What to expect from a massage session at Fleet Sports Therapy
Clinical massage is the comprehensive study and treatment of pain. Unfortunately, the treatment process is not always straightforward because pain – especially chronic pain – is by its very nature complicated. To show what we mean, we have created a basic diagram to demonstrate what an ‘average treatment process’ might look like:
With clinical massage, there is often the expectation that it can offer a ‘quick fix’. This is sometimes, though not always possible, especially when the pain has been around for a long time. The length of treatment needed often corresponds with the amount of time you have been living with the pain – the longer the pain has been present and the more your body has needed to adapt to live with it, the longer your treatment will take.
As an average, we work on the basis that MOST pain can be treated within 1 – 6 treatments. However, for certain pathologies like frozen shoulder, lower back pain and rotator cuff impingement, the process may take longer.
The next question is why. Why does treatment take so long?
The body, ultimately, wants to protect itself. It doesn’t want to be in pain, so it will adapt and respond to minimise pain because pain = stress and the body doesn’t want to be stressed.
In order to adopt the new protective position, some muscles will have to over compensate. This causes some structures to shorten and others to lengthen, with muscles falling into mal-adaptive patterns to help you carry on. For example, if you have hip joint pain, you might inadvertently start changing your walk. Through this process, muscles may weaken and atrophy, resulting in what is commonly called the sailors swagger. This new gait causes the hip flexors to tighten and the glutes to weaken, which results in additional pain somewhere else.
Due to the body’s tendency to compensate, the initial pain we treat is very often referred, which means that not only do we need to treat the pain you are feeling, but also the root of that pain. The root of the pain might be located in an entirely different part of your body, which we then need to track, diagnose and treat in addition to the referred pain.
So, what’s the take home message? We believe that treating your pain correctly, even if it means living with pain for a couple more weeks, is the best approach because, ultimately, you will be living pain free at the end of the process. Sometimes there will be additional or continued pain, but that’s the pain of recovery and is not permanent.
With clinical massage, the healing process is very much a partnership. During our sessions we will not only massage, but we will also discover what lifestyle factors might be perpetuating your pain and offer practical solutions – like stretches, mediation and exercise – to help support your progress. The success of the treatments relies heavily on you engaging with the steps and limiting obstructive behaviour.