A physical therapist is a health care provider who assists patients with mobility improvement and pain management. Often patients are referred to a physical therapist by a primary care doctor or specialist for help recovering from a surgery or traumatic injury, such as a car crash. Physical therapists help patients manage pain that results from chronic disease and other illness. Physical therapy can help enhance mobility when patients are faced with neurological disorders, such as after a stroke, and provide relief from arthritis or other mobility and pain issues.
A physical therapist uses medical exercise equipment and exercises to empower patients to regain flexibility and mobility where possible. They may use treadmills, steps, medicine balls, resistance bands, isometric exercises, weights and more to improve muscle control and movement. A physical therapist uses physical movement to help heal the patient, but also can sometimes prescribe medication as appropriate. A physical therapist can also become board certified in one of nine specialty areas.
Swedish massage is proven to lower blood pressure and reduce stress, according to the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, as well as to relieve depression and anxiety and aid in recuperation from chronic illness. Swedish massage is also referred to as classical massage, and — contrary to popular understanding — does not originate from Sweden. There are five main strokes, or movements, that make up a Swedish massage: effleurage, friction, petrissage, tapotement and vibration. Each technique was created to help soothe, stimulate, soften, and rejuvenate muscles and other soft tissue.
During a Swedish style massage, the client will lie on a massage table in a comfortable position — usually facedown to start. Clients can choose to be clothed or nude; if they are nude, the massage therapist will drape them with a cloth so they are never exposed. A Swedish massage typically lasts from 45 to 120 minutes, depending on client need and pricing agreement. During the massage, the therapist typically employs all of the stroke techniques as a way to ease any tension in the body. Swedish massage is one of the most gentle types of massage and is known for being soothing and relaxing.
Pregnancy massage is a therapeutic massage tailored specifically to the needs of a pregnant woman’s body. Before having a prenatal massage, always check in with your prenatal care provider and ask if massage therapy will be safe for you and your pregnancy. A pregnancy massage is much more than just an indulgence. The specialized strokes and techniques used to loosen tight muscles, reduce swelling, alleviate pressure, and ease tension provide positive health benefits for both you and your baby. Experts recommend finding a massage therapist who has received additional training on prenatal massage techniques. This is typically a certification above and beyond their standard massage therapy certification and training requirements. During the massage you will likely lie on your side or in a semi-reclined position; these supported poses keep you and the baby comfortable and free from strain or undue pressure. During the massage, the therapist will listen to what body challenges you are experiencing and work to release tension. The massage should be a relaxing and very soothing experience.
Thai massage, also called Thai yoga massage, combines acupressure and assisted yoga postures. Thai massage is based on the flow of energy through the body and focuses on energy lines called “sen.” It doesn’t use oils or lotions and, instead of rubbing muscles, the massage therapist compresses, pulls, stretches and rocks the recipient’s body to promote the flow of energy through these sen. In this form of massage therapy, practitioners use their hands, knees, legs and feet to apply deep muscle compression and stretch the body. It’s often performed on a mat on the floor instead of on a massage table. Like most forms of massage, Thai massage is used to relieve stress, improve range of motion and enhance flexibility. Some people also use Thai massage to address a range of health issues, including:
- Relieving tension headaches
- Decreasing back pain
- Reducing joint stiffness and pain
- Stimulating circulation and lymphatic drainage
- Boosting energy
Because a traditional Thai massage session covers all of the muscles in your body, it typically lasts 90 minutes to 120 minutes.
Physical therapy can help you recover range of motion and ease pain after injury, accident or illness. Many people are prescribed physical therapy by their primary care doctor or specialist after a car accident, surgery or sports-related injury. You don’t need a doctor’s referral to start physical therapy, but unless you are paying out of pocket for the services, your insurance provider might require a referral. Physical therapy is also a medical solution for pain associated with chronic illness such as osteoarthritis and can be used for recovery after a stroke or other neurological disorders.
Physical therapy teaches you how to move your body in a safe and healing way to regain strength and movement. During a physical therapy session, the PT will teach you to use medical exercise equipment and approved exercises to regain your lost flexibility and improve your mobility where possible. You may use treadmills, steps, medicine balls, resistance bands, isometric exercises, weights and more. From young children to seniors, patients of any age can benefit from the science-based movements and exercises that encourage flexibility, rebuild muscle, and ease stiff joints.