Massage in Physical Therapy

Massage is one of the oldest practices in physical therapy. It is known that it has been used for therapeutic purposes since ancient times. There are different massage techniques for many different problems. Massage is a form of therapy in which the therapist kneads and rubs the relevant body parts of the person in a certain order using their hands. The therapist applies gentle or strong pressure and stretching to the person’s muscles and joints to relieve pain and stiffness. It can be applied to the arms and legs for 5-15 minutes, and to the trunk and spine for around 15-30 minutes.

How Does Massage Work?

Massage provides a relaxing effect through mechanical, reflex and psychological ways. As a reflex, blood vessels expand, circulation increases, the body’s natural pain relief molecules are secreted from nerve fibers, and effects such as muscle relaxation and sweating are observed. Mechanically, blood and lymph flow from the outer parts of the body towards the center increases according to the direction of the applied pressure. Reduction in muscle tension, opening of tendon and ligament adhesions, softening of scar tissue, and advancing sputum in the respiratory tract are other mechanical effects. Physical contact of the hands often creates psychological relief. However, massage does not prevent muscle wasting or does not have a muscle-strengthening effect.

In Which Situations?

Common musculoskeletal problems such as chronic neck pain, low back pain, and arthritis benefit from massage therapy. Lymphedema may develop in people who have been treated for cancer with impaired lymph circulation . Lymphedema massage is an effective treatment together with other physical therapy methods. Massage has also been shown to have positive effects on anxiety, depression and quality of life.

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In fibromyalgia , massage can have a positive effect on pain, depression and quality of life.

Situations where it is objectionable

It is not applied to areas with cancerous tissue, open wounds, active infected tissue, unhealed burns, exacerbation period of inflammatory rheumatism, vascular inflammation or vascular occlusion. It is not recommended to apply pressure to areas with nerve entrapment. Massage may be inconvenient because people with blood clotting disorders or those who use blood thinners (anticoagulant) are prone to bleeding.

Some Massage Techniques for Therapeutic Purposes

Euphrates: Sliding motion is made on the skin without deep muscle movement; Used for muscle relaxation.

Petrissage: It is in the form of kneading. Increases blood and lymph circulation, reduces edema.

Tapotman / Percussion: It is a method frequently used in respiratory physiotherapy. It helps to remove secretions in the respiratory tract. It can be used with postural drainage. It can also be applied to reduce pain sensitivity in painful areas.

Friction massage: Prevents adhesions in acute muscle injuries, opens adhesions in subacute and chronic injuries. It can reduce muscle spasm and edema. It can be applied parallel or perpendicular to muscle, tendon or ligament fibers.

Soft tissue mobilization: It is a technique to relieve joint stiffness when the muscle or connective tissue is in a tense position.

Myofascial release: Fascia is the connective tissue system located under the skin between the musculoskeletal system and internal organs, separating or connecting these tissues from each other. In the myofascial release technique, long-term light pressure is applied to the fascia system in certain directions. Provides reduction of local tensions in muscle and fascia.

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Acupressure: Finger pressure is applied to trigger points or acupuncture points to reduce pain.

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