Therapeutic massage refers to a range of massage therapy techniques that focus on healing and strengthening joints, muscles, and connective tissue, in contrast to the focus on general relaxation in spa massages. Therapeutic massage may also benefit individuals with headaches, fibromyalgia, and certain mental health conditions.
Several types of practitioners can provide therapeutic massages. Furthermore, therapeutic massage in physical therapy can describe several different techniques, including active release technique, myofascial release, and sports massage, which have different purposes. A physical therapist will manually work the soft tissues of the target region to release tension, encourage blood flow, and promote healing. The massage may also be combined with joint mobilization depending on your treatment plan.
Therapeutic massage improves health in a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical way. Physical therapists use manual therapy to provide a wide range of benefits:
- Improve circulation in peripheral tissues
- Decrease muscle soreness and encourage recovery
- Improve range of motion and flexibility of joints
- Reduce stress and boost mood
- Enhance physical performance for sports
There are very few contraindications for therapeutic massage. For injury rehabilitation, therapeutic massage should only be used after the initial phase of healing is complete – for example, only after inflammation has gone down for a strain or sprain. This treatment also has minimal side effects, with the primary one being short-term soreness after the session. Note that therapeutic massage is often best used in combination with other treatments for the best outcome.