All About Registered Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy

Life is full of questions – where do socks go missing in the dryer? How do I eat that last square of chocolate before the kid finds me? Is it really only four-hour parking at Rocky Point (yes, it is). And what does a registered massage therapist do? Hint – it’s not scented candles and aromatherapy.

According to the Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of BC, the professional body that oversees practitioners in BC, an RMT will “evaluate individual health needs, and provide active and passive techniques for complete patient care. [They will] provide an accurate assessment, differential diagnosis, and prognosis of specific soft tissue and musculoskeletal conditions [and] RMTs act upon the muscular, nervous and circulatory systems to improve health”.

I asked Annabel Danchuk, a registered massage therapist who works with Coast Therapy in Port Coquitlam for a translation.

RMTs train to assess and treat all musculoskeletal body systems, spending many hours in the classroom perfecting their knowledge and practical expertise. They look for physical dysfunction, injury and pain in order to create a treatment plan to prevent further injury and provide rehabilitation, alleviate symptoms and promote health. Since musculoskeletal disorders also often reflect everyday stresses, mental and physical, a large part of the initial assessment is spent interviewing a new patient. RMTs need to know as much about your health, lifestyle and medical matters as possible so that they can deliver the correct treatments.

In other words, that time you broke your arm as a kid – it matters. That time you twisted an ankle skiing – it matters too. And that you spend all day sitting in front of a computer … aha.

“There’s so much sitting these days,” says Annabel. In addition to giving direct musculo-skeletal massage and manipulation to mobilize problem areas on-site, she will send you home with stretching and exercises as home care. She will also suggest you look into the ergonomics of your workstation to relieve back, neck and shoulder problems. Her aim is to get you and your body moving together in harmony once again.

From the details she manages to glean from you, Annabel can pinpoint where exactly your body is causing problems. For example, the position of a headache can reveal a lot about which muscles or joints are out of perfect harmony. Annabel loves how her work challenges her to think outside the box, bringing her detailed medical knowledge into problem solving for client health issues. And while she’s working with you, she’s continually assessing your response to treatment. This includes the possibility of referring you on to another professional if needed. It’s one of the benefits of working in a larger practice, says Annabel who also accepts referrals from her physio and kinesiology colleagues.

So who would benefit from regular massage therapy? It’s not just desk-bound stressed-up execs who benefit – Annabel treats regular folks who either self-refer or get pointed her way by a GP. As a former athlete, she’s interested in how well massage therapy helps sports enthusiasts, amateur and professional, young and old, get back into the competitive top notch. She is also interested in helping moms with pre- and post-natal therapy, although she qualifies this with a few points.

“RMTs do not induce labour, and there are a few high risk conditions such as placenta previa that might prevent me from helping you,” she explains. As an instructor at theWest Coast College of Massage Therapy, Annabel helped RMT students with the basics of treating pregnant women. RMTs can work with women right up to delivery if all goes well, and can provide follow-up treatment after the birth.

Annabel is quick to point out that all treatments vary according to each patient; it’s a very individualized therapy, tailored to your needs. Regular massage therapy can fit in either as a response to injury or as ongoing maintenance.

“Think of it as a part of your ongoing health and wellness program”, advises Annabel.

Contact Annabel at Coast Therapy
101B-1475 Prairie Avenue, Port Coquitlam

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