If you love to play sports, you may also love a good massage. A professional massage can soothe aching muscles and joints and help you relax and feel your best. However, while a massage can do a world of good for those sore and stiff muscles, don't assume that this service is the same as actual physiotherapy. If your doctor has recommended physiotherapy, or if that massage just doesn't seem to make you feel your best any longer, note a few differences between these two services and why you should seek out an actual physiotherapist when recommended.
Purpose of these services
Physiotherapy is performed for the purpose of treating certain and specific impairments. This might mean helping to improve a limited range of motion due to arthritis or an injury, treating muscles that are in the process of healing after an injury or surgery, or retraining muscles so they can better support a physical impairment or handicap.
A massage, on the other hand, is typically performed to help muscles relax; it may or may not increase a person's range of motion or help muscles to heal after surgery or injury. You may feel stronger and more flexible after a massage, but physiotherapy will be more effective at treating these very specific impairments.
A physiotherapist will gather your medical history and then create a long-term plan for your overall recovery or treatment. They may give you instructions about certain exercises to do at home, as well as recommendations for changes to your lifestyle and diet. A massage therapist might note some ways you could better protect your muscles, but they are not trained in understanding your entire medical history and how it affects your muscles and joints, and they don't typically create any type of inclusive plan for treating a particular impairment.
Healing versus relaxation
Physiotherapists may manipulate the muscles and joints in order to loosen the muscles, break up scar tissue, and increase blood circulation in certain areas. A massage therapist is typically concerned with how to help a person relax and alleviate stress and tension in their body.
Your appointment with a physiotherapist may not be very relaxing or as enjoyable as the one with your massage therapist, but keep in mind that these sessions are meant to help your body heal. Because of how their work affects your overall health and physical condition, always use a physiotherapist when recommended by your doctor rather than relying on a standard massage session.