Massage therapy scope of practice:
The practice of Massage Therapy is the assessment of the soft tissue and joints of the body and the treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissue and joints by manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, or relieve pain (Massage Therapy Act, 1991).
Benefits of massage therapy:
Benefits of massage therapy are both physiological and psychological
Physiological effects are caused by the actual mechanical manipulation of tissue and joints and this will affect the problems within the tissue, vascular and lymphatic systems, neurological systems, mobility and range of motion and pain
Psychological effects are what is happening to our stress levels, moods, well-being etc.
1. Massage therapy reduces pain and helps keep pain away or to a lesser level. It breaks the cyclic nature of pain and stops the nociceptive (painful) nerve firing. Massage reduces tissue ischemia (reduced circulation) that is caused by muscle and fascial restriction. Massage brings more blood to the area and pain is reduced by movement of limbs, stretching, direct compression, treating trigger points, improving range of motion, loosening fascia away from the muscles.
Massage can help with pain caused by trauma, surgeries, headaches, muscular or joint conditions, overuse, spasms etc.
2. Improves circulation and blood pressure. Mechanical effects on vasculature causes local release of vasodilators, reflex responses of the autonomic nervous system. Massage increases local blood flow to the muscles and helps repair injured tissue and remove metabolic wastes from the body.
3. Increases lymphatic flow in superficial lymphatic capillaries. Massage is effective in draining chronic edema, reducing pain and inflammation from the edema. Lymphatic drainage massage helps the healing process from injury and reduces swelling after lymph node removal surgery.
4. Immune system activity is increased. Massage therapy reduces stress and helps increase the immune response, resulting to increased ability to fight off illness.
5. Improves the respiratory system. Massage therapy techniques such as tapotement, joint play and postural drainage have been shown to improve respiratory function and chest expansion to clear mucous in respiratory diseases and illnesses. Massage and fascial techniques help decrease asthma symptoms by reducing stress levels.
6. Reduces stress and anxiety. Massage reduces cortisol levels and improves moods. Massage increases the feeling of well-being, which reduces stress and anxiety.
7. Reduce the appearance of scar tissue. More aggressive massage techniques can reduce the look of scars, especially if scars are more new.
8. Improve mobility and range of motion. Massage will improve mobility by reducing hypertonicity within muscles, breaking down adhesions and scar tissue and bringing nutrition into the muscles and joints.
What massage cannot do:
Massage cannot increase muscle tone or strength or reduce cellulite or adipose tissue.
Massage cannot prevent muscular atrophy in denervated tissue with a permanent nerve lesion.
It is always recommended to consult your doctor, physiotherapist or a massage therapist to see if massage is beneficial for your specific condition or concern.
Source: Rattray, Fiona and Ludwig, Linda. Clinical Massage Therapy. Toronto, Ontario, Talus Inc., 2000