• Cecilia Flux

Remedial Massage: What is it?


For those in the know, there’s been a lot of chatter in physical therapy circles over the past few years in particular around the actual definition of remedial massage. Whilst it’s been a talking point for decades, many of our massage clients and the general public may not realise that the reason it’s became such a hot topic recently is because in 2013 Medibank Private announced they were halting registrations of new remedial massage providers. Thankfully the massage associations were all able to negotiate a for registrations to be reinstated with stricter rules around assuring rebates were only provided for remedial massage (and not therapeutic or other forms of massage). So – what is remedial massage then?



Well, it’s definitely not “just a hard massage”. No, remedial massage is not synonymous with deep tissue massage. This is an urban legend that has been sadly encouraged by many massage therapists, possibly because they either lack experience or correct training in assessment & other treatment techniques. Or possibly because some of the multiple associations that register remedial massage therapists had not defined remedial massage in any clear way (but again, musings on the many foibles and issues in the massage industry, one with such potential and so many current political limitations, is the subject for another future post).


This “remedial massage is just a hard / deep tissue massage” is an untruth that we at Niggles & Knots have been working to educate our clients about since day dot. We’re passionate about providing you with real remedial massage, and showing you the full benefits it can offer. There is absolutely nothing wrong with deep tissue massage – in fact it feels great and can be really beneficial when applied correctly – but remedial massage can offer you so much more.


There has been many definitions recently written, rewritten, reviewed, and argued for and against in the last few months. But the simplest way of putting it is:


“Remedial massage is the assessment and treatment of dysfunction, supported by a treatment plan and documented treatment notes.”


Now we could (and probably will, in future!) write a whole lot more around that definition. But the obvious stand outs from that one sentence, is that remedial massage includes assessment as well as treatment. It’s critical that your therapist takes the time to talk to you, to run through physical assessments such as range of motion testing, functional muscle testing and special orthopaedic tests, to ensure they are choosing the best techniques and treatment to assist you. Which is why at Niggles and Knots, we spend some of your treatment time completing a comprehensive assessment (which may take some time during your initial appointment but is so worth it), and each following session includes some assessment / re-assessment as well as hands-on treatment.


So does all of this mean that your remedial massage WON’T include deep tissue massage? Absolutely not! Deep Tissue massage is simply a technique, and as such we may recommend using it in combination with several other techniques we are well-trained in to achieve your musculoskeletal and health goals. And of course you are very welcome to request it be included, or be the focus of your massage treatment. If we don’t think that’s a good idea after our assessment, we will clearly explain why, otherwise we will be happy to oblige.


There are a few other important differences between real remedial massage and “just a deep tissue massage”. We’ll continue to explore some of them in future posts, but we thought we should also point out that treatment notes are an important one. Did you know that at Niggles & Knots, your lovely massage therapist spends up to 30 minutes post-treatments writing detailed notes about your treatment? This allows for consistency of treatment & treatment planning if you are to see a different therapist, as well as documenting progress & plans for future treatment - all of which your Niggles & Knots therapist will gladly discuss with you at the end of your treatment.


Want to know more? Have a chat to your friendly therapist next time you are in for your regular massage, look out for our next post, or post a comment here!

Recent Posts

See All

Whiplash - can massage help?

First used in 1928 the term "whiplash" was coined. Whiplash describes neck injuries sustained in automobile accidents, a "whiplash" is an acceleration - deceleration injury to the head and neck. The t