Massage Therapy can be defined as the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body such as muscles, tendons, connective tissues, ligaments and the skin. Massage treatment can be beneficial for a wide range of individuals who may seek out treatment for a variety of reasons. Licensed massage therapists go through significant training in order to provide safe and effective massage therapy care that is tailored to the individual. A variety of massage therapy techniques may be used depending on person’s needs and wants.
A lot of people incorporate massage therapy as part of their overall health and wellness routine. Not only do massages feel great, but they can be a much-needed time-out in our often fast-paced daily lives. There is evidence that massage can be beneficial for:
- Reducing pain, muscle soreness and tension
- Helping to reduce stress
- Increasing relaxation
- Improving circulation
- Improving immune function
- Lowering blood pressure and heart rate
Most people can benefit from therapeutic massage including those suffering from back or neck pain, headaches, muscle and joint pain, jaw pain and many other musculoskeletal conditions. It can also be helpful for those dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia and other health conditions. During pregnancy, prenatal massage can be an excellent way to manage any aches and pains. Even if you don’t have a particular concern that you would like treated, just a simple relaxation massage can feel amazing and deliver a wide range of benefits.
Massage Therapy Styles
There are many different massage therapy styles and techniques. Most techniques can generally be categorized into Swedish massage and non-Swedish massage techniques.
Swedish Massage Techniques:
This is the most common type of massage therapy and incorporates the classical techniques used by most massage therapists. Depending on the techniques used, a Swedish massage can have either a relaxing effect or a stimulating effect on the body. There are a variety of different types of manual techniques that are used as part of Swedish massage such as:
Stoking: This is a relaxing and soothing technique that involves the lightest amount of pressure. It is typically used at the beginning or end of a massage.
Effleurage: This is a sweeping or gliding motion that prepares the tissues for deeper techniques. It can also be used to affect circulation in the tissues, for example, to reduce edema, increase venous or lymphatic return or to increase local circulation depending on how it is performed.
Petrissage: This involves greater pressure to reach deeper tissues such as muscles and fascia. Kneading, skin rolling, muscle squeezing and wringing are petrissage techniques that may be used to help reduce muscle tension and treat trigger points.
Tapotement: This typically involves a rhythmic patting or drumming motion. This has a stimulating effect on the tissues and is usually used for certain circumstances where an increase in muscle tone may be desired.
Non-Swedish Massage techniques:
This encompasses a wide variety of manual techniques that are not part of the classical Swedish massage style.
Deep Tissue Massage: This is a more forceful massage technique intended to release deep tension in the muscles and connective tissues. Deep tissue massage involves greater pressure and more forceful strokes and can sometimes trigger mild discomfort during or even after treatment. It is therefore generally not used if the goal is purely relaxation.
Pressure Point Technique: This involves the sustained compression and then release of painful tissues such as muscle trigger points. The goal of this technique is to bring a rush of blood flow to the area once the compression is released which can help to reduce muscle tone.
Cross-Fiber Frictions: This can be used to help in the healing of injured soft tissues in the subacute and chronic stages. It involves doing repeated deep friction motions across an area of scar tissue in order to break down adhesions, realign collagen fibers and generally create a smaller and more mobile scar.
Fascial techniques: Fascia is a connective tissue that surrounds muscles, muscle groups, organs and bones and helps to hold these structures in place. Normally fascia should move and slide but sometimes it can develop restrictions and adhesions. There are a number of different techniques that can be used to mobilize fascia, many of which involve moving the skin and fascia in a variety of different directions in order to improve its mobility.
Within all of these types of therapeutic massage techniques, the therapist may vary the pressure, direction, rhythm and rate of touch depending on the desired effect. Good communication with your massage therapist will ensure that you feel comfortable throughout your treatment and achieve the results that you are looking for.
At Beverly Physiotherapy our registered massage therapists offer all of these treatment techniques. Our massage therapists are also trained in cupping.
What Is Cupping?
Cupping is a traditional Chinese and Middle Eastern medicine technique that has been practiced for thousands of years. Practitioners place special therapeutic cups on the skin and create a suction force which draws the skin into the cup. This increases circulation to the area but can also cause bruising. Cupping is typically used to help treat painful musculoskeletal conditions and may be offered as an adjunct to other massage treatment techniques.
Finding The Right Massage Therapist
Not all massage therapists have the same kind of training. In fact, an unlicensed or unregistered massage therapist may have no training at all! A massage therapist who is licensed/registered has undergone significant training prior to practicing independently. Schooling at an accredited massage therapy program involves 2-3 years (2200+ hours) of study. Courses include physiology, anatomy, pathology, ethics, professionalism, massage theory and techniques and much more. There is a combination of theoretical and practical hands-on training all under the supervision of registered massage therapists. There are many written and practical exams throughout the program. Seeing a massage therapist with these qualifications ensures that you will receive the best possible care. Insurance plans also only cover the services of a licensed massage therapist.
In addition to proper qualifications, it is also important that you feel comfortable with your massage therapist. Open communication about any areas of injury, tolerance to treatment techniques or any other information you feel is relevant will help ensure that you receive excellent massage therapy care.
Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba (MTAM)
The Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba is a not-for-profit association of licensed massage therapists, clinics, students and retired practitioners throughout Manitoba. They are one of a select few organizations that provides licenses to qualified massage therapists in Manitoba. The purpose of MTAM is to:
- Serve members with care and compassion
- Represent members before government and regulatory bodies concerned with massage therapy
- Protect the public by ensuring safe, competent and ethical massage practice
- Foster and encourage professional growth among members
- Ensure high standards of education for students of massage therapy
- Promote the art, philosophy and science of massage therapy
The Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba has some of the highest standards of practice in the province. To become a member of MTAM, a massage therapist must apply and complete a criminal records check. They must follow a set of nationally-accepted standards of practice as well as a code of ethics. They must also complete continuing education requirements in order to maintain their membership.
At Beverly Physiotherapy, our massage therapists are licensed/registered and also members of the Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba.
Massage Therapy Coverage
Many people have massage therapy coverage through an employer benefits plan. The amount of coverage (i.e.: how many visits are covered per year and what percentage is covered) depends on the type of plan a person has. Some plans also require a doctor’s prescription before starting massage treatment while others may not. Plans typically only cover the services of a licensed or registered massage therapist. Details about your coverage can be obtained by contacting your insurance provider.
At Beverly Physiotherapy we direct bill to most private insurers for massage services.
Is Massage Treatment Right For You?
Although most people can benefit greatly from massage therapy, there may be some who are unsure if massage is the right treatment choice for them. Maybe they have a certain medical condition and don’t know if massage is appropriate or maybe they have a complex injury and are unsure if massage is the best way to deal it. If you are unsure about whether massage is right for you, please feel free to contact us and one of our massage therapists would be happy to discuss this with you!