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Remedial Massage Techniques & Their Amazing Benefits

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In terms of massage, the term “remedial” refers to specific training in the assessment, analysis, treatment and management of musculoskeletal complaints. Many of today’s remedial massage therapists have formal massage training as well as training in physiology, anatomy and musculoskeletal assessment. Many also believe regular massage is an integral part of a holistic health plan, where the goal is maintaining wellbeing and flexibility rather than waiting for symptoms to develop.

Depending on the technique recommended by your therapist, the benefits of remedial massage range from relieving sore muscles and improving flexibility and posture to preventing and/or managing injury and improving sports performance. However, the benefits received can depend on the treatment provided and in terms of remedial massage techniques, they include:

Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage is aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and connective tissue (known as fascia) and other supportive tissue that comprise the muscles and joints. It is a more focused type of massage that is usually slower and firmer, and therapists typically apply slow strokes and firm pressure.

The primary objective of deep tissue massage is to break up muscle adhesions that cause stiffness and pain in the neck, back, legs and shoulders. Some of the benefits of deep tissue massage include:

Trigger point therapy

All muscles have potential trigger points that can become activated by infections, inflammation, stress, nerve pain and muscle overuse. Trigger point therapy is a soft tissue technique that works to release painful tension in fascia and muscles that are typically experienced as a “knot” in a muscle. It often involves stretching, manipulation and cycles of pressure and rest. Some of the benefits of trigger point therapy include:

Stretch therapy

In stretch therapy, therapists assist clients with stretching various parts of their bodies. It focuses on movements that target the muscles and the connective tissue that surrounds joints.

The goal is for the client to breathe and relax and let the therapist carry the weight of the client’s limbs while they stretch them. They will typically first move a client’s body into a posture that stretches specific muscle groups. Straps are sometimes used to increase the effectiveness of some stretches. Some of the benefits of stretch therapy include:

Joint mobilisation

When joints become dysfunctional as a result of overuse, disuse or trauma, they are unable to perform the movements they were designed to do. A “locked” joint or joint stiffness can be associated with any joint, muscle, tendon or ligament injury. This results in joint stiffness, pain and hypermobility.

Joint mobilisation massage involves applying passive, slow, back-and-forth oscillations to joints to reduce stiffness and pain and encourage movement. Some of the benefits of joint mobilisation therapy include:

Myofascial release techniques

This is a manual therapy technique used in massage that focuses on pain arising from myofascial tissues — the tough membranes that wrap, connect and support your muscles. Theoretically, myofascial pain differs from other types of pain because it originates in “trigger points,” which are related to stiff, anchored areas within the myofascial tissue.

During myofascial release therapy, the therapist locates myofascial areas that feel stiff and fixed instead of elastic and movable, under light, manual pressure. Some of the benefits of myofascial release techniques include:

Thermotherapy

Often referred to as “heat therapy”, thermotherapy is used to treat a range of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries and decrease pain in joints, tendons and muscles.

Heat can cause blood flow to increase through a process called vasodilatation, which causes the muscles in the walls of the blood vessels to relax. It allows more blood to travel through the vessels, which increases cellular metabolism. The most common methods of applying heat to soft tissues are heat packs, infrared lamps, baths and saunas. Some of the benefits of thermotherapy include:

Cryotherapy

Often referred to as “cold therapy,” cryotherapy uses cooled objects to reduce swelling and pain. When the skin and soft tissues get colder, blood flow slows down through a process called vasoconstriction. The body’s slower metabolic rate can reduce further damage.

Cooled objects can include cold compresses, ice massage, ice packs, ice baths and coolant sprays. Some of the benefits of cryotherapy include:

Deep transverse friction massage (DTFM)

DTFM is a deep tissue massage technique that aims to enhance mobility in the soft tissue structures of ligaments, tendons and muscles to reduce the build-up of scar tissue following a sprain or strain. Therapists will typically use deep, sweeping, short, back-and-forth motions with their fingers around a specific affected area. Some of the benefits of DTFM include:

Cupping and dry needling

Cupping therapy involves placing “cups” on areas of tightness such as the shoulders, upper back or lower back. A pump is used to create a vacuum inside the cups, which pulls the tight muscle into the cup and stretches it. Some of the benefits of cupping therapy include:

Dry needling involves placing fine acupuncture needles into the trigger point of a muscle. The aim is to elicit a twitch response which causes the muscle to contract slightly and then release. This can help relieve the pain the trigger point was causing. Some of the benefits of dry needling therapy include:

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