Massage vs Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy and massage therapy offer benefits to the mental and physical health of patients. Both of these disciplines work to restore the body to its optimal health and function. Despite variations in technique, these treatments can be combined to provide patients with a full-service approach to rehabilitation and muscle relaxation.

Our patients often ask about the difference between physiotherapy and massage therapy, so we’ve outlined below the key differences between the two, as well as the benefits of both treatments.

An important difference between these treatments is that while both massage therapists and physiotherapists are skilled in their fields and highly trained, physiotherapy is classified as a medical profession while massage therapy is classified as alternative medicine.

The benefits of physiotherapy:

Physiotherapy is typically offered as a treatment for injury or serious ailments. This treatment utilizes a variety of modalities, and programs are individualized based on the medical history of the client.

Our team of registered physiotherapists work to restore the body following an injury, disease or motion limitations that result from age. Our physiotherapy treatment includes a diagnosis and examination, and a discussion about your medical history, current condition and future goals in order to create a truly customized treatment.

Physiotherapy works in combination with manual therapy, home programs, electrotherapy intervention and exercise, among other techniques.

The benefits of massage therapy:

Conversely to physiotherapy, massage therapy is most often used for muscle relaxation purposes, accentuating the effects of physiotherapy as well as promoting recovery.

Massage therapy techniques work to manipulate muscles and ligaments to relieve pain, prevent injury and improve athletic performance, among other benefits.

Registered massage therapists utilize a variety of treatments to alleviate pain and discomfort. Kneading, gliding, vibration, compression and stretching are all techniques which move the soft tissue of the body to relieve trigger points, improve circulation, and reduce muscle pain or stiffness, and improve overall function of the body.

Massage therapy also offers added mental health benefits to help patients manage stress and anxiety. Massage therapy sessions can last between 30 minutes to an hour, and patients receive one-on-one treatment in a calm, relaxing setting. A relaxation based massage therapy session should be approximately one hour to really work on trigger points and tension areas.

Understanding the difference between physiotherapy and massage therapy can help you to find the treatment plan that works best for you.

The purpose of each service:

Massage therapy is commonly used for immediate relaxation of pain and muscle spasms, whereas physiotherapy is geared more towards rehabilitating muscle and joint function.

Massage therapy is a therapeutic hands-on treatment used to manipulate soft tissue in the body, including muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons, and connective tissue. Some benefits of massage therapy include:

    • Alleviation of chronic pain conditions
    • Elimination/ reduction of muscle and joint pain caused by occupational stresses or intense workouts
    • Muscle massages for everyday discomfort and pain
    • Reduction of anxiety and depression symptoms by increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine to help stabilize the client’s mood
    • Improvement of sleep
    • Headache relief
  • Circulation improvement

Massage therapy is often chosen as the appropriate treatment when the client is in need of immediate relief for pain and discomfort.

Massage therapy might be the right choice if you:

    • Require muscle and joint pain relief
    • Are in need of relaxation due to high levels of stress
    • Want to improve your posture
  • Need to decompress tired and overworked muscles