Evidence-Based Remedial Massage Therapy
How To Get The Best Out Of It!
Massage therapy is the most popular complementary therapy used by the Australian public. With research in massage therapy gaining significant attention over the last 30 years, clinical evidence exists to support the efficacies of massage therapy on many health conditions, including chronic low back pain. This growing body of research supports massage to become an evidence-based practice.
As a remedial massage therapist at PhysioWest, while pursuing a higher research degree in low back pain, I often wonder what evidence-based practice means in remedial massage. Importantly, what does it mean to you: a person considering remedial massage, or already enjoying remedial massage at our clinic? Let me expand this topic to offer some practical tips to help you get the best out of it!
Evidence-based practice is described as the thoughtful use of the best current evidence in making decisions about the care of the individual patient. In physical therapy, which includes massage and physiotherapy, the approach integrates clinical expertise and takes patient desires, values, and needs into consideration. A study published in the May 2018 volume of the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Journal, states that although massage therapists in Australia have very good access to apply research evidence in their practice, the majority do not. Those that do are often those that undertake continuing professional education and are members with reputable Professional Associations.
In addition to research evidence, another form of evidence, often overlooked, is experiential evidence – that is, the clinical experience gathered by the therapist as well as the experience of the person who receives the treatment. Yes, your experience reflected back to the therapist is of crucial importance to getting the best out of evidence-based treatments!
Tips to get the most out of evidence-based practice of massage are:
- Find and use a clinic whose practices are professionally accredited (e.g. partnered by health funds)
- Book your massage with qualified remedial massage therapists (Diploma or higher)
- Ask your therapist what type of massage he/she is trained in? (you want someone who can clearly explain their knowledge as applicable to you)
- Ask if he/she is a member of an established professional association for massage therapists? (e.g. Massage and Myotherapy Australia, previously AAMT, or the Australian Natural Therapists Association, ANTA)
- If all is safe and agreeable to your standards, trial the massage and take note of your experience during and after the massage
- Afterwards, reflect and evaluate your “experiential evidence” on how you felt following the treatment (sometimes, the treatment plan may include 3 or more treatments)
- Reflect and answer this for yourself: Is this treatment good for me? Trust your experiential evidence
- If Yes, book another massage with that therapist at that clinic!