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What is Orthopedic Massage? Techniques and Benefits

What is Orthopedic Massage? Techniques and Benefits

Man with knee pain wearing knee brace

You’ve heard the word “orthopedic” before, most likely related to a surgery or treatment in a clinical setting. So what exactly is orthopedic massage?

Orthopedic massage therapy is a particular kind of massage, focused on soft-tissue injury rehabilitation. Goals for an orthopedic massage session typically include decreasing pain, increasing range of motion, and preparing the body to return to normal daily routines and active hobbies. It bears similarities to other types of massage, such as sports massage, but it is it’s own specific, results-oriented massage modality. Read on to find out what orthopedic massage is, how it differs from other types of massage, and who it is best suited to help.

What is orthopedic massage?

Orthopedic massage focuses on the tissues and muscles surrounding the joints of the body. While it aims to alleviate the source of bodily pain and tension, orthopedic massage also works to restore balance to these physical structures.

Typically, soft tissue pain and injury is what initially draws a client in to see a massage therapist who specializes in orthopedic massage. This pain could be post-surgical pain, pain from an acute injury, or pain from overuse strain due to a repetitive motion from an activity like tennis, hockey, or jogging. Whatever the cause of the muscle damage, the intent of the orthopedic massage is to lengthen and soften the muscles and ligaments, permitting better range of motion of the affected joints.

What conditions are treated by orthopedic massage?

One common condition that’s treatable by orthopedic surgery is an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear or rupture in the leg. ACL injuries are common among athletes and active individuals. The typical treatment for an ACL injury is a surgical procedure to graft the ligament back together. However, ACL surgery can lead to a  wide range of complications, including continued knee stiffness or weakness, and reduced range of motion. One alternative to ACL surgery is orthopedic massage. At least one study has shown orthopedic massage therapy to be a viable alternative to ACL surgery for pain relief and mobility restoration.

Orthopedic massage can also be used to treat surgery-induced tissue damage, such as after a knee repair surgery. Research shows that massage can be an effective method to speed recovery and limit pain following surgery.

Other conditions that can be improved by orthopedic massage include carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, whiplash, tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis.

While the main goal of orthopedic massage is to rehabilitate the affected tissues, the technique can also prevent future injuries.

How orthopedic massage differs from other types of massage

Orthopedic massage is a therapeutic style of massage, intended to achieve measurable results.

Orthopedic massage is designed to return joints to their normal range of function, as well as to reduce pain from joint movement.

Swedish massage is focused on overall relaxation, while deep tissue massage reduces deep muscle pain and strain.  Of course, all massage techniques can improve joint movement and function, but orthopedic massage is specifically intended to do so.

Orthopedic massage therapists must possess an extensive understanding of anatomy and how misalignment of the soft tissues can affect the musculoskeletal system and lead to pain and injury.

Orthopedic massage vs sports massage

Orthopedic massage is similar to sports massage in many respects but is specifically aimed at recovery from certain medical conditions and injuries. In this way, it falls more under the umbrella of massage as preventative health care rather than solely complementary or alternative medicine.

While sports massage helps athletes to prepare their bodies for optimal performance and prevent injury, orthopedic massage uses alignment, pin and stretch, and release techniques to help clients recover from soft-tissue injuries and surgery.

In-home orthopedic massage

Orthopedic massage is offered in the clinical setting in some cases, in private massage practices, and even as an in-home treatment. In-home orthopedic massage can be a great choice for patients with limited mobility – or simply limited time in their schedules for massage.

Orthopedic massage therapists are trained in rehabilitating soft-tissue injuries and helping to restore your body to it’s healthiest level. Their skills are best put to use after a qualified medical professional has already diagnosed your soft-tissue injury or medical condition, allowing the massage therapist to focus on their own scope of practice, which is hands-on treatment.

Zeel’s massage app and orthopedic massage

If you think you might benefit from orthopedic massage, make sure to request orthopedic techniques when booking your next massage with Zeel. Select the sports massage modality, and indicate that you’d like to see a therapist licensed in orthopedic massage therapy.

As always, keep in mind that you should consult a physician about your injury prior to booking a massage through Zeel.

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