What is therapeutic massage?
When you consult with a physical therapist, you can expect to receive a combination of physical therapy services that are either active (where you, as the patient, perform specific tasks) or passive (where treatment focuses on you receiving care rather than you participating in it). Both have highly valuable benefits for acute or chronic health conditions, especially when provided in conjunction with each other.
One of the most beneficial types of passive treatment we offer at our physical therapy clinic is massage therapy. That’s right: physical therapists (not just massage therapists) are explicitly trained in therapeutic massage and can use it to your direct benefit (and who knew massage therapy could potentially be covered by your health insurance)?
Therapeutic massage involves a wide range of explicit manual techniques (delivered by your physical therapist’s hands) that can be used to target specific tissues in your body, including muscles, fascia, lymph nodes, joints, and tendons. Techniques include deep tissue, Swedish, or even pressure point massage:
- Deep tissue is beneficial to athletes and anyone who needs to relieve tension in their deep musculature
- Swedish massage is more gentle and targets more superficial tissues, perfect for anyone looking to relax and relieve mental as well as physical stress
- Pressure point massage is effective for relieving tender points within the body’s fascial tissue (which protectively encases connective tissue much like the casing of sausage!)
Who is massage therapy for?
Everyone from young toddlers to seniors can benefit from massage therapy. This technique offers a variety of benefits that’s truly safe for just about anyone.
Specific benefits of therapeutic massage include:
- Improved circulation and lymphatic drainage
- Accelerated healing
- Reduced swelling and inflammation
- Improved range of motion
- Reduced pain
- Decreased adhesions and scar tissue formation
- Decreased stress
- Improved mood
We use therapeutic massage to help people manage or recover from a wide range of conditions, including fibromyalgia, back pain and neck pain, arthritis, migraines, diabetic nerve pain, sports and auto-accident related injuries, and even psychological disorders including anxiety and depression (since mental and emotional stress is often neurologically carried into and stored in physical tissues). A professional massage provided by a physical therapist can even ease the effects of chemotherapy and can hasten the healing process in post-surgical patients.
What should I expect during my therapeutic massage treatment?
The first thing you should expect when you come to visit our clinic for a physical therapy appointment is a thorough examination and patient history questionnaire. We ask that all our patients visit us in comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes. If massage therapy is deemed an appropriate part of your plan of care, then we’ll be sure to position you in a comfortable position seated or lying down (depending on the target treatment area). Your dignity and privacy is important to us, so you can rest assured you’ll always be appropriately covered if certain articles of clothing need to be moved so that our physical therapists can appropriately access the target tissue (whether in the spine or limbs).
During a massage, your physical therapist may also use oils or special lotions with essential oils added to them. Aromatic essential oils are used to enhance the benefits of the massage by stimulating the sense of smell, enhancing neurological involvement. The combination of aromatherapy, gentle touch, and fluid movements can truly maximize the beneficial effects of each individual treatment.
At our clinic, our physical therapists can talk to you about anything you may be experiencing and work with you in a coordinated way to encourage healing on all levels and help you gain a deeper understanding of your body and what’s happening with it. We’re not just concerned with symptom relief; we want to identify and resolve the underlying cause (or causes) of your symptoms so that your healing will be more complete and longer lasting.
Are you wondering if massage therapy is right for you? (Hint: it probably is.) Contact Graham Therapy and Fitness today at Bethesda, MD to schedule an initial appointment with an experienced physical therapist today.