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Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2005 12:00 am | Updated: 6:19 pm, Thu Feb 11, 2010.
By Pam Cloud |

With the soothing touch of fingers gently manipulating the back, shoulders and neck, a person can enjoy the tranquil moments of a relaxation massage, and his stress-related discomfort melts away.

When the client complains of pain in a specific area, the massage turns into a medical massage, intended to address a specific need, as opposed to a relaxation massage which generally focuses on the whole body.

With a medical massage, the clients have something wrong, and they are seeing the massage therapist so he or she can fix it. With a relaxation massage, the reason for the visit is more of a service the client is desiring, according to experts.

After she injured her lower back, Traci Elliff of Fort Smith was referred to a massage therapist specializing in myofascial balancing, or deep tissue massage, by both her family physician and her chiropractor.

Since February, Reid Maddox, a licensed massage therapist with Reid Maddox Massage Therapy and Wellness Center, has been performing the deep tissue massage to help relieve Elliff's piriformis syndrome, a condition affecting the muscle that wraps around her sciatic nerve.

"Reid helped me in my acute phase to get that muscle released," said Elliff, whose treatment included a combination of chiropractic treatment, deep tissue massage therapy and yoga.

As he manipulated Elliff's lower back during a therapy session, Maddox explained that when the fascia is released, it's like a domino effect for other parts of the body.

"It takes a lot of her pain away," said Maddox, who also works with injuries in sports medicine and clients injured in automobile accidents. "That's the bottom line; that's why we do what we do."

Many physicians are seeing the benefits of massage therapy for their patients, along with other modes of treatment, such as physical therapy and chiropractic adjustments.

Dr. Wendall Ross, a family practitioner in Van Buren, is one of those doctors who believes in the benefits of deep tissue massage therapy.

"I have referred many of my patients to Reid for massage treatment, and they have all received beneficial results," said Ross. "Reid is also my massage therapist."

With the majority of his clientele receiving medical massage, Maddox said there is a lot of communication between him and the client during the massage.

"I address the pain in the situation at hand, and by what a doctor will prescribe," said Maddox, who usually adds 20 hours of continuing education in myofascial release each year, more than the six hours required by the American Massage Therapy Association.

Maddox, who will be a member of the American Medical Massage Association this summer, said his deep tissue massage differs from physical therapy in that the later involves kinesiology and rehabilitation exercises. But the two work well in combination together as a treatment regimen prescribed by a doctor.

"(Medical massage) complements everything," said Maddox, who does some relaxation massages for his clients.

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When you're laying on his massage table, waiting for Reid Maddox to start working out that tight spot on your back, relax. The man knows what he's doing.
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