How Massage Therapy Can Help Your Rehabilitation Process
What's the first thing that comes to your mind when talking about massage? Is it relaxation? Touch? Spa procedures?
Well, you're right, that does sound like something you'd experience while getting a massage. But I also want to address the fact that most people underestimate the power of massage therapy in healing, rehabilitation, and joint pain management.
How do we perceive massage therapy?
Only a certain amount of people know about the qualities of massage therapy, other than relaxation and loosening. We usually see ads for spa salons and massage therapy procedures on TV and our social media feeds. And how do they all look? A pretty lady, sitting in pinkish water while the specialists take care of her naturally beautiful skin.
While that's what mostly happens at luxury spa salons, it's not the case for the whole concept of massage therapy.
We use massage therapy to treat arthritis, help boost our rehabilitation and heal our bodies and souls with the power of touch.
The art of touch through the timeline of a lifetime
The practice of using touch, and touching to induce the healing and rehabilitation derives from ancient time and customs. Our ancestors in the East and West cultures found that injuries, joint pain, muscle pain, and illnesses could be at least aided, if not cured and/or prevented with the power of massage therapy and essential oils.
And as a treat, they discovered that it helps reduce anxiety and helps you relax.
Massage therapy began as a pure and sacred system of general healing. Massage therapy even entered in rituals and cultural ceremonies. Through the years it acquired new, and lost old, meanings. But to this day it remains as one of the methods of rehabilitation and healing.
Massage therapy for rehabilitation
If you attend massage sessions regularly because you like the feel of touch and relaxation, that's ok. It's even better to practice going to the same professional because if they work with you long enough, they'll be able to learn your body and let you know about possible issues.
But if you're anything like people who go to massage therapists for chronic pain or recovering from an injury, it's better to visit a professional who's experienced with clinical massage therapy.
About clinical massage therapy: Some call it rehabilitation massage therapy, and it means that the massage is specifically designed to treat injured parts of your body, and the sessions have a precise goal of recovering from your injuries. Whether you call it medical massage, clinical massage, or rehab massage, the difference is the intent: it is specifically meant to help you heal faster, and is focused on recovery.
Recovering from a sports injury
Often, people address rehabilitation massage therapy to recover from a sports injury they got while playing, running, working out, or even performing a daring act.
I think I can safely say that sometimes we humans are a bit awkward, and some even didn't quite learn how to walk. I'm saying this because a twisted knee or sprained ankle is a common case for addressing a professional massage therapist.
When you think about it, we know these situations are a regular occurence, and I’m sure most of you can hear your grandparents saying to put a cold compress on an injured foot, or wrap it in something warm for the next few days. But a professional touch will improve your healing process, and help you recover even faster.
With the pressured touch of therapists' hands, the blood flow in your injured area will improve, and the muscles will become warmer. The touch will help the tissue stretch, break the adhesions and flush out all the swelling and toxins in the area, resulting in quicker healing.
- Swedish massage can be relaxing and healing. It has medium pressure on the joint movements and can help you recover from your sports injury.
- Deep Tissue Massage can also help flush the swelling and improve the metabolic state of your muscles.
Recovering from broken bones
A broken bone is a far more severe and dangerous case. It needs to be treated with caution and high professionalism. The main goal of massage therapy in such case is to improve the movement and get rid of the stiffness of the joint. It's also a good thing to provide some relaxation for the injured area and reduce the pressure on it.
Consult with a professional about this matter, and don't forget to visit a place that is fully equipped with high-quality massage tools.
Recovering from burns
I'm sure you're surprised to learn that massage can also help you recover from burns. But the studies show that the burn victims who receive 2-3 months of massage therapy sessions during the skin rehabilitation process experience reduced itching, less depression and more flexibility on the injured area. The skin healing process is quicker and some even show improved healing.
What can you try to manage pain and improve rehabilitation?
Massage therapy is full of surprises and unusual (weird, in a way) methods to try for achieving relaxation and rehabilitation.
Hot stone massage
Hot stone massage, with good hot stone massage equipment and a professional's touch can be relaxing and healing as well.
It involves heated stones that will be placed on your back as you lay on a massage table. Soothing heat will loosen the muscles and tissues. It will release muscle tension and help you better relax.
This method comes from Indian natural health philosophy. It blends with yoga, relaxation massage, meditation, herbs, essential oils, and rehabilitation massage. It's a full-body massage with aromatic oils and spiritual healing ceremonies. Massage King even sells massage lotions made with Ayurveda principles.
Anma's home country is Japan. It's a bit unusual to hear about a massage that doesn't include oils, but Anma is one of them. It's built around the idea that the healing process can be manipulated through the energy flow of the body. Blocked energy can result in illness and pain. Massage therapists who use Anma work on releasing your energy and letting it flow freely.
Thai massage is widely-known massage therapy modality, and it uses your own body as an essential massage tool. It combines regular massage with body placements and yoga poses. During the session, you will experience many activities that will relax your body and let it move better.
Thai massage can be fully oriented on relaxation and flexibility stretching or applying pressure to the muscles and joints for rehabilitation.
Reflexology also came from Asian countries. It's an alternative healing process that is based on a belief that pressure on specific areas of the hand (palm) or foot will improve the healing process of other body parts.
There are sports massage therapists who often use this technique to heal a headache, joint pain and other indications. By pressing on a person's big toe, these practitioners believe that they will relieve pain in a specific corresponding part of the body.
It's also believed that reflexology can reduce stress and anxiety.
Did you think we'd end this list without mentioning Shiatsu?
Even though Shiatsu originated from Japan, it's more widely used in the United States.
Shiatsu therapists use their fingers and palms to apply pressure on the body of the massage recipient. The process is continuous, rhythmic and monotonous. Shiatsu is built around the belief that it will restore the energy flow of qi in the body. It's also a massage therapy that doesn't use essential oils, and the recipient remains fully clothed during the session.
You will often see advertisements for various massage equipment that will remind you of Shiatsu (pressured touches on various areas of the body).
How is rehabilitation massage different from relaxation massage?
The Experience is the difference
The level of training and experience is different. The massage therapist can specialize and take different classes and courses and training, depending on state and national regulations, to obtain a certification in clinical massage therapy. They have to continue the education in this field and earn experience that will help them proceed in their careers.
As for you, the recipient of a massage, the experience is different as well. Clinical massage therapy can be different from what you see and experience on the relaxation sessions. They have modified equipment and sometimes specialized high-quality massage tables and chairs, etc.
You have more options
Relaxation massage therapy is relaxing. Rehabilitation or clinical massage therapy can be strenuous with different options and choices.
Here are some of the types of rehabilitation massage therapy:
Acupuncture can help with:
- Acute and chronic pain
- Neurogenic bladder
- Musculoskeletal pain
Electrodiagnostic Medicine can help with:
- Muscle disorders
- Nerve injuries
Spasticity Treatment can help with:
- Muscle spasms
Don't get overwhelmed when you see the range of options. First, you need to consult with a professional and give them the details about your specific condition. They'll make sure to tell you precisely what option will work best for you.
How to prepare and what to expect?
It can be hard to begin a new experience, but often it's for the best, it’s worthwhile.
- Plan your day accordingly, and arrive 15 minutes early. You might need to fill out some of the medical forms and register as a client.
- Bring your insurance information and the list of current medications (if any).
- Bring assistive devices for the pain that you use regularly.
- Dress comfortably and make sure not to over complicate your look. It might come in handy if your rehabilitation session gets physical.
NOTE: The statements made in this post have not been evaluated by the
FDA and are the opinion of the author based on their own research and
experience. Your results may be different.