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Massage therapy

Historically, massage therapy has always been at the heart of naturopathic medicine. But how does this sit within contemporary practise?
An image of a patient receiving a therapeutic back massage.
© Courtesy of Pixabay 2023.

Massage therapy has been a core discipline within naturopathic practice since the work of the Nature cure movement, but how does this historical discipline sit within a contemporary naturopathic scope of practice?

Before we begin in discussing, what is massage therapy, it is important to acknowledge that massage therapy has had a long history in both naturopathic medicine and other health care professions for several millennia. The history of massage therapy can be traced back to Hippocrates and further. As a health discipline it was used in conjunction with other health approaches such as dietary recommendations, fresh air exposure, sunlight exposure, and herbal medicines. How massage therapy looks in naturopathic practice has continued to evolve and focus on a hands-on approach to manipulate muscles, while promoting relaxation and reducing tension. While there a range of massage therapy approaches and techniques, naturopaths are trained in their naturopathic degrees to conduct remedial massage therapy.

Remedial massage therapy

Remedial massage therapy is defined as a form of manual therapy that focuses on soft tissue therapy and manipulation, to reduce pain, improve physical function including functioning of connective tissues, nerves and muscles. The pressure applied in remedial massage therapy ranges but has a core focus on being holistic and aligning the pressure to the patient’s needs and preferences while also improving the function and integrity of the muscles that have been impacted.

There are a range of benefits to massage therapy within naturopathic clinical practice where naturopaths can activity conduct a therapeutic massage to address the physical complaints of the patient in conjunction with the other scope of practice areas we have already unpacked. Benefits in massage therapy can occur for individuals who are experiencing mental health concerns such as stress and anxiety where patient’s quality of life can be impacted. In this instance, massage therapy can promote relaxation, reduce blood pressure, and regulate heart rate. The technique of massage therapy for naturopaths involves learning about the human body and how to safely and effectively apply therapeutic massage to the torso, head, neck, limbs, and also how to conduct a full body massage.

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Fundamentals of Naturopathic Medicine

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