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Home School of Community and Health Studies Blog 2019 July 08 How Massage Therapy Goes Further than Skin Deep

How Massage Therapy Goes Further than Skin Deep


Often, when people think of massage therapy, they imagine a spa environment, a fluffy white robe and a relaxing massage as they sip their favourite sparkling beverage. While that is one aspect of the massage therapy industry, it certainly isn’t the entire picture. Registered massage therapy is actually part of Ontario’s health care system and a regulated profession. Here are some answers to the need-to-knows of massage therapy.

What is massage therapy?

In the province, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) is the body that regulates the profession. It’s dedicated to ensuring it protects the public’s interest, guides its registrants and promotes the highest possible quality of the practice of massage therapy. The CMTO has quite a long definition of massage therapy, but in part it defines it as consisting “primarily of hands-on manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, specifically, the muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and joints for the purpose of optimizing health.” It goes on to add that massage therapy treatment can optimize health and well-being by acting on the muscular, nervous and circulatory systems; help to develop, maintain and improve physical function; and relieve or prevent physical dysfunction and pain and the effects of stress.

What are the benefits of massage therapy?

Yes, it may be relaxing sometimes but a ton of research has also show medical-based benefits to massage therapy. For example, Best Health magazine reports that a 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found benefits of massage therapy as effective as other methods of treatment for chronic back pain. Granada University in Spain found that a single session of massage therapy immediately effects perceived pain in patients with chronic tension headaches.

What role does science play in massage therapy?

The ability to manipulate the soft tissue of the body to yield the desired health benefits requires an understanding of various scientific aspects. To start, you’ll have to understand anatomy and learn the various parts of the body. To go deeper, you’ll also have to be able to identify the bones of the human skeleton and understand how various sets of bones work together, understand physiology (scientific study of the functions and mechanisms which work within a living system), as well as pathology (study of disease) because of the various diseases you may encounter causing you to determine whether massage is appropriate.

Where can your career take you?

The majority of massage therapists, reports the Department of Employment and Social Development Canada, work in the health care sector in environments such as medical offices, chiropractic practices, outpatient care centres and physiotherapy practices. Because of Canada’s aging population and an increase in the interest of complementary and alternative health care, the Department also notes that the demand for registered massage therapists (RMTs) will likely continue to increase. There are also other factors that come into play in terms of the expanding parameters of this field of such as “the focus on reducing opioid misuse and supporting alternative approaches to managing acute or chronic pain”, which may yield new areas of employment for RMTs.

At Centennial College, students have two choices when it comes to obtaining the education to succeed in massage therapy. They may attend a three-year version of the Massage Therapy program or opt for a compressed delivery of the same content that’s two years with two weeks off between semester. The compressed version has a winter start only and includes the summer semester. Both options feature the same courses and use a combination of theory and practical application to prepare students for the CMTO’s registration examinations to obtain the Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) designation.

Written by: Izabela Szydlo