I am not sure about you, but for a very long time the only massage that I was aware of was relaxation massage. I knew that remedial massage could help with tension, stress and backaches, but I had no idea that there was so much more to it than that.
Generally massage practice in Australia is divided into two levels based on the level of qualification – Relaxation/Swedish massage therapy and Remedial massage. Massage falls under the “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (CAM) umbrella, and so is a great therapy to complement other therapies including your regular primary care from a GP or other health professional.
The role of a Remedial Massage Therapist (RMT) is to assess and treat musculoskeletal and other system disorders. (1) So it’s not (always) just a case of show up, hop on the table, treat and off you go. There are various assessments and techniques that are available to provide a holistic treatment in order to get you well and more importantly KEEP you well.
Below I’ll discuss what to expect during your remedial massage treatment, what techniques are offered as part of your treatment plan, and what you may expect with regards to long term prevention strategies.
First things first….
If it is your first time coming for a remedial massage treatment or you are coming in because of a new injury or problem, then I’d strongly recommend booking in a 90 minute appointment instead of a 60 minute appointment. The reason for this is because in order to come up with a suitable treatment plan both for that day and long term, I may need to do some musculoskeletal assessments or screening processes in order to determine what is causing the problem and how to provide the best treatment for you. Sometimes we will re-assess during the treatment to determine the outcome of some of the techniques, however in most cases they’ll be done again after the treatment to compare pre and post treatment range of motion and/or pain levels.
I’ll also take a thorough case history to get a general idea of your level of health, the history of the complaint and any other relevant health history details. Depending on the problem that you are presenting with, this can take anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes. If you’re just after a relaxation massage, the health history interview will be brief – however the treatment will only consist of relaxation massage which is of course beneficial for stress and tension reduction but may not specifically address your health concern.
A remedial massage treatment may consist of a combination of techniques including relaxation massage, deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, stretches, myofascial release and kinesiology taping.
Deep Tissue & Trigger Point Therapy
Deep tissue massage consists of strokes similar to relaxation or Swedish massage, however they are deeper, firmer, and can feel more intense depending on the area being treated. Deep tissue massage is intended to reduce pain, lengthen and stretch muscle fibers, improve lymph and blood flow, separate adhesions and deactivate trigger points. Trigger point therapy will generally be incorporated at the same time as deep tissue techniques, as usually the trigger points are found during the massage. A trigger point is a localized area of hyperirritability within a muscle that can be extremely tender when touched or compressed. In some cases, you may not know you have any until the massage, but in other cases they can be what’s causing your pain. Trigger points usually have a “referral pattern” of pain, that feels like a dull ache or a pain that you can’t quite work out how to describe or know where its coming from. Once trigger points are deactivated, pain can be reduced or eliminated completely. (1) When working on a trigger point I’ll ask you to let me know what level the pain is (on a scale of 1-10) to determine how much pressure is used.
Myofascial Release (MFR)
Myofascial release works within remedial massage to reduce adhesions and restrictions in the connective tissue throughout the body. The fascia within the body connects everything together – and is spread throughout the body as a single structure. If you can imagine a knitted jumper – if you were to pull on one sleeve it can affect the whole jumper. The analogy relates to the human body in that if there is a restriction or adhesion within the fascia in one area of the body it can potentially affect other areas. This can contribute to pain and postural problems. The techniques used in MFR are aimed at lengthening the fascia, improving fluid flow in the areas, increasing range of motion, and reducing adhesions. They are slower than deep tissue and trigger point therapy, and the pressure can vary between light and firm/deep. In some clients, MFR can cause an emotional release either during the treatment or after treatment. (1)
Stretching & Taping
Stretches may also be incorporated as part of your remedial massage treatment in order to lengthen the muscles and improve range of motion. Stretches may be passive, or may include your participation via your resistance to further improve range of motion to specific muscles.
Rocktape application may be recommended to further enhance the treatment, provide relief or improve posture in the days following the treatment. Rocktape is a hypoallergenic and water resistant brand of kinesiology tape that is used toprovide functional support to the body during and post exercise, decrease pain, swelling and bruising and improve posture. (2)
Post treatment you may be prescribed stretches or strengthening exercises to address the issues that are causing your pain or discomfort. Stretches will be prescribed to further lengthen tight muscles, and strengthening exercises will be prescribed to improve weak muscles. These two issues together are a big contributing factor to pain and injury. The exercises prescribed will accommodate your level of fitness and exercise knowledge – both gym exercises and home exercise can be recommended.
So as you can see, remedial massage is more than “just massage”! If you’re ready to book in your treatment then call 9293 2999 or visit the “Book Online Now” button below to make your appointment.
1. Grace S, Deal M. Textbook of Remedial Massage: Elsevier Australia; 2012.
2. Rocktape n.d. [Available from: https://rocktape.com.au/.