Massage Therapist Association of Alberta
There IS a Difference

Help and Frequently Asked Questions

How often do you hear comments such as, “Oh! My aching back”, “Gee, I woke up with a stiff neck,” or “I threw my back out”?

The human body was built to move, to be mobile, to be ready for action, so why do so many people experience aches, stiffness or inflexibility?

A look at our environment can provide many of the answers. Each day we are faced with many physical challenges – as office workers holding arms over a keyboard, as construction workers hammering repeatedly, or as bus drivers sitting for long periods with insufficient support.

Workstations are often built to accommodate equipment, not different body shapes and sizes. Society demands performance, but workers don’t get the needed warm-up time before activities. Deadlines, traffic, air quality and many other factors lead to physical and mental stresses that eventually become evident as physical pain.

Massage therapy seeks to address some of these symptoms. While there seems to be universal agreement that massage “feels good”, it also offers many specific benefits. The therapeutic use of massage affects all systems of the body, most particularly circulatory, muscular, fascial and nervous systems. Massage therapy is also effective in the control of pain - both chronic and acute, in stress reduction and in creating a sense of relaxation and well being.

Historical and current research document the perse physiological effects of massage, many of which are due to the movement of the therapist’s hands over the body, physically stretching the muscles, encouraging circulation, inhibiting muscle spasm and sedating or stimulating the nerves to ease pain or promote function as necessary.

Many effects are equally preventative in nature. When muscles are loose and circulation is sufficient, the result is better health and less chance of injury or dysfunction. Some other effects are not well understood, such as decreased anxiety following treatment. Some physical and psychological effects may be due to the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.

A trained massage therapist focuses on the normalization of the soft tissues affected by stress, injury and illness through the use of manual techniques that improve circulation, enhance muscular relaxation, relieve pain, reduce stress, enhance immune function or promote health and well-being.

You don’t need to be injured or in pain to experience massage, it can be used as a tool to help facilitate your general well being. Many people seek massage therapy regularly to help them perform at their best and feel positive about themselves.

An increasing number of clinical research studies show massage reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, relaxes muscles, improves range of motion and increases endorphins (enhancing medical treatment). Although therapeutic massage does not increase muscle strength, it can stimulate weak, inactive muscles and, thus, partially compensate for the lack of exercise and inactivity resulting from injury or illness. It can also hasten and lead to a more complete recovery from exercise or injury.

How many hours of core education should my therapist have?

The accepted standard in the regulated provinces is a minimum of 2200 hours or completion of a program that results in a Diploma being received. All MTAA Members are required to complete an educational program that produces a Diploma in Massage Therapy. Several continuing education seminars and courses are available for therapists as well and it is important that your therapist participates in continuing education courses to stay current in their profession.

Should my therapist be a member of the MTAA?

Being a member of the MTAA provides you with comfort that the practitioner providing your massage treatments is governed by a Scope of Practice, Standards of Practice, a Code of Ethics and is ultimately accountable to a Complaints and Disciplinary Committee.

All Active MTAA members in good standing have extensive Professional and General Liability insurance coverage that ensures that the therapist is covered for both errors in their practice AND general liabilities, such as equipment failure or office space hazards. Look for a membership certificate indicating active membership status in the current year as confirmation of this coverage.

The MTAA membership number is an important piece of information necessary for reimbursement by health insurance providers. It is important to note that ALL third-party insurance companies in Canada recognize MTAA membership numbers. Ensure that this number along with the MTAA member’s name is legible on your receipt.

Do therapists specialize in certain areas?

Most therapists will concentrate their practice in certain modalities after completion of their core training programs. Post-graduate training can be obtained in a number of areas such as sports massage, infant massage, pregnancy massage, deep tissue massage etc. See our Find a Therapist section for a listing of MTAA members in your area and the types of treatments they provide.

Should I ask a potential therapist for references?

A confident and experienced massage therapist should be comfortable providing references upon request.

What do the designations "LMT" and "CMT" mean?

An LMT is a Licensed Massage Therapist, meaning that the therapist has obtained a Practitioner's License from the city or municipality that they are located within. To operate a business of Massage Therapy may require additional licensing in some areas of Alberta.

A CMT is a Certified Massage Therapist, suggesting that the individual has completed a massage therapy training program and has been issued a certificate of completion from their training institution.

Why are my receipts not considered a medical expense for income tax purposes?

Currently, massage therapy is not considered a regulated Health Profession in the province of Alberta. As such, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency does not accept receipts for massage therapy treatments as a medical expense. For more information on this, please contact your income tax representative, Revenue Canada or your MLA.