Myotherapy vs Remedial Massage – Who Wins?

Myotherapy is getting set to take the throne in the land of musculoskeletal therapy. In the hands-on treatment of muscles, joints, and ligaments, Myotherapy is even a solid competitor with Physiotherapy.

Remedial Massage has been diluted with various hands-off or relaxation modalities like Reiki and hot stones that have dubious effects. The Diploma qualification itself has been diluted by dodgy schools and their profit-driven, factory-line, mass production of students.

And incredibly, only about 5% of graduates of the Diploma of Remedial Massage qualification are still working as massage therapists after three years.

For the Bachelor of Health Science in Myotherapy, the numbers are still low – about 15% – but that’s still 3 times more than for Remedial Massage.

Within the Australian Qualifications Framework, Remedial Massage and the Advanced Diploma of Clinical Myotherapy are listed as “complementary therapy”. The BHSc Myotherapy (also known as the Bachelor of Health Science in Musculoskeletal Therapy – but that’s way too many syllables!) is listed as a “rehabilitation therapy”.

So, What’s The Problem With Remedial Massage?

In principle, nothing. Like any tool, what matters is not so much the modality, but the knowledge and attitude of the person who wields it.

But let’s be honest: any really good therapist will want to become a better therapist than they are today. That means such a therapist will want to study towards the BHSc, not just the one-year Diploma of Remedial Massage or even the two-year Advanced Diploma of Clinical Myotherapy. The three-year BHSc Myotherapy is where it’s at.

In my experience, the vast majority of students coming out of the Diploma programs promptly forget half of the technical, anatomical, and assessment knowledge that they learned as soon as they set foot out of college. This is not a criticism of the students, it’s just the simple result of an educational system that favours cramming as a strategy for study. It happened to me when I left college and every therapist with whom I’ve discussed it has said the same.

Massage vs Targeted Treatment

A one-year Diploma is just not long enough to get a working understanding of human health. Don’t get me wrong, a Remedial Massage therapist will give you a cracking deep tissue massage, but if you have a specific dysfunctional condition, you’re going to play Russian roulette trying to find a Remedial Massage therapist with the skills to treat you.

Formal Education to Continued Professional Education (CPE)

Yearly CPE is a requirement for membership in professional associations such as Massage & Myotherapy AustraliaMyotherapy Association Australia, and others. The range of different courses a therapist can take to gain the required CPE is hugely varied. This means that after a few years, an individual therapist may be trained quite differently compared to another.

 Junk Therapies

There are a great many non-technical and, frankly, fringe providers of CPE teaching whatever brand of junk therapy they like and getting professional therapists to pay them for it. If junk-CPE is all a therapist ever does, and they’ve forgotten the basics after leaving college, then you’ve got yourself a junk therapist.

Myotherapy and Physiotherapy: Two Sides of the Same Coin

I think that Myotherapy and Physiotherapy go together like the proverbial peas and carrots.

Where Physiotherapy focuses somewhat more on a biomedical structural perspective while also looking seriously at function and rehabilitation, it relies heavily on exercise as a remedy.

This is the primary difference.

Myotherapy relies heavily on the hands-on therapy aspect, but has basically the same bio-medical perspective. I see them as being a perfect complement to each other. I’d love to work alongside Physiotherapists and combine the best of both approaches for a complete treatment service.

However, since Myotherapy is descended from Remedial Massage, it also takes a more holistic approach than Physiotherapy, and tends to assess your environmental factors in more depth. This is mainly a function of having longer appointments to treat you; Physiotherapy appointments tend to last around 15–20 minutes, rarely as long as half an hour.

Myotherapy appointments typically start at 45 minutes long and can go to 90 minutes or longer if necessary.

Bridging The Gap Between Holism and Science

This extended time allows for a deeper assessment of your situation – emotional state, relationships, occupational habits and structures, and of course plenty of time for hands-on treatment.

Physiotherapy benefits from being a part of the mainstream medical system, commonly taking referrals from surgeons and specialist doctors. Being more connected to the medical field, it qualifies for Medicare benefits as well. Myotherapy isn’t quite there yet – but the way things are heading, it might get there soon.

I think that as a healthcare modality, Myotherapy has the best chance of bridging the apparent gap between a conventional medical system that tends to lack humanity and soul, and a complementary health system that tends to lack scientific credibility.

Myotherapy has it all:

  • Detailed education of anatomy and physiology
  • A holistic approach to healthcare
  • Advanced assessment methods
  • Advanced treatment techniques such as dry needling and TENS
  • Biomedical knowledge approaching that of physiotherapists
  • Time to get into environmental details
  • Longer appointments that physiotherapy
  • Ability to prescribe a limited range of clinical supplements
  • Ability to prescribe corrective exercises and occupational changes

With all of your newfound knowledge through this post, book yourself in to see me and I’ll make sure to tailor your treatment sessions to be exactly what you need.

By James Maddock, Remedial Massage Therapist