What is remedial massage therapy?

Remedial massage is a non-invasive massage technique focused on addressing or correcting musculoskeletal issues in the body. Remedial massage therapists are trained to identify areas of muscle spasm, restriction or imbalances and areas of discomfort. They use special techniques to help release muscles, tendons and fascia, increase blood flow and restore circulation to a problematic area. They may use techniques such as deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy or more relaxation type massage such as effleurage to help flush out an area, promote healing and restore optimum function.

Beyond providing relief from tightness and dysfunction, remedial massage plays an important role in improving flexibility, improving posture and movement to a joint. Many people work remedial massage into their lives to help keep them functioning well and to help prevent issues or injuries.

What are the benefits of remedial massage?

Remedial massages have been shown to produce both physical and mental benefits for those receiving them. Here are some benefits.

  • Improved flexibility

Remedial massage is a great way to relax tight muscles. If these tight muscles are limiting the movement in a joint, there will be an increase in your flexibility resulting from the massage.

  • Improved posture

Tight muscles or imbalances can contribute to a poor posture, remedial massage can be effective in helping improve these poor postures.

  • Stress reduction & relaxation

Beyond its physical benefits, remedial massage has great relaxation properties. Being able to relax is essential in allowing the body to relax.

  • Better circulation

Remedial massage improves the body’s blood flow and circulation. Improved Circulation Helps improve the delivery of oxygen and nutrients around the body.

  • Enhanced mental health

Regular remedial massage sessions have been shown to help alleviate symptoms on anxiety and depression.

  • Improved immune function

Some studies suggest that remedial massage bolsters the immune system by reducing stress hormones (1) and increasing white blood cell activity.

Techniques used in remedial massage

Remedial massage isn’t limited to one or techniques nor is it a type of massage that has to follow a set routine. Remedial massage is a form of massage that uses many techniques from many different techniques when required to get the best result for the patient. Some massage techniques follow a set routine as someone had found that technique to be effective for some of their clients so that method was passed on to other therapists to use. While this may work for many people, understanding how the different techniques work for people is essential in being able to vary the massages as each person requires. Techniques that a remedial massage therapist may use include, deep tissue massage, effleurage, petrissage, tapponent, trigger point therapy, frictions and even types of relaxation massage as required. The therapist may also achieve release techniques where the limb that is being massaged is moved at the same time, helping the release. The skill in an effective remedial massage is knowing what technique is most effective in what situation.

Conditions treated with remedial massage

Remedial massage is effective in treating various muscular issues such as tightness or muscular tension, spasm, strains, chronic pain and stiffness. Remedial massage can also be complementary in the treatment of conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.

Who can benefit from a remedial massage?

Remedial massages benefits can be experienced by a wide range of individuals from sportspersons looking for that edge on a competitor, looking to recover from a particularly hard training session or wanting help to recover from an injury. Office workers can help get relief from those hours spent sitting at a desk or long evenings spent marking papers or meeting deadlines. Manual laborers may find a remedial massage is helpful to keeping them working, especially after long hours on the job site or when the work becomes extra heavy. 

Remedial massage can be very effective in helping those dealing with stress, anxiety or lacking sleep. While a lot of these patients will get a relaxation massage, a remedial massage also helps release the oxytocin and dopamine neurotransmitters and help reduce your cortisol levels to enable you to have a better sleep.

What to expect from your remedial massage

At the start of your remedial massage the therapist will ask how you are going and what you would like focused on today. They will also ask a series of screening questions to determine what the goals of the treatment today is and what the best approach to achieve them is. They will also ensure that massage is the right treatment for you today. Sometimes they may refer you onto physiotherapy or suggest you go to your doctor if something isn’t quite right.

Unlike a relaxation massage whose aim is general relaxation, a remedial massage is goal oriented. Therefore during a remedial massage you will collaborate with the therapist regarding what you would like achieved from the massage and they will create a plan for achieving that. An example of this would be having tight shoulders from a long week and work. The therapists may spend more time focusing on the shoulders in order to get a better release and they might take special care to ease into the massage to ensure there is less post treatment pain.

A massage therapist may give you post massage suggestions, recommending taking it easy that day or perhaps recommending a follow up massage in the immediate future if you are particularly tight or in significant amounts of pain. 

Remedial massage therapists are also aware of when a problem is not something that’s fixable with a massage and can recommend you see another provider such as a Doctor or a Physiotherapist when required.

What to expect in a remedial massage

The remedial massage therapist will work on the areas that you have highlighted to be the issue or areas they have suggested that should be worked on. The remedial therapist will work into these areas but will occasionally communicate with you checking if the pressure and intensity is ok. The massage will generally start light in intensity and increase in pressure and depth as required to achieve the correct result.

Does a remedial massage hurt?

The pressure used during a remedial massage will be determined by the goals of the massage as well as the pain tolerance of the person receiving the massage. A more pain more gain scenario isn’t always the case during a massage, as if you are in pain you will often seize up in order to protect yourself, which doesn’t help the muscle to relax and may result in more discomfort.

How often should you get a remedial massage?

This depends on your goals, someone training for a particular sporting event may have a massage every second day, to help maximise their recovery. Others may get a massage weekly if they are struggling with a few issues or some people may get into a monthly massage routine if they find that is what keeps them in good working order. Other people will present occasionally whenever they feel a bit tight or as their schedule allows.

What are the risks of a remedial massage?

One of the main side effects of a remedial massage is the risk of post massage pain, discomfort or bruising. Some people like to feel a bit tender post massage while others bruise very easily. If you fit into one of the above categories please mention this to your therapist before you have a massage. One point I have noticed is that those who haven’t had a massage in a long time, typically have more discomfort during their massage. As they have more massages their bodies get use to the massages and actually like a bit more pressure. This happens as they adapt and their bodies improve. So if you find massages particularly painful, it may be because you are just really tight and require a few lighter massages to get your body functioning in a more optimum fashion.

Some people suffer a reaction to the oils or creams used, so let your therapist know if this is the case, although often we will use unscented oils to help minimise these risks.

There is also a risk of aggravating existing injuries. If you have had a very recent injury such as a contusion or muscle strain, you may be best to see your Physiotherapist initially so that you don’t risk aggravating your condition as some injuries do not warrant massage in the early stages of healing.

Are remedial massage therapists qualified?

In Australia to call yourself a remedial massage therapist you are required to hold a diploma in massage therapy. If the therapist becomes registered with a professional association, which does the appropriate background checks they are allowed to call themselves a remedial massage therapist and be applicable to health fund rebates.

Is remedial massage covered by health insurance?

If you have the appropriate level of extras health insurance you may be able to claim remedial massage from your health fund. Using your health insurance for a remedial massage is a great way to help offset the cost of our massage.

Where can I receive a fantastic remedial massage?

If you are in the Brisbane Bayside area near Wynnum or Manly, come down to Advantage Healthcare & Physiotherapy for a fantastic remedial massage.