What is Massage Therapy?
The practice of massage therapy is the assessment of the soft tissue and joints of the body and the treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissue and joints by manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, or relieve pain. (Massage Therapy Act, 1991)
A Massage Therapist is a regulated health professional. Only members of the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario are permitted to use the title Massage Therapist or Registered Massage Therapist and use the letters MT or RMT with their names. Massage therapists have completed a 2-3 years diploma program from a recognized massage therapy school. Massage therapists participate in a quality assurance program that assists them in the maintenance of high professional standards and quality care of their clients.
What sorts of problems respond well to massage therapy?
Massage therapy can be most effective for everything from the stresses and strains of every day life to more specific problems caused by repetitive strain injuries and sports related dysfunction. It can be very effective in:
- reducing or eliminating pain
- increasing joint mobility
- improving circulation
- improving immune system functioning
- increasing lymphatic drainage
- reducing depressions and anxiety
- increasing body awareness
While it benefits the injured, the ill and the stressed, the real strength of massage therapy lies in prevention. Massage therapy has become a staple of many professional athletes’ training regimens. However, not only athletes benefit. Lifestyle factors, such as long work hours or physically taxing tasks, lead many members of the workforce to seek the assistance of a massage therapist. A seemingly minor injury can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to stay physically active, participate fully in life, or even make a living if it becomes chronic. Massage therapy can be one of the ways of preventing that kind of outcome.
What does a treatment involve?
After completing a confidential case history form and discussing a suitable treatment plan with the therapist, the client will be left to undress to their comfort level. The client may leave on underwear if they so wish. They will lie down on an elevated massage table and cover themselves with a top sheet. Only the part of the body that is being treated will be undraped at any particular moment. The client may ask for modification of the treatment plan as the treatment progresses. Massage therapists will use a variety of techniques including general relaxing Swedish massage techniques. Some techniques used, especially on tight and contracted muscles, can elicit a modicum of tenderness. However, massage therapists always work within the client’s pain tolerance. Massage oil is usually used in massage therapy treatments so it is important for the clients to let their therapist know if they have any allergies that might affect their treatment.
Is massage therapy covered by Ontario Health Insurance Plan (O.H.I.P.) ?
Unfortunately, massage therapy is not covered by O.H.I.P. However, many private health insurance plans do cover massage therapy done by a Registered Massage Therapist. You should check to see what coverage you have and whether you need a medical doctor to authorize your treatment.
Timothy Phillips provides Massage Therapy treatments at Healing on the Danforth.