The importance of deep soft tissue massage to prevent aches and pains
Throughout my years being a physiotherapist, I have tried to stress to all my clients how important it is to have deep soft tissue massage as a prevention of pain. Sadly, the majority of people who come to me are already in pain! For all pain that my clients describe that has come on with no apparent reason or trigger, maybe due to a bio-mechanical cause or a change in lifestyle, however, the pain in the majority of cases is due to a build up of tightness in their muscles overtime.
Everything we do in our general lifestyles causes tightening in our muscles. So the laziest of people who lead a sedentary lifestyle can be just as tight in their shoulders as the most active of people. This is because a person who leads a sedentary lifestyle can seize up in the muscles due to not moving just as much as an athlete who runs on a daily basis.
Most clients are surprised when I tell them that overtime a person can lose up to a third of their length of muscles due to embedded tightness. When tightness reaches a threshold level, pain is experienced. So it is logical to think that when tightness manifests, there is a reduction in length of soft tissues that can pull on joints and reduce range. Therefore it is no wonder that as people get older they are unable to achieve as much range as they remembered when they were young! As people get older, generally more aches and pains are experienced and they are prone to increased injury because their muscles do not have as much flexibility compared to when they were young!
Whilst studying Physiotherapy at university, I always knew the direction I wanted to take doing musculoskeletal physiotherapy. I have observed hundreds of different patients and I would say I am definitely on my way into treating thousands by now. As a student in the NHS, I felt exasperated as the training was so varied from every single Physiotherapist across all hospitals I encountered. This is no fault of the Physiotherapists, in my opinion, how are they meant to know any different than the training that they were given which was unique for all? The reason for me being so affected was that the majority of the people I observed were only showing minimal improvement! When I graduated, I decided to go straight into a private practice rather than the advised route of working in the NHS. I couldn’t have made a better choice in the direction of my career. Luckily I was offered a job with the largest leading Physiotherapy provider because I thought if they were on a national level, they must have been doing something right. There was a stark difference when I observed the leading physiotherapists in the private practice I started working in, the clients’ injuries were showing significant improvement in every session.
The main difference was that they were receiving the right treatment. Every client received deep soft tissue massage and finally I realized that this is key in getting clients better! Every patient I have now come across receives deep soft tissue massages along with other aspects of treatment tailored to their needs. I know that this is the most effective method to gain flexibility back into tissues, to regain range and to reduce pain. I cannot stress how important massage is for everyone. I hear so many times ‘the pain is because I am getting old’ and they just accept that! I always ask, “whether they have ever received a deep soft tissue massage?” and if they say no I reply with “if I have never had a massage I would be in pain now and not be able to do my job!!”
To sum up, massage is key for optimum health of the musculoskeletal system. In my opinion maintenance massage should be just as or even more important than going to the dentist or optician. It makes me so angry how so many people see their GP and get given painkillers which just masks their problem and the problem manifests still! Then there is usually a point when the painkillers do not work anymore and their pain worsens. I truly believe that if every person received a deep soft tissue massage every few months from the age of 20, there wouldn’t be half as many neck and back problems that come on with no apparent reason. So please go and treat yourself to a deep soft tissue massage, it’ll be for your own good and I guarantee it will make you feel better about yourself!