Massage Therapy

woman enjoying massage therapy

Massage Therapy at Yonge and Eglinton

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is the assessment and treatment of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments) and joints of the body.  It is done to relieve pain and improve their function and prevent future problems.  More simply put, it is a hands-on, manual therapy involving pressing or kneading muscles, associated joints and connective tissues.  The intent is to move your body towards healing and increased relaxation.  Registered massage therapy is performed by a registered massage therapist.  This means someone who has been fully trained and is regulated by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario.

At Forces of Nature, all of our massage therapists adhere to the highest standards of practice in their profession.

What Can Massage Therapy Help With?

Massage Therapy can help treat both acute and chronic conditions.  Here is a list of just some of the conditions that benefit from massage therapy:

  • Fractures
  • Stress and related conditions
  • Tendonitis
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
  • Pregnancy and labour support
  • Infant massage (preterm/low birth weight/full term)
  • Edema
  • Hyperlordosis
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Scoliosis
  • Kyphosis
  • Cancer
  • Insomnia
  • Stroke
  • Asthma/Emphysema/Chronic Bronchitis
  • Scar tissue
  • Neurological conditions like Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Low back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Whiplash
  • Post-surgical rehabilitation
  • Inflammatory conditions like Arthritis and Bursitis
  • Relaxation!

What should I expect during my first massage therapy treatment?

On your first visit, you will be required to fill out a medical health history form.  This is kept confidential in accordance with strict privacy legislation (PIPEDA, PHIPA).

Massage Therapists use movement testing to help determine injuries or disorders of the skeletal system and associated muscles, joints, and ligaments.

Based on the focus of your care, you and your therapist will develop a treatment plan. This plan involves decisions on which areas are to be worked on, the types of techniques, your goals, risks and benefits, self-care, and how often your treatments will take place.  You may want to discuss any possible referrals to complementary practitioners such as a chiropractor, osteopath, acupuncturist or naturopathic doctor. You have the right at any time to ask questions, change or stop your treatment.  Also, a reassessment is usually done after an agreed upon time to examine the progress of your condition.

What Happens During a Typical Massage Therapy Treatment?

During treatment, you remove as much or as little clothing as you feel comfortable with.  Usually, underpants remain on. You then lie on a massage table, between sheets, on your back, side or stomach. Pillows reduce stress on your low back and limbs. Only the area being treated will be uncovered.

Oil, gel or lotion specific to massage is used. A variety of techniques are used to stretch and loosen your muscles, connective tissue, and move your joints.  These techniques, therefore, reduce tension and increase your range of motion.

What Techniques Does a Massage Therapist Use?

The techniques a massage therapist uses include:

  • Effleurage (gliding strokes)
  • Petrissage (kneading)
  • Frictions (rubbing)
  • Vibrations (light rapid shaking)
  • Tapotement (rhythmic tapping)

Some other massage therapy techniques that may be included are:

  • Hydrotherapy (applications of hot or cold-water in various forms)
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Myofascial therapy (connective tissue)
  • Peripheral joint mobilization (passive movements of the joints)
  • Self-care exercise
  • Some therapists offer additional skills, such as Craniosacral Therapy

How Long is a Massage Therapy Treatment?

Treatments last between 30 to 90 minutes, depending on what you and your therapist have agreed upon.

At the end of your treatment, your therapist will give you self-care tips.  Also, if needed, he or she will provide exercises to help stretch or strengthen the muscles worked on. It is important to adhere to these.  Because they will help prolong the positive effects of massage treatment.

What are the Benefits of Massage Therapy?

Regular Massage Therapy can:

  1. Enhance your physical and emotional health
  2. Increase your circulation

  3. Improve your lymphatic drainage

  4. Improve the function of your immune system

  5. Decrease your muscle tension

  6. Improve your pain-free range of motion and joint health

  7. Reduce or eliminate your pain

  8. Improve your body awareness

  9. Reduce your stress

  10. Alleviate your depression

Massage causes your body to release stress-relieving hormones called endorphins.  This is a chemical occurring naturally in your brain that possesses natural pain-relieving properties. It can produce feelings of euphoria. As a result, this reduces levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body.

What About Massage Therapy for Kids?

Infants and children also benefit from Massage Therapy. It not only creates a nurturing bond between parent and child.  Also, massage therapy improves digestion and sleep patterns, and improves body awareness and self-esteem.

Preterm and/or low birth-weight infants who receive massage therapy improve in weight gain.  Therefore, they are more likely to leave the hospital sooner.

What are the Risks of Massage Therapy?

For some people, there can be reactions to massage, for example, headaches, muscle soreness and dizziness.  In order to avoid this, drink plenty of water following your treatment, and take a shower or an Epsom’s salt bath before bed. This will help you eliminate the metabolic wastes that are released from your muscles during a massage treatment. These are the same chemicals that can contribute to muscle soreness after vigorous exercise.

It is important to follow-up with your Massage Therapist. Share with them any reactions after your treatment. This way, it is documented and your next treatment is modified.

When is Massage Therapy Not Recommended?

Massage Therapy is contraindicated in some conditions. For example, people with open wounds, unstable blood pressure, bacterial infections, kidney failure, and embolism should not have massage therapy.

Modifications to massage treatment are made for such conditions as pregnancy, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, post-surgical scars, and cancer.

In addition to helping the above conditions, massage therapy can also play an important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing injury and illness.

Think of Massage Therapy not just as a luxury, but consider it a necessary part of your wellness program.

Prenatal and Post-partum Massage Therapy

Massage is a vastly under-used tool for fostering a healthy pregnancy. It can provide an opportunity to experience deep relaxation, relieve discomfort, and at the same time, reduce fatigue, and facilitate bonding with the unborn baby.

During the post-partum period, it can promote healing, assist the realignment of the spine, pelvis and muscles stretched by pregnancy and address the physical strain of carrying and caring for a newborn baby.

Insurance Coverage for Massage Therapy

The Ontario Health Card Coverage (OHIP) does not cover Massage Therapy.  However, patients may obtain reimbursement from their work-related extended health care programs.

Please Check Your Insurance Plans and use your coverage before the end of the year!

References:

http://www.massagetherapy.com/glossary/index.php
http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/micro/gallery/endorphin/endorphins.html

http://weber.u.washington.edu/~chudler/hero.html
http://www.timnoonan.com.au/maspap98.htm
http://www.omta.com
http://www.cmto.com
http://www.privcom.gc.ca/legislation/02_06_01_e.asp
http://members.aol.com/profchm/todd.html
http://www.medscape.com/medline/abstract/15859182?queryText=stress%20hormones
http://altmed.creighton.edu/massage/adverse_effects.htm

Ireland, M., & Olson, M. (2000). Massage therapy and therapeutic touch in children: state of the science. Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine, 6(5).
Vickers, A., Ohlsson, A., Lacy, J.B., Horsley, A. (2004). Massage for promoting growth and development of preterm and/or low birth-weight infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, (2):CD000390.