When Is Massage Therapy a Better Choice Than Physical Therapy?

When Is Massage Therapy a Better Choice Than Physical Therapy?

There are a lot of different choices in therapy when it comes to managing pain and improving your mobility. Physical therapy is an obvious choice as it provides a variety of treatment modalities, including therapeutic massage. Sometimes, though, massage itself is the best treatment for your specific condition.

At Commonwealth Musculoskeletal Medicine, our team are experts in physical medicine for the treatment of pain and musculoskeletal disorders. Dr. Mark Conliffe is a highly trained neuromusculoskeletal medicine specialist, who incorporates massage therapy into your treatment regimen when needed.

Massage therapy vs. physical therapy

Physical therapy and massage therapy are two different treatments, but they’re also intertwined. Massage is often a vital part of a physical therapy routine, especially after an injury to your muscles or tendons. However, they do differ in some aspects. Here are a few differences between the two:

Massage therapy

Massage is a type of hands-on therapeutic treatment that’s used for relaxation and recovery after a hard workout or intense stress. The goal of massage therapy is to loosen your muscles, provide enhanced blood flow to your tissues, and release any tension you’re harboring.

This form of treatment is helpful during pregnancy to ease discomfort, after an extremely intense training session, or to promote mental and physical well-being. Massage is a well-rounded way to feel better and keep your body functioning at its best.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is a type of treatment that’s used for a wide variety of medical conditions and injuries. It’s also often used as a treatment after surgery, to promote healing and mobility. A physical therapist creates a customized plan for you to achieve certain goals and improve pain and functioning in the area being treated.

Massage therapy is often incorporated into physical therapy, along with other techniques like transcutaneous electrical stimulation, ice or heat therapy, and manual manipulation. Rehabilitative exercise is also included in many physical therapy regimens.

When is massage therapy a better choice?

Massage therapy is a better choice when your pain is related to your muscles and soft tissues. Physical therapy is used for so many conditions to help with mobility and strengthening weakened areas of your body.

The goal of massage therapy, however, is to relax the muscles and promote better blood flow to areas of tension and pain. If your pain is related to stress, massage therapy is a great option because it not only helps decrease discomfort, but also provides endorphins for mental wellness.

If you’re an athlete who works out hard and needs muscle recovery, massage therapy is also a great option. Intense workouts cause your muscles to work hard, which can result in those muscles becoming tight and painful. Massage helps to relieve muscle tension to allow you to continue working on your strength and endurance.

What are the types of massage therapy?

There are all kinds of massage therapy types, including those specifically designed for pregnant women and those that target specific areas of your body. The two most common forms of massage therapy include:

Swedish massage

A Swedish massage is a traditional form of gentle massage. The goal of a Swedish massage is to ease muscle tension while promoting relaxation. It’s done on your whole body and improves circulation and drainage of toxins.

Deep tissue massage

deep tissue massage is similar to a Swedish massage, except it goes much deeper into your muscles. It’s better for athletes or certain injuries that require the muscles, tendons, and connective tissues to be reached. More pressure is applied during a deep tissue massage, and certain areas are targeted for optimal relief. 

There are other forms of massage as well, including trigger point release and myofascial release techniques. Each type of massage has a specific purpose, which is aimed at improving pain and lessening muscle tension in your body.

If you’re interested in learning how massage therapy can help you, don’t hesitate to call our office today at 502-771-1012, or book an appointment online with Dr. Conliffe on our website.

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