Physiotherapy aims to rehabilitate, improve or maintain health status and prevent injuries. By medically assessing the condition of one’s body, physiotherapists are able to use various modes of therapy to attend to its needs. The more commonly known method is exercise, where clients undergo a programmed exercise routine to rebuild or maintain muscle functionality. But aside from exercises, physiotherapists sometimes utilise massages to aid in faster recovery.
There are various forms of massages, and most of them employed by physiotherapists aid in blood circulation. Our blood carries oxygen and all sorts of nutrients needed by the body to function and repair itself. This is especially important for injured sites where more resources are needed for the body to mend that area.
Not only does it improve blood circulation, the exertion and release of pressure in a massage creates a better flow for the lymph fluid to circulate. The lymphatic system is responsible for removing toxins, unwanted fluids and wastes from the body through the lymph fluid. The lymph fluid holds white-blood cells that defends the body from infections thus during recovery, the lymph fluid is essential in helping to clear the injury site off foreign entities. But if the circulation is hindered, the fluid will accumulate and the body part swells as a result. The swollen tissues impede blood circulation which further delays recovery. Thus, it is important to keep both blood and lymph fluids well-circulated during an injury.
Massages are also sometimes paired with exercises to increase mobility needed for exercise or after exercises to reduce stiffness. During exercise, the muscles contract and retract. This motion is generated by the sliding of muscle fibres across one another: towards to contract and away to retract.
However, when the muscles are stiff, the contraction and retraction is not executed along the full length of the muscle fibre; This produces a shorter range of motion. Stretching helps to relieve the stiffness to a certain extent, but applying a good amount of pressure on the fibres helps to work the fibres apart better at a deep tissue level. Massage helps physiotherapists relax the muscle fibres that cannot be reached through stretching, to release muscle tension and provide greater mobility before or after exercises. This allows the client to better perform the exercises and prevents exercise-related injuries by ensuring the muscles are not overly stressed.
When appropriately paired, massage can be a great tool to work in conjunction with physiotherapy-led exercises. By knowing when to utilise each method, healing takes a more efficient path and the road to recovery can be expedited.