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Remedial massage is the systematic assessment and treatment of muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues to assist in rehabilitation, and pain and injury management. It’s defined by the premise that the treatment can reasonably reverse certain physical effects, such as structural pain and/or loss of function, and is designed to balance muscle/soft tissue length, tension, and tone, which in turn promotes the return to normal joint/capsular/bone position; increases flow of blood and lymph, particularly in injured areas, thus removing damaged cells, scar tissue and adhesions.

Massage works across various body systems through either a mechanical or a reflex action. A mechanical action is created by moving muscles and soft tissues using pressure and stretching movement, breaking down fibrous tissue, eliminating muscle spasms, and loosening stiff joints; a reflex is created when treating one area of the body impacts another area, as in easing a headache by working on the neck and shoulders.

What is myotherapy?

Remedial massage is a component of myotherapy training, and the primary tool a clinical myotherapist uses. However, myotherapists use additional methods to restore normal musculoskeletal function, including muscle and joint taping, myofascial cupping, thermal therapies, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), electric muscle stimulation, low-level laser therapy, ultrasound, prescriptive exercises, joint mobilisation and pain-management techniques.

“For remedial massage, the minimum qualification required is a Diploma of Remedial Massage, and for Myotherapy, the Advanced Diploma of Myotherapy,” says Tricia Hughes, CEO, Massage and Myotherapy Australia (https://massagemyotherapy.com.au). “There are now Bachelor degrees in myotherapy, which are built on the foundations of these vocational courses. Prospective students need to consider that if they buy a cheap course, they’ll get cheap training. Research the colleges and compare their offerings and expect to be 12 months in training. If you anticipate working with clients who want private health rebates, obtain written confirmation from the college that they meet the funds’ standards. And because both are hands-on practice, the less online learning the better.

“Business skills seem to be the hardest to master as therapists just want to touch and assist people get well,” adds Hughes. “However, if you lack sound business skills your business won’t be sustainable. Use an accountant, lawyer, marketer or business advisor. Listen and take advice. In any industry or profession there can be a lot of ego, bias and empty promises, so find a mentor who can help you. To prepare for life as a practitioner, I advise mastering technology. Cyber risks are rampant, and you’re dealing with people’s personal information, which can be easily stolen. Ethical practice and behaving professionally should start on day one of training.

"Listening and communication skills are essential, as well as integrity and respect for learning how to treat people. People who are solution-focused and detail orientated, and have compassion and empathy, work well in this industry. Therapists need to have patience and be consistent when treating people from diverse backgrounds. This career is not suited to those who are overly sympathetic or emotionally fragile or unfit, as this can lead to injury and burnout."