Physiotherapy massage: advantages, techniques and cost
Physiotherapy (PT) patients often receive massage therapy (also called manual therapy) as part of their treatment plan. PT massage is different from a classic spa massage, which generally relieves muscle pain and tension. PT massage focuses on the rehabilitation of strength, mobility and function of muscles and joints.
Incorporating PT massage therapy into a session optimizes treatment and can speed recovery. The hands-on approach is applied to a specific region of the body and is only used when necessary to optimize treatment.
Read on to learn more about the different types of physiotherapists and the massage techniques they use.
Benefits of manual therapy
Convenient physiotherapy massage provides physical and emotional benefits for people recovering from injury or surgery.
Physiotherapists create individualized treatment programs to restore function and strength to affected muscles and joints. In many cases, massage is used as part of the treatment of a person.
PT massage has proven physical benefits. In addition to providing muscle relaxation and pain relief, massage therapy can:
- Strengthen the immune system: Studies have shown that regular massage therapy can strengthen the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells in the body, which helps increase immune function.
- Improve circulation: Research has suggested that massage therapy improves blood circulation throughout the body, especially in massaged areas, which may help relieve sore muscles.
- Improve posture, flexibility and range of motion: Massage can dramatically improve the range of motion of targeted muscles and joints, while improving a person’s posture and flexibility.
- Boost mood: Massage reduces stress and stress hormone levels to improve a person’s sense of emotional well-being. Studies have shown that getting a massage increases serotonin levels in the body, which can help reduce pain and depression.
Other types of physiotherapy
As with other types of health care professionals, there are a number of specialty areas within the field of physiotherapy. The most common specialty areas in physiotherapy include:
- Orthopedic physiotherapy: Orthopedic physiotherapists specialize in caring for the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints and connective tissue. They are trained to treat arthritis, amputations, postoperative joints and sports injuries, as well as other ailments and injuries.
- Geriatric physiotherapy: Geriatric physiotherapists work with the elderly to reduce pain, restore mobility, and increase strength. Geriatric physiotherapy can help treat some of the most common conditions that older people face, including arthritis, osteoporosis, incontinence, hip and joint replacements, and more.
- Neurological physiotherapy: Neurological physiotherapy can help people manage and treat symptoms of neurological disorders and damage to the nervous system. Neurological physiotherapists help patients improve their mobility, balance and walking, as well as gain independence in their daily functioning.
- Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Physiotherapists work with patients with cardiopulmonary disorders, those who have had heart attacks and strokes, and people recovering from heart / lung surgery. This type of therapy aims to increase the functional independence and endurance of a patient by strengthening his heart and lungs.
- Pediatric physiotherapy: Pediatric physiotherapy helps children with developmental delays and chronic health problems, as well as recovery from traumatic injury or surgery. Pediatric physiotherapists focus on improving a child’s balance and coordination, gross and fine motor skills, strength and endurance.
Massage techniques in physiotherapy
A number of physiotherapy massage techniques improve strength, mobility, and function. Examples include:
- Active release technique (ART): ART combines manipulation and movement to relieve tension in the soft tissues (muscles, tendons) of the body. The physiotherapist will identify, isolate, and target the affected area on the body to break up scar tissue to relieve pain, improve mobility, and prevent future strain and injury.
- Trigger point trigger: As the name suggests, trigger point therapy involves identifying and releasing specific trigger points in the body that are causing pain. The physiotherapist will use their thumb or a tool to apply indirect pressure to the trigger point until the muscles and other soft tissue around the point relax.
- Soft tissue massage: Soft tissue massage involves direct physical pressure on muscles and other soft tissues in the body. The physiotherapist will use their hands to apply a variety of massage depths and pressures to break up muscle knots (adhesions) and restore flexibility and muscle function.
- Myofascial release: Myofascial release is a technique in which the therapist uses their hands to exert slow, sustained pressure on a stiff, sore muscle. Manual pressure relaxes, lengthens and realigns tense and stiff myofascial muscles.
Cost of massage therapy
Physiotherapy fees vary. What you pay will depend on whether or not your health insurance covers all or part of the cost of the treatment sessions. The cost can range from $ 30 to $ 150 per session.
Many insurance companies provide coverage for physical therapy and massages. You may be responsible for paying a co-payment for each visit.
Check with your insurance provider by calling the number on the back of your insurance card or by logging into the Member Portal on their website to learn more about your specific policy coverage.
If cost is a concern and / or insurance coverage is not an option, some physiotherapists may offer treatment sessions on a sliding scale. There are also home-based PT massage solutions that you could try for more affordable pain relief.
Physiotherapy tools to try at home
Whether you are looking to support your physiotherapy treatment plan with home exercises or prefer to manage your treatment on your own, there are a number of physiotherapy tools available that you can use at home.
Here are some examples of tools to try:
- Exercise ball: This can be used as a accessory for stretching and range of motion exercises, or be used for a full body strengthening workout.
- Foam rollers: These tools apply pressure and slowly roll over an area of your body to release trigger points and loosen tight soft tissue. Foam rollers can also be used for joint mobility exercises and as an accessory for stability exercises.
- Massage gun: Percussion massagers apply pressure to muscle tissue to help relieve pain and tension by increasing blood flow to the targeted area.
- Myofascial release balls: Those tools can be used for trigger point release and soft tissue mobilization. Their small size allows them to penetrate deeper into tissue, especially in hard-to-reach areas of the body.
- Thera Canne: This candy cane shaped tool can be used as a self-massage on tight muscles for pain relief. The cane allows you to massage hard-to-reach muscles and apply as much pressure as needed for relief.
- Resistance bands: These elastic rubber bands are used to strengthen muscles, as well as to improve stability and muscle function.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of massage therapy?
Massage therapy reduces muscle pain and tension, improves joint flexibility and mobility, helps recovery from soft tissue injuries, improves circulation, and reduces stress hormones and depression.
How can I try massage therapy at home?
If you don’t have a family member or friend who can give you a massage, self massage (using your own hands or tools to massage your sensitive areas) is an option.
Alternatively, physiotherapy tools, such as massage guns and foam rollers, can help you work muscle tension in targeted areas.
Some massage therapists and physiotherapists also offer home visits.
Are all physiotherapists the same?
There are many types of specialized physiotherapists. Some physiotherapists work with certain populations, such as athletes, the elderly, or children. Other physiotherapists have expertise in particular areas of the body, such as cardiopulmonary physiotherapists (the heart) and orthopedic physiotherapists (the bones).
A word from Verywell
Whether you are recovering from an injury or surgery or living with a chronic illness, physiotherapy massage may be worth exploring in addition to standard treatment to relieve pain, strengthen your muscles and other soft tissues and help relieve stress.
Physiotherapy massage can also be helpful if you want to improve your posture, reduce stress, and relieve pain after training. Ask your primary care physician for a referral to a physiotherapist in your area or find out if your condition allows direct access to physiotherapy.