Medical massage:what is it?
Since Medical Massage is not a style that depends on specific techniques, there are many definitions to Medical Massage. Usually Medical Massage is a term that differentiates relaxation or stress reduction massage from a more targeted focus. Medical Massage is usually targeted bodywork that deals with specific issues like neck pain, back pain, sciatica, and just about any musculo-skeletal conditions. Medical Massage may also be referred to as clinical massage, orthopedic massage or sports massage in some cases.
My focus on this post is to give you my own definition of Medical Massage and how it is utilized in my practice at Bodywork Dynamics.
The way I define Medical Massage is: Manual Therapy with a clinical approach for reducing pain and improving overall function. I use evidence-based knowledge with my assessments and treatments.
When you come in for a Medical Massage it is important to know that you are coming in for specific treatment, as opposed to a general massage. It is also important to understand that there is a process involved that will take multiple sessions, exercise homework, and time.
That is where I feel I am different than most massage therapists. Since I am also a mobility specialist, I like to coach my clients through an entire process of: Assessment, Treatment, Rehab, and Training.
Let me explain the process. If you are coming in because you have acute or chronic pain, it is important that we create a program to follow. One where we keep assessing and reassessing to make sure you are improving and getting the right treatment. The rehab process isn’t always a straight line. Sometimes we need to troubleshoot, take some steps back, and make changes. Let me define each part of the process.
The assessment process is crucial. This is done thoroughly during your first Medical Massage session. My assessments can go anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Why so much time? Without a proper assessment it is impossible to know exactly what is going on. In my case I want to know what structures we are dealing with. Which ones are causing pain? Are there any mobility compensations? I want to know if we are dealing with a neuromuscular condition or a structural problem. I want to know if there is mechanical tension or neurological tightness. All that information is necessary to have in order know what type of manual and exercises interventions are necessary. Sometimes, manual therapy is not needed, and we just need to get you moving. In other cases, I may not be able to help you, and refer you out.
My assessments usually consist of orthopedic assessments, range of motion evaluations, and controlled articular rotations where I can assess your ability to fully control your joints. For example, if you have shoulder pain, I want to know exactly at what point it hurts or it’s restricted. These rotations will also expose any compensation patterns that will need to be corrected.
Once the assessment is completed and we see that manual therapy is necessary, then we will begin with manual therapy interventions. I can go on about different approaches and techniques that are utilized but the main goal here is to extinguish the fire. We want to decrease pain levels and improve range of motion. The purpose here is to open a window of opportunity to begin the restorative or rehabilitative process.
3) Rehab and Training
The reality of how the body functions is that it depends 100% on what you’re doing with your body. The only way we are going to create lasting change on the physical structures of the body is by training your body. If you want your shoulder to move better, you need to train it to move better. Same goes for any other part of your body. During the rehab process I teach and assign simple exercise to help reinforce the manual therapy that was done on the table. For example, if you come in with neck pain and after the massage you feel much better, and have better mobility, you need to be doing things at home to maintain that result.
Simultaneously we are going to work towards giving you better joint mobility and function. The goal is to not only have better range of motion, but to have more control of your body. The truth is that the more control you have over your movements, the less your body will have to control you. If you want your muscles to stop tightening up, you need to train your joints and make sure that they function the way they are supposed to. If your hip does not move like a hip should, then you technically do not have a hip. So, lets restore your hip and make it stronger than ever before. That is how we get longer lasting results.
It is the restorative rehab and mobility where Bodywork Dynamics stands out from other therapists. If you are tired of having chronic pain and tightness you should consider trying a more targeted process.