Massage Therapy or Physiotherapy?

Massage Therapy or Physiotherapy?

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When you are in pain, we know how difficult it can be to figure out which health professional to choose.

At BJC Health, we are lucky enough to have a range of health professionals under the one roof, including both physiotherapy and massage therapists. So this question of “Who should I see?” is commonly received by our reception team.

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If you are considering either massage or physiotherapy treatment for the discomfort you are experiencing, here are some questions that can help you make the appropriate decision.

  1.  Do I know the cause of the pain?
  2. Have I had the pain before, and what treatment worked previously?
  3. Is stress a contributor to my current problem?
  4. What do I want to achieve with the treatment? For example, better flexibility, reduced pain, return to sport.

The good news is that both massage therapists and physiotherapists are skilled in reducing pain, although understanding where their expertise lie can help guide the decision of who to visit.


Physiotherapists are great problem solvers. If you are unsure of the cause of your pain or how to treat a particular injury than physiotherapy would be recommended. Physiotherapists have a detailed understanding about how the body moves and functions. Using this knowledge and the information gained in both a thorough verbal and physical assessment, they will provide you with a diagnosis, prognosis, along with guiding you through the treatment process. When it comes to treatments physiotherapist may use a variety of techniques including manual therapy, massage, exercise and education.

Want to meet some of our Physiotherapists? click here to view the team (

Massage therapists

Massage therapists excel in using hands on techniques to address muscle related concerns. If you know that your problem stems from tight muscles or stress, then an effective massage will help alleviate tension to reduce pain and improve mobility. If stress is contributing to your pain or causing mental frustration, then massage therapists help to provide physical relaxation as well as a time for mental relaxation. While physiotherapists will often use massage techniques, they typically will not spend the same amount of time and focus on hands on treatment like a massage therapist will.

Want to meet some of our massage therapists? Click here to view the team (

Is it ever a good idea to see both?

Here at BJC Health, our massage and physiotherapy teams work closely together, so it is common for patients to be seeing both massage and physio at the same time. While the physiotherapist can focus on providing education, design a treatment plan, and prescribe exercise, the massage therapist can focus on reducing muscle tension associated with the injury. By allowing each professional to focus more time on each of their areas of expertise it helps patients gain the best and quickest outcomes.

So here is a little cheat sheet I developed to help you navigate the "Who should I see" question.

Some quick reasons when to choose physiotherapy:

  • I am unsure of what is causing my pain?
  • I know the cause of my pain, and it is not muscular related.
  • I am injured and want to return back to sport?
  • Massage worked initially but the problem keeps recurring.

When to choose massage first:

  • My problem appears to be related to muscle tension
  • I have been highly stressed lately
  • I feel general soreness after sport
  • I am feeling stiff and want to be more flexible

I hope the above has been helpful in helping explain the difference between physiotherapists and massage therapists. If you have any further questions, or are still unsure about what you need to help you get moving again, feel free to drop us a comment below!

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