When you’re experiencing muscle pain or soreness, it may be time to choose a Registered Massage Therapist. Massage therapy can do wonders for your health and help heal any tension or injuries that you accumulate in your daily life. When you’ve decided that you would like to receive treatment, how do you know where to go and who to pick?
Before you choose a RMT, The first thing you should know is the difference between a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) and a Spa Practitioner. A spa practitioner’s focus during a massage revolves around relaxation and self-pampering. The techniques used can include Swedish, aromatherapy and hot stone, depending on what the school offered for courses.
However, there is no formal requirement for a spa practitioner to be formally trained in British Columbia, and many are actually trained on the job by their employer.
In contrast, RMTs complete approximately 3,000 hours of training at an accredited school and pass the exams set out by the College of Massage Therapists of B.C. They must also make a commitment to continue their education upon graduation to stay relevant and updated on techniques.
Massage therapy also focuses on the benefits of relaxation, but its main focus is on the treatment of conditions. Conditions such as strains/sprains, headaches, fibromyalgia, arthritis, TMJ dysfunction and many more can all be effectively treated through massage therapy.
There are many questions to ask yourself when you are deciding on an RMT. To make it easier for you, we have outlined below some factors to consider when you are looking for the right RMT:
Know what your needs/goals are. Ask yourself if you are looking for rehabilitation from injury or sports performance, relief from physical or emotional stress, relief from aches and pains, etc. Ask yourself what areas of your body need treatment and/or what was the mechanism of injury. Each therapist may focus on one or all of these types of treatments. Read the therapists’ biographies and check for work that may be appropriate for your case.
Compatibility. It’s important to find someone that you feel comfortable enough with that you can relax during your massage. You don’t want to be on edge and have a million thoughts running through your head wondering where the therapist is in the room or what they are doing. It doesn’t mean that you have to let your guard down, but having the feeling that you can is one way to know that you have found someone compatible.
Equal Understanding. Most RMT’s will wear different hats and use different language depending on the patient they are working on. Some RMT’s will focus largely on the science behind massage therapy, others will explain the science in a more accessible and easy-going manner, or they could not want to bore you with the science and would rather take a friendlier approach where they want you to talk to them about other aspects of your life. Having an idea of what kind of professional boundaries you wish to have with your RMT will help you find the right fit. Make it clear to your RMT because we don’t always guess correctly at which approach you would like to be addressed with. If your RMT can accommodate your level of knowledge or is willing to teach you what you don’t know, or even just let you lay there in silence if that is what you prefer, then you are well on your way to finding a match.
Flexibility. An RMT should make a treatment plan for you for ongoing treatments with the aim to resolve the issue you went in for. However, if you suddenly have a new issue, a problem with the treatment plan, or whatever else may come up, your RMT should be flexible enough to be able to change the plan to better suit your needs—while still offering you the best care and advice.
Professionalism & Accessibility. Your massage therapy appointment starts from the moment you book your massage. Whether you are looking at their website online, or calling in to find out more information, it is important that each method is clear and easy to use. If booking the appointment, parking, entering/exiting the building or paying the bill are in any way stressful, inconvenient, or too challenging, then it diminishes your massage appointment and will discourage you from getting regular maintenance appointments. This ends up being more harmful to you because you won’t be motivated to get the care you need.
Cleanliness & Efficiency. Do you feel safe and welcomed when you enter the clinic? Are the treatment rooms clean and open? Does your massage therapist offer a wide range of payment methods such as direct billing? These are all questions that will help you settle on the therapist that will make your appointments be as smooth as possible.
Results & Respect. Therapists cannot guarantee results—that is not within our scope of practice. However, you should show signs of improvement, or at least signs of not getting worse (as is the case in some pathologies). If you are not seeing any kind of result in 3-6 treatments, your RMT should be trying new techniques, researching new ideas or strategies, or in some cases, referring you to a different health care professional. There should be some indication that your RMT is showing an active interest in getting you better and not just doing the same thing over and over, costing you time and money.
Responsibility. A good RMT will follow the process of assessment, explanation of the risks and benefits, explanation of the scope of practice for massage therapy, treatment planning, and home/self care education. Are they following this structure and are they listening to your needs? Are they taking it upon themselves to continue their education? Do they speak to you about new things they are learning and courses they have taken since becoming an RMT?
Gender of therapist. Is it important to you whether your therapist is male or female? RMTs are medical professionals and don’t have any preferences; we are happy to work with both female and male clients. However, if you experience any discomfort around this, it’s important that you choose appropriately. Please note that you do not have to be undressed to be treated by a massage therapist, but if you are undressed, there are strict boundaries around privacy and the draping of the body during treatment. Find a therapist that is happy to explain the process to you. That Great Massage Clinic is a non-judgemental space for healing where we are, first and foremost dedicated to our clients’ recovery.
Whichever therapist you decide on, your RMT should be attentive and focused on helping you reach your health goals, whatever they may be. We hope this information will help you make an informed decision that will give you the best experience of massage therapy.