What is Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is the manipulation of soft tissues of the body including, muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments and joints. Massage Therapy is a clinically-oriented healthcare option that helps alleviate the discomfort associated with everyday and occupational stresses, muscular over-use and many chronic pain conditions. 

In Canada, in 1999 it was estimated that between 17-23% of the population4,5 has used massage therapy. In 2003,  35% of the population in Ontario had used massage therapy in the past two years, and that number has likely increased in the past decade.6 Several research studies have illustrated that massage therapy is become accepted as a useful addition to conventional medical treatments7, and by a mixture of populations.8,9,10,11

Massage therapy should be provided by a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT).  An RMT is an individual who is registered with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, in accordance with the Regulated Health Professionals Act and the Massage Therapy Act. Only registrants with the CMTO are permitted to use the title Massage Therapists (MT), Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) and the equivalents in other languages. To determine whether someone is an RMT, you can search for them on the CMTO website

A Registered Massage Therapist is a primary healthcare provider in Ontario and anyone may visit an RMT of their choice. A referral or prescription is not required to visit an RMT, although some insurance companies may require this. 

Massage Therapy can be used to treat both acute and chronic conditions. RMTs can work with a variety of patient in the treatment of illness, injury rehabilitation and disability . Massage therapy can be beneficial to a wide variety of conditions. 

Content is based on a Literature Review conducted by Amanda Baskwill, RMT and Trish Dryden, M.Ed., RMT from Centennial College, Centre for Applied Research in Health, Technology and Education. All material is copyrighted to the Registered Massage Therapist's Association of Ontario and Centennial College, Centre for Applied Research in Health and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written consent of the RMTAO and Centennial College.

Use a Registered Massage Therapist, it's in your best interest!

It's in your best interest to seek massage therapy from a Registered Massage Therapist. An RMT:

  • has completed a 2-3 year program at a recognized school of massage therapy;
  • has passed an entry-to-practice examination that ensures they have the competencies necessary to safely and effectively offer massage therapy services;
  • must participate in a Quality Assurance program with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, a program that assist in the maintenance of professional standards and quality care;
  • is accountable to the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, through the complaints and discipline processes,  in the event that the services they provide to not meet the standards of practice;
  • provides a receipt that will be accepted by your extended health benefits plan for reimbursement (provided you plan covers massage therapy).

Looking for a Registered Massage Therapist?

The RMTAO provides the public with an easy to use searchable database to locate a massage therapist close to your home or business using your postal code.  Click here to visit RMTfind.com.


1Government of Ontario. (2000). Massage therapy act, 1991. Ottawa, ON: Queen's Printer for Ontario.
2Eisenberg, D.M., Davis, R.B., Ettner, S.L., Appel,, S., et al. (1998). Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States, 1990-1997: results of a follow-up national survey. JAMA, 280(18), 1569-75.
3Ramsay, C., Walker, M., Alexander, J. (1999). Alternative medicine in Canada: use and public attitudes. Vancouver, BC: The Fraser Institute.
4Ramsay, C., Walker, M., Alexander, J. (1999). Alternative medicine in Canada: use and public attitudes. Vancouver, BC: The Fraser Institute.
5York University Centre for Health Studies. (1999). Complementary and alternative health practices and therapies – a Canadian overview. Toronto, ON: In house.
6Collis and Reed Research. (2003). Report on the massage therapy census 2003 – general public survey. Bowmanville, ON: In house.
7Verhoef, M., & Page, S. (1998 May). Physicians’ perspectives on massage therapy. Can Fam Physician, 44, 1018-20.
8Furlan, A.D., Brosseau, L., Imamura, M., Irvin, E. (2002). Massage for low-back pain: a systematic review within the framework of the Cochrane Collaboration Back Review Group. Spine, 27(17), 1896-910.
9Dryden, T., Baskwill, A., Preyde, M. (2004). Massage therapy for the orthopaedic patient: a review. Orthop Nurs, 23(5), 327-32.
10Moyer, C.A., Rounds, J., Hannum, J.W. (2004). A meta-analysis of massage therapy research. Psychol Bull, 130(1), 3-18.
11Burford-Mason, A., Dryden, T., Kelner, M., Saunders, P.R., et al. (2005). Complementary and alternative therapies for pain in older adults. Geriatrics & Aging, 8(6), 28-33.