Comparing Massage Training Worldwide

Swedish Massage training exists around the world. The number of hours of training differs from country to country though. In the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand the average number of hours of training for massage professionals is 250 hours. In the UK, Massage Therapists are employed full-time in the hospital setting as part oncology and intensive care units, as well as providing daily massage to all patients. In Canada, Registered Massage Therapists are not employed in the hospital setting, even though they receive 2 years of full-time medical school training (in 3,000 hour training programs) and receive registered health care status from provincial governments.

Swedish Massage Training - The Aromatica Experience at Journey Within

The big difference in Swedish Massage training through Aromatica's program at their satellite school, Journey Within in Ottawa, On versus the RMT colleges in Canada is a philosophical difference in the way clients are assessed and in the treatment protocols thereafter. We teach holistic methods of care here, specializing in chronic back pain.

Reductionist vs Holistic Practices

Reductionist theories and methodologies have been adopted and taught across the board at RMT colleges in Canada. Their classroom-based two year, full-time medical school training also includes the dissection of human cadavers in laboratory settings. Nowhere in the world is massage therapy taught this way. The principle behind reductionist medical practices is to reduce the body to its various component parts. This encourages specialization which is why you have knee specialists; hip specialists etc. This is the model physicians use. However, in the professional field of massage, if we view the body as a collection of unconnected component parts - we may fail to hear what the body as a ‘whole’ is trying to tell us!

Muscular Pain

If you have neck pain, back pain or shoulder pain and you book an appointment with a Canadian RMT, the therapist will focus the treatment process on the areas of pain exclusively. Extensive anatomy and physiology testing regimes in RMT training ensures that they are well educated in the theory and function of the multiple components that make up the body and they will feel confident in the massage techniques they were trained in. Often though, the complaint about this type of massage is that “it feels great but it hasn’t really helped me in the long run”. This is especially true in the case of chronic pain.

Treating Scoliosis, Sciatica with Reductionist Treatment Protocols

Take a look at the pictures below. This 34 year old female client had scoliosis of the spine and sciatica in her right leg. She suffered from chronic neck, back and shoulder pain for over 10 years. You can see how her spine has an ’S’ shaped curve. She had been taking pain medication prescribed by her physician and was attending massage therapy sessions from an RMT. She had been receiving chiropractic care also but her chronic pain had not truly been resolved.

Massage treatment sessions had focused on the sites of pain in the various body parts and each area had been worked on independently. Chiropractic care provided spinal manipulation to straighten the curvature of the spine.

Both approaches are common and they may sound reasonable to the lay person. Both professionals provided therapy in accordance with their training and scope of practice but both were equally unsuccessful in resolving this woman’s chronic pain.

Holistic Practices at Journey Within and Aromatica

Massage practitioners trained at Aromatica take a different approach. We stress the importance of an initial whole-body assessment and if misalignment is indicated we track pain through the body from areas of symptomatic pain to the origin of pain. The source of pain in the body may be situated far from the symptoms that are being experienced.

The female client in this case had a right leg that was 2 inches shorter than her left leg (see second slide). She was unaware of this. The RMT and the chiropractor failed to notice this also. Why? The reason is that their training and practices are not holistic and do not include whole-body assessment.

Why would they look at the ankles and compare leg length? This is just the thing that sets Aromatica-trained professionals apart form the rest of the field. This is the ‘hallmark’ of our training and of the treatment sessions provided by our graduates.

Holistic Treatment Protocols

In this woman’s case the gluteal muscles in her right hip were tense, they drew the femur into a higher plane versus the left side and made the right leg appear shorter. This condition is known as Apparent Short Leg Syndrome. Physiotherapists and other health care professionals often refer these type of patients for custom-made orthotics with a ‘lift’ in the heel.

We do not believe that a shim under the heel is the way to go. Shims are good for doors and windows but not for soft tissue in the human body - and the heel is not the problem anyway. Rather than refer this client for orthotics we first of all targeted and then released the tightly contracted gluteal muscles of the right hip using CRT techniques. When these muscles released, the leg dropped down and normal leg length was restored again (see third slide).

We call this Leg & Hip Balancing. The legs and hips are the foundation of the spine. When legs are of equal length, the waist is parallel to the ground and the spine articulates at 90 degrees through the sacro-iliac joint (pelvis). When legs are not of equal length this causes scoliosis and muscular pain along the spine up to the neck.



The curvature of this client’s spine was caused by her right leg being 2 inches shorter than her left leg. This caused the pelvis to tilt down 2 inches which, in turn, caused her spine to tilt awkwardly to the right. Righting reflexes (in the eyes and ears) monitor body alignment constantly and relay information to the brain. The tilt in her body had initiated an automatic body response through these reflexes called the Compensation Effect.

The Compensation Effect

Compensation is the body’s way of ensuring survival. Muscles along the spine pull the spine back in order to maintain balance. Without compensating in this fashion the body would be unable to maintain equilibrium. However, there is a cost to this. The cost is pain in the tense, contracted muscle groups along the spine that are compensating for this misalignment. The muscles of compensation must remain contracted 24/7 to ensure that balance is maintained at all times. This was the cause of pain along the spine.

We focused on the root cause of this woman’s pain and not the symptoms she was experiencing. Once misalignment issues were corrected, her back and neck pain was resolved. Sciatica had occurred as a result of nerve entrapment in the gluteal muscles of her right hip. Once the muscles released their grip on the sciatic nerve, her sciatic pain was resolved.

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