I get a lot of weird comments from people when I tell them I am a massage therapist.
I have been called a “masseuse” which essentially means a sex worker. I have been asked why I like to rub people down. I also get people who straight up ask me to give them a massage, “ooh I have this knot in my neck, can you work it out for me right now?”
I will politely decline the people who straight up ask me for a massage; who wants to work and not get paid for it? As for the sexualization and diminishing description of massage therapy, I usually ignore those kinds of comments, but I realized I’m doing a bad job at defending the profession that I care so deeply about.
Some people understand massage to be for relaxation and relieving tight muscles, which isn’t completely wrong. But, as a person who went to school for two years to study the musculoskeletal, nervous, and circulatory systems of the human body, I can easily say that massage therapy is a lot more than just that.
First of all, for us to be considered “registered”, we had to go to a school that provides us with 2200 practical hands on hours. This allows massage therapists in Manitoba to be a part of a professional association, and allows our clients to use their insurance on our services. Unfortunately, Manitoba and a few other provinces, doesn’t provincially regulate massage therapy. This means, there are people practicing “massage” without having completed the proper schooling and doing who knows what in the treatment room.
A couple of ways to make sure your massage therapist is “legit” and has the proper credentials:
- Ask them which professional association they are with or look for their certificate from that association. All active members are listed in a database, so if you feel they are lying to you, reach out to that specific association and ask. Additionally, if you ever experience something you are uncomfortable with in the treatment room, talk to the association, they can help!
- Most insurance companies accept massage claims, and most of us have provider numbers to many insurance companies. Insurance companies also make sure we are part of a professional association. If your therapist wants to be paid under the table or your claims for their services don’t go through even when you are covered for massages, thats a sign you should check their credentials.
All registered massage therapists are unique. Some like to focus on relaxation techniques that promote new blood flow and decrease stress. Relaxation massages can be applied with various amounts of pressure and have a distinct flow to them. Some massage therapists like to focus on making more measurable changes in the body by assessing range of motion and improving asymmetries. Other massage therapists like to combine a bit of both.
Common goals to have before seeing a massage therapist are: living pain free, reducing stress, increasing range of motion, increasing circulation, reducing the frequency and severity of headaches, and eliminating numbness and tingling. Regardless of the goal, it usually takes three equally spaced out sessions for you to notice a change.
I think everyone should consider adding Massage Therapy to their self-care routine and treatment plans with other modalities like physiotherapy, athletic therapy and chiropractic. If you live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, you can reach out to me on my Instagram @felicia.rmt or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s chat about your goals and get you to where you want to be.
Felicia is a registered massage therapist working out of Pure Lifestyle in Winnipeg. She is part of the Remedial Massage Therapists Society of Manitoba and graduated from Wellington College for Remedial Massage Therapies in June of 2020.