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Spa Massage and Registered Massage Therapy – Is There a Difference?

Spa Massage Table

Modern life is busy. Even in a place like Victoria where the hustle and bustle of city living are mitigated by beautiful surroundings that are nature-made to help us enjoy the great outdoors. Is it any wonder that we do what we can to unwind at every available opportunity?

As part of the quest to relax, many spas offer “massage” services that may be relaxing. Relaxation may well be what you’re after, and there is nothing wrong with that, but understanding your goals can help inform your plans.

Questions to Ask About Massage Therapy in Victoria

First and foremost, we’re not to diminish the efforts of the hard working staff at spas in Victoria. As a matter of fact, many of the people working in the spa industry are registered massage therapists. This is less about demeaning spas than it is about making sure you understand the treatment you are signing up for when you are booking your appointment.

A clue to what you’re getting will be visible when you start your research. In some cases, you will be asked if you would like an RMT receipt as part of your spa visit. If you’re not, or you ask about a receipt and one is not available, your appointment will likely be with a spa practitioner and not a registered massage therapist. But what’s the difference?

Masseuse vs. Registered Massage Therapist (RMT)

As a Registered Massage Therapist Victoria BC residents visit on a regular basis, we have had the opportunity to provide evidence-based care to treat many of the common complaints that are associated with modern life. Therapeutic massage treatment has been used as a stand-alone or supplementary therapy for a host of conditions, including headaches, arthritis, back pain, muscle spasms, tendonopathy and sports injuries.

In the province of British Columbia, RMTs complete 3,000+ hours of training at an accredited school and must pass a set of exams that are mandated by the College of Massage Therapists of BC. RMTs must also keep up with continuing education as part of their post-graduation training to maintain good standing with the College.

Spa practitioners may well have some training, but it’s somewhere in the range of 300-1000 hours. There are no exams to pass, and continuing education is not mandated to work as a “masseuse” in a spa. Spa practitioners are prohibited by law from calling the service they offer massage therapy or from calling themselves massage therapists.

If you are visiting a spa as a recreational activity to relax and unwind, this may well suit your needs. Don’t underestimate the restorative feelings of human touch! In fact, you may achieve the same sensations of peace and restfulness by asking your friend or partner to rub your neck and shoulders after a long day at the office. However, if you are hoping to address a nagging pain or health condition, your time will be better spent seeking out massage therapy Victoria residents recommend and refer time and time again.

Understanding the Difference Between Therapy and Recreation

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a day out for some self-care, and if a spa is how you choose to do that, by all means, have a great time! Just recognize and understand that what you are receiving may be recreational therapy, not massage therapy. For pain management and an ongoing treatment plan to help mitigate health conditions, choose the services of a registered massage therapist instead.

If you are booking an RMT massage at a spa, rather than a massage therapy clinic, know that this comes at a price. While it varies by plan and provider, your insurance provider will generally only cover what are deemed “reasonable and customary” massage therapy charges; the premium paid for a spa experience will likely not be provided for under your benefits.

Achieve Health is a massage therapy, physiotherapy and chiropractic clinic in Victoria BC. We offer evidence-based care to help our clients get more out of life with effective treatments to treat pain and improve mobility. To learn how we can help you, book an appointment online or call us at (250) 384-5211.