Are Massage Therapy and Physical Therapy Complementary?

Ask a Therapist

By Eileen D. Cristina

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Autumn/Winter 2006.

Q. My physician referred me to a physical therapist. Should I still be receiving massages?

A. The overwhelming answer is yes. “Massage therapy and physical therapy are two complementary arts,” according to Eileen D. Cristina of Kneading Wellness in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

“Massage therapy can only help the process of physical therapy,” she says. “Physical therapy can integrate massage therapy to some extent, but usually not long enough because of time constraints.”
Although some newcomers actually confuse the two specialties, they are very distinctive.

“Primarily physical therapy works for strengthening and stretching—sometimes with the use of mechanical methods, heat, and electric stimulation,” Cristina says. “Massage therapy is a one-on-one therapy that focuses on the muscles, soft tissue, and softening restricted tissue.

“Progress can be accelerated by the combination of physical therapy and massage therapy. An hour of massage therapy is an hour well spent toward health and wellness.”