A very common question we hear is “what is the difference between Myotherapy and massage?”. Asked and answered! Here are some of the common differences between the 2 modalities and my recommendation on when to use which!

Massage 101

To start this journey we must first explain massage. There are numerous types of massage available today. You can get Hot stone massage, Thai massage, Chinese massage, Remedial massage, Relaxation massage and so on. I have tried a lot of them, I love a good massage and I like to know whats available to my customers; I like to know what’s good, what’s fad and what’s potentially harmful.

There are lots of people who advertise hot stone massage that basically sit the rocks on you and walk away, they also charge a lot of money for this. I feel like maybe some heat packs at home could have done just as good a job. A good hot stone massage incorporates them moving the stones around with hot oil used as well, very relaxing and takes away some of the stress fueled tension in our bodies. Just ask about their hygiene policy before you book in, I would want to make sure those stones have been sterilised between customers.

“When in rome” as they say. I enjoyed a lot of Thai massages when I was in Thailand 2 years ago, sooo good! However they incoporate a lot of stretching into the massage so you want to be somewhat flexible and have no injuries. You also lie with your head turned one way so not very good if the neck is your problem area. Thai massages are good for a bit of fun or if you have general tightness through the body but no specific injuries.

By Chinese massage I mean the little massage places at the shopping centres. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of times I’ve had people come in to us worse off from one of these massages. Unfortunately the staff are often not all properly trained but just one or two of them, so you never really know what you’re getting. They press very hard and often don’t ease off if you ask, so if you don’t have a high pain tolerance, it won’t even be enjoyable! That said, if you have a bit of tension in the shoulders from carrying around heavy shopping bags and you enjoy very firm pressure, it might be nice to finish of the day with a Chinese massage! I would avoid these if you have an ongoing issue, inflammation or something that hasn’t been properly assessed yet.

Remedial Massage is the type of massage that us Myotherapist’s use as part of our tool kit. They are the most highly trained of all the types of massage in regards to anatomy and have varying massage techniques to work out all the knots. They usually have decent assessment skills in regards to muscle complaints and are taught when to refer on to a Myotherapist or Physiotherapist, etc… if something isn’t adding up. If you are after a deep tissue massage due to tight muscles from work or sport, this is the type of massage to go for. I refer to remedial massage therapists regularly as they are better at providing an all over body loosen up compared to how we operate as Myotherapist’s at our clinic.

Relaxation massages like the ones at the day spas feel good, but they don’t do much beyond relax the mind. Nice to incorporate with a facial and foot spa but beyond that don’t waste your money.

There are some other forms of massage I haven’t mentioned such as shiatsu and Japanese massage. Some of my patients have tried shiatsu and tell me it’s wonderful but I have yet to experience it, so no comment just yet.

Myotherapy 101

Myotherapy used to be termed “glorified massage”. Hopefully we are starting to move away from this stigma but unfortunately there are still some schools out there that are teaching short courses in Myotherapy instead of the full degree qualification. So all I can say, is do your research and go to a properly qualified practitioner. Here at Waverley Myotherapy we are all degree qualified with a Bachelor of Health Science – Clinical Myotherapy. A degree qualified Myotherapist is trained to assess, treat and manage all types of acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions. So to clarify, unlike remedial massage we can assess, treat and manage more than the muscles. We look at tendons, ligaments and nerves as well. We usually treat people with some sort of injury but we do get some people with tight muscles from sport, work and recreational activities as well. We treat specific areas relating to your pain complaint and we assess the problem so we know we are targeting the right area. We also re test as we work to make sure we are definitely on the right track, and if not, re assess, because perhaps we missed something. We are investigators aiming to get to the bottom of the problem. This is why I love my job, I am a people person, absolutely and I love helping people but I am also a problem solver, and each and every day I have approximately 6 to 10 cases to solve! That is the best part about my job to me!

So down to the nitty gritty, what is the difference?

Massage is one component or modality that us Myotherapist’s have in our tool kit. We can stick to massage if you prefer because we still follow a patient centred approach where you are in control of the session; however we will recommend an array of modalities depending on what we assess about your particular pain or condition. Some areas of the body or certain conditions respond really well to dry needling (using an acupuncture needle). Some conditions need suction rather than pressure so we might use some active cupping. Some conditions will respond better to exercises such as tendinopathy. Sometimes we will work near the site of pain, other times we assess the pain to be referred pain and will work in an entirely different area of the body! In short Myotherapy is for you if you have a pain, injury or condition relating to the entire musculoskeletal system.

Hopefully that has cleared up some confusion between Myotherapy and massage for you. If you have a question please do not hesitate to contact me via email [email protected] or comment below.

Which therapy is right for me?