On the surface, remedial massage and myotherapy might appear to be the same, but there’s key differences that distinguish each treatment. In this article, we’ll explore the subtle differences between the two therapies, including what they are, how they work, and what they’re good for, to help you better understand which treatment is suitable for you.
What is remedial massage and myotherapy?
Remedial massage is a massage-based therapy used to treat a range of conditions that affect the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the body. It’s primarily used to release muscular tension, improve bodily function, aid healing, and enhance relaxation, focusing on muscles that are damaged, knotted, tense, or stiff. Remedial massage is commonly used in sports medicine, but is beneficial for anyone suffering from bodily pain or injury.
While remedial massage tends to focus exclusively on manipulative massage techniques, myotherapy extends beyond massage to offer a broader scope of therapy used to treat complex muscle and musculoskeletal conditions, which remedial therapy cannot fix alone. Myotherapy is an evidence-based extension of remedial massage, incorporating a deeper understanding of human anatomy and physiology. To become a qualified myotherapist, you need to complete the same qualifications needed for remedial massage (a diploma in remedial massage, or a Cert IV in Massage Therapy), in addition to a bachelor’s degree or advanced diploma in clinical myotherapy, which extends to a greater focus on postural analysis, biomechanics, and injury rehabilitation. Myotherapy goes further than remedial massage by treating the immediate symptoms and the underlying cause of the issues, whether behavioural, structural, or muscular.
Myotherapy is commonly used in conjunction with other treatments such as remedial massage, physiotherapy, and osteopathy.
How does remedial massage and myotherapy work?
Remedial Massage therapy works by manipulating the soft tissues of the body—the superficial and deep muscles, tendons, and ligaments. A massage therapist identifies physical and biomechanical issues using their hands, palpating the patient’s body to check the condition of the tissues, and areas of pain. Once the issues are identified, the therapist can recommend the best form of remedial treatment, which can include deep tissue massage, stretch therapy, myofascial release, thermotherapy, and cryotherapy.
Myotherapists assess each joint in the body to reveal any dysfunction. An initial assessment can include an examination of the patient’s medical history, posture, range of motion, gait, and soft tissue condition. They also examine how these elements interact with other key systems in the body, such as the nervous system, or cardiovascular system. When it comes to treatment, a myotherapist tends to use a specific technique called trigger point therapy, where pressure is applied on specific areas of muscle tissue to reduce tension. They also utilise a number of other techniques such as Muscle Energy Technique (MET), myofascial dry needling or cupping, taping, joint mobilization, rehabilitative exercises, or electrotherapy. While a remedial massage therapist will mostly use their hands to assess and treat a patient, a myotherapist will use a much wider range of techniques (which can also include myotherapy massage).
A myotherapist may determine that a patient’s pain is being caused by an entirely different part of the body, which they can treat accordingly. By taking the entire body into consideration during assessment and treatment, a myotherapist’s role might be considered more holistic than that of a remedial massage therapist.
What is remedial massage and myotherapy good for?
Remedial massage has a number of scientifically-proven health benefits, including improved joint mobility, faster pain relief and body recovery, improved heart rate regulation, improved relaxation, and a reduction in depression and anxiety.
Myotherapy focuses more on acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain and disorders. It can be used to treat conditions such as myofascial pain, lower back pain, tension headaches and migraines, sports injuries (e.g. muscle sprains and tears), tendon pain, degenerative joint page, and rehabilitation from surgery. Myotherapy also focuses on advanced injury prevention—a myotherapist can identify a problem before any symptoms show (proactive myotherapy), in order to save potentially expensive treatment costs going forward. Finally, a myotherapist can offer comprehensive health and fitness advice, including exercises that can improve your physical and mental health. This is sometimes referred to as proactive myotherapy.
While remedial massage and myotherapy might appear to be the same therapies using different names, there are vital differences that distinguish each treatment. Remedial massage is great at identifying and treating immediate muscle and musculoskeletal conditions, but if you want to go further and treat the underlying cause, myotherapy does so by utilising a broader scope of knowledge. If a remedial massage therapist hasn’t been able to fix an ongoing problem, you might need the expanded knowledge of a myotherapist.