Massage therapy is the manual manipulation of the soft tissues of the body by a trained practitioner with the intent to create a positive outcome, whether that is relaxation, pain relief, increased range of motion, improved circulation, injury recovery, sport recovery, etc. There is no end to the possible benefits of massage.
Who performs the massage?
Alberta remains one of the unregulated provinces in Canada. There are multiple massage schools and associations, but no single organization that regulates the standards of practice, like the College of Massage in BC, Ontario and Newfoundland. However, most have embraced a level of education that requires practitioners to graduate from a program of study of 2200 hours, generally a two-year program. All massage therapists graduating from a 2200 hour program have been trained in basic assessment, relaxation massage, deep tissue techniques, treatment planning, hydrotherapy, and remedial exercise.
Your first session:
When you arrive at our clinic, you will be asked to complete a health questionnaire. The Massage Therapist will spend the first few minutes of your session reviewing your health history and identifying your primary focus for your session. The Massage Therapist, with your permission, may perform some assessment to determine the best course of treatment and optimize your outcome. You and your Massage Therapist will decide on a plan for your session. You will then be asked to undress to your level of comfort, leaving any clothing on or taking all your clothing off, both are acceptable. The Massage Therapist will leave the room while you undress and get onto the massage table and cover yourself with the top sheet. Before entering the room, the Massage Therapist will knock and ensure you are ready before entering. You will be carefully draped during the massage so that only the part of your body that is being treated will be uncovered. Throughout the session, you and the Massage Therapist should communicate to make sure the pressure, technique, and treatment is acceptable, meets your expectations and achieves your primary goal for the session. At the end of the treatment, the massage therapist may instruct you on some home care strategies to continue the process of relieving your symptoms, which may include recommendations for self massage, stretching, heat or ice.
How should massage feel?
Primarily, massage should feel good. Stress, overuse, chronic postural habits, injuries, medical conditions can all lead to a decrease in normal tissue function. Layers of fascia and muscle can become adhered or stuck together, muscle fibres can stay in contracted lengths, pain receptors can become active, and circulation to some tissues can be diminished. All of which might cause stiffness or restricted range of motion, pain that can be occasional or chronic, weakness in some muscles, nerve impingement (shooting pain, numbness or tingling). The goal of massage is to normalize those affected tissues. There are multiple techniques and strategies to break up adhered tissue, lengthen shortened fibres, stimulate normal muscle tone, soothe pain receptors and increase circulation. If the primary goal for the massage is stress reduction and relaxation, then there shouldn’t be anything that causes pain in the treatment. However, if the goals included a more specific focus, there can be some discomfort. Pain is subjective and everyone has a different response to pressure. It’s important to communicate with the massage therapist if you are not able to relax through the pressure or you find it too painful. Unwinding the pain response in the body is not necessarily achieved by causing intense pain during the treatment.
After your session, you should feel good even though there may be mild discomfort in some of the treated areas. Anything more than mild discomfort the lasts more than a day or two, is probably a good indicator for better communication during a massage session.