What is Orthopedic Massage?
Orthopedic massage is an approach to the treatment of numerous pain and injury conditions previously treated only with conventional methods. Orthopedic massage is not a specific technique but rather a comprehensive system that allows a capable therapist to integrate a variety of specific techniques to efficiently and effectively treat both acute and chronic soft-tissue dysfunction and pain.
Four primary components of Orthopedic massage:
1) Orthopedic Assessment:
When working with soft tissue injuries and pain, it is paramount that the therapist is able to assess the nature of the condition and understand its physiological pattern. This enables the therapist to determine if massage is indicated, and if so, what kind(s). The therapist must have some method of systematic evaluation for the patients' condition; this is where skills like postural assessment, movement analysis, active, active resisted, and passive, range of motion tests become vital in helping determine not only the location of pain or injury but the physiological cause.
2) Matching the physiology of the injury with the physical effects of the treatment:
There is no single massage modality that will effectively treat every condition. Therefore, each patient is seen as an individual, even if two patients present with the same symptoms and official diagnosis. In some situations, a particular technique will be highly beneficial and in others, it may be contraindicated or simply counterproductive.
3) Treatment adaptability:
As each patients condition improves or declines, the therapist must be able to choose what protocol will work best for that individual's needs at that time. This simply means that the therapist should never adhere to one specific technique.
4) Understanding the rehabilitation process:
Orthopedic massage therapists often work in conjunction with other healthcare providers, such as PT's, AT's and Chiropractors. Understanding how the body heals from soft tissue injuries and trauma is a vital skill that not only enables them to communicate with and treat their patients more effectively but be a more effective team player when working with other providers.
Specific techniques utilized:
Myofascial Release (MFR)
Trigger point release
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)
Swedish massage (as utilized in sports massage)