Remedial Massage 101
Updated: Apr 1
How Remedial Massage Is Really Quite Different from Other Therapies...!
As the name suggests, remedial massages are intended to resolve a specific health problem. They are defined as the systematic assessment and treatment of the body’s muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues in order to aid in the rehabilitation and management of pain or injury of any body part.
Treatments combine clinical assessment with mobilisations, tractions, rehabilitation exercises, stretches, and a mixture of general massage and more advanced soft tissue techniques to rehabilitate muscles and relieve pain. A wide variety of techniques are used, ranging from soft to strong in pressure, targeting both deep and shallow tissue, so a typical treatment may involve the use of:
· Muscle Energy Techniques
· Soft Tissue Releases
· Trigger Point Therapy
· Myofascial Releases
· Neuro-Muscular Techniques
· Positional Release Techniques
The focus is on restoring functional movement and encouraging postural change by manipulating the layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia. This soft tissue work helps to restore correct muscle tone, symmetry and balance with the goal of realigning the soft tissue influence on joint position.
With several similarities to physiotherapy, remedial massage is often confused as a method of treatment that falls under either physiotherapy, chiropractic or osteopathy, however remedial massage is a science and modality of its own.
Remedial massage therapists study for longer and have a greater knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology, enabling us to treat clients with all types of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries. We are trained to recognise and treat conditions such as back pain, stiff necks and shoulders, sciatica, hip and knee injuries.
Who Are Remedial Massages Suitable for?
Remedial massage therapy is likely to be a good choice if you require muscle and/or joint pain relief, want to improve your posture and/or need to decompress fatigued and over-worked muscles. Both minor and chronic injuries are treated, including whiplash, falls and repetitive strain injuries.
Remedial massages are a great option for anyone wanting a full-body ‘MOT’, from office workers and busy mums to gardeners and DIY enthusiasts; and particularly if you are suffering from any of the following:
over-use injuries or repetitive strain
sports injuries such as muscle strains or tears
weak muscles due to previous injury or chronic condition
postural or stress-related conditions including stiff/tight or rounded shoulders, sore neck, headaches/migraines, jaw pain or TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome, carpal tunnel, lower back pain, sciatica, “texting thumb”, “ipad neck” etc.
Soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia) responds really well to touch, and since most pain is soft tissue in origin, massage is extremely effective for pain relief. Trigger point therapy targets specific highly-sensitive points in muscle tissue, which radiate or refer pain to various parts of the body, and are responsible for many pain-related conditions.
Muscles not only move our joints but they also stabilise them, and are responsible for protecting our internal organs. Even minor issues with these functions can cause more pain than most people realise. For example lower back pain and sciatic pain are far more likely to originate in muscles than in vertebral disc. The single most common cause of lower back pain is a torn or strained muscle or ligament, and most headaches originate in the muscles of the neck and head.
Remedial Massage vs Physiotherapy
There is a very close relationship between remedial massage and physiotherapy. Both types of therapists are highly educated in dealing with musculoskeletal disorders, and treating pain and injury using hands-on treatment modalities, rehabilitation and patient education. Both also focus on restoring, maintaining and maximising movement, relieving pain and increasing quality of life; and both can prescribe stretches as well as strengthening, postural and balance exercises to patients.
If immediate relief for pain and discomfort is required then massage therapy is generally the most appropriate treatment of the two, as physio tends to be less hands-on and involves more at-home exercises to be performed.
Remedial Massage vs Massage Therapy
Remedial massage is quite distinct from other types of massage therapy, which tend to focus more on relaxation. Remedial massage focuses on resolving an injury or pain, and unlike other massage therapies, requires an assessment procedure and methodological evaluation in order to ascertain the underlying cause of the pain or injury and to help determine an effective treatment plan and appropriate remediation to restore the body’s function. Remedial massage involves more advanced massage and soft tissue therapy techniques with the aim of rehabilitating the injured body part, managing any accompanying pain and offering more long-term improvements in physical well-being and injury prevention.
Remedial Massage vs Sports Massage
Remedial massage offers more advanced massage techniques compared to sports massage and involves clinical and postural assessments as part of the treatment diagnosis. Although the massage techniques employed can be quite similar, with the addition of myofascial techniques and manipulation, remedial massage is generally associated with treating soft tissue injuries and muscle tension caused by stress and postural imbalance, whereas sports massage is associated with maintaining healthy muscles for athletes or sports enthusiasts.