Phone: 613-672-2200

Physiotherapy vs Massage Therapy: Which one is right for you?

Physiotherapy is recommended for individuals seeking treatment for musculoskeletal injuries or disorders, while massage therapy can be beneficial for reducing stress and tension in the body.

Sarah Peters - BKIN(CH), R.KIN, CAT(C)
physiotherapy vs massage therapy

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage Therapy is a form of soft tissue treatment using manual therapy techniques to work on the soft tissues in the body such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, connective tissue, and fascia.  Its purpose is to optimize physical health and well-being by helping the muscular, nervous, and circulatory systems.


Many Massage Therapists, including all of those at Inertia Physio+ become registered with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario or CMTO. To become a Registered Massage Therapist, or RMT, they must graduate from an accredited post-secondary institution, accumulate many hours of training, and then pass the provincial testing standard. They must maintain their membership with the CMTO, an independent body that regulates their services for the protection of the public.

Benefits of Massage Therapy

Some of the many benefits of Massage Therapy include relaxation, stress relief (which can reduce blood pressure), injury prevention and increased function for those with limited movement. Massage Therapy can also improve circulation, reduce muscle spasms, relieve muscle tension, and muscle stiffness, alleviate discomfort and help you with rehabilitation.

Conditions Treated by Registered Massage Therapists

Registered Massage Therapy can be used for a variety of conditions including:

  • Back pain
  • Prenatal massage
  • Neck injuries
  • Diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Cerebral Palsy
  • Body pain
  • Chronic pain or injury
  • Motor Vehicle accident injuries
  • Patients in palliative care
  • Patients who have undergone surgeries such as heart surgery or joint replacement surgery
  • Muscle tension after casting broken bones
  • Sports injuries

Types of Massage Therapy

During your Massage Therapy appointment, your therapist can offer a range of types of massage. Some of the most common types are:

  • Swedish Massage
  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Relaxation Massage
  • Sports Massage

Signs you should consider Registered Massage Therapy

  • Limited movement
  • Muscular tension or tension in the connective tissues of the person's body
  • Muscle spasms
  • Body pain such as back pain or neck injuries
  • Chronic pain
  • Ongoing treatment to prevent injuries or keep your body functioning well
  • Discomfort
  • Needing an improvement in your overall health
Registered Massage Therapists

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy helps restore, maintain, and improve health through a treatment plan focused on mobility, function, and well-being. Physiotherapy or PT, also known as Physical Therapy, promotes rehabilitation from injury, injury prevention, physical health, and fitness, including strength, cardiovascular fitness, movement, and flexibility/mobility. They help eliminate and reduce pain with their treatments while allowing you to stay active. 

Treatment options include joint mobilizations, muscle/tendon/ligament work, acupuncture, therapeutic exercises, and manipulation exercises.


Every PT must become a Registered Physiotherapist with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario, or CPO, to work in the province. Like the CMTO, the CPO is the independent body that regulates the services of PTs for the protection of the public and registration with the CPO requires graduation from a Master's Degree in Physiotherapy, many hours of training and a passing of the national testing standard. Every Registered Physiotherapist must participate in on-going continuing education and maintain their registration with the CPO annually.

Benefits of Physiotherapy Treatment

The benefits of Physiotherapy treatment are numerous and depend greatly on the type of Physiotherapist and form of treatment.

Generally, the benefits are optimization and balance of the body's systems including the muscular, nervous, cardiorespiratory systems that can be advantageous in injury prevention and rehabilitation and functional training.

Conditions Treated by Registered Physiotherapists

  • Sports Injuries
  • Rehabilitation for the joints and muscles after broken bones
  • Body pain including back pain and neck injuries as well as peripheral joint dysfunction
  • Motor vehicle accident injuries
  • Chronic Pain or injury
  • Palliative Care patients
  • Patients with diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Cerebral Palsy
  • Post-surgical care such as after heart surgery, joint replacement or ligament or fracture related surgeries

Types of Physiotherapy

After graduation, Physiotherapists can choose one of many types of Physiotherapy to specialize in, including:

  • Orthopedic Physiotherapy
  • Physiotherapy for Neurological Issues
  • Cardiorespiratory Physiotherapy
  • Pediatric Physiotherapy
  • Burn Physiotherapy
  • Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Physiotherapy

At Inertia Physio+, all our Registered Physiotherapists are Orthopedic Manual therapists. In Orthopedic Manual Physiotherapy, Physiotherapists work in a very hands-on way with a strong focus in manual therapy techniques including joint mobilization and muscle work and exercise rehabilitation.

They each have their own style and specialties or techniques within this type of Physiotherapy. Some of the treatment techniques used by our Physiotherapists include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Dry Needling
  • Kinesio-taping, therapeutic taping, brace fitting etc.
  • Vestibular therapy
  • Exercise Therapy focused on increasing range of motion, flexibility, muscle activation and re-education, muscle strength/power and endurance, balance/proprioception, and agility to return you to a pain and injury-free, high-performance lifestyle, including life, sport, and work
  • Heat or ice
  • Self-treatment instruction
  • Manual Therapy techniques including, but not limited to:
  • Myofascial Release
  • Trigger Point Release
  • Soft Tissue Release
  • Strain Counterstrain Technique
  • Active Isolated Stretching
  • Muscle Energy Technique
  • Mulligan Mobilization Techniques
  • Joint Mobilization
  • Fascial Chain Stretching
  • Neural Mobilization
  • Craniosacral Therapy
  • Therapist Assisted Stretching Techniques, such as PNF
  • Traction

Signs you should consider Physiotherapy

  • You have an injury or pain that you cannot solve yourself
  • You are not functioning the way you want to in your workouts or sport
  • You have had trauma and you are not sure if you have hurt something
  • You want to maintain your body and feel your best every day in everything you do
  • You have a disease that can inhibit you physically

What is the difference between a Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy?


While the treatment plans may be different, the goals of Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy are generally similar.

Both Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy are aimed at restoring function, reducing pain, and promoting health and well-being.


The main differences between the Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy lie in the approach to the treatment process.

A Registered Massage Therapist tends to provide a short assessment of concerns followed by treatment, while a Physiotherapist provides a thorough assessment on the first appointment determining both the nature and cause of the problem and assessing all functional movement, before beginning treatment. A Physiotherapist will also provide a large amount of education to their patient throughout the assessment and following treatments.

A Massage Therapist will sometimes provide a little bit of instruction in therapeutic exercise but tend to spend their time in hands-on therapy. A Physiotherapist will generally provide a full therapeutic exercise program on the first assessment that is reviewed as needed throughout the ongoing treatment process in conjunction with hands-on therapy.

A RMT tends to treat using a variety of release treatments for soft tissues. A Physiotherapist tends to treat using a variety of techniques aimed at both the muscles/tendons/ligaments as well as the joints.

Massage Therapists


Both Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy are integral parts of the healthcare system. They both have the potential to relieve stress and pressure on the body to restore, maintain and promote optimal health and movement, prevent, or rehabilitate from injuries, disease, or discomfort.

Both types of therapists have similar goals but achieve their results through different treatments and approaches.

In an ideal world, all patients would benefit the most from both Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy for overall maintenance or recovery from pain.

At Inertia Physio+, we offer both Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy together under one roof, to be able to best serve you. We can communicate with each other and review chart notes regarding your care if desired, so that we can work together toward the common goal of achieving the best health possible and returning you as quickly as possible to your life and sport.

Contact us to start your journey toward better health with both types of therapy working together!

Phone: 613-672-2200


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Physiotherapy and massage

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