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Bodywork in Montreal

Over the past 15 years, I have seen a striking change in the acceptance of bodywork in Montreal.
We currently see the word “MASSOTHÉRAPIE” all over the city, either by itself in large letters in a window or within the offerings announced by a beauty salon, spa or physiotherapy clinic.


September 29, 2009
By Betsyann Baron RMT

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Over the past 15 years, I have seen a striking change in the acceptance of bodywork in Montreal.

We currently see the word “MASSOTHÉRAPIE” all over the city, either by itself in large letters in a window or within the offerings announced by a beauty salon, spa or physiotherapy clinic.

BW1.jpgBodywork has made its entry into Montrealers’ daily lives … big time. It naturally has its home within holistic health centres, and the number of massage practitioners and massage therapists in private practice is enormous.

Techniques used? Swedish-type work seems to have the largest audience in the beauty salons and spas. Hot stone massage is a huge draw as those that receive this therapy feel the additional de-stressing effects that add to the list of in-house offerings.

Various other techniques have found their way in the holistic milieu often combining Eastern and Western approaches: Chinese massage and Shiatsu, along with Cayce/Reilly massage therapy, for example, seem to live well together. Thai massage is finally making its way here and it is much appreciated. I have received a few sessions and as a former ballet dancer, I greatly appreciated the stretching and kneading of this work.

In that previous life, that of a dancer, I had my share of injuries and also received my share of therapies that enabled me to get back “on the boards (onstage).” My prior injuries were my real introduction to bodywork. I was treated with therapies that were considered less conventional at that time. Today these forms of bodywork are widely accepted.

BW2.jpgAlong with massage therapy techniques such as Pfrimmer cross fiber, Myofascial therapy and therapeutic Swedish massage, I am speaking of manual physiotherapy, osteopathy, craniosacral therapy and acupuncture. These were the techniques that made the difference for me. At that point in time, however, the synergy between therapists and techniques was in gestation.

It has been 15 years since I hung up my tutu and began studying massage therapy. My training would grow with the trends, but I was obviously faced with which direction to take? Relaxation or therapeutic?

I strongly support the notion that relaxation work IS in itself therapeutic and occupies an important space. The “therapeutic” to which I prescribe, refers to treatment of injury, chronic conditions and rehabilitation. With my very physical personal history, I knew that my direction would be therapeutic, bio-mechanically based and grow from there.

What I have observed in recent years is that the seeds planted at least two decades ago (or two centuries ago or even 3,000 years ago) are blooming. I am involved with a physiotherapy clinic and the philosophy of the synergy of treatments offered to our clientele is: For the good of the patient.

This philosophy is very prevalent in the Montreal area: clinics that offer physiotherapy, massage
therapy, rehabilitation exercises, osteopathy and acupuncture.

What does that particular situation demand of us, today’s massage therapists? More knowledge, more understanding, and more keys into the body’s many systems. Techniques in the grab bag? I’m seeing Swedish therapeutic and Sports massage, Shiatsu, Lymphatic Drainage, Craniosacral Therapy, Myofascial related techniques, Active Isolated Stretch … the list is unending! I believe that you have to know the rules and then use your creativity and intuition. This includes knowing when to refer out. The openness of this synergy is in full swing in Montreal and it’s great to be a part of it!


BetsyAnn Baron is a Montreal-based massage therapist specializing in CORE Structural Integration and Myofascial Therapy. She is the director of massage therapy at Physio Therapy Maheu-Killens and teaches CORE Myofascial Therapy Workshops. BetsyAnn can be reached at 514-891-4234 or info@betsyannbaron.com


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