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Remedial Massage

Lower back pain. Man holding his back in pain. Medical concept.

Massage practice today can trace its roots back to early civilizations on every continent. Its place as a healing art is widely accepted and well documented.

A plethora of terms have arisen to describe the many different forms of massage on offer today. This is partly as a response from massage practitioners to separate themselves and what they offer from the image of a pampering experience reserved for the leisured rich. But also it is because more research and regulation has come into the massage industry. The newer terms tend to focus more on the functional aspects of massage.

Remedial massage is one such term. Cassar’s definition ‘........the manipulation of soft tissue by a trained massage therapist for therapeutic purposes’  is a helpful place to start. He uses the term therapeutic loosely and it becomes synonymous with other terms such as remedial, restorative and healing.

However, all forms of massage aim to relax soft tissue, and thus mind and body can be restored, so what is different about remedial massage?

Remedial massage is a term that applies to approach rather than a set of specific techniques. It is a system of the examination and application of techniques to work with musculo-skeletal injuries and conditions. The goal of a remedial massage therapist is to work with the recipient and together create the conditions that best help the body return to optimal health after some form of injury or pain condition.

Thus a remedial massage therapist needs to do more than apply touch to temporarily affect pain or induce relaxation. In order to decide on a unique treatment she needs to have

Understanding of how the problem came about – theoretical knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathologies

Skills demonstrating that they have a full toolbox of massage techniques available - the most obvious technique may not work for every individual

Art in assessing the whole person, then blending the unique mix of techniques for each individual treatment and applying them through the medium of touch.

Knowledge to help avoid the problem in future and to give advice on self care including stretches and soft tissue releases.

Techniques used in a remedial massage will vary depending on the individual circumstance, but they will often include:

Myofascial release

Trigger Point Therapy

Soft Tissue and Positional Release

Hot and/or cold therapy

Passive movements and joint mobilizations

Various forms of stretching

Deep tissue massage

Conditions and pathologies that remedial massage therapists work with include:

Achilles injuries

Tendonitis

Shin splints

Groin strain

Tennis elbow

Frozen shoulder

Hamstring injuries

Scar tissue

Adhesions

Whiplash

RSI

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

References

Clay, James H and Pounds David M, Basic Clinical Massage Therapy LWW 2003
Cassar, Mario-Paul, Handbook of Clinical Massage, Churchill Livingstone, 1999
Siegenthaler, Susan and Danny Remedial Massage Theory and Practical Manual for Students and Therapists, Wildcrafted herbal products, 1997
Benjamin, Patricia, J Tappan’s Handbook of Healing Massage Techniques Pearson, 2010
The Northern Institute of Massage Research on the World Wide Web - nim.co.uk
Safe Alternative Medicine on the World Wide Web – safealternativemedicine.co.uk

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