndromes
  • Muscular pain
  • Stress!

Stress, anxiety, depression, and pain all play a role in intensifying many ailments and diseases. Therapeutic massage helps break the cycle.

What is Relaxation Massage?

As discussed, stress can have a negative impact on health. Even without any underlying health conditions, stress makes people feel bad. Maybe it was a bad week at work? Or there’s a big presentation coming up, or a family emergency that has taken its toll. Relaxation massage uses techniques designed to help people release emotional and physical tension. Think slow, flowing, and affirming.

At Nimbus, a relaxation massage would generally be a large part of a massage for general wellness or a massage for stress, anxiety, and depression. However, relaxing techniques can enhance any massage. It can help restore wellness or prevent . It can help people stay on top of what their body needs for their best health. Additionally, it can help people cope with long-term medical diagnoses, whether the condition is theirs or their loved-one’s. 

The Nimbus team is ready to help you along your wellness journey. When you come in, we will take a deep dive through your needs and create a plan which will address the type of massage you need whether therapeutic or relaxation to help you find balance, peace and joy. To book a massage today, click HERE, we look forward to helping you feel better.


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by James

One commonly hears of a dichotomy in massage therapy between therapy and relaxation.  For example, when selecting the purpose of a massage, a client often specifies either “therapeutic massage” or “relaxation massage.”  Therapy is for fixing problems, and relaxation is for feeling good, for at least a short while.  Might relaxation, however, actually also be therapeutic?  Several medical professionals say that it is in the following ways:

 

Relaxation can boost the immune system

 

Dr. Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University showed that chronic stress increased a person’s risk of catching a cold.  It appears that stress hampers the body’s ability to fight inflammation by making immune cells less sensitive to the hormone that “turns off” inflammation.

 

Relaxation can slow the aging process

 

A recent study revealed that anxiety disorders increase your risk of several aging-related conditions, possibly because of accelerated aging at the cellular level.  However, this cellular aging turned out to be reversible when the anxiety disorder went into remission.

 

Relaxation can improve memory, concentration, and problem solving skills

 

One study found that, at least in mice, chronic stress impaired the memory and learning centers of the brain, as well as its ability to perform abstract thought and cognitive analysis.  Relaxation may help with this by increasing blood flow to the brain.

 

Relaxation can decrease anxiety and depression

 

According to William B. Salt II., MD, “The regular elicitation of the relaxation response can result in a reduction in anxiety/depression and improvement in your ability to cope with stress.”

 

Relaxation can protect the heart

 

“There are studies to show that stress is comparable to other risk factors that we traditionally think of as major, like hypertension, poor diet and lack of exercise,” says Kathi Heffner, Ph.D. of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

 

The physiological state that can bring about these benefits is called the “relaxation response” by Dr. Herbert Benson of Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. Dr. Benson has said that “Just sitting quietly or, say, watching television, is not enough to produce the physiological changes. You need to use a relaxation technique that will break the train of everyday thought, and decrease the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.”  I maintain that the trance-like state achieved during a relaxation massage often induces is this very relaxation response.

 

A final note on cortisol 

Several health professionals believe that the relaxation response provides its health benefits by decreasing the level of cortisol in the body.  Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone, used to fuel the fight-or-flight instinct. Excessive cortisol can contribute to such problems as weight gain, muscle weakness and diabetes.  A 2005 study found that massage therapy decreases cortisol by an average of 31%. A separate 2011 study, however, found that massage decreases cortisol, but by a statistically insignificant amount. Whether a relaxation massage helps by lowering cortisol or by some other means, its health benefits are well-documented.  As the 2011 study went on to say, “[massage therapy has] well-established…beneficial effects on anxiety, depression, and pain”.

 


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Groin Injury Relief- by E. Kinzie

It was right around the holiday season and I was out for a leisurely stroll with my husband. Then it happened! A twinge in my left groin area. You know the kind or groin injury that a person can function ok enough but it has a pesky, mosquito like tenacity. Then you think, “it will work itself out”, or “I just need to warm up and stretch”, or “is this another sign of getting older and wiser?”

Rationalization is an inexpensive therapy for humans to deal with unfortunate things in the short term. However, it is not the best philosophy for the long term. Well, I soldiered on avoiding medical co-pays until I couldn’t take it anymore.  Also, ibuprofen was not meant to be a tic-tac substitute. I thought of two things – 1. Finally going to a doctor and 2. A therapeutic massage!

Therapeutic massage for injury relief

I called Nimbus Massage and scheduled a 90 minute appointment. I had never thought that I, as a female, would be needing a massage for groin injury relief. After many Google searches on the topic, one would think the groin only exists with the male population. This is only a slight exaggeration as the internet does not have much for female groin injury relief in a serious medical sense.

Now I would like to reiterate that this “twinge”, which was causing pain to the point of not wanting to walk, was located near a personal area. Also, my personal space bubble is large. Large enough that I will park my car to include an extra parking space between me and another vehicle. With massage, professionalism is a must.

The morning of my appointment, I hobbled in and discussed my “twinge” issue with my therapist. He took time to listen to my concerns, gently figured out the correct pressure, and isolated the problem area. After the massage I could walk again like I could before the holiday “twinge”. #betterthanibuprofen

The “twinge” is gone… The “twinge” is gone away…(apologies to B.B. King)

Fortunately for me, the actual “twinge” was a relatively minor injury and the pain issue was a result of the surrounding muscle tissue tightening up and compensating. My x-rays did not show any abnormalities. The best immediate relief was available through therapeutic massage and thankfully, this is in the Nimbus Massage wheelhouse!


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Swedish Massage, arguably the most recognizable style of massage in the West, serves as a basis from which many massage therapists work. A practitioner can use basic Swedish techniques for a variety of therapeutic and relaxation purposes.  However, the term has become conflated over the years with relaxation work from the way that spas have marketed massage.

Not just relaxing

Many spas today use the term Swedish Massage to mean a nice relaxing session. They then use the term Deep Tissue Massage to mean a firm pressure therapeutic massage. We find this usage somewhat inaccurate. A therapist can not only apply Swedish techniques with firm pressure but can also target deeper musculature. Depending on the pacing, pressure, and intention, it may not feel relaxing at all. Furthermore, most modern Western therapists also mix in a variety of other techniques during a “Swedish” massage. For these reasons, we shy away from using the term on our menu at Nimbus.

The essence of Swedish Massage comprises three basic techniques- gliding, kneading, and that karate-chop thing that nobody likes. Developed as part of a physical therapy regimen called the Swedish Movement Cure, it originally spread through the Western medical community as a way to reduce muscular tension and aid in rehabilitation. The therapist uses the techniques with the intention to smooth, elongate, and spread the muscle tissue. They may aim to relax or invigorate.

Swedish at Nimbus

All of the therapists at Nimbus have studied traditional Swedish techniques though, depending on your session goal and their specialties, they may or may not use them. Each of our team members can also deliver a nice relaxation massage with a blend of techniques. If you are looking for a “Swedish Massage” akin to what you might get in a spa, book a “Massage for Wellness.” The therapist will still tailor your session to your individual needs, but will have an indication of your overall goal.

And, if you really do like that karate-chop thing, let us know… we’ll add it in!


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The cast came off and the joint wasn’t what it used to be. The skin was tight and bound down around the scar, the tissue sticking together. The scar sent burning zingers and the bone felt like fire ants. The joint didn’t want to move. The therapist could feel tight bands and knots in the muscles around the area. The fascia felt tight, not wanting to move. And the joint itself felt stiff. Time for a post-injury massage!

If you are recovering from an injury a massage for pain relief may aid your healing as part of an integrative approach to care.

Minor Injury

For minor injuries such as a pulled muscle, massage can help ease pain and relax tight muscle fibers. Sometimes as little as one session can make a huge difference, and often a short series can get everything back to normal. When seeking a therapeutic massage to ease pain and improve function following a minor injury, the general rule of thumb is to wait 72 hours after the incident, or until any redness, swelling, or heat have dissipated.

Serious Injury

For a more serious incident, the post-injury massage shouldn’t come until after seeking medical attention and being cleared by the health practitioner to receive massage. Typically, people start getting massage while they are in physical therapy or when ending physical therapy. Massage can greatly complement the work done in a PT’s office to rehab after an injury, as it targets the same structures and goals using a slightly different approach.

People use post-injury massage to address pain, scar tissue, stiffness, weakness, and diminished flexibility. It can help improve mood, ease stress, and give a sense of healing and connection to the body. Many people say that massage is that “extra something” that makes a difference in their recovery.

At Nimbus we have taken part in many people’s healing efforts. We have seen people recovering from broken bones, sprains, pulled muscles, falls, accidents, sporting injuries, workplace mishaps… the list goes on. We’d love to hear your story of how massage has made a difference in your recovery.

 


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Recurring Pain Doesn’t Need To Be Unmanageable

Recurring pain can be managed through massage and many people seek massage for help dealing with consistent problem areas.  Repeating an action over and over stresses the muscle and leads to tension. Continuing the same repetitive motion disallows the muscle to heal properly.  Over time, the body reacts by tightening everything up in that area in an attempt to give it needed support. Which often leads to recurring, and sometimes chronic, pain and tension– sometimes referred to as a repetitive stress or repetitive motion injury.


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