Remedial Massage Therapy
In Expert Opinions, we sit down with health and wellness experts to discuss their field of expertise, and their thoughts on healthy living. This week, we're sitting down with a Toronto-based RMT who has been practicing for over five years.
Q: Thank you so much for sitting down with me today. Generally, massage therapy is traditionally looked at as secondary care. What are your thoughts on massage therapy as a diagnostic tool?
A: By definition, massage therapy is not diagnostic. We are not doctors, so we can't technically diagnose -- we just give our informed opinion. Say, someone has a sprained ankle; I cannot say "You have a sprained ankle", I say "You may have a sprained ankle".
That being said, 100% of my training is in the soft tissue of the body. My expertise is out of the normal practice for a lot of GPs -- they do not treat sprained ankles, they diagnose them. My anatomical and mechanical understanding of the body is very good, and doctors' areas of expertise are a lot more spread out.
Q: Do you view your practice in a holistic and collaborative way?
A: I think massage is just very good for people. (laughs) Like, truly. Collaboratively it works really well, and it also works very well in isolation. Soft tissue pathology, relaxation, mobilization and movement are all extremely powerful.
Q: When you talk about mobilization and movement, how exactly is that important to your practice, and how do you talk about it with your patients?
A: My job as a massage therapist means I'm working on your body constantly, but it's still your treatment. I need to know how things feel and what's going on inside. All of that is just body awareness; one of the things I think people get the most out of body work is that specific body awareness, being able to identify muscles and sore sports and recognizing how movements affect you in a way you previously had not.
Q: I have always had the conception that RMTs, massage therapy in general, is a profession that has been widely misunderstood and not processed on the level of what RMTs are actually doing. Is there a specific common misconception about massage therapy you'd like to clear up?
A: Well...I don't think the word "massage" accurately describes what me and my colleagues do, certainly in this country. It just gets pigeonholed with ineffective, extraneous bodywork. One thing that I love, and I don't think most people are really aware of this, is that a treatment from a well-trained RMT is fantastic health care. Like I said earlier in the interview: massage therapies are good for people. Who doesn't feel better after a massage?
But massage therapy also has a crucial role in rehabilitation. You sprain your ankle, you go to your GP and you try to have it not hurt anymore -- but as soon the swelling goes down, and the pain is lessened, go see a massage therapist. Go to a physiotherapist. Get some bodywork. We have bodies, and we don't treat them with the diligence that we should.