“Physical therapy or physiotherapy (sometimes abbreviated to PT) is the health care profession primarily concerned with the remediation of impairments and disabilities and the promotion of mobility, functional ability, quality of life and movement potential through examination, evaluation, diagnosis and physical intervention.”
The aim of physiotherapy is to help restore movement and normal body function in cases of illness, injury and disability.
As well as treating specific problems, your physiotherapist may also suggest ways to improve your general wellbeing – for example, by taking regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight for your height and build.
Physiotherapists take a holistic approach, looking at the body as a whole rather than focusing on the individual factors of an injury or illness. The person being treated is directly involved in their own care.
For example, back pain can be caused by a number of different things, including:
inherited spinal deformity
bending or twisting awkwardly
standing for long periods
lifting or carrying objects incorrectly
A physiotherapist will look at your individual situation. As well as treating the problem, they may also suggest things you can do on a daily basis to help relieve pain and discomfort. They may also give you advice about how to prevent the injury re-occurring.
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Types of Massage
Swedish massage is the most common type of massage, and what many people think of when they hear the term “massage.” Swedish massage involves long, fluid stroking of muscles and tissues, and is meant to reduce soreness and stiffness in muscles and joints, to reduce anxiety and to improve circulation. Swedish massage involves five basic strokes: effleurage (sliding or gliding of hands across skin), petrissage (kneading of muscles), tapotement (rhythmic tapping of knuckles or fingers against skin), friction (moving across fibers) and vibration or shaking of the body. Therapists may adjust pressure according to your sensitivity and typically use oil or lotion.
*Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage, but the deeper pressure is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension. The focus is on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints). Deep tissue massage focuses on manipulation of both top and deeper layers of muscles and tissues, often requiring intense, focused pressure by the therapist. Deep tissue massage is designed to address severe tension or pain in the muscles and connective tissues. Deep tissue massage may cause lingering soreness, so it might be inappropriate for some people with arthritis.
Sports massage therapy is geared toward athletes of every kind, from world-class professionals to weekend joggers. The particulars of the sports massage technique are specific to the athlete’s sport of choice. Focusing on areas of the body that are overused and stressed from repetitive and
often aggressive movements.
Aspects of sports massage therapy are gaining popularity as useful components in a balanced training regimen. Sports massage therapy can be used as a means to enhance pre-event preparation and reduce recovery time for maximum performance during training or after an event. Athletes have discovered that specially designed sports massage promotes flexibility, reduces fatigue, improves endurance, helps prevent injuries and prepares their body and mind for optimal performance.
*Hot Stone Massage
Hot stone massage is a massage therapy offered in many day spas that involves placing smooth, heated stones on your back as you lie on your
stomach. The hot stones send soothing heat to the muscles and tissues, releasing tension and promoting relaxation. Typically, therapists knead your muscles by hand in addition to placing hot stones on your skin. Other forms involve cold stones, which may help sore muscles from exercise-related injuries or swelling. Some therapists may use both hot and cold stones for contrast or for different healing purposes. The premise behind
hot stone massage therapy is that the direct heat of the stones relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist access to their deeper muscle layers. Combining hot stone protocols with a full body massage provides a very healing and effective experience. The hot stones also expand blood vessels, which encourages blood flow throughout the body. The hot stones have a sedative effect that can relieve chronic pain, reduce stress and promote deep relaxation.
Ayurveda is an Indian natural health philosophy that blends yoga, massage, meditation and herbs. Ayurvedic massage is also known as abhyanga, and involves a full-body massage in addition to using aromatic oils chosen for purported spiritual healing properties.
Foot Reflexology massage can be a deeply relaxing and therapeutic modality for those suffering from plantar fasciitis, ankle injuries or even everyday work and play. At Massage Envy, your massage therapist will apply traditional Swedish and sports massage techniques to the foot, calf and upper leg. This will not only help relieve toe pain, ankle pain, plantar fasciitis and common forms of arthritis, but can also decrease stress and anxiety in the entire body. In addition, a variety of stretches can be beneficial. With pain and sensitivity in the foot, heel and calf areas, be sure to communicate your pain levels with your massage therapist during your treatment. It is also a good idea to rest after receiving the reflexology massage.
Massage is the systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, using specific techniques (for example, tapping, kneading, stroking, and friction) to relax the muscles.
Reflexology focuses on reflex maps of points and areas of the body in the feet, hands, and ears using unique micromovement techniques such as thumb or finger walking and hook and backup with the goal of creating a response throughout the body.
Balinese massage techniques are gentle and designed to make the patient feel relaxed and calm during the massage, and for several hours at the end. The massage may include skin folding, kneading, stroking, pressure, as well as Balinese hot stones. The massage therapist applies aromatherapy oil throughout the body work to enhance the effects of the overall massage experience. A c lient’s blood, oxygen and energy flow increases as a result of the treatment. Side note: The more I write about massage, the more I realize that I need to get one!
*Myofascial Release Massage
Myofascial Release Massage Therapy is a manual massage technique for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia and muscles, with the goal of eliminating pain, increasing range of motion and equalization of the bodily system. Myofascial release can involve applying compression or tension in various directions, or by skin rolling. Note: this type of therapy/massage can really help to “unstick” muscles, and increase the normal flow of energy, blood and oxygen in the body.
Thai Massage is around 2500 years old, and originated in India. It is based on ayurvedic healing massage and Yoga. This technique combines massage with yoga-like positions during the course of the massage. The northern style of Thai Massage emphasizes stretching while the southern style focuses more on acupressure.
*Cranial Sacral Therapy
Cranial sacral therapy (also known as craniosacral therapy) is a gentle, noninvasive form of bodywork that addresses the bones of the head, spinal column and sacrum. The goal is to release compression in those areas which alleviates stress and pain.
Cranial sacral therapy seeks to restore the natural position of the bones and can decrease stress from chronic injuries as well as provide relief from migraine headaches, neck and back pain, temporomandibular joint disorder (the inflammation of the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull) and more.
*Trigger Point Massage
Trigger point massage is designed to relieve pain in particular areas of the body by applying pressure or vibration into myofascial trigger points. Trigger point therapy that includes injections into the trigger points should only be performed in a clinical setting, such as a doctor’s office, or physical therapy or chiropractic office. Trigger points are points in the muscles where knots may form, and the pinpointed pressure is designed to relax those knots and ease pain.
Self-massage is kneading your own sore joints, pressure points or muscles using your hands, knuckles, elbows or massage tools. Massage tools may be mechanized to offer heat or vibration, or you can create your own aids with household objects like tennis balls, says Field. Massaging hard-to-reach areas like your back may be difficult, but self-massage works well for sore feet, knees, calves, hands, neck or arms.
Massage therapy during pregnancy is a wonderful complementary choice for prenatal care. It is a healthy way to reduce stress and promote overall wellness. Massage relieves many of the normal discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as backaches, stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches and edema (or swelling).
In addition, massage for pregnant women reduces stress on weight-bearing joints, encourages blood and lymph circulation, helps to relax nervous tension — which aids in better sleep — and can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes.
Pregnancy massage is beneficial throughout the entire nine months of the pregnancy; however, if you are having a high risk pregnancy it is best to discuss your condition with your midwife or physician before seeking a therapist. After doing so you may be able to receive massage work with a written release.
Pregnancy massage can include anything from a full body Swedish massage to light massage work that might include other modalities such as circulatory work, reflexology or cranial sacral therapy. Most massage therapists are trained not only to do massage but various other modalities as well.