Is massage therapy recognized as a methodology of treatment?

by: Boris Prilutsky

By Boris Prilutsky

In identifying their occupation with health care, opinion of massage therapists would probably range from a definite yes to a definite no. Such variance is natural, because there are many ways to practice it. I am not implying the difference in terminology; medical massage, massage therapy or clinical massage, to me all stand for: providing therapy by means of massage. What I mean is the difference in the overall approach to massage. Instead of providing therapy by means of massage some therapists are settling for “feels good” sensation and some allow themselves be lead by clients who demand “strong” massage and thus apply vigorous traumatizing pressure. Yet there are those who in my mind use the correct approach – deliver great results, and help people; thus bringing a good name to massage therapy.

The late statistics indicates that, in average, 85% of doctor visits are related to stress, including such illnesses as essential hypertension, clinical depression, anxieties, sleep disorders, tension headaches and more. Medical doctors are desperate when looking for ways to control stress related disorders by changing different medications. Yet medications work poorly while producing multiple harmful side effects. The real solution to stress related diseases is medical stress management massage. When it comes to managing stress, it is the most powerful methodology available in the entire healthcare system.

To view an explanation on how stress debilitates human body please watch video

Is massage therapy recognized as the most powerful stress management methodology?

If public and healthcare practitioners recognize the full body medical stress management massage as a powerful methodology, then not as much as it should be. There are many different publications discussing massage as a relaxation experience. Some research evidently supports the idea of it being not only relaxation, but a significant stress management factor. Yet it still is not viewed by public as a treatment methodology. Otherwise due to massive phenomena of stress debilitation, clients would line up for massage treatment, massage therapists wouldn’t struggle financially and leave our occupation for good.

One of the reasons why general public and medical professionals don’t view massage therapy as a “medical” procedure is partly the fault of massage industry itself.

For instance, nowadays a gift certificate to a medical doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor would seem unlikely. Yet a gift certificate for a massage therapy session seems absolutely normal. Not denying the value of gift certificates in general, its usage in massage business makes it apparent how little people recognize massage as medical methodology. How could massage therapy be considered “medical procedure” if the price for one hour full body massage could be $39 – lately a common offer – while a copayment to physical therapy office visit runs $30 average and the reimbursement for physical therapy session averages at $180.

In my opinion we need to cardinally change public views on massage therapy. Direct consequence of this change would be the increase in our income, as well as it would allow us to help many more people than we do today.

Surely, massage therapists practice a powerful healthcare methodology. Although not realizing this, general public has a great demand for clinical application of this methodology. Recognition of this fact should manifest itself in receiving referrals from medical doctors, physical therapist, clinical psychologist etc. As a matter of fact, such referrals are the only way for massive recognition of massage therapy as therapeutic or “medical” procedure.

There are actually many objective reasons why massage therapists should receive referrals from physical therapists, medical doctors and chiropractors in cases of painful skeleton muscular disorders.

Orthopedic massage is the main tool in treatments of painful spinal and joint disorders.

On average, insurance allows 12 physical therapy treatments. If stress management efforts are omitted, this number of treatment isn’t enough to produce and sustain results. Consequently, patients don’t want to continue with the same physical therapist, especially because the average physical therapy procedure cash charge is $140.

When unhappy patients confront the doctor who referred them to this particular physical therapist, the doctor might reconsider future referrals to the “failing” physical therapist and start looking for a different one. Physical therapists don’t want to lose business and thus work with massage therapists.

However, despite these objective reasons, today massage therapists are only partially recognized by healthcare system; only small number of massage therapists receives these referrals.

Massage therapist should have an open and constructive dialog with physical therapists and other health care practitioners.

Massage therapists should explain that we are not competitors to physical therapists, as well as to other health care professionals. Together we compete against prescribed and off the shelves painkillers, anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications.

In a very friendly and professional manner we should explain why other medical professionals should work with us. Massage therapist does soft tissue mobilization every day, while as PTs do this much less. More so, most physical therapy schools exclude massage therapy training. For the sake of patients, as well as for the sake of victory over medications, physical therapists and massage therapists must work together – each to do what they do better.

We should also explain that for sustained results, self-massage home program and not exercise only must be a part of a treatment plan.

Of course, we have to be able to back our words up, i.e. to deliver results. Unless we live up to all promises within our practice we would stay where we are now. Compromising on “feels good” attitude and practicing vigorous traumatizing pressure are not going to cut it.

If not to incorporate fascia mobilizations, muscular mobilization, if not to apply techniques for lymphedema size management, trigger point therapy, and in many cases hot and cold application, a therapist cannot reach sustained and adequate results, as well as if one would not manage stress at the same time. Stress fueling painful preconditions and do not allow fast results, as well as triggers new pains. Modalities of orthopedic massage, in combination with stress management techniques, make a huge difference in cases of back and limb disorders because all mentioned above techniques address conditions that produce pains and functional disturbances.

In regards to self-massage I am positive that in order to reach rapid and sustained results a home self-massage program between treatments is a must. Many clients expect to get fast results. Not experiencing them in too few treatments, they get disappointed in massage as medical methodology, leave us and come back to medications.

Please visit my website where you find many free professional and self-massage lessons. In my practice, I constantly provide myself with self-stress management treatments and teach my clients to do self-massage between sessions.

To view an introductory to my soon coming orthopedic massage/physical therapy aide/and chiropractor assistance home program please watch video

In this program I give a detailed explanation and teach how to perform myofascial release techniques, trigger point therapy, lymphedema size management, hot and cold application and much more. The program offers separate orthopedic massage protocols on knee region, upper back and neck region, lower back, shoulder region, including frozen shoulder. All regions include exercise program.

Practically my advice is to learn well all proposed protocols, and then to seek employment at physical therapy offices, where you also would be able to continue practicing as independent massage therapist. I believe in this way you would make good income as well as become much more massively recognized.

The footage of my program will be first offered for free. You will be able to learn from it and then decide whether you would like to purchase it. The program will be available at my Facebook fan page at

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