How Therapeutic Massage Can Be a Great Addition to Your Treatment

Medical massage can be tailored to your individual health needs

How Therapeutic Massage Can Be a Great Addition to Your Treatment

Contributor: Tracy Segall, BA, LMT

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Massage is best known as a way to help you relax and relieve stress.  A gentle, soothing massage can reduce stress, relieve muscle aches, improve your sleep and improve your mood.

But massage goes way beyond mere relaxation.  A medical, or therapeutic, massage might help you with more serious medical issues.

Massage therapy in a clinical or hospital setting is given by licensed professionals who are trained to find and focus on problem areas. This therapeutic type of massage involves more focused work on your body’s soft tissue — the muscles, tendons and ligaments that move and support your body.

Your physician, chiropractor, or physical therapist might recommend that you receive a therapeutic massage to complement other therapies you are receiving to treat a particular area of your body. Or, you may not be getting the results you want from other traditional treatments.  Receiving massage therapy on a regular basis may help in these instances.

RELATED: 5 Myths About Massage Therapy

Easing your discomfort and pain

A massage therapist can work on a number of medical issues that are either chronic — meaning it lasts a long time — or acute — which means something that has happened recently.

These issues can include:

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  • Repetitive stress injuries from sitting or standing postures that are held for several hours a day
  • Migraines, cluster headaches, tension headaches, sinus headaches
  • Whiplash
  • Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder
  • Strains and sprains (after inflammation has gone down)
  • Low back pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Radiating pain
  • Post-surgical scar tissue (with doctor’s approval)
  • Frozen shoulder

RELATED: 3 Things You Should Know About Chiropractors

What to expect at a visit

There are no typical therapeutic massages routines. Your massage therapist will tailor the massage to your needs, depending on the areas of issue.

When you first call to make your appointment, it’s important to explain to the massage therapist what you would like worked on.  So talk to the therapist about what has been going on.  For example, why did your doctor recommend you have a therapeutic massage? If the massage therapist is unfamiliar with your issues you may be referred to a colleague who can better serve you.

Your therapist may have soft lighting and music playing, just like with a relaxation massage.  Instead of a whole-body treatment, however, a therapeutic massage session usually will focus on your area of concern for an extended time.

If you schedule a 60-minute massage, the massage therapist will dedicate more time to your areas of concern. Other muscle groups may be worked on that are not your primary issue, too.

Should you receive massage therapy as part of your therapeutic treatment at your chiropractor’s office or physical therapy clinic, you may receive something we call spot work.  This is when the massage therapist works on your area of concern for a shorter period of time — about 15 minutes.   Spot work will work to complement the treatment given by the other practitioners.

Your massage therapist may incorporate stretches into the treatment plan.  Should this be the case,  you may be asked to wear loose-fitting clothing or active-wear to the appointment.

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RELATED: Your Jaw May Be to Blame for Your Migraine Headaches

Different from a relaxation massage

The massage work may feel deeper than a relaxation massage. You also may experience more tenderness as the therapist works through the tissue.  It is important to let your therapist know if the pressure feels too deep or uncomfortable.  Don’t be afraid to communicate.

The therapist may use various techniques during your treatment session. Depending on their training they may incorporate deep-tissue massage, myofascial release, trigger point work, various movement therapies, and passive and resistive stretching techniques.

A therapeutic massage can greatly benefit your overall well-being. The more focused work can help decrease your pain and increase your range of motion, making it easier to function in your world.

More information

Pain management treatment guide

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