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What Is The Difference between Massage Therapy & Physical Therapy?


What Is The Difference between Massage Therapy & Physical Therapy?

When it comes to massage and physical therapy, to most people they are one and the same. However, there are significant differences between Massage Therapy & Physical Therapy that you should be aware of when deciding on who to consult for therapy, or if you are considering going in to one of the chosen fields. Though both treatment modalities utilize massages and touch, their end objectives are different.


Read on to explore the major differences and similarities between the two forms of therapy below:


Professional Training and Style


Physical Therapist


Physical Therapists are highly trained medical professionals who underwent a minimum of 4 years training and a degree before they are eligible for licensure. Physical therapists are highly knowledgeable in science and medicine, and are experts in anatomy and physiology.


Physical therapists, as the name suggests, focus on treating obvious physical maladies, and are often involves in rehabilitation following an injury to a joint or muscle group.


In addition, much of the emphasis during training to be a physical therapist is focused on correction of movement and posture, with the rehab setting of little importance. For example, many physical therapists are trained to work in crowded hospitals, or even gyms, which is far from the norm of a massage therapist.


Massage Therapist


Massage therapists, while they need to undergo some formal training, are much less intensive than the physical therapist program. Massage therapy involves use of specific massages and other modalities to promote healing.


Massage therapists also focus on more than a specific area of interest, seeking to holistically heal the body. Many massage therapists are also familiar with Far East complementary style medical techniques, so it is not uncommon for many massage therapists to also be licensed and professional acupuncturists.Massage therapy training frequently involves methodology from other cultures, and believes in restoring the natural energy of the body. Many of these cultures make full use of the senses.


Overall Roles


Physical Therapist


The overall objective of a physical therapist is to evaluate and even diagnose health conditions resulting from disease and injury, with the goal of restoring function of an affected joint or body part. To achieve their goal they normally make use of both manual and mechanical techniques, and may even perform massages for pain and muscle disorders, although that is not their forte.


Massage Therapists


Massage therapists seek to ensure overall health and wellness of the body, on a more holistic scale. For example, by incorporating techniques such as acupuncture health is improved on a higher plane.


Massage therapy is employed as a supplement treatment to physical therapy many times, so it is not uncommon for a person who has injured their back or a joint in an accident to visit both practitioners.


In many cases, however, people opt to visit massage therapists to relieve stress of muscle tension as a preventative technique to more serious injury. Physical therapists focus intensive session on a particular area, while massage sessions take longer and encompass the entire body.




Your choice of a physical or massage therapist will depend on what you want accomplished. If you are desirous of relaxation and stress relief, a massage therapist is your go-to, whereas if you are seeking ways to actively recover from an injury, a physical therapist may be a better fit.


Sometimes, a joint approach may facilitate faster recovery, as their approaches to healing can be used in conjunction to result in a better outcome.

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