a therapist performs Tecar therapy on a client who is laying face up on the table.

In the evolving field of massage therapy, an innovative technology has emerged and may improve the healing and restoration process that can be achieved in a session. Tecar therapy is a form of endogenous, or internal, thermotherapy that, by transmitting radio waves, creates heat inside the body.

Tecar therapy is used in sports medicine, chiropractic, physical and rehabilitative therapy worldwide, and massage therapists can also use this technology in sessions. As with any device or tool, check your state’s scope of practice regulations before implementing a tecar therapy device in your practice.

Tecar therapy first began when Catalan inventor Jose Calbet Benach added a resistive electrode to a hyperthermia-inducing device and named the new tool’s action Capacitive Resistive Electric Transfer, although the Spanish term for it, Transferencia Electrica Capacitiva Resistiva (TECAR) remains the popular terminology.

Data on tecar therapy’s effectiveness is in the preliminary stages. Learn about the research conducted into tecar therapy by visiting pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and searching for tecar therapy.

The Power of Radio Frequency

By employing radio frequency technology, tecar therapy transmits heat into tissues, making them more pliable for massage therapy and assisting therapists in quickly releasing tension and relieving pain for clients in up to half the time of a traditional manual therapy session.

A tecar therapy device can be used for musculoskeletal injuries, joint pain, tendon conditions, sprains, strains, postsurgical recovery, and rehabilitation treatments for pain relief and mobility. Weekend warriors, athletes and clients needing rehabilitative treatments can benefit from tecar therapy, as it may help improve range of motion and assist clients in regaining mobility and flexibility.

Winback is one company that offers a device, which it calls TecarTherapy, that harnesses the power of radio frequency to enhance the efficacy of manual massage therapy. To learn more about the benefits and applications of tecar therapy, we spoke with Fort Worth, Texas-based massage therapist Mindy Simmons, LMT, ATC, who uses TecarTherapy in massage sessions, and Matthieu Commeau,managing director-WINBACK Americas.

“What happens with [tecar therapy] is the tissue becomes more pliable, sort of like how when you start to play with Silly Putty, it warms up and becomes softer and easier to move,” Simmons told MASSAGE Magazine. “The tissue of the muscle and skin and everything underneath becomes more pliable, and we can massage it easier and pull out any adhesions and lengthen it. It helps the practitioner and the [client].”

The device achieves these results by promoting revascularization in tissues, which facilitates a more efficient flow of blood and nutrients to the treated areas. This accelerated healing process optimizes recovery time, a win for athletes and rehab clients who are looking for long-term pain relief and added vitality.

Simmons added tecar therapy to her business, Athletic Body Care, in 2021. Her practice quickly expanded beyond the walls of her clinic to the fast-paced, results-driven sphere of the basketball court of the WNBA Dallas Wings team. She also works with athletes of the Panther City Lacrosse Club team and the Dallas Jackals rugby team.

“Before using [tecar therapy], if an athlete came right from practice and their muscles were still warm it would take about 15 minutes to get that pliability,” Simmons said.

“If they come in cold, it would take me about 30 minutes before I get the tissue to where I need it to be, because I would have to use a hot pack for 20 minutes then warm up the tissue for about 10 minutes with massage,” said Simmons.

Using tecar therapy cuts that time in half and the results last longer, Simmons explained. She said the faster results allow her the flexibility to work on more team members after practice, providing each athlete with the same level of quality care.

“I had a runner come in to see me, and their glutes and lower back were tight. I did five minutes on each side with TecarTherapy work. Five minutes,” Simmons said.

Simmons has also worked with clients who have had a total joint replacement, and said she witnessed “remarkable” improvements in their rehabilitation. A client with double total knee replacement was running about 18 months after surgery, for example, she said. That client received regular tecar therapy treatments from Simmons, along with physical therapy. Such results show the potential for rehabilitative work using a tecar therapy device with massage.

Along with knee replacement, Simmons said she has experienced benefits with shoulder replacement, rotator cuff and shoulder labrum tears. In her experience, the combination of manual therapy with tecar therapy helps clients increase range of motion, decrease pain and discomfort, and reduce adhesions. It’s also lighter on her body and hands than is manual therapy, she said.

How Does Tecar Therapy Get Results?

TecarTherapy moves radio frequencies into deeper layers of tissues. Practitioners can use various wands or attachments to transfer frequencies, said Commeau. Winback’s tecar therapy device has various settings that allow therapists to target superficial layers, including skin, muscles and tendons, and also reach joints and bones.

The electromagnetic energy vasodilates the vessels, which improves blood circulation to the treated area. Increased circulation supports delivery of oxygen, nutrients and immune cells to the tissues, stimulating a healing response and reducing inflammation to the target area. (Winback’s device was developed in France in 2013 by Founder Christophe Buée and a team of clinicians.)

The frequency settings on the TecarTherapy device allow for varied depth of thermal penetration, which creates an analgesic effect through increased blood flow. The results are decreased muscle spasm, relaxation of tense muscles and decreased nerve sensitivity. Another benefit of tecar therapy comes from its tissue repair and regeneration properties.

According to Commeau, tecar therapy stimulates cellular metabolism, ultimately expediting tissue repair and regeneration. By stimulating fibroblast activity, promoting collagen production and facilitating the formation of new blood vessels, tecar therapy becomes an invaluable ally in the healing process, he said.

Improved blood flow has another effect that is essential to pain relief, said Commeau: It reduces inflammation. Increased circulation and vasodilation helps the body remove excess fluid from the area, which reduces inflammation, promotes pain relief and leads to faster recovery time from injuries.

Tecar therapy’s therapeutic benefits apply to the sports massage and rehabilitative field, yet it also has applications for general relaxation and tension relief. Using it in a relaxation or deep tissue session can help relax muscles, increase their elasticity, and improve joint mobility, further helping everyday clients experiencing muscle tightness or restricted range of motion to fully decompress from stress.

“It is meant to make the sub tissue more pliable. When the tissue is more pliable, you improve the vascularization and decontract the restriction,” said Commeau. “The tissue basically melts quicker into the clinician’s hands as they are providing the treatment.”

Stand Out with Tecar Therapy

Tecar therapy helps massage therapists stand out with a tool that helps them get faster results in a minimal amount of time. Using tecar therapy might allow massage time to be halved and be more focused on the area of concern, which can achieve greater results for clients with less pressure on therapists’ bodies.

Tecar therapy can add value to massage therapy sessions, but does not replace well-trained hands and the experience of therapists. “You still have to know your anatomy of injury,” said Simmons. For example, if a client had a fresh ankle sprain, Simmons said, she wouldn’t apply heat to the injury. She would instead use a low-frequency setting with the TecarTherapy bracelet to stimulate cellular metabolism and circulation, and reduce inflammation of the injured tissue.

A massage therapist who adds tecar therapy to their practice can increase pricing on average of $40 to $80 per 30- to 60-minute session. Some therapists choose to market tecar therapy as an enhancement with an add-on charge, while others increase their general hourly rate and use tecar therapy as one of many tools or techniques.

Tecar therapy companies offer training on their tools. Winback, for example, offers training for practitioners through an online learning format and in-person training that educates therapists on the many uses of the device.

Tecar therapy “helps with recovery for athletes who need a quick turnaround if they have a game the next day,” said Simmons. “It helps with tendonitis, join replacement, adhesions and many other conditions.”

Aiyana Fraley

About the Author

Aiyana Fraley, LMT (dropsofyoga.com), is a freelance writer and health care professional with more than 19 years of experience in the massage field. She teaches yoga and offers sessions in massage, Reiki, sound healing and essential oils.