Written by Claire Todd
Massage is frequently used as part of treatment in physiotherapy. We use a wide range of techniques and approaches to treat dysfunction in soft-tissue (muscles, ligaments, connective tissue, nerves). It integrates diverse techniques such as trigger point therapy, deep transverse friction, myofascial approaches and muscle energy techniques to name but a few.
The unique nature of each condition we encounter requires specialised knowledge, skills and abilities to determine the most effective treatment. Massage can be used to reduce pain and swelling, promote stronger bonds in healing tissue, to promote greater flexibility and pliability in tight or injured tissues and to effect fluid mechanics.
Our assessment skills are firstly used so that we identify and understand the nature of the condition(s) and to understand the physiological characteristics of the problem. Our hands are generally sensitive to identifying changes in the feel of soft tissues such as heat, tone, pliability, sweatiness, swelling. Choice of treatment methods will be based on the nature of the tissue pathology.
Physiotherapist have a detailed knowledge of the different stages of soft tissue healing and this is essential so that we can apply the most appropriate technique with the correct amount of pressure and tension to promote optimal healing. For example, on an acute injury to muscle tissue that is only 2 days old we would not use aggressive techniques such a transverse frictions directly to the area as this would disrupt the new and fragile tissue and destroy the newly formed blot clot. We would perhaps apply gentle gliding/ stroking techniques to reduce pain and swelling and this may not be directly over the site of injury. However deep transverse frictions may be applied to the primary site of an older injury mobilising the scar tissue during the later stages of healing promoting a good and pliable mend!