If you're dealing with pain or medical conditions, it's important to know how a medical massage differs. Here's why it's no ordinary spa massage.
In the modern world, stress has become synonymous with being alive. It's just the way of things.
Medical science continues to expand what we understand about the effects of stress. This includes the damage it causes and how deep it goes. Fortunately, medical massage rises to meet the challenge of daily stress.
While a spa massage provides a sense of relief from stress, medical massage goes deeper to repair the underlying damage. That's why it's used to treat the majority of the 8.6 million annual injuries related to muscle pulls and active lifestyles.
Read on to better understand the key benefits and differences between these two types of massage.
Spa Massage OverviewThe general purpose of a massage is to provide relaxation. Practitioners achieve this goal through different methods tailored to activate a release of endorphins.
After leaving a massage, most people feel looser and more able to face their daily stressors. For people who need a pick-me-up, this works great. Regular massages make an excellent self-care regimen.
The bulk of the benefits from a spa massage are gained from the personal attention you receive. This type of massage is mostly a treat or a gift that you give yourself. This increases your feelings of wellbeing.
However, little is done to combat or limit the damage of injury or chronic pain. For the treatment of these issues, medical massage offers a better pathway to wellness.
TechniqueSpa massages use some of the same overall techniques as those used in medical massage therapy.
The most common spa massages include Swedish, deep tissue, Shiatsu, and hot stone. Each of these requires different training but most are done in the same location, albeit by different staff.
These massages are mostly surface-level and relieve tension in the upper tissues and fibers. Deep tissue massage, by its name, obviously goes deeper but does so by feel without directed intention.
In a spa setting the goal of the treatment is to help you feel relaxed and well. This often leaves you feeling healthier and full of energy.
Medical Massage OverviewIn the case of a spa massage experience, you call the shots and the practitioner delivers the goods. While you remain at the center of a medical therapy massage, the process is different from the start.
You undergo an evaluation and are asked a variety of questions. If you have a referral from a general practice doctor, there may already be a treatment plan in the works requesting certain areas to target. It should be noted that a referral isn't necessary to begin a medical massage treatment course.
The end goal is to help you overcome pain and injury but the process is far less linear than in a spa setting. The trade-off is that the results are also far more lasting.
Medical CareOnce you receive an evaluation, a treatment plan is developed. Along with the plan the provider gives you a set of expectations. This includes a timeline for the overall treatment and an idea of what techniques they'll utilize during each visit.
Since the purpose is to deal with an underlying problem, multiple techniques will be used in tandem. You won't necessarily get the same type of techniques in each session. Medical massage feels different than your usual full-body experience.
Targeted ResultsThe results you experience after a medical massage will be more specific, which often leads you to feel less euphoric after a visit. You'll also receive a set of exercises and a list of things to do (and not do) to prolong the effect and prevent further injury.
These after-care instructions certainly feel more like a doctor's visit than a typical spa day.
Medical massage therapy provides pain relief, especially in myofascial tissue. Range of motion in pulled muscles and areas that have been torn or sprained are specifically addressed by a medical massage.
TechniqueTechniques used in medical massage therapy sometimes follow closely along those used in the spa, but you'll see a few new ones.
The techniques you recognize only bear a superficial resemblance. Practitioners use these with specific, targeted purposes that affect the internal structures. For example, a Swedish technique is employed to open up blood flow and increase circulation.
Deep tissue massage releases and loosens a muscle group so that adjustments become easier to make. This is done to relieve prolonged spasms, adjust improperly healing joints, or to relieve pressure on adjoining muscle groups and organs.
Cranial massage and ayurvedic treatments work to stimulate the mind as well as the body. These treatments are used to lower anxiety and the fear of dealing with issues. Fixating less on a problem helps your body heal without bogging it down.
EvaluationsSessions will involve a lot more back and forth while driving towards the end-goal of your overall health. This will include conversations about your condition, how you are feeling about the progress, and adjustments to the schedule as necessary.
Your ongoing results are compared to the expected progress. Be prepared to be held accountable for how well and how often you participate in the aftercare assignments.
ResultsAfter the first few sessions, you'll notice direct and lasting results. Since specific issues are being targeted, you have something to focus on and will be able to evaluate your progress. The goal is for you to be better not just feel better.
This difference separates a lot of medical treatments from other wellness paths. Undergoing more traditional spa massage while participating in a medical massage treatment program is perfectly acceptable.
Get MoreFor chronic pain, old injuries, and frequent limitations in range of motion, medical massage pushes for lasting relief. The work involved can feel taxing but that's often the price of complete health.
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