Therapeutic Massage focuses on targeted areas of muscle pain, which may include deep tissue techniques, using hot moist towels, hot stones, cold packs, essential oils, range of motion or stretching as needed.
The massage session begins with a basic routine of effleurage and petrissage to warm up the muscles before penetrating the targeted areas of discomfort or pain. Direct pressure or deep tissue is used on the contracted muscle. The firm and direct pressure is usually held for several seconds at a time. Occasionally, the therapist will hold the muscle at the origin and thumb stroke or use a fist or forearm, gliding along the muscle to the insertion. This is to help with muscle memory and causing the muscle contraction to release.
The hot moist towel helps the heat to penetrate deep into the muscle. The blood begins to flow better through the muscle which makes it easier to relax.
Hot stones (120 degrees or as tolerated by the recipient) are applied in a gliding motion with lotion or oil, and sometimes placed on top of the sore muscle. The therapist will use cold water in a basin to cool the stone, if too hot, and will test the heat intensity prior to placing it on the individual.
Cold packs help soothes inflammation and swollen areas. The cold pack works as an analgesic to reduce pain and causes vasoconstriction by narrowing the blood vessels and slowing down the blood flow to the problem area.
Some essential oils can help with pain reduction, like rosemary essential oil for sore muscles, or lavender for skin irritation.
The massage therapist can assist the individual with passive range of motion, lifting the limb without the individual’s assistance. Stretching the body with a breathing exercise of inhaling and exhaling. The muscles tend to stretch further while exhaling.
Though, the therapeutic massage session may seem intense, it’s very relaxing at the same time. It is recommended to drink plenty of water after the session, and depending on the muscle pain to use a cold pack later in the day, followed by moist heat (or alternating cold and hot as needed).