Massage therapists are better regulated, better educated, and better trained than ever before.
Massage therapy has gained tremendous recognition in recent years as an effective form of pain relief and treatment for many common musculoskeletal disorders. As an osteopath, I work alongside practitioners from all the main manual therapy disciplines every day. Manual therapy has evolved significantly over the past 3 decades, and in my opinion, no profession has evolved further than massage therapy. Today's massage therapists are better regulated, better educated, and better trained than ever before.
What do massage therapists do?
Massage therapy is about more than just relaxation. Massage therapists are professionals who use their hands to apply pressure to the body’s muscles and connective tissue. This is designed to lead to general well-being, and these same skills can be ever more frequently applied for pain relief and to help accelerate healing. This is supported by the fact that massage is increasingly being recommended by doctors alongside standard medical treatment for an ever growing number of conditions.
It is estimated that nearly half of all massage therapists practice some form of trigger point therapy. Again, in my personal experience over more than 25 years, I have observed that massage therapists tend to grasp the key concepts of trigger points more easily than other therapists. I would suggest that more than anything, this is because massage therapists have a greater sense of touch. Very often when experienced massage therapists take a trigger point class, they discover that they have been following many of the same concepts naturally, or perhaps instinctively, for years.
As with all professions, massage therapists don't all have the same skill-sets and experience. In the increasing number of countries where massage therapy is regulated, therapists usually have to meet stringent continuing education requirements. There are over 100 different types of massage, and thousands of condition-specific techniques. When you choose your therapist, make sure to do your homework. Always ask about qualifications and experience. Take the time to pick a massage therapist who is right for you, and you are unlikely to be disappointed with the outcome. And there are plenty of good ones out there!
Swedish massage involves mild to moderate pressure and massaging of the whole body. It’s known to promote relaxation, alleviate stress, improve mood and decrease pain.
This is a more intense version of the Swedish massage, involving manipulation of the deepest layers of body tissue. It aims to alleviate muscle tension, knots in the muscles and inflammation in connective tissue. Deep manipulation of the connective tissue helps to decrease muscle pain and expel toxins.
This type of massage focuses on putting pressure on parts of the body called acupuncture points, using the hands, fingers or elbows. Among the many benefits of this technique is better circulation, relieving stress, treating headaches and alleviating pain.
An aromatherapy massage combines massage of the body with the use of specific essential oils. These oils have smells that stimulate the olfactory system and may promote healing. Aromatherapy is used in the treatment of depression, migraines, poor circulation and a number of other conditions. Specific smells are used to treat specific conditions. Oregano, for instance, is often used to aid the treatment of infection.
The goal of sports massage is often to prevent an injury, using a combination of several massage techniques before, during and after a sporting event. Prior to a sporting activity, the therapist will use Swedish massage, shiatsu, trigger point therapy and relaxation to prepare the athlete’s body to perform efficiently. Massage can greatly enhance the athlete’s performance, reduce the risk of injury and alleviate the body of stress, and promote healing after the activity.
Niel Asher Technique (NAT)
Massage therapists can be NAT trained and certified. NAT uses a set series of massage and pressure point patterns on taut bands in your muscles. These taut bands are called trigger points, and they are linked to various musculoskeletal disorders and other general health problems.
If you’re seeking treatment for a painful condition, you can search on this website to find therapists who are NAT certified.
Simeon Niel Asher D.O. is a British osteopath who has been learning, practicing, and teaching trigger point therapy for over 25 years. Simeon is the author of over 60 books and academic papers; and is a visiting lecturer in the UK, US and Europe.
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