Did you know that physiotherapy is the third-largest health profession in the world and that massage therapy is one of the oldest and most popular forms of healing?

It’s no wonder then that people are often confused about which type of therapy they need. There are quite a few differences between physiotherapy and massage therapy, however, most of us are unsure of what those differences are.

If you have found yourself asking what the differences are and what kind of therapy you may need, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll explore the differences between physiotherapy and massage, and help you decide which type of therapy is right for you and your injury.

To get started, let’s discuss what physiotherapy is and what massage therapy is!

doctor discussing the difference between physiotherapy and massage

What is Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is a type of health care that helps people regain movement and function after an injury or illness. It can also help to relieve pain and improve the overall quality of life for that person.

Physiotherapists use a variety of techniques, including exercises, stretches, massages, and electrical stimulation, to help their patients reach their goals and heal from injury.

When someone is admitted to the hospital for a surgical operation that will require ongoing care, such as a hip replacement or cardiac surgery, he or she is frequently referred to physiotherapy for recuperation.

What are the Benefits of Physiotherapy

There are quite a few benefits of physiotherapy if you have been injured and need recovery. When you go to a physiotherapy clinic, the physiotherapists will create an individually custom-designed program to help treat the specific needs of the client. After all, no two persons are the same and likewise goes for their injuries.

Some common treatments include:

  • Treatment for fractures
  • Sports injuries, such as shoulder pain
  • Back pain and stiff neck pain
  • To enhance the individual’s strength, range of motion, and function, exercise programs are recommended
  • Exercises to loosen stiff muscles and increase mobility
  • Methods for clearing the airway of persons with breathing problems
  • Pelvic floor physiotherapy can be used to treat incontinence
  • Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis

The physiotherapist will work with the client on how to manage these conditions so that they can still live their life to the fullest extent possible. Physiotherapy is ongoing care over a longer period of time to help heal injuries.

Physiotherapy is offered more for anything related to treating injuries or some serious ailments. The programs and treatments are based on the individual’s case as well as their medical history.

Physiotherapy treatment begins with a physical examination and diagnosis. During this time, they’ll talk about your medical background, current situation, and future objectives in order to create a unique physiotherapy treatment.

Now that you have a better understanding of what physiotherapy is and the many benefits of physiotherapy, let’s jump over and talk about massage therapy for a minute.

woman receiving physiotherapy

What is Massage Therapy

If you’re asking yourself if massage therapy is physiotherapy, the answer is no. These are completely different forms of treatment and for different things. Although physiotherapy and massage therapy are similar in some ways, they are used very differently for treatment. We’ll get to those differences in just a bit.

Massage therapy is the manipulation of soft tissues in the body to relieve pain and tension. Massage therapists use their hands, and elbows to knead muscles and loosen knots. It can help with injuries and chronic and acute conditions.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, massage therapy is one of the oldest healing arts. It is dated back over 3,000 years ago in Chinese records.

There are many different types of massage therapy treatments, which include:

  • Swedish massage
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Trigger point massage

Although massage therapy is often first thought of for relaxing, it all just depends on the type of massage that you are looking for or need. There are certain techniques that are used to relax your muscles while others are for manipulating your muscles and ligaments to relieve pain.

What are The Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a type of treatment that uses pressure to influence soft tissue in your body. This means massaging your muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons, and connective tissue. It is a therapeutic hands-on treatment.

This gives the person many relaxing and pain-relieving benefits. Some benefits of massage therapy include:

  • Chronic pain disorders can be relieved
  • Relieve muscle and joint discomfort caused by occupational pressures or strenuous exercises
  • Headache relief
  • Improve circulation
  • Daily aches and pains can be treated by muscle massage
  • Anxiety and sadness can be reduced
  • Increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine
  • Improved sleep quality

Therapeutic massage sessions typically last 30 minutes to an hour and are provided one-on-one in a calm, soothing atmosphere. To effectively target trigger points and tension regions, a relaxation-based massage therapy session should last around one hour.

Although this can be done on a regular basis, it is only a one-time session typically.

Now that you have a better understanding of what physiotherapy and massage therapy is, let’s dive into massage therapy vs physiotherapy.

person receiving massage therapy

What is the Difference Between Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy

When talking about the difference between physiotherapy and massage therapy, you can first look at how they are classified. First, let’s talk about physiotherapy.

Massage therapy is classified as an alternative to medicine. Whereas physiotherapy is part of the medical profession. If you were to receive physiotherapy treatment, you would be considered a patient and go through a health diagnosis and assessment. The physiotherapist will review your medical history, and your symptoms, and base your treatment on that.

When you receive physiotherapy, your plan may include multiple types of physiotherapy treatments. When you receive massage therapy, it’s a single manual massage. The primary goal of physiotherapy is to restore a patient’s mobility, fixing and repairing any issues from the injury by treating its source. Which is why physiotherapy may require multiple treatment sessions over a long period of time.

The main aim of massage therapy is to relieve the body from its aches and pains. This is typically not for chronic pain since it’s one-time manual massage treatment.

The Difference Between a Massage Therapist and Physiotherapist

When thinking about massage therapy vs physiotherapy, it is also essential to understand the difference between a massage therapist and a physiotherapist.

A physiotherapist has gone through an accredited physiotherapy program and received either a Master’s degree or Doctorate in physiotherapy. They are a healthcare professional that has been educated and trained to treat patients with physical impairments. Whereas a massage therapist has completed a diploma or certificate in Massage Therapy.

man and woman choosing the difference between physiotherapy and massage

Massage Therapy Vs. Physiotherapy: Which Do You Need

To sum up the difference between massage therapy vs. physiotherapy, physiotherapy is more focused on rehabilitation while massage therapy is more focused on relaxation. It is vital to understand what your needs are before choosing which one you want to go with!

So which one is right for you?

Physiotherapy is right for you if:

  1. Your experiencing pain or lack of motion from a motor vehicle accident
  2. If you’ve had a surgery and need rehabilitation
  3. If you’re unable to be physically active and have limited mobility from an injury
  4. If you want to learn and prevent future injuries
  5. You have chronic pain from a motor vehicle accident, sports, or other injuries

Massage therapy might be the right choice for you if:

  1. You need muscle and joint pain relief
  2. If you’re in need of relaxation
  3. If you need to reduce high levels of stress
  4. You need to improve your posture
  5. Help relax tired or overworked muscles
  6. Have minor aches or pains and looking for relief

Hopefully, these suggestions for choosing between physiotherapy and massage therapy have helped you. With that being said though, you should always consult a professional physiotherapy centre, as they’ll know which type of treatment you need the most.

Choosing Between Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy

Massage therapy vs physiotherapy: which one do you need? It depends on your needs injuries, pain, and medical history.

If you’re not sure what treatment would work best for you, it’s important to consult a local physiotherapist in order to determine if physiotherapy or massage therapy will help provide the most benefit!

If you have questions about physiotherapy and massage therapy, or if you need to set up an appointment in Calgary, get in touch with us today. Here at Chinook Rehab Centre, we put our patients first and provide the best care in Calgary!