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What is Medical Massage Therapy?

By: Taylor Paganini LMT, O.T

With so many people turning to holistic healing, helpful alternatives can go unnoticed. One of them is Medical Massage Therapy. Unlike traditional massage, medical massage focuses on a particular medical diagnosis as part of the patients treatment plan, and can be recommended for a variety of maladies, including carpal tunnel syndrome and migraines. It isn't a particular style of massage in itself, but applies various massage techniques already in practice in order to achieve a specific medical treament goal. Patients can undergo medical massage as a part of a larger physical therapy regimen for numerous chronic problems. From an employee who suffers from back or neck pain while sitting down, to an athlete who pulled a muscle while playing a sport, the practice uses general massage methods to cure localized problems. Training within the field can include Myofascial release, Trigger point therapy, stretching, and Thermo/Cryotherapy.

Who is an Candidate for Medical Massage?

Everyone! It all depends if you're trying to relieve specific issues/concerns or if you are just looking for some relaxation. In my experience, most people who are just coming into the clinic for a 'relaxation' treatment typically are also in need of and would benefit from a therapeutic massage. So whether you are dealing with injury, stress, or have certain health conditions, in many cases recieving a medical massage with a trained professional can have great improvement on your health.

What can I expect from a Medical Massage?

Most of us already know what to expect during a typical massage therapy session, moments of relaxation, rejuvenation and pain reduction amoung many other desired sensations. But when it comes to medical massage, I usually inform the patient before hand that some of the highly effective manual techniques used can be rather uncomfortable. In order to release fascial restriction that is causing dysfunction, its going to take effort from both the therapist and the patient. Your therapist will always communicate with you through the process and make sure that you are never in 'pain'. This treatment should NEVER be painful. Uncomfortable at moments, absolutely. But that is all part of the healing process.

During a usual medical massage session, the therapist will be using a variety of different techniques such as..

  • Myofascial release is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. Applied with little to no oil.

  • Trigger Point release "Trigger points" are hyper-irritable spots in the tough tissue called fascia, surrounding muscles, as well as within the muscles. An irritated trigger point can create “referred pain". Involves applying static compression which is pressure held until the tissue is felt to have released, usually for 8-10 seconds.

  • Passive Stretching Passive stretching as opposed to active stretching is when your therapist assists you in a stretch of muscle tissue using a method called CRAC ( contract, relax, antagonist contraction). Just relax and we will do the rest!

  • Breathing techniques During a medical massage there may be moments of uncomfortability and hypersensitivity. Typically when we feel the on-set of pain we hold our breath. That is probably the worst thing you can do. In order to push through the sensation for the therapy to work, your therapist will help quide you through slow-deep breaths that will make a tremendous difference in how we percieve and deal with pain.

  • Thermotherapy (heat) is used to increase circulation and tissue pliability and decrease pain. Application for maximum of 20 minutes at a time.

  • Cryotherapy (cold) is used to reduce swelling, inflammation and pain. Usually for acute injuries.

  • Topical ointments/analgestics: give a sensation of heat or cold to help reduction by sensory stimulation but do not have other thermal effects.

In order to get the results we want, this type of treatment will need consistence and dedication. But I promise, it will be well worth it!

"Discomfort of any kind becomes the basis of practice. We breathe in knowing our pain is shared."-Pema Chodron

Taylor Paganini L.M.T, O.T is certified in Myofascial Release Technique, Trigger Point Therapy, AMMA, and Prenatal massage. Also certified in flame Cupping. Her techniques are to help unblock energy in the body and bring better mobility and functionality to the muscular and nervous systems in order to reconnect the mind/body experience.


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