In a venture to keep these posts varied and encompassing the many aspects to movement and health I am interested in, this next post will delve into my new profession: Massage Therapy.
Over two years ago I set off on a new journey towards becoming a Registered Massage Therapist. Last month, after 2,200 hours of classes and over 150 clinical hours, I picked up my certificate from the CMTO. Now, fully able to write the letters R-M-T after my name a new window has opened in my career as a therapist. Packed with a whole range of new tools and skills, I am so excited to officially begin to offer treatments.
As thrilled as I am to be offering Massage Therapy, I’ve also gotten some questions wondering how this will affect the work I do in other health related disciplines like Pilates and Dance Science. Here are some of the questions I’ve received answered.
What is the difference between a ‘Masseuse’ and a Registered Massage Therapist?
In Ontario, Massage Therapy is a regulated profession which means the title Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) or Massage Therapist (MT) is a protected title under the Regulated Health Professions Act and the Massage Therapy Act. By working with a Registered Massage Therapist you can ensure that you are being treated by a professional who has:
The terms 'masseuse' or 'massage' are not protected titles and therefore anyone can call themselves a masseuse with little to no training. When choosing a therapist, ensure you are working with a Registered Massage Therapist who has the education and experience to ensure a safe and effective treatment.
What 'style' of massage do you do?
I get this question a lot and always find it difficult to answer as the ‘style’ of massage therapy I do is completely dependent on who walks through my door and the type of treatment that is indicated by the patient's condition.
What I can say is that I aim to integrate my experiences and knowledge as a Pilates teacher and dance scientist into my work as a massage therapist. As a result, during my treatments I start by assessing how the body moves (I often have clients do some small movements before getting on the table), looking at their biomechanics, postural issues, or areas of dysfunction and pain (if that is a concern). From there, I try to work deeply but not painfully, always in tune with the nervous system and creating a deep sense of relaxation. I also aim to help my patients connect the dots between the treatment and exercises and movement they must do to help create meaningful and sustainable change in their body.
Who is massage for?
Would it be completely unimaginable for me to say that massage therapy can be good for everyone? Massage therapy is ultimately an engagement with the body's nervous system, with some manipulation of soft tissue thrown in for good measure. The overwhelmingly powerful effects of touch are ultimately what creates such effective change. With the proper modifications along with proper communication, massage therapy is appropriate for almost all people. The type of treatment will obviously differ but I genuinely believe there can be benefits to everyone. In particular however, massage therapy can be beneficial to people with:
The list of benefits you can get from a massage treatment is long and will fully depend on what you come in for and what your body needs.
Overall though, people report that a massage therapy treatment makes them feel calmer, sleep better and just feels good!
What techniques do you use?
As a massage therapist, I can dig into my toolbox and chose from a range of techniques depending on what my client needs. Some of these techniques include:
Are you still going to be doing Pilates and exercise?
The answer is a large, emphatic YES. Yes yes yes! I have always intended to continue doing work as a Pilates teacher once I became a Massage Therapist. There are a few reasons for this. Primarily, I believe wholeheartedly in the value of BOTH soft tissue manipulation and exercise based treatments. They go hand in hand, and to create meaningful change in the body you need to incorporate both. In my experience, massage therapy can provide some profound immediate benefits in reducing pain and discomfort and restoring the health of the tissue, however without a long term exercise plan, those benefits will dissipate over time.
I get a massage and feel great but after a few days, the benefits all go away.
My answer to this is of course it does! the majority of reasons people come in for a massage can be traced back to postural habits they have been living with for years. For example how they sit at their desk, use of their computer mouse, many hours of driving, etc etc. One hour long massage can cause temporary relief and help restore the health of the tissue, however naturally these old habits will likely creep back. Unless clients are doing a combination of both massage AND corrective exercises, we’ll be hard pressed to make lasting changes.
That is why massage and Pilates work so brilliantly together. During a massage, I can get the body in a prime state to move efficiently. I can find and release areas of tension, areas of the body that are unnecessarily holding, so that smaller deeper muscles have a chance to be activated. I can work with areas around a joint and encourage proper biomechanics and I can give the body a dose of relaxation priming it to take on the daily stresses of life.
Massage, like many things, is a part of the larger process of body maintenance. Just like going to the dentist certain things need to be maintained. You don’t go to the dentist to get a cleaning and then say ‘great, that’s me done’. 6 months laster you will be back in that chair for a cleaning because dental hygiene needs to be maintained. In a similar way, stresses on the body may mean that massage therapy will always be a part of your life however by combining massage therapy with self care exercises that help keep the benefits of massage as long as possible, we can get to a place where massage is used as a maintenance program or a tune-up when life gets a bit too much.
Where can I find you?
I am thrilled to be working out of 2 clinics that align with my values as a therapist.
Body Harmonics is an integrated Pilates studio and Health Clinic that I have been working at for the past 2 1/2 years. I will be working as a massage therapist at their Eglinton location on Mondays from 11am-8pm and their Dupont location on Fridays from 11am - 6pm. To learn more about Body Harmonics click Here.
I will also be working at a wonderful clinic Pinpoint RMT on Thursdays from 12pm - 7pm and Saturdays from 11am-6pm. To learn more about Pinpoint RMT click Here
How can I get in touch?
As usual you can contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Contact area HERE.
I hope to see you in a clinic room soon!
Hi, I'm Hannah. I'm a dance science consultant, Movement specialist and Registered Massage Therapist residing in Toronto. I am a Registered Provider for Safe in Dance International and teach workshops and courses related to Safe Dance Practice. Here is what I have to say about all things health and movement related.