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11 Types of Holistic Massage Therapy & How They Improve Patient Wellbeing

Holistic massage

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As holistic medicine becomes more popular, more people are turning to methods such as massage therapy to address their pain or for general relaxation. Both healthcare providers and patients alike are increasingly understanding the benefits of  holistic massage therapy and how important it is as a treatment, whether stand-alone or in conjunction with other treatments.

As massage therapy continues to expand (employment of massage therapists is projected to grow 21 percent from 2019 to 2029), your patients need to understand the full extent of the benefits of massage therapy. Choosing the right massage therapy practice can bring people improved physical, social, and mental well-being. 

What Is Holistic Massage Therapy?

A type of integrative medicine, massage therapy involves a certified massage therapist who manipulates the soft tissues of the body, including muscle, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and skin. By using varying degrees of pressure and movement, the massage therapist can induce pain relief for health conditions or relaxation for overall well-being.

Holistic Massage therapy has its roots in both Eastern and Western medicine and has been practiced in most cultures to some extent. In fact, it’s one of the oldest remedies people have used for pain relief with a history that dates back about 5,000 years ago

What are the Types of Holistic Massage Therapy?

The term “massage therapy” actually encompasses a wide range of massage types. The types of massage therapy out there focus on different parts of the body or specific treatment approaches. Here are some of the most common types of massage therapy. 

Medical Massage 

Unlike other forms of massage, which focus on relaxation, a medical massage is for medical needs. It’s prescribed by a physician as a form of treatment for diagnosed medical conditions and is billed to insurance companies in fifteen-minute increments.

The massage therapist may use a variety of techniques that will focus on the area of the body that is being affected by the medical diagnosis. Besides being used to treat soft-tissue disorders, medical massage can also be prescribed for psychological conditions and accelerate rehabilitation after an injury or surgery. There are several requirements for treatments to be considered a medical massage:

  • Medical massage requires a prescription 
  • Medical massage is a complementary therapy to other medical treatments

Medical holistic massage is a general term that covers a wide variety of massage techniques that have proven to deliver medical benefits. Some common massage techniques that can be classified as medical massages include: 

  • Swedish massage
  • Sports massage
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Trigger point massage
  • Thai massage
  • Prenatal massage
  • Reflexology
  • Aromatherapy

Again, these holistic massage techniques require a medical diagnosis and prescription to be considered medical massage therapies. 

Swedish Massage 

Swedish massage is a gentle full-body massage that helps to especially release muscle knots and fully relax patients. This method of massage therapy is ideal for people who:

  • Are new to massage therapy
  • Are touch-sensitive
  • Need to relieve stress
  • Are managing minor pain

This method involves the patient lying on a massage table covered in a sheet. The massage therapist will remove the sheet to uncover areas they will be actively kneading or working on. 

Hot Stone Massage 

Hot stone massage therapy is a type of massage therapy.

While this kind of massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage, hot stone massage involves heated stones instead of or in addition to the massage therapist’s hands. The heated stones help to improve blood circulation and relieve muscle tension for relaxation and pain relief. A hot stone massage is especially ideal for:

  • Stress relief
  • Improving blood flow
  • Promoting relaxation

During treatment, the massage therapist places heated stones on different areas of the patient’s body. The therapist may apply pressure with their hands or use cold stones as well. Generally, hot stone massage relieves more muscle tension than the Swedish method due to the heat involved. 

Aromatherapy Massage

This kind of holistic massage therapy uses traditional massage techniques with the addition of essential oils. By combining gentle pressure with essential oils, this type of massage is designed for an emotional component. An aromatherapy massage is good for people who are looking to:

  • Relieve pain
  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Relieve symptoms of depression
  • Experience a mood boost

During treatment, the massage therapist will give a full-body massage while applying diluted essential oils to the skin. The oils may also be inhaled through a diffuser. If you’re sensitive to essential oils or strong smells, this massage will not be ideal for you. 

Deep Tissue Massage 

A stronger Swedish massage, deep tissue massage uses more pressure and can relieve chronic muscle problems, anxiety, and tight muscles. The massage therapist will use deep finger pressure and deliberate slow strokes to reach the deepest layers of tissue. This type of massage is ideal for:

  • Reducing muscle tension
  • Improving chronic pain
  • Treating repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome

Although deep tissue massages are intensive procedures, they should not be painful. 

Sports Massage 

A sports massage is useful for treating repetitive muscle injuries from athletics or to help prevent a sports injury from occurring. This kind of treatment can also be used to increase flexibility and your overall athletic performance. Generally, a sports massage involves a full-body massage with the massage therapist focusing on certain muscles or parts of the body that need more attention. A sports massage is ideal for those who:

  • Want to improve sports performance
  • Have an injury from repetitive muscle use
  • Want enhanced flexibility
  • Want to reduce chances of injury

Trigger Point Massage 

This type of massage targets “trigger points,” or areas in the body that cause pain such as tightness in muscle tissue. The massage therapist focuses on relieving these trigger points with gentle strokes combined with deep pressure to reduce pain. Trigger point massage is ideal for those seeking to alleviate chronic pain.

Shiatsu Massage 

A Japanese method of massage, shiatsu stimulates acupuncture points throughout the body to improve the flow of energy. During shiatsu, the massage therapist will apply localized pressure using their fingers, elbows, and hands in a sequence along the body. This method of massage is good for someone looking to:

  • Alleviate stress
  • Reduce chances of stress-related health issues
  • Promote relaxation
  • Reduce headaches

Reflexology

Reflexology focuses on the pressure points in your hands, feet, and ears. During treatment, the massage therapist uses finger pressure, kneading, and rubbing on these different pressure points to induce relaxation. This is a good massage technique for those who are uncomfortable with being touched over their entire body.

Thai Massage

Thai massage is a unique blend of yoga, massage movements, and stretching. Unlike the other types of massage therapy, Thai massage is more active and involves the massage therapist moving and stretching the client in a sequence of postures, typically on a floor mat. Thai massage would be useful for:

  • Improving range of motion
  • Reducing back pain
  • Alleviating anxiety 
  • Improving blood circulation
  • Boosting energy levels

In addition to being stretched in various positions, you will also have the massage therapist applying pressure to your body with their fingers and palms. 

Prenatal Massage 

Also known as a pregnancy massage, this kind of massage therapy is customized for a pregnant woman. As many pregnant women experience lower back pain and swollen ankles, a prenatal massage offers relaxation and relief. The massage therapist will also apply gentle pressure for tension relief. 

What are the Benefits of Massage Therapy?

There are numerous types of massage therapy.

Holistic massage therapy offers numerous benefits for people seeking treatments for relaxation and health issues. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, some of the benefits of massage therapy include alleviating: 

  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Low immune function 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Heart rate issues
  • Chronic pain 
  • Limited range of motion
  • Poor quality of sleep 

There is also limited evidence that massage therapy can help improve various health conditions including, but not limited to dementia, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic headaches, postsurgical and burn recovery, fibromyalgia, and reducing the effects of chemotherapy and nausea.

Why Effective Medical Billing Can Help Massage Therapists Provide Care

When massage therapists deliver treatments, medical billing processes ensure that they receive reimbursements for their care. While medical billing is an integral function of the reimbursement process, it can be very complex; the slightest error can delay payments for weeks, if not longer. Ensuring the most accurate medical billing allows medical therapists more time to spend doing what they love - delivering care to their patients. 

However, balancing your holistic practice’s insurance enrollments, billing, and coding while delivering care to your patients can be overwhelming. How can you manage them all?

By outsourcing your massage therapy insurance billing, your holistic practice can streamline your revenue cycle management - and save you time and energy you can devote to your patients!

As an experienced billing provider for holistic providers, including massage therapists, Holistic Billing Services can help your massage therapy practice navigate the medical billing process to minimize denials and delays so you can increase revenue. With an expert partner by your side, you can focus more on treating patients to help your practice grow rather than worrying about insurance billing. To learn more about our holistic massage therapy billing services, talk to one of our billing and coding experts today.

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April 19, 2021
 - by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME
types of holistic massage
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