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Why remedial massage is an important inclusion for everyone’s health plan

Published: 18 April 2021 - Fitness and Training, Injury Treatment and Prevention, Men’s Health, Pain Management, Physio Tips, Wellbeing, Women’s Health

What comes to mind when you think of a ‘Health Plan’? Regular exercise, healthy eating and chatting to your doctor are all at the forefront - and you’re not wrong! All these things are very important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, however remedial massage is often grossly overlooked.

We often associate massage with fancy retreats, scented candles and fluffy white bathrobes, sought out only on special occasions. However, remedial massage is quite different from the type you enjoy on a relaxing weekend trip.

While remedial massage, or ‘soft tissue therapy’, does relieve tension in your muscles, the aim is not to provide whole body relaxation, but rather to yield a specific remedial outcome. There are definite benefits associated with both types of massage, but they should be sought out for completely different reasons.

Remedial massage is performed by physiotherapists who have undergone years of extensive training in musculoskeletal anatomy. They use this knowledge in applying various techniques to manipulate your muscles, tendons and ligaments, the benefits of which are key to enjoying optimal life-long health.

Some of the amazing benefits associated with remedial massage include:

  • Muscle relaxation
  • Increased flexibility and range of motion
  • Easing of stiff joints
  • Pain relief
  • Lowered heart rate and blood pressure
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Reduced whole body tension
  • Promotion of better sleep
  • Stimulation of blood and oxygen circulation

From this list alone, we can all gather that remedial massage has a place in everyone’s health plan. Massage has a reputation as an expensive and luxurious treat, but we want to change that mind-set and turn it into a routine lifestyle choice; just as regular exercise, healthy eating and GP visits have become.

Some techniques you can expect from a typical remedial massage session include:

1. Effleurage

This is what most of us picture when we think of massage. It is the stroking or gliding motion using our fingers or the palm of our hands. This manipulation encourages blood flow and stimulates the central nervous system. Effleurage is usually performed at the beginning of your session to warm up your muscles.

2. Petrissage

This refers to the kneading, lifting and pushing of soft tissue. Using your fingers, hands or forearms, this action can range from gentle to quite intense. Following effleurage, petrissage promotes blood flow and improves flexibility.

3. Frictions

Frictions aid in breaking down scar tissue and ‘knots’ within your muscles, tendons and ligaments. They are applied across the direction of the muscles, or in circular motions. Your physio may rely on their forearms, elbows or even knees in order to apply enough pressure to reach the deeper tissue.

4. Acupressure and Trigger Point Therapy

Acupressure is similar in nature to acupuncture and dry needling (without the needles!) Rather, your therapist will focus massage on key points that trigger an endorphin release, acting as natural pain blockers.

5. Tapotement

Also known as ‘percussion’ tapotement is commonly used on athletes prior to competitions in order to stimulate the muscles. To perform tapotement, your physio will tap, pluck or shake parts of your body to stimulate the nerves and promote circulation.

While we should aim to make regular visits to the physio for remedial massage, we don’t have to limit treatment to the clinic. General massage for relaxation can be administered by family, friends or even by yourself!

Massage can provide relief to tired muscles after a long day at work and can also help warm up your muscles before a gym session, or before competing in a game of footy. One of our favourite ways to relax at the end of the day is to use both hands to knead your neck muscles from the sides. Having your partner help, makes it all the better!

Deep tissue massage can also be self-administered at home - all you need is a tennis ball! Apply pressure to your muscles by lying on the tennis ball or working it into your muscles to achieve a greater deep tissue impact.

The benefits of remedial massage are invaluable, though as we learned from the H.A.R.M rules in our previous blog post, massage is best avoided when injury or pain is present. We recommend visiting your Motion Health physio for specific advice and tips on self-administered massage techniques.