So, what exactly is orthopedic massage?
Orthopedic massage therapy is a special type of massage focused on relieving dysfunction through soft-tissue injury rehabilitation. Benefits of orthopedic massage may include decreasing a client’s pain, increasing their range of motion, and assisting with the return to normal daily routines, sports, and active hobbies.
When someone is physically hurting usually there is some form of loss of range of motion attributed to injury. So often I hear people say “I didn’t do anything,” but as we start to unpeel the layers, we often figure out what happened – they may recall an injury from their past even from many years prior. When someone has an injury there’s usually a loss of range of motion due to scar tissue ring some people will lose that range of motion and begin functioning in a dysfunctional manner.
Every massage is different every single body is different and people have different levels of dysfunction that all need to be treated in different ways, and orthopedic massage sets up a framework for longer-term treatment.
Specifically, orthopedic massage is a modality of massage that focuses on the tissues and muscles surrounding the joints of the body. Orthopedic massage works to restore balance to our physical structures to alleviate the source of bodily pain, tightness, and muscle tension.
Typically, soft tissue pain from a prior injury is the main driver for someone to seek out orthopedic massage. This pain could be a result of surgery, injury, or pain from overuse and strain due to a repetitive motion. Whatever the cause of the muscle damage, the intent of the orthopedic massage is to lengthen and soften both muscles and ligaments, permitting better range of motion of the affected joints.
Orthopedic massage can also be used to treat surgery-induced tissue damage, such as after a knee repair surgery. Research shows that massage can be an effective method to speed recovery and limit pain following surgery. Conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, whiplash, tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis can all see benefit from this type of massage.
While the main goal of orthopedic massage is to rehabilitate the affected tissues, the technique can also prevent future injury.
How orthopedic massage differs from other types of massage
Every person’s body reacts differently to injury, so every massage and massage strategy is not the same. Orthopedic massage is a therapeutic style of massage, intended to achieve measurable results. Since orthopedic massage is designed to return muscle and joints to their normal range of function to reduce pain, it is a longer term, more personally focused type of massage. Traditional deep tissue massage while deep tissue massage reduces deep muscle pain and strain but is more focused on overall relaxation. Of course, all massage techniques work to improve joint movement and function, but orthopedic massage is specifically intended to do so.
As an orthopedic massage therapist, I have a more extensive understanding of human anatomy and how the misalignment of the soft tissues can affect the entire musculoskeletal system and lead to pain and injury.
Orthopedic massage versus sports massage
Orthopedic massage is similar to sports massage in many respects but is specifically aimed at recovery from certain injuries. In this way, it falls more under the umbrella of massage as preventative type of health care rather than solely complementary or alternative medicine.
While sports massage helps athletes to prepare their bodies for optimal performance, prevent injury, and improve range of motion, orthopedic massage uses alignment, pin, stretch, & release techniques to help clients recover from soft-tissue injuries.