Why Do You Call it 'Massage Therapy'?

Most people have an idea about what having a massage is like:

  • I may fall asleep during a relaxing massage
  • Deep tissue massage will hurt
  • Sports massage is only for those who do sport

But the truth is, that even across one particular genre of massage, not all massage is created equal. In the same way that not all burgers are created equal (we are, after all, talking about muscles). Any carnivore will tell you that a burger from the golden arches differs some what from the burgers you can buy in any supermarket, let alone from a butcher.

Ever since I qualified in 2011, I have referred to myself as a massage therapist. I know physiotherapists who swear by administering massage themselves as part of their treatment protocol, and others who think that this should be done by a massage therapist to free them up to do the rehab work their clients require. I believe that there is a role for a 'spa' massage experience, but also believe that there is a wide gulf between these two extremes in approach. This is where I believe that 'massage therapy' belongs.

According to the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC):

In all types of massage therapy, the intention is to relax the soft tissues, increase delivery of blood and oxygen to the massaged areas, warm them, and help the body to relax.

In a typical massage therapy session, the practitioner will discuss symptoms, medical history and the desired results. The practitioner generally performs some evaluation through touch before beginning the massage. Oil or powder help reduce friction on the skin and the therapist may use other aids, such as ice, heat, fragrances, or machines.

Massage may be found to bring relief from everyday aches, reduce stress, increase relaxation, address feelings of anxiety and tension, and aid general wellness. It can also be used in support of other therapies to assist in the rehabilitation of muscular injuries. [CNHC description of Massage Therapy]

Part of the reason I like this explanation is because the CNHC is the UK's voluntary regulator for complementary healthcare practitioners. Set up in 2008 with government funding and support, it's key role is to act in the public interest and enable proper public accountability of the complementary therapists that it registers. Unlike a lot of organisations out there, they work to protect you, the client rather than the practitioner / therapist or profession itself.

A couple of years ago I had a mini-rant about Massage Therapy - What’s in a name? - this was mostly in respect to the way I referred to myself as a massage therapist (rather than masseur or masseuse, with all the 'unwelcome' suggestions that this brings) but Massage Therapy as a title does say rather more about the work that practitioners are able to provide. The vast majority of the Bristol Massage Therapy team initially attained the Massage Training Institute (MTI) Level 4 qualification in Holistic Massage. Whilst the MTI is a professional association, set up by practitioners to act in the interest of the profession and practitioners:

"the model of training and practice created by MTI now forms part of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) standards in the UK.

The essential and critical difference has always been to teach students a wide variety of techniques that could be adapted to an individual client rather than applying a set routine to treat all." [About MTI].

Whatever type of massage approach you are seeking, know that at the very core of Bristol Massage Therapy is an understanding that you are an individual, and will be treated as such. The key is in the name. A name that is becoming synonymous with exceptional, highly skilled, knowledgable and talented practitioners, providing quality massage and care for each client. This is why I believe Bristol Massage Therapy is a centre of excellence for massage therapy. After all, if you are seeking the best burger around, wouldn't you do your research, pay the price and savour the results all the more?

What's on offer?

Having a team of practitioners means that Bristol Massage Therapy is able to offer a variety of different 'types' or specialities of massage, but the focus of the team is providing exceptional quality of care at each appointment for every client. Currently we can offer: