Did you know that soon in 2015 we are going to see the release of a new national Diploma of Remedial Massage? As part of the new Diploma, colleges can choose to teach quite a number of different exercise therapy and wellness topics. This will mean that many newly graduating remedial massage therapists will be trained in the use of exercise therapy. In this article we will explore the benefits and reasons why you should consider adding exercise therapy to your massage or myotherapy practice.
1. Massage Effects are Viscoelastic
Since at least 2007, it has been well demonstrated that the connective tissues of the body are viscoelastic (source). Viscoelasticity is the description for anything that changes shape slowly (viscous) and returns to its original shape over time (elastic). Research conducted by some of the best in the area of Fascia, showed that changes in tissue length that occur via massage and manual therapy, slowly returned to normal over time. In a clinical sense, this means that increases in range of motion that occur during massage treatments, are likely to return to normal in a fairly short period of time.
For this reason, to get long lasting change in tissue length and mobility, it is important for your clients to re-inforce the changes that are achieved during treatment with regular stretching or mobility exercises.
2. The Brain is Unlikely to Change From a Couple of “Random Events”
For someone to change the way that they move, sit and even rest, it is necessary to make changes to the motor control systems of the body, or in other words, it is necessary for someone to change their brain function. The changes that occur in the brain are referred to as brain plasticity (JBMT, 2007). For this to occur an individual has to be actively using their brain and motor changes happen best when movement is not imagined or felt, but actually performed.
This means that if you want to see real changes in the way that your clients move and use their bodies, then you need to have them actively performing exercises on a regular basis.
3. It Makes People Feel Good!
Often, a primary driver for clients to engage in massage therapy is to simply “feel better.” The exact reason will change from person to person, but certainly no one wants a massage treatment to feel worse. Exercise therapy should always be performed in a way that helps a client to “feel better.” This could be because the client feels looser, more free, more relaxed (or even stronger), more stable and very importantly more confident and less fearful of their own body.
Applied in the right way, exercise can enhance the feel good experience of massage treatment.
4. Active People Have Better Lives
There is now overwhelming evidence that physical activity leads to a better life (BJSM, 2009) This can be measured in a many different ways, from disease prevention, mood, lifespan and overall wellness. This is not to mention the more obvious factors such as physical strength, energy and cardiovascular fitness. By encouraging and facilitating exercise at any given opportunity, this will not only increase outcomes for your clients, but also encourage your clients to make healthier life choices.
5. A Smart Therapist Will Diversify – It is Less Draining on Your Energy
Exercise therapy is requires much less physical effort from you, the therapist. It is very difficult for many massage therapists to consistently manage large client loads for extended periods without ending up injured or suffering from burnout themselves. Introducing exercise therapy to your massage therapy practice can extend your career as a therapist, whilst also reducing the amount of physical work that you are required to do across the duration of your working week.
6. What Better Place to Start Exercise Than With a Trusted Therapist?
In my experience, many clients are looking to get started with exercise programs, but are unsure or lacking in confidence to show up to a gym and get started. What better place to start the journey towards a regular exercise program than with a professional like you?
7. It Gives a New Dimension to Your Clinical Practice
Massage therapy has many different modalities and philosophies and therefore therapists will use different approaches and methods. It is reasonable to say that no two therapists will treat exactly the same. But for many therapists, it is easy to become “stuck in a rut”, meaning that therapists can find themselves repeating the same process, over and over again, which eventually becomes quite draining.
By expanding into the area of therapeutic exercise, a whole new dimension of treatment to the remedial massage or myotherapist opens up. Instead of just finding new ways to perform massage therapy techniques, exercise therapy is an entirely new approach to get the best outcomes for your clients, and grow as a therapist.
8. You are Teaching People ‘How to Fish’
Remember the old saying, “give someone a fish and they eat for a day, teach them how to fish, and they eat for a lifetime”? This saying applies well to massage therapy. Many people get great results from massage therapy. They use massage treatments regularly for short term benefits, but are they really getting the longer term outcomes that they are looking for? Wouldn’t be great if you could not only provide short term relief but also long term solutions? In a word, “YES!”.