In my years as a licensed massage therapist I’ve had the good fortune to spend them entirely in tandem with my time as a technician for Stratton Rehabilitation. This has allowed me to see clearly how the cog of skillfully applied therapeutic massage fits into the greater machine of physical therapy. There are many roadblocks on a patient’s path to regaining their desired quality of life that are best resolved with the addition of massage techniques: affecting change in muscular or connective tissues, soothing hypersensitivity, or flushing out stubborn edema to name a few.

I’ve seen numerous instances where the application of massage made all the difference in the success of an attempted joint manipulation. Indeed, working so closely with physical therapists has helped me hone my craft as they identify specific areas of need and the desired outcome. Incidentally, they’ve also aided me in recognizing its limitations. As previously stated, massage is only a cog—a portion of what a patient needs in order to attain optimal outcomes.

This has been a source of frustration in my private business doing in-home massages. Many of my clients present with issues as severe as those I see in patients when in clinic. Although there is much that I can do to help, I am fully aware of both the limited tools at my disposal as well as the range of those employed by a physical therapist. Knowing that more could be done to help my clients, as I see regularly within the walls of Stratton Rehabilitation, has been one of many motivators for me to pursue licensure as a physical therapist (a journey upon which I’m about to embark).

Seeing the work of a physical therapist aided by the skillful implementation of therapeutic massage has so shaped my view of patient treatment that now finding one without the other (in most cases) feels like a half measure. Certainly, there are myriad problems that our patients present with that benefit most from a more focused treatment plan that excludes the use of massage, or massage is contraindicated. However, most of our patients by a wide margin do indeed receive and benefit from massage as part of their treatment plan.

Therapeutic massage is quite effective as a stand-alone treatment, but when employed as one of many tools within the realm of physical therapy its use is optimized to the benefit of those whom we serve: THE PATIENTS.

By: Michael Nash, LMT