Depending on the qualifications and post-graduate specialisions of the individual therapist, massage therapists as a whole can assess and treat a very wide range of conditions. I have summarised the general areas we are trained in during our initial qualifications, however it is very important to talk to the individual therapist before treatment and find out:
* Are they a minimum of Cert IV qualified if you are seeking general lifestyle maintenance / stress relief / muscular tension relief treatment, or Diploma of Remedial Massage qualified if you are seeking specific treatment for either primary or secondary complaints resulting from specific injuries, illnesses or conditions?
(Note that higher education is available in the form of Advanced Diploma of Remedial Massage, Soft Tissue treatment, or Myotherapy, however I cannot comment on these as they are not available for training in Brisbane where I am based)
* Have they got any experience treating your condition? AND / OR any postgraduate training in the area (most post grad training in massage is in the form of two to five day practical workshops, although some online theory workshops exist)
If you suffer a specific or complex condition, you may want to seek a therapist that has at one year of decent clinical experience after graduation from the Diploma of Remedial Massage, as in my experience it generally takes about this long for therapists to develop into their training, choose specialisations and complete some post graduate training
* Are they a member of a professional massage association? These include AMT, AAMT, ARM, MAA, ANTA or ATMS
* Do they have health fund rebate status? This in itself will confirm that they must be Diploma qualified (or equivalent if qualified prior to 2003), currently insured and have fulfilled their continuing education requirements for their association.
As a lecturer in the Cert IV and Diploma of Remedial Massage (the two basic / compulsory qualifications in the massage industry) I can confidently say that all massage therapists trained to a Cert IV standard provide Swedish and Western massage techniques that will assist in the treatment of:
* General muscular pain brought about by trigger points, muscular over-use or strain (such as brought about by minor incidents - e.g. moving house, extra hours at work etc resulting in neck tension)
* Stress, Anxiety and Depression via elevation of mood - massage encourages the brain to produce endorphins, your “feel good” chemicals. It also engages your parasympathetic nervous system, the “relaxation system” of your body, dampening down your primal “fight or flight” type anxiety that results from chronic mental or physical stressors
* Circulatory conditions (lack of circulation caused by progressive diabetes, for example, or excess fluid retention) via the stimulation of circulation via the passive contraction and relaxation of tissues that massage produces
* Assists with detoxification of body tissues via lymphatic stimulation, and with boosting immune response in the body (please note however that massage simply assists in activating your own body's healing potential, it is not a “cure” or a “fix it” in itself. Theoretically the benefits should not be associated with any one practitioner - you should recieve the same benefits from any good massage therapist - although in practice many clients become attached to one therapist simply because every therapist applies their techniques slightly differently - this is the nature of the art of massage. In addition we of course build rapport with our therapist, so you are also seeking a therapist with whom you feel comfortable, nurtured and provided for, as this in itself ensures the general benefits of massage are effected more efficiently)
Graduates of the Diploma of Remedial massage are trained to a much higher level in general musculoskeletal screening, assessment and treatment of specific musculoskeletal complaints, such as (but not limited to):
* Carpal Tunnel syndrome
* Tennis & Golfers elbow
* Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
* SIJ and Lower back pains
* Neck tension and other pains resulting from postural issues
* Whiplash and other neck injuries
* Pelvic imbalances
* Muscular tension and imbalances resulting from scoliosis, or any othe structural defect (but not necessarily the structural defect itself).
* Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
It is important to note that all massage therapists are primarily trained to lengthen shortened muscle. Whilst some may focus on also strengthening weakened / atrophied or imbalanced muscles, this is historically the scope of physiotherapy. Where there are overly tight muscle, there will likely be weak opposing muscle, and where there is overly weak muscle there will generally be opposing contracted and overworked muscle. Hence good physiotherapy and massage when applied in a comprehensive treatment plan can work extremely well together (assuming your therapists are in good regular communication with each other about your treatment plan). Another point to note with regards to physio versus massage, is that I have found in my personal experience that massage is best for muscle spasm and injury, whereas if the primary problem appears to be joint laxity or instability I will reffer the client to a physiotherapist (as if I loosen muscles around an instable joint, I can aggravate the primary problem).
In my personal experience, I have found that my treatment of my clients is most effective when applied as a primary treatment for muscular injuries / conditions, and as a secondary treatment for skeletal / structural / joint / disc problems and other illnesses / conditions. In both cases I do recommend other therapies to complement the massage, depending on the specific conditions the client presents with. These may be as simple as heat packs and specific stretches, or may be with therapists of other modalities such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathic or dry needling work.
I hope that all of this information assists - if you require any further or any clarification of the above, please don't hesitate to contact me,
Cecilia Flux, RMT
AAMT # 16779
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