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Benefits of Therapeutic Massage



What is Therapeutic Massage?

When most people think of massage, they think of the pampering, lighter touch massage that's given at spas, health clubs, resorts, and on cruise ships. After all, Relaxation Massage is the type of massage that's most popular in movies and TV shows. 

While that style of massage is beneficial for relieving everyday stress, it just can't help the many conditions that people have to deal with, such as chronic neck pain, back pain, wrist pain from keyboard overuse, old injuries from sports or automobile accidents, limited range of motion in the neck, arms, or legs, etc. These conditions are typically caused by tension that is buried deep within our soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia).

Therapeutic Massage (sometimes called Deep Tissue Massage) uses special massage techniques that are not used in a Relaxation Massage session. In order to release the tightness in the soft tissue, the massage therapist needs to work deeper into the tissue and will use whichever therapeutic technique is most effective for the condition. In getting deeper, it usually requires a more firm pressure.

Isn't Therapeutic Massage painful?

Unfortunately, not every massage therapist has been taught how to properly go deeper into tissue without hurting the patient, nor have they taken classes to learn the therapeutic techniques that help the most. Many massage therapists believe that, because Therapeutic Massage is also called Deep Tissue Massage, they're supposed to beat the patient's tissue into submission. However, when it's not performed properly, going deeper into tissue can cause unnecessary bruising, soreness or pain for as long as a week, and even injury. It's not uncommon for a person to have just one improperly given massage and never want another one, thinking that all massage therapists work the same way. 

Throughout a Therapeutic Massage session, I continually "check in" with my patients on the amount of pressure that I'm using so that I only use as much pressure as is needed in each area. I never need to cause intolerable or excruciating pain to get results.

How do I know if I need a Therapeutic Massage or not?

Depending upon the condition that you have, a Relaxation Massage may not give you the long-term relief that you're looking for. If the tension that's causing the problem is deeper into your tissue or it requires therapeutic techniques and a more firm pressure to release that tension, you would most likely need a Therapeutic Massage.

What types of conditions can Therapeutic Massage help?

Many people I've met are surprised when they learn that a condition that they have could be helped by Therapeutic Massage. Here is a list of the conditions that I've been able to help with my Therapeutic Massage:

  • headaches 

  • head/neck Range of Motion limitation

  • arm/shoulder Range of Motion limitation

  • low back pain

  • old injury/scar tissue

  • jaw muscle pain from TMJ Dysfunction  

  • Piriformis Syndrome ("False Sciatica")

  • Plantar Fasciitis

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Tennis Elbow

  • Golfer's Elbow

  • Trigger Finger

  • Runner's Knee

  • Shin Splints

How many Therapeutic Massage sessions does it take to get results?

Each condition and each person gets different results with Therapeutic Massage, so it's difficult to give an exact number of sessions for a specific condition. However, with my Therapeutic Massage, our goal is to make progress with every session, even if it's sometimes just a little progress. 

Based on the thousands of Therapeutic Massages I've given, I've found that we can typically make significant progress on the first session and build on that progress each successive session, provided the patient doesn't do things to make the condition worse between sessions!. If someone comes to me with a complaint of frequent headaches caused by neck tension, for example, after their first session, they may have from half to less than half the amount of headaches they were having, or a 50% to 70% improvement. Then, after the second session, they'll typically be at 80% to 90% improvement, and after the third session, they'll be at 90% or 100% improvement. However, the next person who comes to me with the same complaint may take six sessions or more to get to 90% or 100% improvement.

How often will the Therapeutic Massage sessions need to be?

As we're making progress with each Therapeutic Massage session (taking steps forward), the worst thing that could happen is for the patient to wait too long before the next session and the condition starts getting worse (taking steps backwards). Therapeutic Massages need to be scheduled at least once a week in order to continue building on the previous session's progress. Once the condition is under control, a Therapeutic Massage once a month can help to maintain that control and prevent the condition from getting out of control again. 

Howard Northrup, LMT
(321) 258-1201
MA# 35627