Orthopedic Massage

Why Lowe’s Orthopedic Massage?

Whitney Lowe’s Orthopedic Massage system is a comprehensive and multidisciplinary system based on 4 principles created by Lowe. The system, while innovative, is research and outcome-based.

Lowe’s primary philosophy for successful treatment is that effective, long-term solutions to pain and/or injury conditions requires knowing what tissues are at fault or involved, and how. And then treating these tissues effectively. This is the “how, where, when, and why” Lowe refers to. While this might seem simple and obvious (ex: pain in the neck is, well, in the neck), it is actually more complex. And while it may not always be possible to know exactly what tissues are the primary fault, the more you understand, the higher your success.

This level of treatment requires critical (or clinical) thinking skills, which are rarely taught in school or other CE courses. Also required is an adequate understanding of the principles of kinesiology and a  solid grounding in anatomy and physiology. A working knowledge, i.e. being able to identify tissues accurately and immediately in the clinic, takes continued learning after graduation and clinical experience.

Effective treatment also relies on applications of massage techniques that fit the therapeutic needs of the pain or injury. Massage techniques are not benign. Massage can itself be a contraindication and poorly thought out or improper treatment plans can be ineffective for the client at the least, and at worst, make the condition or pain worse.

Lowe’s system integrates therapeutic methods from across the soft-tissue therapy field. He has chosen those techniques most effective for particular pain or injuries. These techniques include but are not limited to: active engagement, p.n.f stretching, myofascial release, advanced therapeutic techniques, neuromuscular therapy, nerve mobilization techniques, positional release, muscle energy technique, and trigger point therapy.

Lowe teaches these elements in his workshops and online courses. His principles of Orthopedic Massage are laid out in his text, Orthopedic Massage: Theory & Technique. His assessment and evaluation methods are presented in Orthopedic Assessment in Massage Therapy. Together these texts provide Lowe’s entire system.

Lowe’s Four Primary Components of Orthopedic Massage

  1. Orthopedic Assessment
  2. Matching the Physiology of the Injury With the Physiological Effects of Treatment
  3. Treatment Adaptability
  4. Understanding the Rehabilitation Protocol


Assessment gives you access to the “how and where” – what tissues, how were they injured or why are they in pain. This is more than a simple intake inquiry. Knowing how to do a skilled and stream-lined assessment by itself is a skill developed with practice and continued learning.

Matching the Physiology of the Injury With the Physiological Effects of Treatment

Lowe developed this particular rule in order to emphasize the critical importance of knowing why one might use a particular technique on a particular injury or pain. For high quality treatment, there should be a sound physiological rationale for the chosen treatment method. (Because it “works” is good for some cases, but for painful conditions or injuries, it is not enough).

Treatment Adaptability

Lowe’s created this rule because sadly massage can become an exercise of rote application of techniques without thought about whether they are actually appropriate (i.e. “recipes”). In many cases, there are tried and true solutions, but being able to ‘think on one’s feet’ means being able to adapt and be more successful in the clinic.

Rehabilitation Protocol

For treating pain and injuries it is very helpful to both the therapist and the client to understand the healing process of the body and the type of pain or injury. Knowing “when” to apply massage is part of quality treatment. This rule teaches what rehabilitation is about, the process, and other aspects such a home-care for the client and suggestions for additional therapy, such as stretching.

The orthopedic massage practitioner is knowledgeable and skilled in their understanding of pain and injury conditions and massage treatment techniques. They are also skillful critical thinkers. This combination of expertise provides for the most effective treatment of soft tissue pain and injury conditions using massage therapy – and a very successful career for those who choose to challenge themselves with this approach.

The success that massage therapists experience after learning this approach comes from their ability to treat their clients’ problems as unique. Being able to think creatively and apply skillful analysis for excellent treatment results is the hallmark of a great clinical massage therapist.