What is Medical Massage?

Those who don’t know, don’t know what they don’t know. As a Massage Therapist, I can tell you, I don’t know everything. I know about a lot of modalities, but there are some that I haven’t even heard of.  There are Massage Therapists who heard the term Medical Massage and they think to themselves, well, all massage is medical in nature.

This is true to a point, but it isn’t all the way true.  It’s true that there is power in touch and intention. It’s true that the benefits of standard massage include, increased circulation, decreased stress, people tend to sleep better, there’s a reduction in anxiety, helps with headaches, fibromyalgia, and much more! With this small list alone you can see where the idea that all massage is medical comes from. Then there’s the therapist who says well, medical massage is targeted therapy. In a sense this is true as well. Then we have to ask, what specific techniques are you using for your targeted treatment? Are you using a series of specific techniques designed for the area you are focusing on? More often than not these particular therapists are just using the standard 5 swedish strokes and hoping it releases the problem area temporarily.

It is human nature to be skeptic of those things we haven’t done the research or gotten the training to do. I had a  young man tell me to stay away from wordpress. since then he went on to learn more about wordpress and now loves it and suggests I use it also. We tend to not just shy away from things we don’t understand, but we tend to become antagonistic towards them. One might even say Judgemental.

Some may even say, well deep tissue does the same thing. To this I would say more information is needed for that assumption.

Deep tissue massage is very similar to swedish in nature except that there is more focus on a particular area. Some of my clients have told me that they have had deep tissue so aggressive that they wondered if the therapist would rub a hole into their tissue. 😉 of course nothing like that would really happen it may feel like at times though.

Deep Tissue is geared towards stripping the muscle,  and fascia to break up adhesions, and when you break up adhesions you do regain better range of motion. I have to wonder, however, when you strip a muscle such as they do in bodybuilding it creates more scar tissue, so it stands to reason to me that while you may be breaking up adhesions are there more being created? Some may agree, some may not, and some of it also depends on the needs of the client how aggressive the treatment needs to be.

So, what really is Medical Massage? I know I didn’t invest a lot of time and money, just so I could make glamorous claims in my profession and still only do what a new massage graduate does.  Medical Massage has a few different purposes. the first is that we work with a doctor’s prescription in certain cases such as a car accidents, slip and fall, physical therapy and in some states where Massage Therapists can bill regular health insurance, care associated with their doctor or physical therapy visits.

Medical Massage involves specialized techniques to effect rehabilitation to the injured or problem site. These techniques are critical to decreasing pain and dysfunction. my mentor always says you have to prepare the structure for function which is why the massage integration is so crucial.

The outcome of the work we do as Medical Massage Therapists is really and truly outcome based rehabilitation therapy. No it won’t take only one session, but we formulate a series of treatments based on the problem area and work to restore range of motion, stability, and function of the problem area associated with the condition as prescribed by a doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist.

Unlike the standard massage we work very closely with other health professionals to create the right balance of care to get the patient functioning at an optimum level according to their abilities.

All in all to me Medical Massage isn’t deep tissue although it goes deep, It isn’t a fu fu massage, although it can be very relaxing, it resonates with sports massage in that there is stretching that can occur. For me and my practice it is the effective massage. There may be some discomfort, but more often than not it is very relaxing. Unlike the light swedish, there may be some client participation required such as resisting against applied pressure in a stretch.

As Medical Massage Therapists we take what we do very seriously and we see amazing results from our clients. We take invest a significant amount of money and many additional hours and years of education beyond Massage school to learn these specialized techniques to be able to give the most effective treatment for our clientele.

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