What is Therapeutic Massage?
Therapeutic massage seeks to obtain a therapeutic benefit. While therapeutic massage is often relaxing, the end goal of the session or series of sessions is not relaxation.
Therapeutic goals can vary considerably between massage therapists and clients. In some cases, massage is recommended by a health professional and may be performed as part of a larger treatment plan. For example, someone attending physiotherapy for an injury might have a regular therapeutic massage to loosen muscles, improve muscle tone, and increase their flexibility. Likewise, therapeutic massage can supplement wound care, cancer care, and a variety of other treatments.
People can use therapeutic massage as a standalone treatment. Some people, such as athletes, labourers or stressed out even office workers, receive regular therapeutic massage to keep themselves in good physical condition.
People of all ages can benefit from therapeutic massage when it is performed by a competent and fully qualified remedial massage therapist. Massage is also suitable for people with disabilities, expecting mothers, and people in treatment for medical conditions. However, some special precautions may need to be taken to protect the client’s health.
Basic therapeutic massage techniques are derived from a variety of massage styles. Your massage therapist will tailor your massage techniques depending on your needs. If you are unsure whether or not massage is appropriate for you, please call us at PhysioWorks for individualised advice.
How Does a Therapeutic Massage Help You?
Therapeutic Massage is a combination of Relaxation Massage and Remedial Massage not only to relax your whole body but, at the same time, work through some of the muscle issues or “tight spots” you may be experiencing.
Massage therapy may also improve your circulation, enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells and helps remove waste products or reduce swelling. These circulatory effects of massage may have value in treating some inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.
Massage therapy induces a relaxation response, which lowers your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure; plus boosts your immune system; and generally decreases the physical effects of stress.
These effects suggest that massage may be helpful for a wide range of conditions.
What Conditions Benefit from a Therapeutic Massage?
Massage therapy helps your body in numerous ways. Massage can relax muscle tissue, leading to decreased joint and nerve compression, plus increased joint and muscle range of motion. This commonly results in less pain and improved function.
Therapeutic massage benefits the following conditions:
- General Wellbeing
- High Blood Pressure
- Low Immunity
- Minor injuries
When are the Best Times for a Therapeutic Massage?
The best time for a therapeutic massage is when you feel yourself getting worked up or just not feeling your best.
Others find a regular therapeutic massage every month or two to be a great dose of prevention therapy. We even have some highly stressed patients who have weekly massages to cope with daily life.
What Duration is the Best Therapeutic Massage?
If you have never had a therapeutic massage before or it has been quite some time since your last massage, then your initial treatment should ideally be for 60 to 90 minutes so that the therapist can work through those tired muscles at an even pace to minimise any possible soreness the following day.
If you are a more regular massage recipient, your massage therapist will guide you in the direction that works best for you and your muscles.
What Massage Frequency Works Best?
Everyone needs differ depending on their lifestyle. As a guide, regular therapeutic massages work best when on a 4 to 6-week basis. This is because your muscles need to keep relaxed and to move through their full available range. Otherwise, they become “creatures of habit”. If tense is how they are most often, that’s what they will consider normal. And… we all know what that leads to… tight muscles, stress, and pain!
For optimal results and less potential for muscle soreness the day post-massage, having a regular massage will keep your body from not only reacting to the positive change we are trying to provide, but it can also retrain your body to help itself and provide you with a better healthier you.
For advice specific to your therapeutic needs, please ask your massage therapist how regularly they feel that you should have a massage to function optimally.
What Conditions Can Massage Therapy Help?
Massage is effective in relieving or treating a wide range of conditions and ailments, such as, but not limited to:
Common Massage Styles
The professional healthcare team at PhysioWorks include several skilled Remedial Massage Therapists to attend to your optimal muscle care. You'll find that your Remedial Massage Therapist will provide you with excellence in sports and muscle injury care. Private health insurance covers remedial massage therapists.
Common Massage Styles
- Active Release Technique - ART
- Deep Tissue Massage
- Lymphatic Drainage
- Myofascial Release
- Pre-Event Massage
- Pregnancy Massage
- Relaxation Massage
- Remedial Massage
- Sports Massage
- Sports Recovery Massage
- Swedish Massage
- Therapeutic Massage
- Trigger Point Therapy
Soft Tissue Massage Therapy
Soft tissue massage therapy involves direct physical action upon the soft tissues of your body. Your muscles, tendons, ligaments, or other connective tissue such as fascia are the target structures.
Massage therapists possess a variety of massage styles, which they customise to each client. Soft tissue techniques include a whole range of massage depths, pressures, and durations.
Massage Styles Include:
A gentle and relaxing massage style that incorporates long, smooth strokes to relax and soften superficial muscles. An excellent massage option for those looking for a gentle treatment to promote that relaxed and stress-free feeling.
Deep Tissue Massage
A deeper massage is targeting the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. This massage style incorporates slow, deep strokes to break up stubborn knots and tight soft tissues. Deep tissue massage is excellent for those who suffer from chronic tightness, scar tissue formation, repetitive strain, or regular physical activity.
Sports massage specifically treats those involved in physical activity. Sports massage focuses on preventing and treating injury while also enhancing athletic performance. Therapists will commonly use a mixture of Swedish and deep tissue massage techniques. The massage therapist will frequently finish your sports massage with some gentle stretch therapy.
Remedial massage is a modality that incorporates numerous techniques to locate and treat musculoskeletal imbalances and chronic/acute pain. Specific techniques used include: Swedish and deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, myofascial release, muscle energy techniques and stretching. Remedial massage is useful for those suffering from a particular complaint or those who want to ensure their body is functioning at its optimum level.
A massage using a selection of Swedish, deep and therapeutic massage techniques reduces stress, decreases swelling, relieves aches and pains, and reduces anxiety and depression. Pregnancy massages occur with the woman on her side or back. Your massage therapist will customise the massage to a woman’s individual needs.
What are the Benefits of Massage?
Massage may provide you with many benefits. These include:
- Pain Relief
- Reduced Swelling
- Reduced Stiffness
- Improved Sleep
- Reduced Stress
How Does Massage Help You?
In addition to feeling great, massage has a positive impact on various systems of your body. These include:
Quick Muscular Pain Relief
Massage directly affects the muscular system by stretching tight muscles, relaxing and releasing overused muscles. As a result, you should experience reduced muscle spasms and muscle cramping and help muscle tissue regeneration.
Reduce Post-Exercise Muscle Soreness
Massage reduces muscular pain for everyone, from athletes to the elderly. By hastening the removal of exercise toxins in the muscles, your soreness will quickly diminish. If you're pulling up sore after exercising? Don't let it discourage you. A Sports Recovery Massage will help you eliminate this and get you participating pain-free again!
Reducing Swollen Joints
By working on a joint's muscles, massage can increase the joint range of motion and increase collective strength and stabilisation.
Circulatory and Lymphatic Systems
By improving your lymphatic drainage, massage reduces the swelling that results from strains, sprains and other health problems. Lymphatic massage encourages blood flow to the tissue being treated by stimulating the circulatory system. As the lymphatic system works close to the circulatory system, the massage will promote reduced pain and swelling by improving lymphatic flow.
Remedial massage can promote a decrease in cortisol, which is a byproduct released by pain and stress. Massage also encourages an increased level of serotonin and dopamine, which improves your mood, relaxation and assists in relieving pain. The follow on effect in reducing anxiety while enhancing sleep, concentration and energy levels.
Stiffness. Make it a Thing of the Past.
If you've been having trouble getting out of bed in the mornings, massage will loosen your body and get you out on the right side of the bed every morning! Bounce out of bed every day.
Relax! Enjoy Life
Everyone experiences stress and anxiety as life becomes a little too much. Maybe you should too! The rich and famous use massage to ensure they stay relaxed and refreshed.
Sleep Like a Baby Again!
Massage has outstanding relaxing abilities that result in blissfully contented sleep! If you're not sleeping well? Book your massage NOW!
A Stress-Free Lifestyle
Everyone experiences stress and muscular tension, whether it be through stress or over-extending yourself. However, you might be suffering just a little more than some of your friends. Massage sedates and relaxes your overworked muscles. Say goodbye to stress.
What is a Pre-Event Massage?
Pre-event massage occurs before a workout, competition or sporting performance. Pre-event massage aims to increase blood circulation flexibility and mentally prepare people for activity and enhance performance. Pre-event massage is short and specific massage treatment.
Before an event, 3-5 days before, a deep tissue massage can be incredibly beneficial. You can release knots, relax tired muscles, improve your range of motion and get a much-needed break from your training schedule.
If you're considering a pre-event massage or post-event recovery massage, your timing is essential for maximum benefit.
When is the Best Time for a Pre-Event Sports Massage?
Pre-event massages that require deep tissue techniques should occur no later than 48 to 72 hours before the planned exercise event.
Is it Bad to Get a Massage the Day Before a Game or Event?
Any massage undertaken within 48-hours prior should be light relaxation only.
If you have a sporting event coming up soon, please discuss your timeframes with your sports massage therapist to ensure that your muscles work optimally on the big day.
What Causes Post-Exercise Muscular Pain?
What Causes Muscular Pain?
You know the feeling… dreaded “stiff and sore muscles” a day or two after you’ve done a little more exercise than usual.
Shortly after exercise begins, a mix of lactic and carbonic acids builds up in muscle tissue. These acids are waste products of muscle contractions. Don’t worry. These acids are normal. To produce “energy”, muscles burn stored glycogen. Lactic and carbonic acids are by-products of this metabolic process.
The good news is that most of these acids convert back into glycogen and are restored in preparation for your next bout of exercise. Pain and muscle fatigue can exist until the acid levels in your muscles return to normal.
How Does Massage Help?
Massage helps to eliminate the irritation caused by these acidic wastes. Research shows that massage can increase muscle recovery much quicker than rest alone.
Why is Massage So Useful When You Exercise?
Regular exercise causes many body changes. One improvement is the increase in blood vessels to the muscles to meet the demand for more oxygen and nutrients. This circulation increase helps to eliminate the waste products and toxins that build up with exercise. Importantly, it can take several weeks to develop improved muscular circulation.
Until the blood supply increases, you will have trouble with oxygen and nutrients supply. This allows toxic wastes to back up and stagnate. You will experience soreness, pain and stiffness. Many exercise enthusiasts regard aches and pains as the inevitable price to be paid. This is usually not true.
What about Muscle & Joint Stiffness?
Massage eases muscle and joint stiffness. Using massage strokes to reduce muscle tension and passive movement to stretch the connective tissue found around joints massage will improve your performance. Massage also lengthens muscle and tendon units to help prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.
What about Soft Tissue Injuries and Massages?
Massage aids recovery from soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains. Tissue repair accelerates by increasing circulation in the injured area. Massage therapy can help speed, improve recovery, and reduce discomfort from soft tissue injuries.
Massage is Drug-Free Treatment
Massage is a drugless therapy. Headaches, insomnia, neck and back pain, digestive disorders including constipation and spastic colon, arthritis, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome and muscular aches and pains are just some of the problems that can respond to massage therapy.
Post-Event Recovery Massage
A post-event massage occurs soon after intense training or competition as part of the recovery process. Post-event massage involves the application of a range of massage techniques to assist recovery from activity.
Post-event recovery massages are most effective within a few days of your sporting event. It is always a good idea to present yourself at the post-event massage tent if one is available for your light rubdown. Post-event massage can be performed from 30 minutes up to 48 hours after intense exercise.
How Long Does a Post-Event Massage Last?
Post-event massage occurs immediately after the event or competition. A post-event massage session duration can vary approximately from just a few minutes up to 20 minutes. Post-event massage decreases muscle soreness and cramping and facilitates a faster return to training after your athletic event.
Ideally, you have a more substantial follow-up recovery massage within a few days of your sporting event to recover quicker or evaluate any niggling injuries. Most professional sporting teams now utilise sports massage therapists' professional services to assist in athletic recovery and preparation.
You'll find that elite football team players usually have two different sports massage styles each week to prepare them for next week's game.
What is Normal Post-Exercise Soreness?
Normal post-exercise soreness should settle within a day or two. Pain or soreness lasting beyond 48 hours is likely to be injury-related. If this is your case, we recommend seeking professional assessment and management of any suspected injuries.
What Is The Difference Between Remedial & Relaxation Massage?
Have you ever wanted a massage but couldn’t decide whether you need a remedial massage or only a refreshing and stress-reducing relaxation session? Well, here’s an explanation to help you to determine what you want precisely!
What Is Relaxation Massage?
A relaxation massage helps to de-stress and loosen up your body and is excellent for those who have had a hard working week or feel like treating themselves to some TLC! The treatment consists of flowing strokes, kneading and gentle manipulations of the muscles performed at your chosen pressure. It is a pain-free way to relax both your muscles and your mind.
What Is Remedial Massage?
If you have particular muscle tension or chronic pain, a remedial massage may be for you. Your remedial massage therapist will assess where you need treatment and what may be causing your pain. They’ll perform some tests to identify which muscles give you trouble and tailor a treatment plan to suit. The treatment itself may involve deep tissue work for short periods, but the results are worth it!
If you’d like more advice regarding what’s best for you, please call us to discuss your condition. Or book your appointment and enjoy the benefits. Private health fund rebates are also available.
What Massage Style is Best for You?
Yes. Massage styles and techniques can be confusing, which is why your PhysioWorks Massage Therapist is a highly-trained professional who understands was is right for your body. If you have any questions about what massage techniques are the best for you, please call us to discuss your massage requirements. Or, let your massage therapist works wonders on your body during a consultation.
What are the Basic Massage Techniques?
Longitudinal gliding is a traditional effective massage technique administered in the direction of the blood flow. It aids the fluid dispersion from the injury site and thus helps reduce inflammation and swelling. It is also instrumental in relaxing tight muscles.
Kneading can be performed differently and described by the hand method used to accomplish the massage, e.g. thumb kneading and palm kneading. The massage pressure applied must vary according to the purpose of the massage. The rhythm and rate of the movement are equally important as the load is applied intermittently.
Myofascial release is a manual technique for stretching the fascia to balance the body. Your fascia, located between the skin and the underlying muscle and bone structure, is a seamless web of connective tissue covering and connecting the muscles, organs, and skeletal systems in our body. Injuries, stress, trauma, and poor posture can cause restriction to the fascia, and the goal of myofascial release is to release fascia restriction and restore its tissue.
Trigger point therapy is a bodywork technique that involves applying pressure to tender muscle tissue to relieve pain and dysfunction in other parts of the body. Trigger points are active centres of muscular hyperactivity, which often cross over with acupuncture points. You will also find that common trigger points are what the average person refers to as muscular "knots". Trigger point massage helps relieve these points.
Transverse friction is transverse connective tissue therapy applied directly by the fingers. Transverse frictions use an oscillating pressure applied across the direction of the tissue fibres. This technique is used mainly on tendon or ligament injuries to help break down thickened, pain-producing scar tissue. Unreduced lesions are likely to cause further irritation and degenerate more quickly than they should.
Rhythmic compression into muscles is used to create deep hyperaemia and softening effects in the tissues. This technique may occur as a warm-up for more in-depth, more specific massage work. Sports massage utilises compression massage.
Cross-fibre friction techniques create a stretching and broadening effect. It can also help reduce adhesions and help build reliable, flexible repair during the healing process.
PNF Stretches (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) combine passive stretching and isometrics with your muscle alternatingly stretched passively and contracted. The method targets nerve receptors in muscles to extend the muscle length. More info: PNF stretches.
For specific information regarding the best massage technique for you, please consult your trusted massage therapist.
Common Massage Styles
How Long Does It Take For A Muscle Injury To Heal?
The recovery time for a muscle injury depends on the severity of the damage. For a mild strain, you may be able to return to normal activities within a few days or a week. For more severe strains, recovery can take several weeks and even months. In nasty cases, surgical repair and post-operative physiotherapy may be necessary.
With professional assessment and the treatment guidance of your physiotherapist, most muscle injuries recover entirely.
To avoid re-injury, please ensure that you have adequately rehabilitated your body for a return to sport or work. Follow your physiotherapist’s specific instructions. Don’t engage in high-risk physical activity until your muscles have healed and strengthened appropriately.
Common Treatments for Muscle Strain
The following options are available to your physiotherapist to assist the rehabilitation of your muscle strain. Please seek their professional advice prior to self-managing your injury to avoid aggravating your muscle strain. These are general guidelines only and should not be treated as individual treatment advice.
Acute Muscle Strain Treatment
Subacute Muscle Strain Treatment
- Sub-Acute Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
- Acupuncture and Dry Needling
- Soft Tissue Massage
- Kinesiology Tape
- Supportive Taping & Strapping
- Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
- Heat Packs
Later Stage Muscle Strain Treatment Options
- Foam Roller
- Stretching Exercises
- Strength Exercises
- Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises
- Eccentric Exercises
- Proprioception & Balance Exercises
- Agility & Sport-Specific Exercises
Other Factors to Consider
- Biomechanical Analysis
- Joint Mobilisation Techniques
- Gait Analysis
- Running Analysis
- Video Analysis
There are a plethora of muscle recovery options available. Which ones are scientifically proven to speed up muscle recovery?
Post-exercise ice baths are among the most studied muscle recovery methods because of their popularity and simplicity. Super-cold temperatures reduce the swelling and pain associated with muscle damage. Any large bucket of water or a cold bath with crushed ice bags thrown in.
Does an ice bath work to reduce pain?
Some studies show it does and some it doesn’t. On the whole, ice baths seem to reduce associated pain, but the results can vary.
It could be okay to use if an ice bath does give you pain relief. Some benefits to a post-workout ice bath are during specific training phases. Post-marathon or following a competitive game would be great to test out the ice bath method.
However, it’s probably not ideal for taking an ice bath in preparation for an upcoming intense training workout or a competition. For that, the research suggests that reduced muscle temperatures hamper your performance. Warmer muscles always feel loser and stronger. In short, they perform better, which is why we warm up in the first place.
Compression garments create physical pressure. The pressure limits blood pooling and assists blood flow through the veins to reduce swelling. Studies show they work for people with circulation issues and healthy subjects needing to recover.
In athletes, the increased blood flow increases the clearance of blood lactate and creatine kinase. Muscles and bloodstream release these byproducts after vigorous exercise and signal muscle damage.
A 2020 review looked at 21 studies that examined the effects of compression tights and found that wearing the compression garments improved performance in a few studies. They concluded that compression socks could help with perceived muscle soreness during recovery.
There’s a lot of mixed evidence over recovery massages, which work to reduce the tension of the muscle’s fascia. On the whole, they probably do help. That’s why professional sports teams use them weekly.
Foam rollers work by inducing self-myofascial release when the layer of tissue that sits on the outside of a muscle loosens up. This tissue release improves the range of motion around a joint and reduces DOMS.
Researchers have found convincing evidence that static stretching isn’t that helpful in warming up your muscles. Dynamic stretching is far better, which involves moving and engaging more than one muscle in a contract and relax cycle.
Dynamic stretching increases muscle blood flow and generates heat. Muscle warmth is crucial to athletic performance. Static stretches help increase the range of motion at the joints that connect muscles. They are also probably best done after your workout or game.
Stretching is helpful, but remember dynamic stretching before and static stretching afterwards.
Pain Relieving Drugs
There’s more hard evidence on pain-relieving drugs than other recovery techniques. While non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), e.g. aspirin and ibuprofen, work well at minimising pain, they come at a potential cost. Studies show that they significantly inhibit the natural recovery process of muscles. Some research suggests that NSAIDs inhibit the proliferation of a group of muscle stem cells known as satellite cells, which play a crucial role in muscle repair. So if you can handle the pain, it’s probably best to use more non-chemical or natural modalities. However, there’s a place for them. Suppose there is an intolerable amount of pain since you still need to be mobile. In that case, the benefits likely outweigh the costs but understanding that it may hinder the recovery process.
Most people don’t get enough sleep. Average adults need about eight hours. Endurance and full-time professional athletes probably need to increase closer to nine or ten hours.
Researchers haven’t pieced apart the exact mechanisms through which muscle recovery occurs. Still, they know that sleep plays a critical role in the health of every organ system in the body. Sleeping is also very cheap, so give it a try to see how it affects your muscle recovery.