Massage therapy is a general term for a massage with therapeutic effect.
It is one of the oldest and most effective forms of treatment and has several effects:
- Improved blood circulation and lymphatic circulation;
- relaxation of the muscles;
- Dissolution of adhesions between the superficial and deeper muscles.
There are different forms of massage: transverse friction massage, connective tissue massage, sports massage, anti-cellulite, lymphatic drainage and much more.
The most common form of massage in physiotherapy is the “classic” or “Swedish” massage, which causes the release of muscle tension. Special couches and seating put the patient in a comfortable and ergonomic position.
As part of physiotherapy, there are other massage techniques: transverse friction massage, which is particularly helpful for the treatment of tendonitis, myofascial massage for pain caused by connective tissue, and lymphatic drainage, which is used as a therapy for lymphedema.
How is the massage performed?
The massage can be used to treat the entire body or only certain areas; The neck, back and thighs (quadriceps) are most commonly massaged.
The physiotherapist’s hands move in the direction of the superficial muscle fibers and follow the course of the veins, i.e. in the direction of the right atrium. In my experience, an intense and deep massage achieves the best results, but not too much force must be applied, otherwise it could be perceived as painful for the patient.
What effect does massage therapy have on the body?
Massage therapy shows excellent results in the treatment of neck pain and low back pain, relieves symptoms of inflammation and reduces stiffness and pain caused by excessive stress and emotional tension.
As a rule, therapeutic neck massage relieves the symptoms of tension headaches caused by tense muscles in the neck.
It is also used to treat surgical scars because it helps to loosen the adhesions of the tissue and make the movement softer and more fluid.
For the massage, essential oils or warming creams are used, which additionally warms the body and stimulates the circulation (hyperthermia).
In addition to the effects on the body, massage therapy also has a beneficial, relaxing effect on the psyche, especially in emotional and anxious people, the state of mind improves and makes daily worries and stress fall into oblivion.
The physiotherapist must adopt a comfortable posture, because the treatment should be carried out with sensitivity and pleasure in massaging. Direct effect of massage therapy:
- Increase of blood circulation: the supply of oxygen and nutrients and the removal of metabolic waste are accelerated;
- Muscle tension and hardening are released, muscle pain is relieved, back and neck pain is eliminated;
- Strengthening the immune system by stimulating the lymphatic circulation, which eliminates viruses, bacteria, waste products, toxins, etc.;
- loosens adhesions of superficial and deeper tissue structures;
- the pain threshold of the nerves is increased and the nerve conduction velocity accelerates;
- since heat is generated by the massage, the effects are the same as with heat therapy (vasodilation, hyperthermia, acceleration of biochemical cell reactions and increased extensibility of tendon collagen fibers).
The most important grip techniques of massage include:
the palm of the hand runs over the patient’s skin; it is performed at the beginning and at the end of the massage and has a pleasant and relaxing effect due to the gentle touch.
If the treatment were to begin with a deep tissue massage, the patient would cramp, which would be the exact opposite of the massage goal.
Speed and pressure are gradually intensified and gradually reduced at the end of the massage.
The therapist maintains the connection to the patient via the palm of the hand. The task of this grip technique is to establish contact between patient and therapist until both are in harmony. The rhythm should be slow and the intensity should convey a sense of well-being.
When kneading, the palms are placed next to each other on the skin, the fingers are stretched out. Now the index finger of one hand is brought closer to the thumb of the other.
The pressure is sufficient to lift a fold of skin.
For the patient, it is more comfortable to use the thumb together with the ball of the hand and the entire index finger up to the ankle.
In this way, the pressure is transferred to a larger area.
On the neck, the kneading massage is performed only with the fingertips because of the small muscle size.
It occurs with the fingertips or the whole palm. Intense pressure is exerted on the desired location by circular or transverse movements.
This grip technique promotes local blood circulation, loosens adhesions and scars, and the treated muscles become more supple.
Compared to deletion, the friction is much more energetic and penetrates further into the depths. It is particularly suitable for the treatment of the back, as it consists of three superimposed muscle layers.
Pei For patients with muscle injuries, after scarring has been completed, a transverse friction massage can help release adhesions, restore elasticity to the muscles and relieve inflammation.
The palm is pressed against the skin and at the same time small, very fast transverse movements are made, as if the hand were vibrating. It can also be performed with the fingertips for a deeper and more intense effect.
This movement has a calming and very relaxing effect on the organism and is therefore one of the grip techniques that should be carried out immediately after the stroke.
This movement is performed with both hands; on the back, neck and abdomen it occurs in the caudal-cranial direction, on the thigh quadriceps and three-headed calf muscle in the transverse direction.
A fold of skin is lifted between thumb and foregoing/middle fingertips, like a pinch.
The thumbs only press against the body, while the other fingers “run” over the skin.
This grip technique is intended to loosen the adhesions in the tissue, even if it causes some patients discomfort for the first time.
Massage therapy should be preceded by a medical examination to determine whether there are any contraindications to the treatment.
Contraindications of massage therapy
- High blood pressure: a very gentle massage can be performed, consisting mainly of stroking movements.
- Infectious diseases.
Local contraindications (affect only the region to be treated):
- Inflammation: massage can aggravate the condition.
- Bone fractures: only a gentle massage may be performed, whereby the fracture site is omitted.
- Skin issues: rash, burns, skin injuries, bruises and blisters.
- Cancer: the massage can, due to the increased blood circulation, accelerate the spread of the disease via the lymphatic system.
- Venous diseases with a risk of embolus detachment (thrombophlebitis, phlebothrombosis).