What is Orthopedic Massage

It’s not a technique, it’s an approach.

The Approach to orthopedic massage is quite simple. Every situation is unique, and we as therapists have to utilize our training, experience and common sense to find and treat the presenting issues in the most effective way. Orthopedic massage therapists are the Sherlock Holmes types that find joy in figuring things out. In addition to bringing us a great sense of personal satisfaction, this approach serves our clients greatly by finding them relief in the best ways possible. It’s also quite easy to incorporate this approach into a very relaxing massage.

It’s extremely common for a therapist to work on and around a very crucial spot and yet never actually treat it while they’re working on you. The Ortho Approach takes care of this common problem, and its most valuable tool is assessment.

Assessment is the biggest differentiator in the orthopedic approach. Knowing where to look and what to look for goes a long way to developing and delivering an effective treatment for each client- each and every time they’re seen. It doesn’t take a lot of time either. A few simple tests are done prior to the start of the session, and many of the assessments are integrated into the massage session. Most only take between 5 and 30 seconds, so they don’t eat into your hands-on time or interrupt the flow of the massage. They often include the following…

  • Posture & Gait Assessments provide quick and valuable visual clues about what to expect before the therapist ever touches the soft tissue.
  • Palpation Techniques allow the therapist to confirm the causes that have been expressed by the client and observed by the therapist.
  • Muscle Testing gives insights into soft tissue dysfunction by activating and evaluating specific muscles or muscle groups to identify where and how to work.
  • Client Feedback is crucial in determining the location and severity of soft tissue dysfunction. A millimeter or two in a different direction can oftentimes make all the difference in the world. As good as palpation techniques can be, it’s the client’s feedback that allows us to dial in and resolve issues.

Using the assessment process can help the therapist determine what techniques will best help the client achieve their therapeutic goals. Some of the techniques I incorporate into my sessions are outlined below.