Therapeutic massage is a general term that incorporates a variety of advanced massage modalities that enhance the body’s natural restorative functioning. It helps relieve pain, reduce stress and works on a specific problem. Light to firm touch is used to release tension, relax muscles, increase blood and lymph circulation, and impart a sense of calm. Therapeutic massage can be used in conjunction with conventional medical treatment of injury or illness. It alleviates pain and stress, aids soft tissue healing, and revitalizes the body.
Research has shown that therapeutic massage techniques may be helpful for:
Types of Therapeutic Massage
There are several different types of therapeutic massage such as:
Instrument-Assisted Myofascial Release
Instrument-assisted myofascial release (IAMR) is a technique used during rehab or after to help mobilize the tissue at a certain area of the body. It is done using a plastic or metal tool that the therapist glides along the body to help mobilize muscles, fascia, or tendons. Some of these areas can be painful, tight, or have no pain at all.
This technique was developed for athletes in the 90’s. Since then it has grown in popularity and is now used by chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists. The technique is now also used for pre- and post-surgical patients, people with scars, or those who had an injury many years ago and have built up adhesions.
The treatment involves skin-to-skin contact with the therapist and the tool to gently, or more aggressively, rub over the area to loosen up the tissue. These areas tend to feel tight, bumpy, or crumbly. The treatment over the area causes the area to break-up and signals the body’s natural inflammatory system which will decrease scar tissue and fibrosis. This allows the area to be stretched, increasing mobility, and decreasing pain or tightness.
IAMR is indicated for those with low back strains or sprains, Achilles tendinosis, carpel tunnel syndrome, cervical strains or sprains, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff tendinosis, shin splints, tennis or golfer’s elbow, tightness from arthritis, or scar tissue from a surgery or trauma.
The benefits of the treatment are increased mobility, decreased pain, increased range of motion, increased muscle recruitment, and decreased scar tissue. The risks of IAMR include redness at the treatment site, bruising, worsening of pain, and failure to provide relief. Those taking blood thinners need to notify their therapist before treatment.