What Does Massage Therapy Do?
Massage therapy is a hands-on treatment technique used to holistically manage a wide variety of different conditions. Trained health practitioners, such as physiotherapists, use various massage techniques on the muscles and soft tissues of the body to alleviate muscle tension and joint pain, and to promote relaxation.
From a sore back to patellofemoral knee pain, massage therapy can make positive physiological changes in the soft tissue. Massage therapy is commonly used in combination with other treatment techniques, such as exercise or education, for the best effect. At Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton, AB, our physiotherapists thoroughly assess each patient to determine if massage is the right choice for their specific needs and goals.
What Is Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy is the overarching term for a range of different massage techniques. These techniques include trigger point release, effleurage, cross-fibre massage, remedial massage, and more. Each technique can have a slightly different effect, depending on the targeted structure, depth of the pressure, and type being used. These massage techniques can be performed on most parts of the body, including the back, neck, shoulders, arms, and legs. When applied to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, massage is a powerful rehabilitative tool that can promote physical health.
While massage therapy is an effective form of treatment for many conditions, especially when combined with other treatments, the effect is dependent on the person performing the technique. It’s therefore important to choose a reputable and skilled health provider to determine if massage is the right treatment option. Not everyone will benefit from a massage, therefore a proper diagnosis to identify the underlying cause of any symptoms is critical before starting treatment.
When Is Massage Therapy Used?
Massage therapy can be beneficial for a range of different conditions. A physiotherapist may choose massage to help the following conditions:
- Sports-related injuries
- General aches and pains
- Areas of tightness, such as in the shoulders or hips
- Low back pain
- Specific conditions, such as patellofemoral joint pain or frozen shoulder
- DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness), which is common after exercise
- Trigger points or knots in the muscles
- Chronic diseases, such as arthritis
When Should Massage Therapy Not Be Used?
Just like any other treatment, massage is not always the best choice in some cases. It’s a good idea to discuss the risks versus the benefits of massage with a registered medical professional if there is any uncertainty or concern. A doctor can advise on the appropriateness of massage, such as in cases of circulatory issues, cancer treatment, or when taking certain medications. Different rehabilitative tools, such as exercise or rest, may be more suitable or comfortable.
However, there are some situations where massage should not be used at all. In some cases, massage can put the provider or patient at risk, and may even worsen the condition. Contraindications for massage include:
- Open wounds
- Fractures or internal injuries
- Active infections
- Recent soft tissue injuries or bleeding
- Any time when massage may put the people involved at risk
The Benefits Of Massage Therapy
When used for the right situation, massage therapy has a range of benefits. For some, the effect of massage therapy may be instantaneous. However, for others, serial treatments might be needed before the benefits start to take effect, particularly if the condition is chronic or severe.
Some of the benefits of massage therapy may include:
- Relieves muscle tension and pain: Massage therapy can help relieve muscle tension and pain by manipulating the soft tissues of the body, including the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
- Enhances mobility: Massage therapy can help improve range of motion and flexibility by stretching and loosening tight muscles and reducing adhesions or fibrosis (dysfunctional tissue).
- Reduces headaches: Massage therapy can help reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches by relieving muscle tension around the shoulders, head, and neck.
- Improves circulation: Massage therapy can help improve circulation by increasing blood flow to the affected areas of the body.
- Promotes relaxation: Massage therapy can help reduce muscle tension and give patients an overall sense of relaxation.
- Augments strength: As massage therapy targets and addresses the health of the muscles, this can help augment strength and performance.
- Increases overall well-being: Although massage therapy may target specific parts of the body, it can also have a widespread effect on the body and overall well-being.
Massage Therapy In Edmonton
When seeking massage therapy, a physiotherapist will first ask about any symptoms, the relevant health history, and the goals of treatment. It’s important to discuss any allergies or concerns at this stage so that the therapist can adjust their treatment approach.
A physiotherapist will also complete a physical examination to determine the underlying cause. An accurate diagnosis is essential before starting any treatment as it ensures that the right treatment is selected. Otherwise, the massage techniques may not work or may even make the symptoms worse. The physical exam may include an assessment of range of motion, strength, sensation, and functional movements. If there are any concerns, the physiotherapist may recommend seeing a doctor for any medical issues.
How Massage Therapy Works
Massage therapy works in different ways, depending on the patient being treated, their condition, and the severity of symptoms. The massage technique also plays a role.
For example, deep tissue massage targets the deep layers of soft tissue. By applying pressure to certain areas, deep massages can lengthen the underlying tissue to restore strength, flexibility, and movement after an injury, disease, or disability. Conversely, remedial massage techniques may be selected to promote relaxation and blood circulation, helping to improve soft tissue recovery and reduce inflammation.
Massage therapy can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle. For those considering seeking massage therapy in Edmonton, it is important to choose a reputable and skilled therapist to ensure the best possible results.
The Potential Side Effects Of Massage
With a trained health professional, massage therapy is a safe and effective rehabilitative treatment. It can reduce symptoms and accelerate recovery for a wide range of different people and conditions. However, even though massage is only used when appropriate, there are some common side effects that patients may experience after a massage. These potential side effects can include:
- Tenderness or soreness in the massaged area
- Sensitivity or tightness in the massaged area
- General fatigue or a sense needing to rest
- Feeling thirsty or hungry
- Mild headaches
Whilst these side effects are normal and usually resolve in the hours or days after the massage, if they continue to persist or become concerning, it’s best to contact a health professional for early assessment and treatment (if needed). Additionally, there are ways to reduce the risk of these side effects by listening to the instructions of the health provider after the massage, which may include drinking plenty of water, resting as needed, avoiding strenuous activity for a time after the massage, and getting a good night’s sleep before and after the massage.
Choosing A Phsyiotherapist
When it comes to health, there are a dizzying array of different options and clinics to try. As massage therapy is dependent on the person providing the massage, it’s important to choose the right provider. Here are some tips for choosing a massage therapist:
- Seek recommendations: A recommendation from a doctor or even a trusted friend about experienced physiotherapists in the area can be a good starting point for finding reputable massage therapy.
- Check credentials: Make sure the therapist is licensed and insured, as this is an indication of their professional qualifications, experience, and risk management.
- Look for specialisations: For those seeking treatment for a specific condition, such as a sports injury, look for a therapist who has specialised training and experience in that condition.
- Consider location and convenience: It’s a good idea to choose a therapist who is conveniently located and has flexible appointment times to make it easier to get any health issues treated early.
- Read reviews: Look for reviews and ratings online, or ask the therapist for references, to get a sense of the quality of their work.
- Book a consultation: Consider scheduling a consultation with the therapist to discuss any treatment goals and determine how they operate.
- Trust instincts: When it comes to health, instincts and gut feelings should not be ignored. Make sure to find someone that creates a friendly and trusting environment.
It is important to choose a qualified and reputable therapist to ensure the best possible results from massage therapy. For those that are unsure where to start, speak to our Edmonton physiotherapy team at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy to find the right therapist.
Discover What Massage Therapy Can Do
Massage therapy can be used to rehabilitate a wide range of conditions, including injuries, chronic pain, and other musculoskeletal issues. It is a safe and effective treatment option for people of all ages and can be customized to meet the individual needs of each person.
For anyone considering massage therapy in Edmonton, speak to our team at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic!
Better Health. Massage. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/massage
Athletico. The Science behind Massage: Why does it work? Available from: https://www.athletico.com/2013/01/09/the-science-behind-why-massage-works/
Physiopedia. Massage. Available from: https://www.physio-pedia.com/Massage