Orthopedic massage is part of injury rehabilitation that focuses on the muscles and soft tissues surrounding the joints and ligaments. Pain could be caused post-surgery, an acute injury, or overuse/repetitive motion injury from work or sports. The objective is to:
- Decrease pain
- Release tension
- Restore balance
- Increase mobility and flexibility
- Preparing the body to return to everyday routines and activities.
Whatever the cause of the muscle damage or injury, an orthopedic massage will lengthen and soften the muscles and ligaments, allowing for a better range of motion of the affected joints.
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All massage techniques can improve joint movement and function. Orthopedic massage is specifically designed to return the joints to their normal position function and alleviate pain with movement.
- Swedish massage focuses on overall relaxation.
- Deep tissue massage reduces deep muscle pain and strain.
Orthopedic massage therapists have an extensive understanding of anatomy, soft tissues, and misalignment of the musculoskeletal system that can cause pain and injury. It is similar to sports massage targeting damaged areas for recovery and rehabilitation from conditions and injuries. Sports massage helps the individual strengthen and retrain the damaged areas back to optimal performance and prevent injury. Orthopedic massage utilizes:
- Alignment techniques
- Release techniques
- Pin techniques
- Stretch techniques
- To expedite thorough body healing.
Massage benefits many symptoms and conditions. It has been shown to help with:
- Pulled muscles
- Torn ligaments
- Carpal-tunnel syndrome
- Frozen shoulder
- Tennis elbow
- Bulging discs
A therapist will look at the range of motion, flexibility, and rotation of the tissues. This will help determine what muscle groups and tendons are involved and which techniques to use. Massage therapists use an assortment of approaches to loosen muscles and tendons. These include:
- This is used to reach deep, hard-to-reach muscles by applying pressure and massaging lengthwise in a perpendicular motion.
- It is beneficial for whiplash and/or back pain.
- This is a gentle treatment for inflamed muscles and tissues highly sensitive to other techniques.
- Soft tissues are manipulated into comfortable positions and held in place for a specific time.
- This lengthens and softens tissues to bring pain relief.
- Also known as neural mobilization, this method addresses strained nerves and pain sources.
Muscle Energy Release
- The therapist provides resistance while the individual voluntarily contracts muscles.
- Effective with low back pain.
Trigger Point Therapy
- Pressure intervals are held on trigger areas to release lactic acid and promote circulation.
- Gentle pressure is applied to stretch fascia tissues.
The reason bones become weaker is that bone tissue is living tissue that constantly forms new bone material and absorbs the old bone material. As the body ages, the rate at which bone is reabsorbed becomes faster than newly formed bone material. One reason for rapid bone loss is lack of exercise and physical activity. The Mayo Clinic has stated that individuals that spend a great deal of time sitting, whether at home or work, have an increased risk of osteoporosis than more active individuals. Sitting too much with little to no activity can lead to weakened bones. Just like the muscles, bones get stronger when they are in use. Walking, running, jumping, and getting the body moving along with using some resistance, can increase the strength and durability of the bones.
Kim, Seung-Kook et al. “Clinical outcomes and cost-effectiveness of massage chair therapy versus basic physiotherapy in lower back pain patients: A randomized controlled trial.” Medicine vol. 99,12 (2020): e19514. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000019514
Klein, Ifat et al. “Lymphatic treatments after orthopedic surgery or injury: A systematic review.” Journal of bodywork and movement therapies vol. 24,4 (2020): 109-117. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2020.06.034
Loew, Laurianne M et al. “Deep, transverse friction massage for treating lateral elbow or lateral knee tendinitis.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews vol. 2014,11 CD003528. 8 Nov. 2014, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003528.pub2
Majewski-Schrage, Tricia, and Kelli Snyder. “The Effectiveness of Manual Lymphatic Drainage in Patients With Orthopedic Injuries.” Journal of sport rehabilitation vol. 25,1 (2016): 91-7. doi:10.1123/jsr.2014-0222
The information herein on "Orthopedic Massage" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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