Relaxation massage is a gentle Swedish massage that uses smooth, gliding strokes to help you relax without focusing on easing any muscle soreness or tension. Compared to therapeutic massages, the massage therapist will move at a slower pace and use lighter pressure. In a relaxation massage, there is less emphasis on working out chronic underlying muscle tension—the adhesions or “knots” and muscle restrictions in the muscle tissue—because the goal of this type of massage is to let you drift away and feel good. In a relaxation massage, the therapist won’t push your limits in order to get the muscle to release, and you might even fall asleep.
Gentle massage stimulates sensory nerve endings in the skin, which transmit messages through the nervous system and cause the brain to release a special chemical that acts as a natural painkiller. These endorphins can help create a sense of well-being, and being touched by another human can have positive effects on cognition, empathy, and mood.