Basic Differences Between Massage and Soft Tissue Therapy

It’s important to know the difference between different therapies available. The basic alignment needs to follow the all time favorite saying of having the right service available and performed at the right time.

Massage is actually a very generic term which covers therapies ranging from a ‘soft, gentle, soothing service which may send the patient into a sleeping condition’ all the way over to ‘severe, deep penetrative therapy to break adhesions and scar tissue which enable better performance of the muscle groups.’ And of course, there are 15 levels in between these extremes.

This short article is to give you an idea of what type of ‘soft tissue’ service you should seek for whatever your health goals and objectives.

Licensed Therapists attend formal courses for most of these services. The use of their hands in a squeezing, kneading, cupping, chopping or deep strafing of skin and muscle tissue with the patient in a static position and or with dynamic movements cover the ranges of their skills. Most often, the Therapist will choose a skill set and application which they are most comfortable with; however, it may not be what the patient is seeking. Here is a short list to review and discuss with your Therapist on your next visit:

Objective: Stress Reduction!
Ask your Therapist for: Light or soothing touch, frequently referred to light Swedish Massage with a deeper and more time spent on the upper back, traps (between the shoulders and neck areas), neck, hands, lower legs and feet.

Objective: Reduction of Muscle Spasms
Ask your Therapist for: Moderate to Deep Tissue work. This may likely cause the Therapist to spend additional time in the target area and the immediate surrounding regions (which will affect the time of service). This is one of the few times that a very slight amount of heat may be of benefit.

Objective: Reduction of Pain
Ask your Therapist for: Acute Care Service and explain exactly how you got hurt! It is important for the Therapist to keep you in a static position and not move any limb or spinal segment which may be sprained and inflamed. This is very likely a case when you would want a shorter session (maybe as little as 15 minutes). You definitely want the Therapist to use a cooling get (Biofreeze works well for most patients), and absolutely, positively, no heat. Also, ensure the Therapist doesn’t use any higher friction techniques which may cause a warming of the affected tissue. Therapists are great, but you should also see your Chiropractor if you are in pain.

Objective: Repair from Trauma (injury of any source)
Do not seek therapy from a Therapist without first having an examination with your Chiropractor! Injury (from any source) is best first evaluated followed by an appropriate treatment plan. The treatment plan will logically include Soft Tissue Therapy; however, it will be structured to reduce inflammation and pain followed by stabilization, repair, and strengthening.

Objective: Reduction of Scar Tissue
Consult with your Chiropractor for objectives in care. Reduction of scar tissue from previous injury (or surgery) will require close supervision with more intermediate re-evaluations (and changes to your treatment plan) than you would experience following a more recent injury.

And there are many other types including Pregnancy and Infant massage. There is also a wide range of ‘other items’ which are common with Massage: Application of heating or cooling gels, hot stones, oils or lotions, and various scented items. All have a benefit, but not all of the time!

Also important to note: Most Soft Tissue Specialists (or Massage Therapists) are well skilled in providing services in each of the above listed therapies.

For the majority of patients, the combination of Chiropractic and Soft Tissue Therapy is most beneficial. Please discuss all treatment options with your healthcare provider.

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