We get asked this question all the time. "What is the difference between Remedial massage and other types of massage?"
In general it is the level of training that goes into it. Current Remedial massage therapists have to undergo years of training to achieve a Diploma of Remedial Massage. This is a nationwide, government recognised, association accredited qualification. Without the Diploma you can't call yourself a Remedial Massage Therapist. To be a Remedial Massage therapist you also have to be a part of a recognised association that allows you to be able to claim through health funds and have a minimum of $2 million indemnity insurance.
The biggest issue these days is the influx of Chinese and Thai massage places that are popping up. We've all seen them and most of us have tried them when we have been desperate. Generally they offer a convenient, cheap general massage that is at best average.
The problem is when you have an injury. More often than not these practitioners aren't trained to deal with your issue and also don't have the English skills to understand what is wrong with you, but they will treat it nevertheless. For example if you have a potential disc injury in your lower back and you think that a bit of massage might help loosen it up, then the massage therapist puts a lot of pressure onto your spine and may stretch you in lots of extreme positions, such as in Thai massage, then you may not be walking out of there.
Other issues can be the cost. People usually assume that it is cheaper massage. In most cases they charge anywhere from $50- $80 per hour. This isn't a lot cheaper than most remedial massage, especially when you take into account the level of training and quality of the treatment. Also with Remedial you can claim some of your treatment back on your Health fund making the cost almost the same as the untrained massage.
One other thing while on the topic of health funds is there are a lot of disreputable places that have one practitioner who is qualified and has health fund status and they use this persons heath fund provider number to run all of the practitioners in the clinic through, even though the others are unqualified. This has recently been investigated by Medibank Private and they have currently put a hold on giving out any new provider numbers. This is penalising all of the new Qualified Remedial massage therapists because there are some unsavoury characters out there who are bringing the industry into disrepute and also providing dangerous treatments with no regard for their clients. You can rest assured that they also wont have indemnity insurance if something were to go wrong.
I have often walked past Chineses massage clinics and the person doing a seated massage is texting on their phone, this says a lot for how interested and intune they are with you. The Thai massages I have had from Thai people often include having them talk very loudly on their phone while I am being treated. Unless they are ringing their mentor to ask advice on my massage, which I highly doubt, there should be no fiddling with phones or talking to someone else during a treatment. It shows contempt and disregard for the client who has come to you for help.
Another unsavoury issue can be the expectation of "happy endings". When you go in for a massage at some Chinese and Thai places you can sometimes get more than you bargained for. Some of these places are fronts for brothels or sexual massage services. So before visiting a Thai or Chinese massage clinic ask around and get some advice on where might be reputable.
The short answer is if you want to take the risk then it is up to you. But if you want a great massage, from a qualified practitioner who can understand your needs and treat your injuries with knowledge and care then you need to go for Remedial Massage.