Remedial Massage is a treatment modality that manipulates the soft tissues of the body including movement for a specific therapeutic effect, rather than a general therapeutic effect. It uses relevant techniques, lubricants and movements according to the client’s needs and response. This leads to the healing process, which begins at the cellular level aiding soft tissues in repairing, restoring functional integrity and adapting back to health.
The actual treatment intervention, such as massage, e.g. application of adequate and appropriate pressure to the soft tissues of the body including movement is only a part – though a highly significant part – of the whole process. The intellectual reasoning that proceeds, accompanies and follows the treatment is essential and complex.
The accredited remedial massage therapist honours the professional practice protocol to bring about the specific individualized therapeutic change with clinical reasoning.
Clinical reasoning is achieved when the Professional Practice Protocol (PPP) is followed, the response from the client is assessed and the technique is adapted to their condition. The PPP is outlined below (figure1)
Figure 1: Professional Practices Protocol
When remedial massage is practiced at this professional level, rather than a technical level (which lacks adequate educational investigation) it is influenced by a number of intellectual activities: It is directed by the initial assessment of the client, modified to suit the needs of the individual, and adapted in the light of each individual’s response. The quality of the decisions made using this sophisticated clinical reasoning will determine the quality of the treatment.
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Remedial massage is a deep massage done by a trained massage therapist, to create the conditions for the body’s return to normal health after injury or with muscular-skeletal disorders. It is used to treat chronic muscular-skeletal imbalances, strains, sprains, broken bones, bruising or any injury where the skin is intact. Deep tissue massage removes blockages, damaged cells, scar tissue and adhesions  left after injury, speeds up recovery and encourages more complete healing. Remedial massage is also used for conditions created by lifestyle for example Repetitive strain injury and Back pain. It is designed to increase the flow of blood and lymph, particularly in the injured areas.
It is often successful where other forms of treatment have failed. Remedial massage is currently an unregistered profession in most countries including Australia; and there is no set requirement of study required to practise the 'profession'. It is recommended that treatment from a medical practitioner, physiotherapist, osteopath or other registered health professional with a university degree is sought prior to consulting with a remedial massage therapist. Remedial massage therapists should work alongside health professionals, and are not qualified to provide medical advice or diagnosis.
The massage therapist needs knowledge of anatomy and physiology to determine where to treat each patient.
During treatment there is tenderness in areas that are being treated, it indicates which muscles and tendons are injured. The therapist uses the patient's feedback to pinpoint the damaged tissue and to regulate pressure. The results are usually immediate; certainly within 3 sessions a big improvement will be seen with a skillful practitioner. Most patients feel a difference after 1 session. A recent injury, perhaps within weeks, will react and recover more quickly than a long-term injury, some up to 40 years. However they will all see improvement.
With many years experience the practitioner gains a clear understanding of treating sports and traumatic injuries. They will work with patients while they increase their activity levels back to normal once again. It is remarkable in that patients find themselves spontaneously being able to do things they thought that they couldn’t.
Remedial Massage has particular success with long-standing back and compound injuries that have resisted previous treatment attempts. Once a serious injury is properly healed, further treatment is only needed if another injury is sustained. Sportsmen and women attend regularly to ensure that unnoticeably small injuries are treated before they reduce performance and become debilitating. Recurrent injuries are injuries that have never been effectively treated.
Some common conditions that can be successfully treated are:
• Achilles Tendon • Tendinitis • Shin Splints • Groin Strain • Cartilage damage • Tennis Elbow • Frozen Shoulder • Hamstring Injuries • Plantar Fasciitis • Scar tissue • Adhesions • Whiplash • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome • Repetitive Strain Injury
It is an unusual form of massage in that it does not set out to relax the patient; the intention is more to fix a mechanical problem. However all-round health improvement is seen: better sleep, increase in vitality and performance levels, as well as increased mobility.
It can also be used to treat general muscle soreness from over exertion.
Remedial massage is often used by athletes but is equally effective for non-sports people. For accidents such as falling down stairs or road traffic accidents, it is very effective. Many debilitating conditions that people associate with age can be traced back to an old injury and treated successfully with a return of free movement and strength.
- LeMoon, K, 2008. Clinical Reasoning in Massage Therapy. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, ISSN 1916-257X, 1-10.
- Allison, D, 2013. Course notes: Remedial Massage Introduction. Meadowbank College, Health & Fitness, NSI PART of TAFENSW Australia.
- . Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority http://www.ahpra.gov.au. Retrieved 5 May 2013. Missing or empty
- The Northern Institute of Massage, Research Overview