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Align with wellness: The case for therapeutic massages

By Kristina Maxwell

Most of us have had at least one massage in our lives. However, the average person most likely views massage as a relaxing treat for a special occasion at a spa or salon.

Although massages can definitely be this type of treatment, they can also be a vital part of a rehabilitation programme when performed by a registered massage therapist.

The type of massage most commonly done in a spa setting is a Swedish massage. This type of massage is general, relaxing and usually a full-body treatment using light or moderately firm touch. In comparison, a therapeutic massage enhances the body's natural restorative function and is usually specific to an area or condition. A therapeutic massage usually incorporates moderate-to-strong touch and is used to release tension, relax muscles and increase blood and lymphatic flow.

Massage therapy can be incorporated into many rehabilitation programmes. For example, low back pain is a condition common to many people. The initial point of contact for most people with low back pain is their general practitioner. 

Aside from special situations, most medical doctors will prescribe pain killers or muscle relaxers and then refer the person with low back pain to physical therapy or for chiropractic care. The therapist will treat the movement dysfunction by releasing tight muscles and strengthening weak muscles and the chiropractor will realign spinal segments. The patient will feel better and then the therapist has to help them maintain these gains. Unless irritating factors such as lifestyle stressors are addressed, the same issue may recur somewhere down the line. 

This is where a registered massage therapist can be an invaluable service. A monthly therapeutic massage can help maintain the gains made after primary rehabilitative care. Long-term maintenance of muscle length and positive postural changes can be achieved by working with a registered massage therapist.

In the Cayman Islands, registered massage therapists — like those on the massage team at Align — are licensed practitioners with the Council for Professionals Allied with Medicine. This means that each therapist on the team has a degree from an accredited school that required up to a thousand  hours of hands-on learning. The licensed therapists must also stay knowledgeable of advancements in the profession by having to participate in ongoing continuing education in order to renew their licence every two years.

To find out more about how to achieve your rehabilitation goals, contact a healthcare professional at Align Wellness Studio.

This article originally appeared in the September 2020 print edition of Camana Bay Times with the headline "The case for therapeutic massages."

Kristina Maxwell

About the author

Kristina Maxwell is a doctor of physiotherapy at Align, a wellness studio with an integrated approach to physical rehabilitative treatments and preventative care.