What is Massage Therapy?
In Massage Therapy, a Registered Massage Therapist manually manipulates a patient’s muscles and soft tissues in order to achieve relaxation of those tissues. In our modern world of mental and emotional stressors and postural issues from sitting in front of computers all day, many people experience headaches, high levels of stress, and sciatica. Massage Therapy can ease the physical symptoms and release the muscles involved in the issues.
The training for a Registered Massage Therapist can take two years, and includes an extensive study of the human body, its structures and systems. The muscular structures of the human body are but one facet of what a Massage student learns. The human body is akin to an intricate machine, each part working in conjunction with every other part. In order to fully treat a patient, a Therapist must have a strong knowledge of all the body systems.
Student therapists work on each other and on the general population to gain experience and confidence in applying their knowledge to many different situations and patients, and only once they are ready can they attain their Registration and bring their healing to the world.
Just as each patient brings a unique situation to each session, each Massage Therapist approaches massage in their own way. There are as many different ways to practice Massage Therapy as there are Therapists who practice it. Through the combination of techniques, modalities, and personal interests, each Therapist can tailor their knowledge to make Massage Therapy truly their own.
There are many modalities that a Massage Therapist can learn, each offering their own techniques and specifics, which can be combined to treat nearly any issue. These modalities include, and are not limited to, Therapeutic – or Swedish – Massage, Relaxation Massage, Sports Massage, Remedial Massage, Jade Stone Massage, and Cupping.
Therapeutic Massage, also known as Swedish Massage, employs a vast array of techniques to manipulate the muscles and soft tissues to stimulate lymph flow, remove ‘knots’ from muscles, and ease imbalances around skeletal structures, improving posture and function.
Relaxation Massage is one of the first modalities taught to the beginning student and is an introduction to the basic movements of effleurage and petrissage. It is particularly effective at treating stress and allowing the patient to relax.
Sports Massage uses higher-impact techniques performed in a shorter time span, and is specifically designed for the high-performance athlete, to aid in recovery and improve performance.
Remedial Massage employs a combination of gait assessment, joint mobility assessments, and strength and nerve conduction tests to assess issues, and applies remedial exercises and Therapeutic techniques to treat such issues. It can be compared to the practice of a Physiotherapist, at a beginner level to the Physiotherapist’s mastery.
Jade Stone Massage uses stones of various shapes and sizes to apply pressure to muscular structures. The stones can be either heated or chilled, which can be beneficial for lymphatic drainage, reducing swelling, and relaxation of hypertonic tissues.
Cupping is derived from ancient Chinese methods, using glass, silicone, or plastic cups to create a vacuum to pull on the muscles and fascia, rather than pushing on them as a therapist does with their hands. This has a profound effect on the tissues and is often used in conjunction with Sports and Therapeutic Massage.