Written by Chelsea Mieszala, PTA, LMT
What is therapeutic massage?
Therapeutic massage is the manipulation of soft tissues or muscles. There are many different techniques used including the following:
Effleurage- light pressure used with long and slow strokes in order to warm up the tissue and prepare the patient for deeper pressure.
Petrissage- deeper than effleurage, this technique is kneading the muscles with pressure enough to reach the underlying muscles.
Trigger point release- this is usually more uncomfortable for the patient. Some describe it as a “good hurt”. It is more point specific and the practitioner usually uses their elbow or thumb to press on the trigger point (ball of connective tissue which radiates pain away from it when palpated). This technique will help decrease the intensity of a trigger point, if not resolve it completely.
Why are there different levels of pressure in massage therapy?
The pressure used when receiving a massage depends on the needs of the patient. If superficial tissues are being targeted, then lighter pressure should be used. The deeper the target area, the deeper the pressure needs to be. Do not worry though! The pressure MUST be tolerable by the patient. If the pressure is too hard, the patient’s muscles will tense, thus defeating the purpose of the soft tissue manipulation. This is also why it is important to warm the tissue using effleurage prior to deeper pressure.
Here is an analogy- When you go to the gym to work out, you start lifting light weights and gradually work your way up to the heavy stuff. In massage therapy, you start out by receiving light pressure, then gradually work your way up to deeper pressure.
Massage Therapy can be performed by a licensed massage therapist. When it pertains to your plan of care in a physical therapy clinic, it may also be performed by a physical therapist-how ever it is referred to as soft tissue mobilization or manipulation instead.
What are the benefits of therapeutic massage?
There are many benefits from receiving therapeutic massage. The number one and most obvious is less muscle tension. When there is increased tension in muscle tissue, it can create a trigger point. Trigger points are classified as a “knot” in the muscle and when pressure is applied, it radiates pain out away from it. Therapeutic massage is a big help when it comes to breaking up these pesky knots. Another benefit from therapeutic massage is that it helps increase circulation. Blood carries nutrients, which help many different tissues heal. Improved circulation is important when undergoing any orthopedic injury.
Stress reduction is an effect of therapeutic massage as well. Most humans carry their stress in their muscles by tensing up in stressful situations, poor posture, etc. Reduce muscle tension, reduce stress, and feel better throughout the day!
Some other interesting benefits of massage therapy are:
• Sleep better at night
• Reduces anxiety
• Decrease discomfort due to fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders
• Reduce tension headaches
If I am injured should I still get a massage?
It is important to ask your Physical Therapist or Physician prior to getting a massage. They may not want another practitioner interfering with your current plan of care. The PT or doctor may ask that your area of injury be avoided during the massage session. There are many cases when an injury site can be treated by a massage therapist. Because each individual’s injury is so unique to the person, massage therapy should be discussed with your current health care provider. Massage therapists all have different levels of training. Each requires a certain amount of continuing education every 2 years, however; not each therapist is as knowledgable as we all might hope. This is why asking your
PT or doctor is important to avoid any further damage to your orthopedic condition.
Does Back in Action offer Therapeutic Massage as part of treatment?
YES!! We now offer a therapeutic massage program at BIA of phoenix for all current PT patients. This is performed by Chelsea, our very own Licensed Massage Therapist who has been practicing for 12 years. She is also a Certified Physical Therapist Assistant and will work with your current orthopedic disorders.
How often should I get a massage?
People can get massages as often as they like! However, realistically, this is not achievable with even the highest of incomes. Often times, people will get massages once a week to help with the muscle recovery. Once a month is also a good option for maintaining muscle length and decreasing overall stress. You can always talk to your current health care provider to come up with a plan.
Why should I drink water after getting a massage?
Massage releases toxins from the body, so it is important to drink a lot of water in order to flush these toxins out of the system. Increase your water consumption for 24 hours following the session.
What should I do to prepare for my massage?
Be aware of any cuts or injuries you have and inform the LMT prior to beginning the session. This way, certain things can be avoided i.e. bruises, cuts, scrapes, etc.
Be showered and clean.
The therapist may ask you to remove clothing to allow better access to all of the muscle tissue. They will ask you to lay underneath a sheet or blanket to maintain your modesty. The LMT will be trained in draping the sheets so that certain body parts are not exposed.
What can I expect after the massage?
In many cases, people can experience muscle soreness for the next few days following a massage. This soreness is completely normal after having your muscles mobilized and manipulated. Some people experience dizziness when getting off of the massage table. This is normal and should subside within seconds. Some experience drowsiness after the massage. Be sure to sit down and gather your bearings prior to driving