We don’t like to knock other professions but it does make us a little disappointed when people ask this question. Firstly, physiotherapists are University graduates. To be able to be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority physiotherapists complete 4-5years of rigorous academic study AND complete 1,200hours of supervised clinical practice.
Physiotherapists training qualifies them to make a diagnosis, whereas this is not within the scope of practice for a massage therapist. Even though a massage therapist may have years of experience, the level of training and requirements to continue ongoing training and education is extremely variable and largely dependent on the motivation of the therapist themselves. The lack of regulation in the industry means the quality of treatment you receive may be inconsistent and therefore whilst it might make you feel better anecdotally, the scientific evidence does not support the use of massage as a standalone treatment to fix an injury.
This doesn’t mean that massage therapy doesn’t have a place. In fact, many physiotherapists use massage techniques to manipulate the muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues of the body to create relaxation, increase blood flow and create favourable conditions for the body to return to normal health after injury. The difference is that physiotherapy professionals use massage, amongst other treatment techniques to apply to a patient after a thorough assessment and diagnosis has been made. Physios select the best treatment techniques based on scientific evidences of their benefits, which may (or may not) include massage, and the effect they will have on your individual symptoms and the outcomes you are hoping to achieve.
So, physiotherapists and the physiotherapy profession is much more than just a glorification of massage therapy. In many cases long term use of more passive treatments like massage limits your recovery from injury as the approach focusses on treating the symptoms rather than addressing the cause like weak and imbalanced muscles or persistent postures adopted at work. Physiotherapy can offer symptom relief and so much more to help you feel better and keep you feeling that way long term.