Did you know that doctors diagnose about 5.8 million Americans with fibromyalgia each year? Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that targets soft tissue and muscles, leaving patients to undergo severe muscle pain, sleepless nights, fatigue, and sore tender points.
Patients can alleviate aches and pains through stress management, medications, and lifestyle changes. Part of their lifestyle changes should include contacting a massage therapist, which is you. Massage for fibromyalgia is an effective pain management technique.
If you have encountered a client with fibromyalgia, you probably have an idea on how you want to treat their illness using a particular massage technique. If you have a client who suffers from this uncomfortable condition, here the massage techniques that you can apply to them:
Massage for Fibromyalgia
You will use long strokes, friction, and kneading massage techniques. Use oil to facilitate the kneading and stroking process on the body. In doing so, you will stimulate circulation, as you lightly press and rub the muscles in the same direction as the blood flow entering to the heart.
You will increase the pressure of the movements to allow you to penetrate the deep layers of the muscle. You will use a sequence of direct pressure and strokes to release tension trapped in the muscles. At times, you will use your thumbs or elbows to increase the pressure to decrease the tension trapped in the deepest part of the muscle.
You will use a combination of shiatsu and acupressure pairing it with deep-tissue massage to reduce soft tissue or myofascial pain. It will reduce pain and restore movement by stretching the muscle fibers.
Hot stone massage
You will heat stones to a desirable and comfortable temperature, and then place the stones on major points on the client’s body. This massage technique will help to relax your client’s body, allowing them to get a good night’s sleep.
Even though sports massage is used on professional athletes that participate in sports that pose a high risk of injury, in some instances, it can also be used to reduce tension and stress in people with fibromyalgia. This massage technique will reduce their blood pressure, improve lymph flow, increase circulation of blood, enhance flexibility, and alleviate fibromyalgia pain.
You can educate your clients about the benefits of passive stretching at home. Passive stretching exerts an external force on a limb, moving it into another position. People with fibromyalgia usually have stiff joints due to the continuous muscle spasms they suffer. Through passive stretching, they will be able to move their legs and arm in one direction, which will in return loosen up their joints and muscles.
Your clients will have some concerns about the pain they will undergo when you apply pressure to parts of your body.
What you need to tell them
You need to maintain open lines of communication with your clients, telling them to convey to your any discomfort they might feel during a massage. This will tell you how much pain they can endure and you can change your pressure according to that. Throughout the massage, keep asking your clients if this much pressure is okay. Also, make sure that they have permission from their doctor to undergo massage.
Learning all of the aforementioned massage techniques will allow you to serve client’s fibromyalgia. For clients suffering from a condition that brings them pain and discomfort every day will appreciate the option to choose massage as a form of stress and pain management.
Do you serve clients with fibromyalgia? What advice do you have for other LMTs about working with clients who suffer from chronic discomfort?