What is a Clinical Massage | Boston Bodyworker

What is CLINICAL Massage Therapy

What sets Clinical massage apart from the numerous other massage techniqrues is the fact that it, itself, is not a specific ‘technique’. Rather, the term ‘Clinical’ is used to refer to the locomotor (Orthopedics) system, as it is used in conventional medicine. An analogy can be made with the phrase ‘Orthopedic Medicine’, which describes a conceptual approach to medical practice, more than just one particular treatment method. Similarly, the phrase ‘Clinical massage’ describes a comprehensive system, rather than a particular technique (though some are attempting to use the phrase to describe a specific ‘technique’). As a comprehensive system, Clinical massage is capable of integrating a variety of massage’s most effective techniques in the treatment of soft-tissue dysfunctions, pain and injuries. Four component parts characterize the system of Clinical massage: Clinical assessment, matching the physiology of the tissue injury with the physiological effects of treatment, treatment adaptability, and understanding the rehabilitation protocol.

Clinical massage is a system made up of a variety of different techniques. Despite the difference in techniques there are several underlying principles that are essential to the system. The first is assessment and evaluation skills. When working with soft tissue pain and injury it is essential the practitioner be able to assess the nature of the condition and understand its physiological make-up. In order to determine if massage is appropriate, and what kind of massage, if any, should be done, the practitioner must have some method of systematic evaluation of the client’s condition.

Not only should the practitioner be familiar with the condition, but also with the most frequently used massage techniques. Therefore, the second component of the Clinical massage system is to match the physiology of the injury with the physiological effects of the treatment technique. There is no single massage modality that will effectively treat all of the diverse types of pain and injury conditions. Rather, in some situations a particular technique will be highly beneficial, yet when used on another condition it may be contraindicated. Therefore, the massage therapist must understand the physiological effects of the treatment that s/he chooses.


The third component of Clinical massage is treatment adaptability. Clearly, with the diversity of conditions, the practitioner should not rigidly adhere to one set of techniques. In addition, each client will provide a unique presentation of the pain or injury condition. As such, the practitioner will most effectively treat their client with a protocol that is individually suited to that person.

Finally, the Clinical massage system recommends understanding the rehabilitation protocol. Rehabilitation protocol is a phrase used to describe the most effective progression through the stages of soft tissue healing. It includes knowledge of proper tissue healing and injury prevention. While it is not appropriate for the massage therapist to prescribe a rehabilitation plan, the practitioner of Clinical massage often works in conjunction with other health professionals and it is important that s/he understand these rehabilitation factors.

Clinical massage is an exciting new approach to the treatment of numerous pain and injury conditions previously treated only with conventional methods. Providing a comprehensive system of treatment that incorporates a wide variety of massage treatment techniques, Clinical massage enables the practitioner to choose the most effective treatment for a particular condition. The Clinical massage practitioner is knowledgeable and skilled in their understanding of pain and injury conditions and massage treatment techniques. This combination of expertise provides for the most effective treatment of soft tissue pain and injury conditions using massage therapy.

Types of Massage


Deep Tissue Massage

Deep Tissue Massage is based on Swedish massage and uses similar strokes but, unlike Swedish, it focuses on all muscle layers from the superficial to the deepest ones. Deep tissue massage is a highly therapeutic and specific technique which is very effective in releasing restrictions of the deeper muscles and the underlying connective tissue. Although deep tissue massage can be performed on the whole body, it often focuses on specific affected areas.

Deep Tissue Massage can be very effective in releasing chronic patterns of tension and restoring the structural and functional integrity of the musculoskeletal system. Deep tissue massage can address dysfunctions relating to: stress, prolonged computer work, bad posture, sports or any other type of injuries, excessive athletic training, repetitive overuse of muscle groups (which can result to various syndromes, like Repetitive Stress Syndrome, Carpal tunnel Syndrome, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Patellofemoral Syndrome, various orthopedic conditions ( i.e. scoliosis), headaches, etc.

Learn More About Deep Tissue Massage

Orthopedic Massage

What sets orthopedic massage apart from the numerous other massage techniques is the fact that it, itself, is not a specific ‘technique’. Rather, the term ‘orthopedic’ is used to refer to the locomotor system, as it is used in conventional medicine. An analogy can be made with the phrase ‘orthopedic medicine’, which describes a conceptual approach to medical practice more than just one particular treatment method. Similarly, the phrase ‘orthopedic massage’ describes a comprehensive system, rather than a particular technique (though some are attempting to use the phrase to describe a specific ‘technique’). As a comprehensive system, orthopedic massage is capable of integrating a variety of massage’s most effective techniques in the treatment of soft-tissue dysfunctions, pain and injuries. Four component parts characterize the system of orthopedic massage: orthopedic assessment, matching the physiology of the tissue injury with the physiological effects of treatment, treatment adaptability, and understanding the rehabilitation protocol.

Learn More About Orthopedic Massage

Sports Massage

Sports Massage is a combination of massage strokes and techniques combined with flexibility and specific exercise routines geared to increase an athlete’s performance capabilities. The application of Sports Massage is determined by one’s own specific anatomical and physiological needs. Basic musculoskeletal evaluations, orthopedic assessments, and flexibility analysis do this. By determining the athlete’s specific needs, the Sports Massage therapist will not only be able to provide increased strength, speed and flexibility, but also improve biomechanical efficiency and decrease the potential for injury. This is a comprehensive program with a shared responsibility between the Sports Massage Therapist and the athlete.


Myofascial Release

Myofascial Release is a highly specialized stretching technique used by therapists to treat patients with a variety of soft tissue problems.

To understand what Myofascial Release is and why it works, you have to understand a little about fascia. Fascia is a thin tissue that covers all the organs of the body. This tissue covers every muscle and every fiber within each muscle. All muscle stretching, then, is actually stretching of the fascia and the muscle, the myofascial unit. When muscle fibers are injured, the fibers and the fascia which surrounds it become short and tight. This uneven stress can be transmitted through the fascia to other parts of the body, causing pain and a variety of other symptoms in areas you often wouldn’t expect. Myofascial Release treats these symptoms by releasing the uneven tightness in injured fascia.


Neuromuscular Therapy

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) is a comprehensive program of soft tissue manipulation techniques that balance the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) with the structure and form of the musculoskeletal system. NMT is a deep form of bodywork that treats the many causes of acute pain, postural disorders and soft tissue damage. This technique is based on neurological laws that explain how the central nervous system maintains homeostatic balance. These same laws dictate how the central nervous system initiates pain responses.


Active Release Technique

Active Release Technique (A.R.T.), developed by Dr. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP, is a system designed to treat soft tissue (muscles, tendons & ligaments) dysfunction. The basic principles of A.R.T are easy to understand although very difficult to perform. In order to treat the soft tissue properly, the practitioner must have an extensive background in the field of anatomy and finely tuned palpation skills.

At the risk of over simplifying the technique, the injured or altered structure is shortened, and a soft contact is used just distal to the injured area where tension is developed into the lesion. While the contact tension is maintained, the altered structure is lengthened using active motion or in some cases passive motion. During this motion, the lesion is palpated, and the contact is changed accordingly. This will allow the practitioner to concentrate the tension on the appropriate tissue.


Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques (MAT)

Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques (MAT) was developed by Erik Dalton PhD in the early 80’s after seeing a need for a more integrative perspective on pain management in the human body. In 1998, his first Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques book and videos were released. This very popular home-study course included Dalton’s “Dirty-Dozen” routines for assessing and correcting pain problems associated with Vladimir Janda’s commonly seen postural model. It was then that Myoskeletal Alignment — an integrative marriage of the work of Janda, Rolfing, and manipulative osteopathy – was born.


Pre/Post Natal Massage Therapy

Massage has been used for centuries in almost every culture to help women through pregnancy and promote faster recuperation from childbirth. Pregnancy has dramatic physiological and psychological effects and can be a very stressful time for many women. After giving birth, the new mother requires as much nurturing and support, as her newborn. Massage can help pregnant women and new mothers deal with the effects of the physical, hormonal and emotional changes caused by pregnancy and childbirth.


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