After completing a diploma in Swedish Massage, the original and only qualification in Australia in this field until the early 1990’s. They divided the course into two parts after this to make more money from them. After completing this prestigious qualification the practitioner has an expectation of being able to solve great health problems, it is, after all, an academic elevation of five levels (5) of increased difficulty after year twelve (12) high school see Australian Qualification Framework http://www.aqf.edu.au/aqf/in-detail/aqf-levels/
A lot of graduates will do some paid or volunteer work with sporting clubs, I did some with a Tennis Club.
Reality Sets In
After successfully treating all of those ‘patients’ in the treatment room and at seminars it comes as a great shock to learn that the real patients don’t respond anywhere near as well as the colleges patients with nothing wrong with them. Sporting heroes recover well also…but the real world is a different proposition.Work related injuries need to be understood, and this understanding starts with a good background in anatomy and physiology. In the real work diagnostic terms like lumpy, bumpy and ropey don’t cut it and never did.Today we look for tears, inflammation, swelling, discolouration etc. A history of how this problem occurred is handy but often not available,”I just woke up like this”.
Motor mechanics also have problems like this where someone rings in and says “My car has stopped on the highway”. When asked about noises or any probable cause they reply “It’s broke, come and fix it”.
In the clinic a very similar scenario plays out also and the practitioner has to go into detective mode. Understanding pain referral patterns will help find the offending muscle or muscle group and then you have to remove the inflammation that the immune system put there to shorten the muscle in it’s attempt to stop the patient using it. Using the muscle will cause pain so most of the time people stop using it, as nature intended. Occasionally the patient either can’t or won’t stop and more muscles then become inflamed until it reaches a point where ignoring the pain is no longer an option, then treatment is sought.
Spinal, particularly cervical stenosis often presents in a massage therapists clinic. This condition would have been diagnosed by a specialist from X-rays and ultrasounds, obviously a massage therapist can not cure this but they can alleviate the pain caused by the narrowing of the nerve exit. The condition will keep re-occurring regardless of what treatment is used unless successful surgery is performed. Often there is too much danger for a surgeon to do this operation, although one can always be found who is prepared to do it.
Sometimes a varicose vein can be the cause of the pain as well or a more dangerous cause could be a clot, in both of these a medical referral is required. Spinal disc protrusions are also often encountered and once again they present their own set of problems and often the best approach is to remove the inflammation from surrounding muscles to reduce pull on the vertebrae and prescribe exercises to allow disc to return to it’s rightful position.
Knowledge Is Power
This is very true for massage therapists and they can’t learn to much about evidence based massage such as done by Neuromuscular Techniques which started in about 1925 and has been updating ever since. Books by Leon Chaitow are the text books for this. Myotherapy, a late comer 1975, is also a good form of massage for people wishing to be at the top of their game. I prefer Chaitow’s Neuromuscular Techniques because they demonstrate better access positions for each muscle, but Myotherapy courses are easier to find in Australia.
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