DOES “REMEDIAL” MEAN “PAIN” WHEN IT COMES TO MASSAGE?
David Vernon, new Remedial Massage therapist at our Langwarrin clinic, explains the benefits of Remedial Massage and also breaks down some misconceptions about this type of treatment.
WHAT IS REMEDIAL MASSAGE?
Medibank defines Remedial Massage as the systematic assessment and treatment of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues of the body to assist in rehabilitation, pain and injury management.
While there are other good definitions, this one does make a couple of point very clear. Firstly that Remedial Massage is a systematic process. Therapists use their extensive knowledge of the body’s anatomy, physiology and biomechanics to work through entire structures, systems and kinetic lines. The therapist assesses the whole body, and with this holistic approach they follow the discomfort and imbalance back to the original cause, treating both the symptoms and, as best as they are able, the cause.
And this leads to the second point. Remedial means – given or intended as a remedy or cure. A remedial massage is often part of a treatment plan, which does more than give temporary relief to symptoms. It creates an understanding in the client of the causes of the dysfunction or imbalance and provides practical steps to reduce and eventually heal the problem.
For myself, this is very much a team effort. While I work with my clients, I am constantly sharing my observations, explaining what I am doing and why I am doing it. It is vital the client and therapist work together, as the primary feedback from the treatment is going straight to the client. Together we can literally “feel’ our way through the problem. Enabling clear communication is vital to a successful treatment. I feel Remedial Massage is an opportunity for a client to learn about their body, about its idiosyncrasies and imbalances, and its strengths and weaknesses. So Remedial Massage is not just about when it hurts, and can be equally effective in preventing painful conditions. Treatment provides clients with an understanding of how their body works and how to address imbalances and work more effectively.
DOES REMEDIAL MASSAGE HAVE TO HURT TO BE EFFECTIVE?
Remedial Massage is not just a hard (painful) massage. Sadly, inexperienced therapists and “no pain no gain” clients have created a good deal of misunderstanding, even to the point of confusing remedial massage with aggressive deep tissue massage. Although there may be some discomfort during, and soreness after, an effective remedial massage, this should be at a minimum, and only when entirely necessary to resolve any dysfunction.
WHAT TECHNIQUES WILL A REMEDIAL MASSAGE THERAPIST USE?
Remedial Massage Techniques are many and varied. Methods familiar from relaxation massage include effleurage, petrissage, frictions, kneading, percussions and stretching. Stronger and more technical methods, such as those described below, when applied in a sensitive and effective manner need only cause a minimum of discomfort.
Deep Tissue Massage. This means the muscle being treated sits below another muscle, so the therapist must work through the superficial muscle. If the top muscle is properly prepared and released then this treatment need not cause anymore discomfort that regular effleurage.
Myofacial Release. Muscles do not exist as isolated units. They are connected to everything around them be it tendon, bone, ligament, fascia or connective tissue. This technique seeks to release all the structures that are bound & tight and create a feeling of space and freedom in the treated area. (I also use Myofacial Cupping for this treatment as it gives excellent results.)
Neuro-Muscular Facilitation. Muscles are controlled by the brain, so this technique involves the activation and relaxation of specific muscles by the client in a controlled and systematic process. It helps release the tight muscle, but can also allows the client to become more practiced at a conscious release of specific muscles.
Trigger Point Therapy. Trigger points are little knots of tension in the body of a muscle that can be very tender to touch, often with some referral to a secondary area. This technique seeks to release the trigger point by direct and sensitive pressure, assisted by relaxation and breath work by the client.