Post by Guelph massage therapist Terri Rowan from Clear Path Chiropractic (yup, that’s here).
The most common question I am asked is, “What kind of massage therapy do you do?” The easy answer to this question is, “I do the kind of massage therapy that the client requests” with the caveat being that what they are asking for must be within my scope of practice and safe for the patient.
The real answer is more complicated. All massage therapists registered in Ontario are trained in Swedish Massage which is a type of massage characterized by longer, flowing strokes usually performed with the hands and fingertips. This style of massage is often the type of massage associated with a ‘relaxation’ massage. However, Swedish massage therapy techniques can be modified to provide a range of pressure during any treatment. RMTs in Ontario are also educated in Peripheral Joint Mobilization (PJM) which means that we are taught techniques for gentle movement of joints in order to restore range of motion and/or decrease pain. As a regulated health profession, RMTs are trained to thoroughly interview and assess a patient to determine all possible sources of pain and dysfunction, rule out more serious conditions and determine how to safely proceed with treatment for each individual patient.
But, the ultimate answer remains the easy answer: “I do the kind of massage therapy that you (the client) request.” The first question I will ask you is, “Does anything in particular bring you in for a massage today?” This gives you the opportunity to express your expectation for that particular treatment. If you tell me that pain of some sort has brought you in we will talk about that more in depth before deciding how to proceed. This will include an assessment of the area (and surrounding area) and I will give you the chance to ask any questions before the treatment begins.
While RMTs are trained to understand and deal with pain, dysfunction and injury, often patients will say that nothing in particular is bothering them. This is a legitimate answer. But I encourage you to consider the question a little more deeply. There is a reason why you chose to leave the comfort of your house and visit the clinic instead of staying home and taking a nap. Think back to your previous massages and their outcomes and share these experiences with me. Even if you aren’t experiencing any pain, understanding what works for you will ensure a successful experience for both of us.
Likewise, if I have been treating you for a specific injury or pain and on a subsequent visit you would really enjoy a full body relaxation massage, please don’t be afraid to speak up! Just because you have a sprained ankle or a frozen shoulder doesn’t mean that you don’t also experience stress at work, grief over losing a friend, or tension from managing your family. During these times it can be comforting to turn to an RMT with whom you already have a professional relationship.
The key to an enjoyable, successful massage therapy treatment is communication: be clear with your expectations before treatment, don’t be afraid to ask for modification during treatment, and provide feedback after the treatment.