You don’t know what you don’t know” – Anonymous.
Many people have experienced “massage,” or they at least know what it is. To some, it was “relaxing.” To others, it was “painful,” and for a specific population, it was “relief.” Each outcome depended on the type of modality that was chosen. But how do you know what to choose?
In today’s world, we have many different modalities and techniques, various educational backgrounds, and even more tools that are being added to the trade. It almost becomes too much… scratch that, it IS too much! So let me guide you through the “essentials” of what you need to know to get the intended results you are looking for.
If you are like most people that want more than relaxation, you are seeking “pain relief.” And if that is the case, you will want to look for specific certifications such as: (MMP) medical massage practitioner, (C-MT) clinical massage therapist, (OMT) orthopedic massage therapist, etc. These certifications mean that your massage therapist has taken the time to learn different techniques that have proven to help specific ailments. They are qualified to assess and treat the body based on their findings or a physician’s prescription. You should easily feel a difference in the touch, technique, and result of these modalities.
“But not every therapist with these credits is the same…”. We hear this often, and they aren’t wrong. Each therapist has their own vibes and ways of delivering the technique. And it may take you a few bad experiences to find a good one. Don’t give up! Here are a few tips to look for…
How do you find the right massage for you? What benefits could you receive from any of these? Let’s start with the question, “What are your goals?”
- Do you want faster pain relief from chronic pain?
- Do you not want to be on pain medications?
- Want to have more flexibility or increased movement in your joints?
- What about making gains in the gym?
These goals would definitely fall under the realm of medical massage. Medical massage has been around for decades but is now becoming the “go-to” when it comes to getting effective treatment and seeing the results you need faster. In medical massage, your therapist does a deep dive into your medical history, performs posture and pain assessments, provides treatment (and in most cases, an assessment during treatment to make sure it’s effective), a post-assessment, and designs a treatment plan specifically for you and your goals.
Do you want purely stress-free, some pain relief, general maintenance, help managing Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), Ankylosing Spondylitis, or just take care of yourself? These goals would point you more towards a therapeutic massage, also known as myofascial release. Myofascial release is a specific modality yet so versatile. It can be used in conjunction with a wide range of other modalities such as craniosacral therapy, nerve mobilization, and sports/injury. Myofascial work can be given at any pressure and still get the same result. Why? Because it is deep in the tissue (muscle), not always deep in pressure. Once the muscle is released, the skin becomes warm to the touch, indicating a rush of blood flow, protein, oxygen, and nutrients that the muscle was lacking all this time it was tight or locked up.
Now, let’s talk about craniosacral therapy. What is it, and what are the benefits? Craniosacral Therapy (CST) involves light holding of the skull and sacrum and barely detectable movements. It is a subtle therapy that can achieve profound health benefits with minor and safe interventions. In layman’s terms, it is a gentle head or sacral holding that listens to your cranial rhythm. After receiving some therapeutic work, craniosacral therapy is most beneficial. This allows the muscles to be in a relaxed state, which will then allow a more profound sensation of the cranial rhythm for your therapist. Listening to your cranial rhythm will allow the pressure in your head or sacrum to decrease – sometimes shift with gentle guidance, and in your head, the cranial bones go back to articulating instead of being jammed together – this would decrease the amount of headaches/ migraines you have on a regular basis. When it comes to the sacrum, if your sacrum is frequently out of alignment, it would increase the pressure in that area. Listening to the rhythm allows the sacral muscles to calm down, pressure to decrease, and gently guide the sacrum back to where it belongs.