This month’s topic is something that I have been working with since becoming a massage therapist, as well as something that I am currently experiencing myself: massage for those rehabilitating from an injury (or what I call Injury Massage). Before I dive into the topic, however, I do need to say that massage is NOT a substitute for medical care. Whether it is a medical doctor or chiropractor (or even both), you should still seek out medical care initially for an injury!
Here are my experiences with injury massage, both as a massage therapist and as a client:
As a massage therapist:
Each client is different, and so are their injuries. What takes only a few sessions for one client, could take many for another. I provide these massages to help and guide your body to be able to do its job in healing itself, not force it to heal. It is important to stay positive and to communicate with both your doctor and massage therapist about how you are doing/feeling, and things will release and get better as your body is ready to do so.
I believe that positive thinking can be HUGE factor in recovery. I have helped clients that had a positive or negative mindset (and a couple that had both), and the best outcomes have been in those who were positive. As an example: I once had a client who was fairly positive for the first few sessions where we saw some great progress (fewer headaches, improved mobility, relaxed muscles, etc.). Then for some reason, during the next session, their mindset was completely negative (asking why they weren’t better yet, that they would never get better, and so on). Their progress went backwards, which only fueled that negativity. Thankfully we did see a little forward progress in the last few approved sessions that we had, but it was never back to where it was during the first few sessions.
Communication with your doctor and massage therapist is another important factor in the recovery process. This communication is how we know what is (and isn’t) working, as well as what to focus on during the appointment. For example, you might have had a new headache, the headaches have gotten worse, or perhaps you started a new activity (or one that you picked up again after not doing it for a while) and are experiencing aches/soreness again. It is important for both your doctor and massage therapist to know about these changes in activity/soreness so they can use their respective education to best help you continue in your recovery.
As a client receiving injury massage:
The injury massage I am currently receiving isn’t from the work injury I incurred from doing hair that I mentioned in a previous blog, but from an auto accident a few months ago (before winter hit and thankfully nothing severe). After the accident, I experienced a few headaches, some tightness/soreness along the length of my spine, and I wasn’t able to sit for more that 10-15 minutes at a time. I started seeing my chiropractor right away, and after about a month or so, I was feeling much better. Unfortunately I still had a couple of reoccurring headaches as well as continued tightness/soreness. Because of this, they prescribed massage to help. Even though I knew it would help me, I did not request the massage myself. I let them make the call because they are the medical professional and know more about how well the injury is healing and what would be the best treatment to help it continue to do so. Though, had I not received a prescription, I would have asked if it would be safe to get one and sought out a trusted colleague for a few sessions if they thought it safe where I was currently at with my healing.
There have been a couple of times where I went backwards a step or two due to general stress as well as tense driving conditions (icy roads anyone?), but I was able to get back on track by continuing to see my chiropractor and massage therapist. Today I am feeling almost as I did before the accident, and have hopes that I will be there within the next couple of months.
As a side note: I have been in a couple of auto accidents prior to this last one; one where I broke my arm, and another just shaken up and in a little bit of shock. Knowing what I know today, I really wish I would’ve had the option to receive massage with both of them. My recoveries, I believe, would have been much shorter if I had.
So again, please remember that massage isn’t a substitute for medical care. It can, however, be a wonderful addition to it!