How can remedial massage nourish your soul?
Remedial massage involves the manipulation of soft tissues to restore normal health and function to areas of the body that are tense, damaged or in pain. Pain in the body may be due to injuries, repetitive movements or imbalances in the body, which could injure the musculoskeletal system over time.
As a tailored modality, therapists may employ a range of techniques such as deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy or myofascial release techniques to assist you. This variety of techniques makes it useful for issues ranging from poor posture to occupational injuries.
Remedial massage stems from a Western philosophical base, with practitioners trained in human anatomy and physiology. Unlike oriental systems of massage that aim to encourage the flow of energy in the body, therapists often apply deep pressure or direct application of a technique to affected and related muscles, tendons and ligaments.
To ensure you receive the highest standard of treatment, choose a therapist registered with a professional association such as Massage & Myotherapy Australia, Massage Association of Australia or the Association of Massage Therapists. These national organisations are committed to upholding excellence in practice, and require its members to undertake continuing professional development.
Benefits of remedial massage
Even with remedial massage encompassing a wide variety of techniques, practitioners widely agree that it assists in rehabilitation, pain and injury management. Some other major benefits include improved joint mobility, an increased sense of relaxation and reduced depression and anxiety. A literature review of complementary approaches found that massage therapy may provide cancer survivors with improvements in physical symptoms such as pain and fatigue, and mental symptoms such as anger, depression and stress.
Clinical studies have also been conducted into various techniques that are used in remedial massage. For instance, deep tissue massage is reported to reduce pain and improve the perception of recovery for those with chronic neck pain, while case studies found that trigger point therapy may reduce the frequency of tension headaches. Both these techniques target the deeper layers of muscle and surrounding connective tissues, and can be beneficial for conditions such as lower back pain, osteoarthritis, and tennis elbow.
There is even research to show that remedial massage may benefit non-musculoskeletal conditions such as gastro-intestinal disorders. A clinical trial of 122 children conducted over two years found that remedial massage to the psoas muscle (an important, large muscle wrapping around your back and legs) resolved all symptoms of abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea in 92% of children after treatment. Over half of these children remained symptom-free two years later. These findings may also be relevant for adults, as this study came about due to a therapist reporting anecdotal evidence of improved gastrointestinal symptoms in adults when tightness in their psoas muscles was resolved.
Remedial massage may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Arthritis, rheumatism and osteoarthritis
- Back pain
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
- Digestive and gastrointestinal issues
- Fatigue, burnout and exhaustion
- Foot, heel and ankle issues
- Headaches and migraines
- Immunity issues
- Joint issues
- Mobility and movement
- Muscle spasm, tightness and cramps
- Muscle strain and injury
- Neck pain
- Pain relief
- Posture and spine issues
- Sports injuries
- Sports performance
- Sprains, strains and ligament injuries
- Stress and tension
- Tennis elbow and repetitive strain injury (RSI)
What to expect from a remedial massage session
Given the range of conditions remedial massage can assist with, it is important that you do research to find a therapist with relevant expertise. At your first session, your therapist will ask questions about your health, lifestyle and obtain information about any areas of concern or discomfort. The therapist should then conduct assessments that test your posture and range of motion to gain a proper understanding of how to treat your condition.
You may be asked to remove some clothing as part of the session, but only do so if you feel comfortable. Qualified therapists who are part of a professional association should always give you privacy while changing, and provide draping to cover any area that is not being treated. Your therapist wants to make sure you are comfortable, so don’t be afraid to communicate with them throughout the session, for instance if they are applying more pressure than you wish.
After the session, you may feel calm and relaxed, or you may experience some stiffness or muscle soreness. This is particularly if your therapist has used techniques such as deep tissue massage, or if you have had an injury or tension for some time. This is entirely normal, but if the pain does not fade you should contact your therapist to discuss it.
As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing remedial massage. If you have an injury, health issue, or any concerns at all, do speak to your therapist who will be happy to address these and tailor the approach to your individual requirements.