Do I Need a Massage or Physical Therapy?
Aches and pains can be the body’s way of directing you to an injury or ailment that requires further attention, but for those not familiar with anatomy and physiology, it may seem like a guessing game to choose the right professional who can address your body’s needs. Do you have a mild soreness that can be tended to by a masseuse, or is it a deeper issue that needs the attention of a trained physical therapist? To answer this question, there are a few key factors you can consider to help make the decision that is right for you.
Typically, a masseuse has a holistic focus on the mind and the body. Their clients are generally healthy people who want to relax and improve overall wellness. Masseuses can work in a variety of settings, including spas or private practices, but it is important to remember that they are not trained to treat injuries. With a long-term, wellness-based focus on muscle stiffness and soreness, massages are a noninvasive, safe, and restorative treatment.
Physical therapy is a targeted medical practice to treat a specific injury or ailment on the body. Through a regimented schedule of specific exercises and treatments, a physical therapist’s goal is to repair injuries and help patients regain mobility or use of a specific body part. Focusing on restoration of function, physical therapists are trained medical professionals who are often consulted after an accident or injury.
While both professions aim to manage pain and improve mobility, there are a few key areas where the two differ. Based on their different levels of education and training, masseuses and physical therapists take varying approaches to treat their patients and also have limitations as to what their practice can accomplish.
The required education for these two professions differs greatly. Many masseuses are able to get certified in a year or less, while a trained physical therapist is required to complete a rigorous schedule of higher education to receive their doctorate, which can take upwards of 10 years. Despite these differences, both fields require many hours of hands-on training, and they both have a deep understanding of the body to best treat their patients.
After an injury, physical therapists are often a primary contact point for treatment, while masseuses are not. Therefore, a visit to the physical therapist frequently comes from a doctor’s recommendation. Additionally, masseuses can work with clients over their entire lifetime with no distinct “end”, as treatments can be ongoing for as long as the client pleases. On the other hand, physical therapists are trying to get their clients “better”, to the point where they do not require further treatment.
While patients can benefit from both types of treatment, they often serve different purposes that aren’t interchangeable, though they can be used concurrently to support overall health and well-being. Choosing which professional should address your body’s needs will depend on the nature of any injuries you may have sustained, doctor’s recommendations, or your personal wellness goals.
Bailey Schramm is a writer from Happy Writers, Co.