What is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is a form of manual medicine focusing on the manipulation of soft tissue throughout the body, including muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. The ultimate goal of massage therapy is to elicit a therapeutic effect, such as the improvement of muscle function, relaxation, wellness or quality of life.

What is the Massage Therapy approach to treatment?

It is a clinical and systematic treatment approach called Outcome-Based Massage (OBM), where the therapist applies his or her knowledge, observations and skills with the goal of achieving a specific outcome for the patient. This allows the therapist to modify the treatment in response to a patient’s specific needs, issues and goals.

Three aspects of OBM are:

  1. Clinical Decision-Making.
    Entails working with a patient to uncover any problems to address, the patient’s desired outcomes and then developing and applying a treatment plan tailored specifically to the patient.
  2. Evidence-Based Practice.
    The therapist operates within a research-driven framework in order to assess, plan and carry out an effective treatment.
  3. Therapeutic Relationship
    It is important for the therapist and the patient to collaborate. The relationship should be client-centered and respect the interactions, whether they are ethical, sociocultural and interpersonal.

What are the effects of Massage Therapy?

The effects can be physiological and/or psychological, depending on the goals of the patient, the skill of the Registered Massage Therapist (RMT), the therapist-patient relationship and the particular condition of the patient.

Physiological (or mechanical) effects of massage would be the decrease in muscle tension (“tightness”) or pain residing within a particular area of the body. Common areas that experience tension would be the upper and lower back or the jaw.

The psychological (or reflexive) effects of massage are neurological in nature and the RMT would be interacting with the central, peripheral and autonomic system to produce a desired, positive effect. A common reflexive effect of massage therapy is relaxation and reducing stress.

What are some benefits of Massage Therapy?

The benefits can be widespread, but a list of potential outcomes or benefits are:

  • Improved sleep
  • Enhanced postural awareness
  • Increased relaxation
  • Improved wellbeing
  • Increased tissue mobility
  • Decreased muscle spasm and pain
  • Separation and lengthening of fascia
  • Increased joint mobility
  • Decreased levels of cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine
  • Improved ventilation

Does massage therapy work with other forms of rehabilitation?

Yes! Massage therapy is primarily focused on manipulating and relaxing the various soft tissues within the body and it can be the ideal complement to physiotherapy, chiropractic and sports enhancement. Movement is important for rehabilitation and massage therapy is an excellent way to treat any muscles that have become tense or overworked as part of the recovery process.

What can I expect at my first massage?

First, you will be provided with a comprehensive health intake form and then you and your therapist will cover any questions, issues, concerns and goals that you may have. Depending on the issues that arise, the therapist will assess you with observation, palpation as well as performing certain manual tests to achieve a better understanding of your current state of health and wellbeing. Once the initial interview and assessment are complete, the therapist will exit the room, giving you time to get on the massage table and make yourself comfortable. The therapist will knock and ask if you are ready for him or her to enter the room. Finally, the treatment will begin.

How long are massage appointments?

At Isaac, we provide 60-minute and 90-minute massages.

How often should I get a massage?

The answer depends on your current situation and your goals with massage.

From a relaxation perspective, the frequency is depending on your personal needs and situation. Oftentimes, patients will come in on a monthly basis for an extra boost in relaxation and wellness.

From a sports perspective, massage therapy is capable of decreasing recovery time between events and training sessions, allowing the athlete more time to focus on their chosen sport. Massage can also be used in a preemptive manner, with the goal of preventing injuries before they arise. Weekly massages are generally the norm for athletes who are returning to play from an injury, looking to improve their performance or maintain their tissue health and joint mobility.

For chronic conditions, the length of time between massages may range from a week to a month, as the body is in a state of slow recovery from such condition. In this regard, the massage therapist will seek to facilitate an appropriate amount of tissue change to produce a positive result as the patient goes through rehabilitation.