Massage for Injuries and Chronic Pain

NYC therapist explains the ins and outs of orthopedic massage
April 11, 2014 Updated: April 28, 2016

Massage has been used for millennia to relieve pain and help heal injuries but has not played a large role in conventional medical treatments. The system of orthopedic massage is changing this, combining a range of techniques to help pain from conditions like carpal tunnel, back spasms, and whiplash injuries.

Certified orthopedic massage therapist and owner of Body Mechanics NYC, Beret Kirkeby explains what orthopedic massage can do.

What Kinds of Therapies

Epoch Times: What is orthopedic massage therapy?

Ms. Beret Kirkeby: Although every treatment is designed specifically to address each individual’s needs, each program would combine classic clinical massage therapy protocols examples need more visual element techniques. This includes a number of therapies such as lymphatic drainage, hydrotherapy and isometric and isotonic stretching.

Lymphatic work is used to stimulate the body’s lymph system, which is kind of like the fluid management system of the body and helps boost your immunity.

Hydrotherapy involves the use of hot and cold temperatures to stimulate different biological reactions that help facilitate faster healing.

More advanced techniques such as isometric and isotonic stretching involve gently contracting the muscles or tissue to stimulate release. Any time you add gentle movement into a treatment it is going to be very beneficial, since that is the natural way the body heals itself.

Orthopedics is about adaptability and matching the right treatment to the right problem, so it’s important that the massage therapist is an expert on many different therapy techniques. This is what separates orthopedic massage from a regular massage, which is meant mainly for relaxation.

For Athletes and Laborers

Epoch Times: What injuries can orthopedic massage help?

Ms. Kirkeby: At Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage, we treat people from all walks of life. We have worked with professional tennis players, pro boxers, former Olympic gymnasts, and even opera singers, who often experience TMJ [jaw pain]. We also treat a lot of people in the service and labor industries, such as policeman and factory workers.

Really, anyone whose profession (or hobby) involves putting their body under unusual stress or physical exertion can benefit from orthopedic massage.

Epoch Times: Who can benefit?

Ms. Kirkeby: If you fall in one or more of the following categories, you could benefit from orthopedic massage. Of course, we always recommend that you have any injury or pain you are experiencing checked out by your doctor first.

•    Have a high demanding physical job
•    Recovering from an injury
•    Consider yourself an athlete or are under unusual stress
•    Experience chronic pain

Scar Issues

Epoch Times: What if scar tissue is affecting movement?

Ms. Kirkeby: If treated early, we can help limit scar tissue from further developing. Scar tissue develops when inflammation occurs during the healing process. Massage can help reduce inflammation, which occurs when there is friction between tendons, bones and limited joint space, and encourage correct healing in the area.

A lot of times scar tissue occurs from a surgery. Orthopedic massage work can help lessen the pull on the surrounding tissues by keeping the layers of the skin and the muscles moving and supple so that it encourages healthy scar tissue that does not stick to the surrounding tissue, which can cause pain and poor movement.

The goal is to achieve a pain-free full range of motion. Receiving treatment during the healing process can accelerate the rate of healing by making sure the areas have adequate circulation.

More Than Relaxation

Epoch Times: What does orthopedic massage do differently than other massage?

Ms. Kirkeby: Both Thai and Swedish massage are great choices to increase circulation and lower stress, but orthopedic massage is more detailed and much more goal-oriented. We work on specific problems in addition to the circulatory system. Most people who have experienced orthopedic massage therapy understand the difference right away and how much more detailed our work is compared to a massage for relaxation.

Therapist Certification

Epoch Times: What is the certification process to become an orthopedic massage therapist?

Ms. Kirkeby: Because orthopedic work is so specific and targeted, it requires a lot more education. New York State requires 1,000 hours of training for massage for general massage practice and a written exam.

I received my initial training in Canada, which I have found is much more extensive. In addition to the New York standards, I completed 2 years of full time intensive study in Orthopedic Massage, Assessment and Fascia Manipulation, which included logging 2,500 hours of training time, three internships, and an extensive government-issued exam.

Epoch Times: Should people check certification credentials?Ms. Kirkeby: It seems obvious, but a lot of people don’t check the credentials of the person who is about to treat them. Before you go, check that they graduated from a reputable orthopedic program. Orthopedic therapists should be licensed and insured with a long history of training in many areas of expertise. This kind of training takes years of practice.

Be wary of anyone referring to themselves as “orthopedic” who went to a short seminar or watched a video. Also, be careful of anyone who claims they can ‘fix’ you or pushes you to buy a large package deal.

Gaining Recognition

Epoch Times: Why is orthopedic massage under the radar?

I think most people are just learning about orthopedic massage—what it is and how it can benefit them. Massage is a valuable tool, but it has to be used by an expert. Relaxation is a whole different ball of wax different from being part of a care regime.

Not a Replacement for Doctor Visits

Epoch Times: How can orthopedic massage fit with someone’s established medical care regime?

Ms. Kirkeby: Massage is not a replacement for visiting your doctor, but it can help you manage costly physical problems and chronic pain. Maintaining our bodies regularly is so important. Taking preventative measures and stopping problems before they start can greatly lower your healthcare costs in the long run.

A long-time athlete herself, Beret Kirkeby, specializes in orthopedic massage for athletes.