Should I Get a Medical Massage?
Have you ever felt that your body needs more than a procedure or pill to get back into its proper form? Do you think addressing the underlying problem is more urgent than catering to symptoms? If yes, you may want to experience medical massage therapy.
Most of us understand that massages are known to relieve stress and allow our bodies to relax for a specific time. However, a lesser-known fact about massage therapy is that it can help eliminate specific medical issues.
Professionals in a hospital or clinic perform medical massage therapy. It aims to find problem areas in your body and help you deal with each long-term. For example, suppose you have been suffering from excruciating pain in your body and cannot get rid of it through pills. In that case, a medical massage may work wonders. Dig into this article to learn more about medical massage therapy and when you should use it to treat your chronic aches and pains.
What Is Medical Massage Therapy?
It isn’t easy to live with pain or a medical problem for a long time. Therefore, you need a particular plan and solution to eliminate all the disturbances that might be bothering your body. And for that, you may want to experience medical massage therapy.
This therapy is often part of a treatment plan and is designed according to the condition and medical diagnosis. Medical massage treatments may vary for every patient according to age, gender, and underlying health conditions.
Medical massage therapy involves different types of therapeutic procedures that focus on your body’s tendons, tissues, muscles, and ligaments. In short, this therapy works on all your components that support and move your body.
One of the best qualities of a medical massage is focusing on the problem area instead of your entire body. It involves various massage techniques to support your treatment. Massage therapists use varying procedures that cater to specific medical conditions, and all of this is performed for 30 minutes to one hour per session, depending on the severity of your situation.
How Is Medical Massage Therapy Different From a Traditional Spa Massage?
Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the differences between a spa and a medical massage, so they opt for the former to treat their sore muscles. However, the truth is that both of them have distinct differences.
Medical Massage Therapy Is Outcome-based
A medical massage does offer immense relaxation and stress relief like a spa massage. But in addition to that, it also meets the medical requirements of a patient. As stated earlier, a medical massage is designed to manage your pain in a particular area. Additionally, it also helps improve circulation, digestion, and flexibility. Further, the massage relieves your nerves from compression and tackles various health concerns. Simply put, a medical massage is an all-rounder therapy. It ensures that your body gets a break from all its health issues and starts optimally functioning as it used to before.
Designed to Target Needs
Through various techniques, medical massage therapy helps to target all your needs. The methods used in a spa massage vary from that applied in a medical massage. For instance, a spa massage’s primary focus is to offer you instant relaxation. But on the other hand, a medical massage uses procedures that help muscle recovery and health.
Comes With a Follow-up Plan
A medical massage is a treatment that you can’t take for granted. You can get a spa massage every once in a while and go months until you book your next. However, to reap the maximum benefits of medical massage therapy, a practitioner will provide you with a follow-up plan that you should follow. This targeted plan differs for each patient and contains the number of visits required to make the entire treatment successful.
A Spa Therapist’s Focus Isn’t on Medical Massage
Finally, suppose you believe you can visit a spa and ask the professionals to give you a medical massage. In most cases, you may not be in the right place. A spa therapist may have good training in general massage techniques. Still, they might not be as skilled as a massage therapist focusing on treating medical conditions. On the other hand, a therapist who excels in providing medical massage therapy has the experience and certifications to perform this job correctly. The treatment style and care required in a medical massage are advanced. Therefore, you should only consult a specialist to offer you medical massage therapy.
Why You Should Use Medical Massage Therapy
Here are some reasons that may convince you to get a medical massage:
Heals Repetitive Stress Injuries
One of the main benefits of a medical massage is that it allows you to heal from previous injuries you may suffer when standing or sitting for a long time. In addition, it ensures correct posture so you can save your body from further pains.
If you suffer from migraines regularly, a medical massage may help you get rid of them for good. Properly massaging the neck and head promotes effectiveness. Simply put, it releases the muscles that might trigger pain, providing quick relief from chronic headaches.
Whiplash is a neck injury caused by bending the neck forward or backward with great force. This injury usually affects your neck’s discs, nerves, and muscles. There are many ways to treat this problem, and one of them is medical massage therapy. A massage therapist uses various techniques to balance muscle tone and restore the flexibility of joints. If done consistently, the therapy aims to achieve a painless experience for the patient.
Heals Sprains and Strains
We often suffer from inflammation after an injury or treatment. Medicines help reduce inflammation, but then it all results in further strains and sprains. In that case, a medical massage works as a savior. A massage increases blood flow which initiates a speedy recovery and rehabilitation process to help create new tissues and generate relief from the pain.
Eliminates Post-surgery Scar Tissue
After an injury or surgery, many people develop unattractive and lumpy scar tissue. If left untreated, it can become a permanent part of your existence. Therefore, it is imperative to use medical massage to break the tissue down and restore the natural structure but only after your doctor’s approval.
Treats Muscle Disorders
A deep tissue massage can help treat muscle disorders. The technique applies strokes and pressure to target your inner tissues and reduce the tension stored in your muscles. But, again, if your condition is too severe, it is best to consult your doctor before visiting a therapist.
The benefits of massage therapy can last up to one month. However, most people may experience the benefits vanishing within a week. This is why it is essential to get a massage regularly and according to the advice of a specialist.
Types of Medical Massage Therapy
A medical massage uses various techniques to treat problems. Below are six different medical massage techniques you can try:
Deep Tissue Massage
A deep tissue massage is a technique that focuses on and treats musculoskeletal issues. These problems usually consist of sports injuries and strains. The massage uses deep and slow strokes to apply a certain pressure. This procedure helps target the inner tissues and muscles, reducing tension. Furthermore, a deep tissue massage also improves blood circulation and is quite beneficial in reducing inflammation.
This massage therapy is designed to improve muscle pain and help you unwind mentally. According to a study, a deep tissue massage works as effectively as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. A deep tissue massage is also beneficial for treating issues such as:
- Sports injuries: These injuries often occur when a person is engaged in exercise or sports. These can result from excessive training or improper technique.
- Fibromyalgia: This is a chronic and long-term condition with symptoms such as tenderness, general fatigue, and excessive pain in bones and muscles.
- Plantar fasciitis: This condition causes extreme pain in the heel’s bottom. It is an orthopedic complaint where your ligaments suffer from excessive wear and tear.
- Tennis elbow: A painful inflammation, tennis elbow occurs on the joint of your elbow, often caused by repetitive stress on this part of your body.
- High blood pressure: When blood flows with excessive pressure through your arteries, it may result in high blood pressure. The symptoms of this problem may include headaches, shortness of breath, and nose bleeding.
The primary purpose of a deep tissue massage is to realign the muscle and connective tissues. Moreover, it helps your body get relief from the chronic patterns of tension.
What Happens During a Deep Tissue Massage?
Your therapist will start by asking about your problem areas. Once that is communicated, the therapist will ask you to lie on your stomach or back.
Then the therapist will warm up your muscles before targeting the areas that bother you. This is achieved through deep strokes and kneading with different intensities of pressure.
A deep tissue massage is safe; however, you may face some soreness for a few days. A heating pad wrapped in a clean towel may help relieve lingering pain.
You should always consult your doctor for this type of therapy if you consume blood thinners or have a history of bleeding disorders. Anyone with bone cancer should avoid this therapy as it may lead to a fracture.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger point therapy is another popular technique used during medical massage therapy. Most of us have painful spots in our bodies that spread pain to the rest of it. For instance, a trigger point in your head may radiate pain to your neck or back.
The presence of a trigger point usually implies a physiological dysfunction. For example, this could mean mechanical stress or acute trauma.
Trigger point therapy can work quite efficiently to remove or reduce pain spots. This neuromuscular technique corrects your muscular imbalances and offers a quick recovery from an injury. It does so by locating the pain source and applying accurate pressure on knots to alleviate pain.
Below are some of the conditions this therapy helps with:
- Muscle injury: This involves wear and tear of your tendons and muscles, leading to strains or excruciating pain.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: The syndrome results from extreme pressure on your median nerve. Its symptoms may include weakness and tingling in your arms and hands.
- Repetitive strain injury: This refers to pain in your tendons, muscles, or nerves caused by overuse or repetitive movement.
What Happens During Trigger Point Therapy?
The therapist reprograms your neuromuscular system to decrease pain and reduce inflammation by exerting the right amount of pressure on your muscles. The technique then manages to help muscles go back to their original state. Reducing muscle tightness promotes healing, giving immense relief to the patient.
Myofascial Release Therapy
Myofascial release therapy helps treat myofascial pain syndrome. This syndrome is often caused by the tightness and sensitivity of myofascial tissues. The tissues are created to support all the muscles in your body; however, when they suffer from trigger points, the pain radiates faster than expected. Myofascial release therapy targets these trigger points, easing tightness and tension. Instead of targeting a specific area, the technique works on a specific muscle or tissue to help quick healing.
If you suffer from myofascial pain syndrome, frequent visits to a therapist may help you get rid of the pain within a short time. People who suffer from venous insufficiency may also gain some relief from this medical massage therapy technique.
Myofascial release therapy may also be a crucial part of other treatments prescribed by your doctor. For example, your specialist may recommend this therapy since it helps with decreasing pain and pooling.
What Happens During Myofascial Release Therapy?
Most times, the technique often happens during an excellent medical massage therapy session. It usually starts with your therapist applying gentle pressure on your muscles to locate your tightened and stiff areas. Once found, they will start stretching and massaging the areas through manual pressure. The therapist repeats the same procedure in the same area until the tension is ultimately released.
This massage therapy is common but comes with a few risks. For instance, it isn’t entirely recommended for people with painful wounds, burns, or weak bones. Anyone taking blood-thinning medication should also stay away from this therapy. This is because it can lead to internal bleeding and nerve damage in a few rare cases, and that’s not something you should risk.
If you want to try this therapy for yourself, it is wise to consult your doctor first. This pain treatment may provide significant relief from pain, but avoiding it is the safest move to make if you suffer from an underlying condition.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Your doctor may prescribe lymphatic drainage massage if they have located specific blockages in your lymphatic system due to poor health. Your body’s lymphatic system is a crucial component that protects it from several diseases and infections. And so, it must stay healthy to avoid any further damage.
A few health conditions, such as obesity, cancer, and inflammation, lead to a build-up of lymph fluids. Unfortunately, too much fluid can create blockages or clots, and that’s the last thing a system needs to work correctly. Therefore, a lymphatic drainage massage uses gentle pressure to drain excess fluid from the tissues.
A lymphatic drainage massage can help improve your immune function and, at the same time, maintain healthy blood circulation. It also ensures a proper balance of fluid in your body.
In simple terms, this medical massage therapy helps heal your filtration pipes so that any excess liquid can be processed to avoid any blockages. Here are some of the conditions that this massage technique can help with:
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This autoimmune disease, in which your immune system starts attacking your cells by mistake, leads to severe inflammation in various parts of your body.
- Lymphedema: This condition occurs due to fluid build-up in your tissues. It usually happens when your lymph system is either blocked or damaged.
- Chronic venous insufficiency: This happens when the veins in your legs don’t allow blood to flow to the heart, leading to a pool of blood in your legs.
This massage technique is also helpful in accomplishing the following goals:
- Improving the shape of your body
- Removing toxins and pathogens
- Supporting fast muscle recovery
- Reducing any bloating
- Improving your digestive system
What Happens During Lymphatic Drainage Massage?
A certified therapist starts by applying gentle pressure so that only your skin feels it. This is followed by using fingertips to make gentle movements on your body without directly massaging any swollen or affected areas. Therapists usually focus on the neck’s base because that’s where the fluid drains. The therapist uses strokes to help eliminate excess fluid from your system.
Pregnancy can take a toll on your body, and it is common to experience swollen joints and muscles during this period. However, since living with this pain for nine months is very difficult, it is imperative to get relief through medical treatment and prenatal massage.
Often performed by a prenatal massage therapist, this technique relieves your whole body. Here are some ways in which it can help you:
- Reduces swelling: An increased pressure on certain vessels and reduced blood circulation can often lead to extreme swelling in your legs and arms during pregnancy. However, a massage can stimulate your soft tissues and reduce this swelling, leaving you comfortable in your body.
- Reduces back pain: Pregnancy can cause severe back pain, so with a prenatal massage, you can get rid of tight muscles that might be causing it.
- Improves your sleep: As the pregnancy progresses, the dream of getting good sleep becomes nearly impossible. But with a massage, you can accelerate your blood flow and eliminate muscle tension, leading to a relaxed body that falls asleep effortlessly.
- Prepare for birth: This massage is a drug-free way to prepare your body for birth and labor. As it relieves tension from your muscles, it becomes easier to push your body to the extreme and bear the pain of childbirth.
What Happens During Prenatal Massage?
A massage therapist performs a prenatal massage in different steps. For instance, it includes a gentle foot rub with smooth strokes and mild pressure. Then it also consists of a back rub, scalp massage, and a proper shoulder rub. Finally, the massage ends with a gentle belly rub with oil to relieve pain and reduce stretch marks.
If you are an athlete or a sports person reading this, this medical massage type may interest you. A sports massage is the manual manipulation of your muscles to help your body bear the demands of your lifestyle. This therapeutic massage considers the impact of your hobbies and activities on joints, muscles, and ligaments. Moreover, it uses specific techniques to maximize your body’s tolerance for extreme physical exertion.
Below are some ways sports massage can benefit you:
- Relaxation: As an athlete, your body must experience proper rest to maintain good health. And that’s what a sports massage helps to achieve. It works as an enhancement and recovery program to decrease tension in your muscles and offer quick recovery from injury. It also stabilizes your mood and helps improve your emotional state, positively impacting your decision-making power.
- Removal of toxins: Like most other medical massage techniques, a sports massage efficiently removes toxins from your muscles. It does so by reducing the build-up of lactic acid that can otherwise result in painful knots.
- Recovery: What’s more, this therapy can help relieve an athlete from strains that might be affecting their performance. Most therapists customize this massage therapy according to the athlete’s needs.
- Performance enhancement: Regular sports massage helps different areas of an athlete’s body that need maintenance to perform well. As a result, it helps increase a sports person’s ability to achieve their goals.
What Happens During a Sports Massage?
There are three main types of sports massage: maintenance massage, event massage, and rehabilitation massage.
A maintenance massage involves a therapist understanding the troubling muscles and then choosing specific techniques to help the athlete improve their flexibility and reduce pain.
An event massage involves pre, post, and intra-event massages that help elevate the performance of athletes on the ground.
Finally, a rehabilitation massage is designed to cater to different injuries and ensure an athlete’s health after a performance.
In each type of sports massage, there are specific techniques involved. In addition, these techniques can vary according to different bodies. Below are briefs details on each technique:
- Swedish massage: This technique is used before events to warm up the body and increase blood circulation.
- Compression massage: This technique warms up deep muscles before and after events.
- Stretching: Stretching is a crucial part of any sports massage technique. It uses an increased range of motion in areas that have restricted movement.
- Cross-fiber massage: This technique uses friction to create stretching in large muscles. It also helps with quick recovery after a sports injury.
- Trigger point massage: This massage helps reduce hypersensitivity in muscles and decreases muscle spasms. The technique uses pressure from the thumbs and fingers to eliminate trigger points in muscles and tissues.
When You Should Use Medical Massage Therapy
Suppose you want to provide your body with specific relief from protruding pain. In that case, medical massage therapy should be a part of your overall treatment. However, you should consult your doctor first to see what they suggest. Then, you can work with your massage therapist to figure out the best plan for you.
When it comes to how often you should get a massage, that may vary according to your current condition and the reason behind needing one. For instance, if you need therapy for pain management, you might have to visit your therapist frequently. However, in a few injury cases, your therapist may also suggest you visit them twice a week until you fully recover.
Many specialists recommend one session weekly for chronic health conditions, but that may also vary according to how your body reacts. In addition, your therapist may suggest specific stretches and exercises that you can perform at home.
If you want to get massage therapy for stress relief, it is wise to visit your therapist at least once every month. By prioritizing this therapy, you can reduce your blood pressure levels and, at the same time, benefit from low cortisol levels.
Athletes who need massages for recovery and enhancing their performance may get medical massages recommended more than usual. The final frequency of sessions depends on their event schedule and overall training. Still, regular massages are necessary to improve muscle flexibility and increase range of motion.
How to Choose a Massage Therapist and What to Expect
Your doctor will recommend you to a therapist to get a medical massage in most cases. However, you might sometimes have to put in some effort to find a massage specialist. Here are some tips that you can apply while conducting your search:
- Recognize the services you require. For instance, do you need a therapist to help you with pain management, or are you looking for someone that can offer you stress relief? Identifying the goals you want to achieve from therapy and any medical conditions that might restrict your choice is imperative.
- Get some names from those around you who have opted for medical massage therapy. If you are being treated for something specific, ask the doctor in charge to refer you to some therapists.
- Shortlist a few therapists according to your preferences, including the location that suits you. You can also shortlist therapists according to various customer experiences that you may find online.
- Connect with your therapists and ask them about their charges and logistics. If you can’t travel, ask the professional if they can visit you at home.
- Finally, choose a therapist that ticks all the right boxes for you and book an appointment as soon as possible.
Now, what should you expect in your first meeting with a therapist? A therapist will first take your medical history and all the related details that will help them curate a massage plan for you. They will also inspect your current health and lifestyle before suggesting anything. Then, they might perform a session with you to help you get an idea of the entire therapy. Sometimes, your therapist may advise you to perform specific exercises at home before the next session.
How to Find a Massage Therapist Near You
Are you suffering from severe muscle pain or stress but can’t figure out how to get rid of it? Do you still fail to achieve a healthy body despite taking pills and other medical treatments? In that case, you may want to opt for medical massage therapy, but only after your doctor’s recommendation. This therapy helps relieve stress, eliminate muscle pain, and improve blood circulation. Furthermore, a medical massage can help athletes recover from injuries and improve performance.
In this article, we looked at different types of medical massage therapy available. So, if you find a type beneficial for you, don’t delay and discuss it with your specialist.
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