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Is Your Massage Therapist Right for You?

Have you ever had someone tell you that they had "THE BEST" massage ever? Then they insist that 'you HAVE to' go see their Massage Therapist? And when you finally do book in, it turns out that you hated it!?

Just because someone else thinks their therapist is "THE BEST" doesn't make them so for you.

The reality is that RMT styles differ. Each therapist has their own unique take on what feels good to them, and this is often reflected in how they approach treating their clients. Each therapist will also have a somewhat broad cross-section of patient types, some of which will like their style and some of which will not. It's those patients who provide feedback (both positive and critical) that shape how a therapist develops their style. Positive feedback about their treatment will reinforce to the therapist that they should repeat what they did, where critical feedback may cause them to eliminate a technique or alter their style. Each therapist, over time, will develop what they feel 'most people' like and dislike.

So what's different? There are many aspects of Massage Therapy treatment that can vary: contact, pressure, and tempo to name a few.


This is the term RMT's use to describe how they are applying pressure to your muscles. Typical contacts are fingertips, thumbs, knuckles, palms, forearms and elbows. Each type of contact will change how a patient feels under the pressure. A high-pressure fingertip or thumb might be painful for some, whereas the same pressure might feel therapeutic if it were delivered through the palm. A broader contact like a forearm, may be more welcome on a larger muscle, such as your lats, however not so welcome on your neck. And of course, what feels good to you, might not feel good to someone else.


Each Massage Therapist will have a different overall level of pressure. This is often due simply to bio-mechanics. A 6'4", 200+ pound RMT is likely going to be able to exert greater pressure than a 5'2", 130 pound RMT would. Strength and experience also play a critical role in the amount of pressure that an RMT can deliver. An experienced RMT can overcome bio-mechanical disadvantage by knowing which contacts allow for greater or less pressure, as required. It should also be noted, that patient perception plays a very large role in the pressure that is delivered. Some people can simply tolerate higher pressure than others.


Simply put, this is how fast a Massage Therapist moves their contacts. Some therapists move rapidly, and this can cause a cumulative treatment effect. Other therapists may move their contacts more slowly, preferring to treat a particular muscle with fewer strokes. What a patient will prefer in terms of tempo, will again depend largely on the patient's perception of the benefit they are receiving from each approach.


Very often, patients ask about 'relaxation massage' versus 'deep tissue' massage. Often when patients are seeking 'deep tissue' massage, they really are after 'therapeutic' massage. While certainly all massage could be considered therapeutic, a 'relaxation' style aims more to treat the soul and the spirit, by allowing a patient some time to themselves in a quiet, safe, stress-free environment, while they receive a full-body massage. A 'therapeutic' or 'deep-tissue' style often aims to treat specific muscles, and relieve specific pain or soreness, often with less regard to a calm, relaxing environment. With a therapeutic style, a full-body massage is also not usually required.

So for an RMT who might consider themselves a 'relaxation' style therapist, they are likely to use less pressure, at a lower tempo, with larger, broader contacts. An RMT that might consider themselves a 'therapeutic' therapist, may tend towards more pressure, higher tempo and likely more focused contacts. Of course each of these things can vary from therapist to therapist, and preferences are different from patient to patient, so the line between a 'relaxation' massage and a 'therapeutic' massage is easily blurred.


Ultimately, no two RMT's are the same. Similarly, no two patients are the same. The style of therapy each RMT delivers, will be well-received by some patients, and disliked by others. What this means, is that you might have to try a few RMT's not only to find one you like, but it is also helpful to develop a feel for what different styles, contacts, pressures and tempos feel like, and which you prefer.

Communication is also important: if you and your therapist are not on the same page in terms of what areas you'd like treated and how you'd like them treated, you will likely be disappointed. If you provide sufficient, clear feedback to your therapist during your treatment, they will likely be able to modify their approach, and provide you with better results. THIS is the sign of a good Massage Therapist!

On top of all of this, there are still personalities to consider. If you don't get along with your therapist on personal level, you will probably not enjoy your massage either!

At MiltonBackDoc we have 5 different RMT's, each with their own style. You can check them each out, including a description of their style, on their bio pages below:

Julianne Dainard, Melissa Wallace, Jason Verbruggen, Katrina McDowall and Erika Kuehnel.

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