As a RMT, I always ask my clients what brings them in for their treatment, what is the reason for their visit, or what health care goals I can assist them with. Often, the response I receive, is something like ” I just want/need a massage.” As a health care provider, this becomes a difficult goal to meet.
There are far too many massage therapy techniques to outline in this article, and providing “just a massage” may result in targeting areas, or applying techniques that are uncomfortable or unnecessary. There are techniques that promote relaxation of the nervous system and those that increase muscle tension. Some require an extremely light pressure and feel gentle, while others require deeper, more specific pressure that may cause tenderness. Some techniques are focused on stretching or strengthening and require active participation of the client. Others, are passive and promote deep relaxation.
Massage Therapy is defined, under the Massage Therapy Act 1991 (the provincial legislation for Massage Therapy in Ontario) as “the assessment of the soft tissue and joints of the body and [its] treatment and prevention…by manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, or relieve pain.”
Soft tissues of the body include muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and nerves. Therefore, massage therapy can have a wide range of therapeutic effects and suggest various applications.
Massage therapy affects the muscular, circulatory and nervous systems. Examples of therapeutic benefits include increased or improved blood circulation; reduction of pain (acute and/or chronic); improved postural awareness; improved movement and function of muscles and joints; increased proprioception; relaxation of the nervous system and reduction of stress and it’s effects on the body.
Massage therapy can address pain and dysfunction resulting from conditions such as whiplash, tension headaches, migraines, sprains and strains, TMJ, diabetic neuropathy, neurological disorders, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, lymphedema, adhesions and scar tissue from chronic conditions or surgery; as well as everyday aches and pains associated with posture and pregnancy.
The goal of each massage therapy treatment is specific to the individual and is developed by the therapist and client together to address their symptoms. Consideration of assessment and client health history is important for a safe and effective treatment.
The next time you book an appointment with your Registered Massage Therapist, consider your health care goals and ask us how we can assist you. Massage therapy is much more than “just a massage.”
Lori Veinpel R.M.T.
(Lori practices at our Mississauga & Oakville locations.)