What Is Massage Therapy? How to Find a Good Massage Therapist?
Updated: Nov 21, 2019
Massage is one of the oldest forms of healthcare that dates back thousands of years. Early references to massage appear in ancient writings from Egypt, China, Japan, India, Greece, Rome, and a few Arabic nations.
To date, there are about 80 different styles of massage therapy that vary in pressures, movements, and techniques.
In Canada, massage therapy is a regulated health profession in only four provinces—Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland. Standards and practices may vary from province to province.
The 2018 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey has shown massage therapy is the most used paramedical extended health care benefit in the country after dental and vision care. And over 50% of the beneficiaries use massage to heal an injury or diagnosed condition.
What Is Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy is the scientific manipulation of soft tissues using manual techniques applied with hands, fingers, feet, elbows, or even a device. The main purpose of massage therapy is to treat body pains and relieve stress.
Does Massage Therapy Work?
Yes, massage therapy works. In fact, it is one of the oldest healing techniques that is still being used today. Most western and eastern cultures practice it since time immemorial.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
Massage therapy works for different body and stress-related physical conditions, such as:
Low back pain
Neck and shoulder pain
Osteoarthritis of the knee
Headaches and migraines
Anxiety and depression
Repetitive stress injuries
Massage can also:
Reduce heart rate
Lower blood pressure
Improve blood circulation and lymph flow
Promote the release of happiness hormones endorphins and serotonin
Relax tired muscles
Stimulate weak, inactive muscles
Types of Massage Therapy
Today, we can use various types of massage therapy to achieve specific goals. These include:
Deep tissue massage
Hot stone massage
What Are Good Massage Options for Back Pain?
Massage can help treat back pain regardless of the technique. But if you are looking for special massage techniques to heal your backache, consider:
Chiropractic Massage: Chiropractic massage is effective for patients suffering from lower back pain, especially if the cause lies in the musculoskeletal or nervous system like osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.
Sports Massage: Sports massage is perfect for sports-related pain and injuries. It promotes flexibility and helps avoid injuries. If a sport or workout activity causes your back pain, I recommend getting a sports massage before, during or after the activity.
Deep Tissue Massage: Deep tissue massage is best used for extreme cases of pain because it goes deeply into each sore muscle. It is perfect to help release scar tissue and tightly knotted muscles that cause chronic neck and upper back pain.
What Is the Best Massage to Relieve Stress?
All types of massage therapy bring stress relief to your body. Two of the best types of massage to relieve stress are deep tissue massage and Swedish massage.
Deep Tissue: Deep tissue massage uses slow strokes and deep finger pressure to relieve chronic muscle problems. It is more intense than Swedish massage but does not cause any soreness or pain at all.
Swedish Massage: If you are overly sensitive to pressure, Swedish massage is your best option. It uses lesser pressure than deep tissue massage. Swedish massage targets muscle knots using kneading, flowing strokes, deep circular motions, and more.
How to Find a Good Massage Therapist
There are several factors to consider when searching for a massage therapist with a good track record. These include:
Experience: Look for a massage therapist who has been in practice for at least a few years. They can address your concerns best. And you can rest assured they can hit the right pressure points.
Expertise: A massage therapist with years of experience might know a lot of massage techniques. Ask what his/her specialization are and if he/she has handled and treated patients with a similar condition as yours. Talk to the receptionist or manager first about your condition so they can suggest the right person for you.
Credentials: Of course, you want a registered massage therapist (RMT). Ask him/her if he/she is. You can also find and verify RMTs within the four regulated provinces. Head over to RMTFind.com and search by postal code, city/town, or therapist name. To verify the status of a massage therapist’s license, you can use the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) website.
Reputation: While it’s easy for massage therapists and clinics to say they have all of most of these factors, today’s technology has made it so much easier to do background checks. A quick trip to Google will give you ratings and reviews of the massage clinics and their staff and service from real-life customers. Don’t just rely on good reviews, though. Try to look at the bad ones too.
Customer Service: The quality of service, whether good or bad, offered by massage clinics is often the top reason why customers find time to leave reviews. Look for the businesses on platforms like Facebook, Google My Business, and Yelp to get a good grasp of the experience of customers during their visit to these clinics. Through these platforms, you should be able to find out if their staff and massage therapists are welcoming, approachable, and attentive to the customer’s needs.
Fees: Massage service costs range between $40 to $60 per session, depending on the type of massage you will get. Payment plans are also available for regular treatments. Most massage clinics offer free consultations. Know your medical coverage and health insurance policies because some companies include massages as part of their healthcare benefit. This might reduce your out-of-pocket expense.
What Are the Risks of Massage Therapy?
As a non-invasive manual therapy, massages are safe.
For people with cases listed below, I recommend getting the advice of your doctor or massage therapist first. Massage therapists—unless they are also qualified doctors—may not diagnose any medical conditions.
Cold or flu
Hypertension / high blood pressure
Inflammation of the vein (phlebitis)
Blood clot (thrombosis)
Any contagious diseases
If you have at least one of the above conditions, please see your doctor before getting a massage.
How Often Should You Have a Massage?
Factors like general health and condition may determine how many times should you get a massage.
Note that these are general recommendations only. It’s best to ask your massage therapist or chiropractor for recommendations tailored to meet your individual needs.
For General Wellness: If you are looking at massage for general wellness, 1 or 2 times a month is good enough to get all its benefits.
For Chronic Conditions: Massage to treat chronic conditions like backache, neck ache, and migraine may need a more frequent visit to a massage therapist or chiropractor. Twice a week massages for the first 4 to 6 weeks may be a good starting point.
For Athletes: If you are an athlete, a sports junkie, or a high-intensity workout enthusiast, you may have to spend 2 to 3 times per week for a massage during periods of intense training.
For Stress: Massage to relieve stress and stress-related conditions like anxiety and insomnia could be done every 1 to 2 weeks.
If you would like to learn more about how we can help you achieve your optimal health, Contact us or call us at (905) 265-006