MASSAGE THERAPY AND REPETITIVE STRAIN INJURIES
There is no question that conservative therapy is the best option for those suffering from a Repetitive Strain Injury. From Trigger Finger to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, conservative therapy produces the best results, limited side effects (if any), quicker results, and long-lasting relief.
There are many types of conservative treatments that provide a variety of positive benefits to the user. Massage Therapy is a terrific conservative treatment that provides good results by itself, and even greater results when combined with a stretch and exercise routine.
Massage is used to help relax and lengthen tight, restrictive muscles, break down scar tissue in injured muscles, reduce adhesions on affected tendons at their point of attachment to the muscle or to the bone, remove toxins from muscles and increase overall circulation and nutrient delivery to the associated tissues. All of these wonderful benefits help overworked muscles to relax and injured muscles to recover.
The problem is this. Massage Therapy does not correct the muscle imbalances causing the Repetitive Strain Injury. Massage Therapy can greatly assist the rehabilitation/treatment process, but once a muscle has been injured and has atrophied to any significant degree, or a muscle has gone into a state of chronic hypertonicity, other therapeutic elements must be added to the treatment regimen in order to completely eliminate the Repetitive Strain Injury.
An integral part of treating Repetitive Strain Injuries is the implementation of a stretch and exercise routine specifically designed to create structural integrity and muscle balance where the injury exists. If the injury is Tennis Elbow, there must be an equality of strength between the wrist and elbow flexors, wrist and elbow extensors, and wrist and forearm pronators and supinators. By creating strong flexible muscles surrounding the specific joint, that joint will no longer be highly susceptible to Repetitive Strain Injuries.
The integration of Massage Therapy, stretches, exercises, and hydrotherapy is a highly effective treatment protocol for many types of injuries. An example of a treatment sequence for a ‘chronic injury’, no matter the affected area, should follow along these lines:
Hydrotherapy Heat – Heat to increase circulation to the area, making the soft tissues relaxed and pliable.
Massage Phase-I – Specific massage treatment utilizing Trigger Point Release techniques to release muscle spasm and Transverse Friction Massage to break down adhesions.
Stretch – Stretch overly restrictive tissues to increase their length and reduce their compression of underlying tissues.
Exercise – Perform strengthening exercises for the affected tissues in order to reduce tensile strain on the injured area, heal micro-tears and increase healing nutrients to the injured area. Strong muscles create stability and prevent future reoccurrence of micro-tears to a previously affected area.