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Massage Therapy for General Pain Management Essay

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Updated: Jul 29th, 2020

Teaching Plan

Learning Objectives Content Outline Teaching/
Learning Activities/
Outcome Evaluation
Content presentation, informing the audience
  1. Introduction of massage for pain management: Massage is a commonly used technique to help manage pain. It is used by over 15 million Americans every year and has proven to be very effective as a pain management strategy (Ruane, 2017).
  2. Description of the advantages of massage as a pain management strategy:These include universality (can be used on different groups of muscles and body parts), suitability for various patients (age groups and backgrounds), and additional positive effects (emotional and stress relief, relaxation, better sleep, improved blood circulation; and in the case of self-massage, physical activity and exercise, the practice of self-love, focus, assertion, and confidence)
  3. Presentation of research findings in order to illustrate the benefits of massage and support the claims made previously by evidence-based data (See Articles section)
Lecture 15 min In the next section of the plan, the audience’s understanding and retention of the information presented in the lecture will be tested.
Checking Understanding The following questions will help test how the learners comprehended the lecture:
  • Q1.Why is massage good for pain management? (A1: universality in regard to types of pain, applicability for various patients, and multiple positive effects)
  • Q2.What are the various positive effects of massage therapy? (A2: pain relief, relaxation, improved blood circulation, better sleep, stress relief; in the case of self-massage, the practice of self-love, confidence, the ability to help one’s condition autonomously, exercise).
  • Q3.Would anyone like to share any personal experiences of the benefits of massage for pain management? (Optional, helps the audience realize the value of massage).
Interactive conversation based on the previously delivered lecture 10 min The correct answers to the questions concerning the lecture will show the level of understanding of the new information.
Explaining and Applying Techniques
  • Kneading (warming up, softening tissue)
  • Vibration (blood circulation)
  • Long strokes (calming and relaxing)
  • Tapping (toning, blood circulation)
  • Circular motion (range of motion, warming)
  • Point pressure (relaxation)
Demonstration using a volunteer with the simultaneous application by the learners; work in pairs 20 min Timely and correct repetition of the motions will indicate the efficiency of this part of the teaching session.
Situations and Solutions The audience will be asked to find motions suitable for the following situations:
  • Stiff and sore muscles between shoulder blades (Possible answers: kneading, circular motion)
  • Poor range of motion and pain in the neck (Possible answers: kneading, circular motion, tapping)
  • Muscle spasm in a hand (Possible answers: vibration, long strokes, point pressure)
  • Weak and sore muscle of arms (Possible answers: vibration, kneading, tapping)
Problem-solving by means of the application of the new knowledge 15 min Appropriate choices of massage techniques suggested by the learners will indicate their understanding of the new material.
Combine and Create To conclude the teaching session, the audience will be asked to think of more situations where pain management can be accomplished with the help of massage:
  1. What is more, situations linked to severe and moderate pain where massage could be helpful?
  2. Some hints: women in labor, patients with chronic headaches, athletes
  3. How can the patients in each of these situations be helped using the techniques discussed previously?
Creative problem-solving using new situations where the knowledge could be applied 15 min Appropriate situations and scenarios are named where the patients could benefit from different kinds of massage.


Benefits of massage

  • Massage is highly beneficial due to its universality and applicability to a wide range of problems and body parts.
  • Versatile forms of massage can be used for a wide range of groups of muscles.
  • Massage is suitable for patients of all age groups and backgrounds.
  • Anyone can benefit from a massage. In addition to the management of pain, massage brings such positive effects as relaxation, emotional relief, and better blood circulation.
  • Massage can be performed by a trained therapist or by patients themselves.
  • In the latter case, it will also help the patient to practice daily activity; exercise their hands; practice self-love, focus, and assertion; and experience confidence due to being able to manage their pain.

Types of pain and problems that can be helped using massage

  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Muscle ache (in the neck, upper and lower back, legs, arms, face, and head muscles, among others).
  • Sore limbs and joints.
  • Poor range of motion and stiff muscles.
  • Abdominal pain and digestion problems.
  • Severe and chronic pain.
  • Weak muscles and musculoskeletal conditions.

Types of massage techniques

  • Swedish massage (a set of gentle techniques such as kneading, vibration, long strokes, tapping, circular motion).
  • Neuromuscular or deep tissue massage (focus on trigger points—areas of concentrated tension, the application of pressure, often accompanied by painful sensation at first).
  • Acupressure (based on the creation of a prolonged pressure [1–3 minutes] on various areas of the body).
  • Shiatsu (similar to acupressure but with more key pressure points) (“Best types of massage to use for chronic pain,” 2017).
  • Osteopathic manipulation (counter strain technique, muscle energy technique, soft pressure technique, thrust pressure) (Ruane, 2017).

Types of motion in a massage

  • Kneading: squeezing and releasing soft tissue (this motion warms up, softens tissue).
  • Vibration: pressing firmly with a vigorous back-and-forth movement, thus creating a toning stimulation of the muscles (improves blood circulation).
  • Long strokes: slow but firm strokes along with the muscle that helps soothe the muscles and improve blood flow (calming and relaxing).
  • Tapping: intensively dabbing fingers against soft tissue (provides muscle toning and better blood circulation).
  • Circular motion: pressing and creating rotating motions on the massaged surface (improves range of motion, ensures warming of the muscles).
  • Point pressure: applying firm pressure on a certain spot and holding it for 1 to 3 minutes; this motion forces tight and stiff muscles to release tension (provides relaxation).

These types of motions can be combined with one another, depending on the exact needs of the patients and the problems from which they suffer. All of the techniques are easy to memorize and practice.


A substantial body of research exists to support the effectiveness of massage therapy as a pain management strategy. For instance, Adams, White, and Beckett (2010) found that patients suffering from chronic pain reported the reduction of its level from a mean of 5.18 to 2.01, which is a very significant improvement. To be more precise, the sample included participants from medical, surgical, and obstetrics departments and, accordingly, diverse causes and sources of pain. However, the treatment based on massage therapy proved to be equally helpful for all of the groups of participants.

In addition, Smith, Levett, Collins, and Jones (2012) carried out a review of a substantial body of research for the purpose of finding out how effective massage therapy can be for women in the prenatal period and during labor. In particular, the authors noted that positive clinical outcomes of massage were reported in several studies from the middle of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s. Specifically, the women participating in the study reported positive outcomes regarding the emotional experience during labor and the prenatal period, a better quality of life, a sense of control, and satisfaction due to pain relief (Smith et al., 2012).

In a study by Buckenmaier et al. (2016), the authors noted that the long history of massage therapy resulted in advancement and development; furthermore, it is now known that massage therapy can slow down inflammatory processes in the muscles. In particular, massage can reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines, thus helping calm down inflammation. In addition, Buckenmaier et al. (2016) also pointed out that massage has a significant positive psychological effect on patients, improving their moods, and providing relaxation and stress relief.

Finally, Woolston (2017) pointed out that some researchers reported a significant positive outcome in a sample of 262 participants; to be more precise, as many as 74% of the participants reported a notable improvement and stated that the therapy was very helpful. Clearly, massage is recognized as an efficient complementary treatment and an alternative to traditional medicine. Moreover, Woolston (2017) also added that massage was known to ease chronic and severe pain in cancer patients; this finding is supported by a study of 1,200 patients who found that massage therapy helped reduce such symptoms as anxiety, pain, and nausea by about 50%.


Adams, R., White, B., & Beckett, C. (2010).The effects of massage therapy on pain management in the acute care setting. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, 3(1), 4-11. Web.

Best types of massage to use for chronic pain. (2017). Web.

Buckenmaier, C., Cambron, J., Werner, R., Buckenmaier, P., Derry., C., Schwartz, J., Whiteridge, P. (2016). Massage therapy for pain—call to action. Pain Medicine, 17, 1211-1214. Web.

Ruane, J. J. (2017). . Web.

Smith, C. A., Levett, K., Collins, C. T., & Jones, L. (2012). Massage, reflexology and other manual methods for pain management in labour (review). The Cochrane Library, 2, 1- 45. Web.

Woolston, C. (2017). . Web.

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