Massage therapy is the manipulation of body tissues such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments using manual techniques to allow enhancements on the patient’s bodily health, fitness, and well-being.
People get massage therapy for relaxation or for a variety of health conditions:
- Back pain
- Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and tendinitis
- Stress relief and stress-related conditions
- Headaches and migraines
- Muscle and related conditions such as spasms, strains and sprains
- Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Circulatory and respiratory problems
- Post-injury and post-surgical rehabilitation.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
Massage therapy improves circulation by bringing oxygen and other nutrients to body tissues. It relieves muscle tension and pain, increases flexibility and mobility, and helps clear lactic acid and other waste, which reduces pain and stiffness in muscles and joints.
Massage therapy relieves stress. It is thought to help the body’s stress response by lowering levels of hormones such as cortisol. Massage therapy may enhance the body’s immune function.
Massage can help release chronic muscular tension and pain, improve circulation, increase joint flexibility, reduce mental and physical fatigue and stress, promote faster healing of injured muscular tissue, improve posture, and reduce blood pressure. Massage is also known to promote better sleep, improve concentration, reduce anxiety and create an overall sense of well-being.
Consultation and Assessment prior to Massage Therapy
Firstly, the physiotherapist will take a full case history and this will be followed by a physical assessment to identify the nature and causative factors of the problem. Physical assessment skills are important, as is a good foundation in anatomy and physiology, in order to identify the source of the problem.
The source of pain may be in another part of the body other than the area it is felt. An individual’s posture or the way he or she uses his or her body to walk, run, or carry out any type of physical activity (even sitting at a computer) can be a contributing factor to a musculoskeletal problem such as back and neck pain. Once the physiotherapist has identified and understood the nature of the client’s presenting problem, he or she will determine the most effective way of treating the problem.
Different Techniques of Massage
There are numerous types of massage. Various techniques utilise different strokes, including basic rubbing strokes, rocking movement, posture and movement re-education, application of pressure to specific points, and more. The physiotherapist knows what appropriate methods should be applied on specific conditions.
Commonly Asked Questions on Massage Therapy Procedures
Where will the massage session take place?
Your massage or bodywork session will take place in a warm, comfortable, quiet room. Soft music may be played to help you relax. You will lie on a table especially designed for your comfort.
Should patients be completely undressed?
Most massage techniques are traditionally performed with the client unclothed; however, it is entirely up to you what you want to wear. You should undress to your level of comfort. You will be properly draped during the entire session.
Is the therapist present upon undressing?
The practitioner will leave the room while you undress, relax onto the table, and cover yourself with a clean sheet or towel.
Is my body covered during the procedure?
You will be properly draped at all times to keep you warm and comfortable. Only the area being worked on will be exposed.
What parts of the body will be massaged?
You and the practitioner will discuss the desired outcome of your session. This will determine which parts of your body require massage. You will not be touched on or near your genitals (male or female) or breasts (female).
How does the massage feel like?
It depends on the techniques used. Your session may start with broad, flowing strokes that will help calm your nervous system and relax exterior muscle tension. As your body becomes relaxed, pressure will gradually be increased to relax specific areas and relieve areas of muscular tension. Often, a light oil or lotion is used to allow your muscles to be massaged without causing excessive friction to the skin. The oil also helps hydrate your skin. You should communicate immediately if you feel any discomfort so that another approach may be taken. Massages are most effective when your body is not resisting.
How long will the session last?
The average full-body massage session lasts approximately one hour. A half-hour appointment only allows time for a partial massage session, such as neck and shoulders, back or legs and feet. Many people prefer a 60 to 90 minute session for optimal relaxation. Always allow relaxation time prior to and after the session. Hot tubs, steam baths, and saunas can assist in the relaxation process.
What should the patient do during the procedure?
Prior to the massage, feel free to ask the practitioner any question about the technique or the upcoming session. During the massage, make yourself comfortable. The practitioner will either gently move you or tell you what is needed throughout the session (such as lifting your arm). Many people just close their eyes and completely relax, communicating if/when they need more or less pressure, another blanket, or anything else relevant to the session. If you have any question regarding the session or about the particular technique you are receiving, feel free to ask the practitioner.
What is the feeling after massage therapy?
Most people feel very relaxed. Some experience freedom from long-term aches and pains developed from tension or repetitive activity. After an initial period of feeling slowed down, people often experience increased energy, heightened awareness, and greater productivity which can last for days.
Are there medical conditions which can make massages inadvisable?
Yes. That’s why it’s imperative that, before you begin your session, the practitioner asks general health questions. It is very important that you inform the practitioner of any health problems or medications you are taking. If you are under a doctor’s care, it is strongly advised that you receive a written recommendation for massage prior to any session. Your practitioner may require a recommendation or approval from your doctor.