Medical Massage Therapy

Medical Massage Therapy is a scientifically based manual therapy system that finds and treats the cause of your pain! 
It is one of the modalities included in Naturopathic Manual Therapy.
Medical Massage is not a single method or technique, but rather a concept. This concept brings together clinically tested massage methods and techniques developed by scientists during the 20th century in different countries including the U.S. 
Medical Massage is based on a repertory of 7 basic massage techniques. The critical differences between the various 'medical massage protocols, as they are called, relate to where, how, when, in what combination these techniques are to be applied during any given Medical Massage session addressing a particular problem. 

The concept of Medical Massage has been based on two major principles:

  1. The practitioner must be aware of the source of the innervation of the soft tissue he or she is working with.
  2. All methods and techniques applied within the affected area must address the soft tissue layer by layer.               

     In a sense, Medical Massage is like an overarching concept encompassing only scientifically designed and clinically tested 
methods and techniques. Basing itself on scientific publications, the modern concept of Medical Massage recognizes and 
makes use of the following methods of treatment:

  1. SEGMENT-REFLEX MASSAGE (SRM)
    SRM is the first method of Medical Massage to have been developed. In 1936, Professor A.E.Sherbak, MD, of Russia formulated the general concept, and in 1955, Dr.O.Glezer and Dr.V.A.Dalicho (1955) of Germany perfected the diagnostic procedure and therapeutic protocols. SRM is the most integrative method of medical massage because it addresses all types of soft tissues during a single session. A similar approach is used only by Neuromuscular Therapy.
  2. CONNECTIVE TISSUE MASSAGE (CTM)
    CTM was developed by physical therapists E.Dickle (1979) and Professor W.Kohlrausch MD, (1953) from Austria. CTM targets skin, fascia and aponeurosis.
  3. PERIOSTAL MASSAGE (PM)
    PM was developed by two German physicians, Dr.P.Vogler, MD, and Dr.H.Krauss, MD, (1953). PM targets pathological changes in the periosteum.
  4. NEUROMUSCULAR THERAPY (NMT)
    The basic concept of NMT was developed by S. Leaf, but it is Dr. L.Chaitow, DO, (1984), of the United Kingdom who must be credited for the modern NMT protocols.
  5. MYOFASCIAL RELEASE (MR)
    MR was developed in the USA by Barnes, PT (1990). The primary target of MR is connective tissue structures, with skeletal muscles being affected secondarily.
  6. POSTISOMETRIC MUSCULAR RELAXATION (PIR)
    The brilliant idea of American physician F.L.Mitchell, DO, (1948) was further developed by his son Dr.F.L.Mitchell Jr. (1995) and Dr.K.Lewit, MD (1997), and Dr. V. Janda, MD (1979) of the Czech Republic. The combination of trigger point therapy and PIR is the most effective way to quickly and efficiently eliminate hypertonus and trigger points in the skeletal muscles.
  7. ROLFING (RF)
    RF was developed by I. Rolf (1989), who based her method on the concept of osteopathic medicine. RF targets skin, connective tissue, and the superficial layer of muscles.
  8. CYRIAX'S PROCEDURE (CP)
    CP was developed by J. Cyriax, MD (1985) of the United Kingdom. This method targets the tendons and ligaments around major joints. The combining of CP and PM is most effective in quickly and efficiently eliminating pathological abnormalities in the periosteum (e.g., Tennis Elbow).
  9. STRETCHING MASSAGE (SM)
    SM was developed by Russian physician A. Manakov, MD (Flerova, 1955), and it is applied in cases of contractures in the major joints and peripheral vascular disorders.
  10. VIBRATION MASSAGE (VM)
    The basic concept of VM was developed by G. Taylor, MD (1879) and Snow, MD (1917) in the U.S. Professor Ya. Kreimer, MD (1989) from Russia developed medical massage protocols for VM basing his recommendations on extensive experimental and clinical studies conducted at the Neurology Department of the Tomsk Medical School.
    The primary goal of VM is the patient's central nervous system. For the practitioner, the correct application of VM is a therapeutic tool of great clinical importance. It allows the practitioner to control the patient's pain-analyzing system and can be made to have either a stimulating or an inhibiting impact on the local activity of the autonomic nervous system.
  11. LYMPH-DRAINAGE MASSAGE (LDM)
    LDM was developed by French physical therapist E. Vodder (1936). LDM is the best treatment option for addressing peripheral and post-traumatic edema. LDM is also the first critical step in the application of visceral massage.
  12. VISCERAL MASSAGE (VMS)
    VMS is used in cases of inner organ disorders in the abdominal and pelvic cavities. Because VMS has a local therapeutic impact it should always be combined with massage methods that have a reflex effect upon the function of the inner organs: SRM, CTM, NMT. VMS as a local therapeutic procedure includes three equally important components : preparation of the abdominal wall, application of LDM to increase venous and lymphatic drainage from the affected inner organ, and actual visceral manipulations.

Thus we have at our disposal 12 scientifically tested methods of Medical Massage. How can we define the term 'medical massage practitioner'? 

As mentioned above, Medical Massage is a concept. Accordingly, a medical massage practitioner is a person who has adequate training in several important Medical Massage methods and is aware of how best to target the methods and techniques he or she commands to the specific layers of the soft tissue requiring treatment. Only in such a case of solid know-how,  the practitioner is able to conceive and apply Medical Massage protocols relevant and unique to each client's specific presenting soft-tissue pathology, as determined by knowledgeably conducted client interview and examination of the soft tissue.

       Thus, according to the concept of Medical Massage, the protocol of treatment should consist in methods and techniques specifically conceived to address specific pathological abnormalities in the soft tissue, rather than be a set method or technique, or a set combination of methods and techniques, which the practitioner applies indiscriminately over and over again. A surgeon does not conduct surgery by scalpel only; rather, he or she makes use of a whole set of surgical instruments.

Similarly, Medical Massage methods and techniques are instruments, or tools, of the massage practitioner who practices Medical Massage. The more tools massage practitioner has at her or his disposal, the more effective Medical Massage protocols can be expected to be. Unfortunately, however, today's reality in the field of American massage therapy does not reflect this ideal of versatility.

The methods and techniques mentioned above are components of the Medical Massage session which the practitioner is to use according to the type and pattern of abnormality in the soft tissue. However, basic Therapeutic Massage remains an important part of every Medical Massage session. It is the frame, or "glue," which holds all Medical Massage methods and techniques together and creates a perfectly orchestrated Medical Massage session. Therefore, practitioner begins the Medical Massage session with an introductory part comprised of Therapeutic Massage within the borders of the affected area using Therapeutic Massage before the application of each new Medical Massage technique, and finally concludes the session with the re-application of Therapeutic Massage. The twelve methods and techniques mentioned above constitute a basic set of professional tools for the massage practitioner. It is to be hoped that the field of Medical Massage will remain in a dynamic state of growth, with the number of methods and techniques expanding as new and exciting approaches emerge.