What is Massage Therapy? Massage therapy involves using hands and other tools to massage muscles and connective tissue to release stress, relieve pain and balance the body.
A massage therapist is someone who treats clients by using touch to manipulate the soft-tissue muscles of the body.
With their touch, massage therapists relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, reduce stress.
Increase relaxation, and aid in the general wellness of their clients.
What does a Massage Therapist do? What is Massage Therapy?
A massage therapist is someone who treats clients by using touch to manipulate the soft-tissue muscles of the body.
Massage therapists typically do the following:
Talk with clients about symptoms, medical history, and desired results
Massage therapists work in both the healthcare and hospitality industries. And are in high demand with faster than average growth expected in new jobs. Massage therapists work in clients’ homes, resorts, spas, fitness centers, and healthcare practitioners’ offices. Their training is versatile and can meet a wide variety of naturopathic health needs.
If you are interested in becoming a massage therapist. It could be because you or someone you know has experienced the benefits of deep tissue massage. Massage therapists use touch to treat clients. Manipulating the muscles and other soft tissues of the body to relieve pain and heal injuries. Massage can also relieve migraines, reduce stress. Improve circulation, and can help to restore full function after an injury.
Massage Therapist Duties & Responsibilities
While massage therapy does not require as much training and expertise as other medical professions, it is an important field in healthcare. Muscle tension can be responsible for many injuries, and qualified massage therapists can find where that tension exists and relieve it to prevent more serious injuries. A massage therapist’s duties include:
Collaborating with clients on stress and pain in order to create a treatment plan
Assisting doctors and/or chiropractors in a patient’s physical therapy or recovery from injury
Exercising sensitivity to a client’s medical history and injuries while using massage to relieve pain and tension
Coaching clients on proper exercise, stretch, and relaxation techniques
Properly documenting all treatments
Maintaining treatment records
Recognizing health issues that need a referral to another healthcare provider
As a massage therapist, you will work extensively with your hands to locate stress and injuries. Knowing which parts of the muscles to target, as well as the appropriate amount of pressure to place on those parts comes with experience and training.
Massage therapists methodically apply focused, hands-on techniques to promote relaxation and increase circulation in the body’s soft tissues (muscles, tendons, connective tissue, etc.). Although the warming and stimulating effect of massage has a positive effect on joint mobility and range of motion, direct work on the skeleton is outside the massage therapists’ scope of practice.
In recent years, massage has gained attention from the National Institutes of Health and other respected sectors of the health care community as a highly effective complementary and alternative medical therapy.
The news about the health benefits of massage should come as no surprise since it is one of the oldest “healing arts” – dating back to 2700 B.C., when it was first recorded as a therapeutic technique in the ancient traditional Chinese medicine treatise, The Yellow Emporer’s Classic of Internal Medicine.
Today, therapeutic massage is employed throughout the health care system – in hospitals, long-term care facilities and private clinics, for patients ranging from premature infants to the elderly. Many hospices have massage therapists on staff, and massage is frequently offered in wellness centers, drug treatment programs and pain clinics.
While many choose to practice independently, professional massage therapists also may work closely with other members of the health care team – i.e., physicians, physical therapists, rehabilitation counselors, chiropractors and acupuncturists, among others.
Virtually all massage therapists are trained in Asian, Swedish and deep tissue techniques; in addition, they may specialize in other methods and adjunct modalities, such as:
Types of therapeutic massage therapies
Connective tissue massage
Lomi-Lomi (Hawaiian massage)
Manual lymphatic drainage
Trigger point therapy
Tui Na (Traditional Chinese Medical massage)
Working Conditions | Academic Requirements | Resources
Massage therapists work in a wide range of settings:
A home-based or private practice or on-site work in clients’ homes
Hospitals, nursing homes or wellness centers
Corporate offices, shopping malls, airport lobbies and similar places
Fitness centers, salons or hotels
Most massage therapists are sole practitioners, and many work part-time because the work can be physically demanding. Many therapists use their massage practice as an adjunct to another profession, earning approximately half their income from massage. The average amount of hands-on work for most massage therapists is 15 hours per week (excluding administrative tasks, such as keeping client health records, bookkeeping, marketing, scheduling, maintaining supplies, etc.).
Salary Range and Outlook
Hourly fees for massage therapy vary widely, depending upon geographic location and work setting. For instance, a massage therapist at a high-end urban salon might charge $75 to $90/hour, whereas a sole proprietor working out of his or her home in a small town may charge no more than $15 or $30. The average nationwide rate is $15/hour, although the rate is generally higher in large metropolitan areas.
To become a massage therapist, you must graduate from an established program providing supervised instruction that meets state or local minimum requirements. These requirements vary by state from 500 initial hours to 1,000 hours. Most massage therapy schools and programs are accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting organization.
The standard massage curriculum includes coursework in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, ethics and business, as well as hands-on work in both basic and specialized massage techniques.
After graduating from massage school, therapists will need to meet state standards, and/or municipal requirements, which usually require passing a one of two tests recognized by the regulating body before they can practice.
Becoming nationally certified is optional, but may be a requirement in a few states. To become certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), a massage therapist must have graduated from a state-licensed massage program with at least 500 hours of formal training and pass the NCBTMB national exam.
Learn More About a Career as a Massage Therapist
Watch the video profile, “Massage Therapists,” (which is located in the Human Services category).
Evaluate clients to locate painful or tense areas of the body
Manipulate muscles or other soft tissues of the body
Provide clients with guidance on how to improve posture, stretching, strengthening, and overall relaxation
Massage therapists use their hands, fingers, forearms, elbows, and sometimes feet to knead muscles and soft tissue of the body in order to treat injuries and to promote general wellness. A massage can be as short as fifteen minutes or could last for more than an hour.
Massage therapists may use lotions and oils, massage tables or chairs, and medical heat lamps when treating a client. They may offer clients information about additional relaxation techniques or exercises to practice between sessions.
Massage therapists can specialize in many different types of massage, called modalities. Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, and sports massage are just a few examples of modalities. Most massage therapists specialize in several modalities, which require different techniques. Usually, the type of massage given depends on the client’s needs and physical condition. For example, therapists may use a special technique for elderly clients that they would not use for athletes. Some forms of massage are given solely to one type of client; for example, prenatal massage is given to pregnant women.
Are you suited to be a massage therapist?
Massage therapists have distinct personalities. They tend to be social individuals, which means they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly. They excel at socializing, helping others, and teaching. Some of them are also realistic, meaning they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty.
Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if massage therapist is one of your top career matches.
What is the workplace of a Massage Therapist like?
Because massage therapists work by appointment in most cases, their schedules and the number of hours worked each week vary considerably. In addition to the hours spent giving massages, therapists may also spend time recording patient notes, marketing, booking clients, washing linens, and other general business tasks.
Massage therapists work in an array of settings, both private and public, such as private offices, spas, hospitals, fitness centres, and shopping malls. Some massage therapists also travel to clients’ homes or offices to give a massage. Most massage therapists, especially those who are self-employed, provide their own table or chair, sheets, pillows, and body lotions or oils.
Massage therapist’s working
A massage therapist’s working conditions depend heavily on the location and what the client wants. For example, a massage meant to help rehabilitate an injury may be conducted in a well-lit setting with several other clients receiving treatment in the same room. But when giving a massage to help clients relax, massage therapists generally work in dimly lit settings and use candles, incense, and calm, soothing music.
Because massage is physically demanding, massage therapists can injure themselves if they do not use the proper techniques. Repetitive-motion problems and fatigue from standing for extended periods are most common. Therapists can limit these risks by using good techniques, spacing sessions properly, exercising and, in many cases, receiving a massage themselves regularly.
You love massage therapy, but you also know it’s both physically and emotionally demanding. The risk of burnout or injury is very real, and so you need to make sure you’re talking care of yourself, and your body. One way to ensure you can remain a practicing therapist until you decide you want to stop is learning different ways to massage your clients, especially those who require deep work.
Most massage therapists are limited by the amount of energy they have, not the amount of time. Full-time massage therapists typically see between 20 to 30 clients a week, less than the traditional 40-hour week. Because massage therapists are limited by the amount of energy they have, it’s crucial they learn to be efficient in their work. Learning to deliver therapeutic results to your client without taxing your body is key.
If you equate being a massage therapist with being big and strong, chances are you are pushing your way through your job and are spending a lot more energy than you need to. Massage, even deep massage, doesn’t take great strength. Rather, it takes finesse. Here are a few suggestions to take some of the work out of your massage routine.
What is Massage Therapy? Lean On Me
Rather than pushing your way through your client’s body, simply drop your body weight onto your client, using your weight instead of muscular force to engage the tissue. Using muscular force, or pushing into the tissue, is exhausting and runs the risk of working too deep.
Instead, just drop your body weight onto the tissue and you’ll naturally sink to the first layer of tight tissue. As that layer releases, you’ll sink to the next layer of tight tissue. Patiently work layer by layer to create a massage experience that is deep without being painful for your client or strenuous for you.
What is Massage Therapy? Big Jobs Require Big Tools
There’s a saying that “If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer everything looks like a nail.” You need a big box of massage tools to manage the plethora of issues your clients come to you to help with.
Learning to massage with your forearms, for example, has had a number of benefits. First off, because your forearms are more durable than your hands, fingers or thumbs, you can work longer with less wear and tear on the more fragile joints of your hands. And finding modalities that help reduce stress on your hands and fingers can mean a longer and more productive career.
Consider reserving your hands for massaging delicate areas, such as your client’s head, face, fingers and toes. You may find that the more you use your forearms during massage, the more sensitive they become, offering you a broader surface area of contact. And, increasing the surface area you work means you can address a wider variety of issues your clients might be struggling with in less time.
In addition, forearms are great for leaning into the tissue because they offer a sturdy base of support to lean your body weigh into while also offering smooth and comfortable contact for the client.
What is Massage Therapy? How Low do you Go?
When you use your body weight to achieve deeper work with your clients, you might find you need to adjust the height of your table. Before starting a session, make sure your table is low enough to drop your body weight onto your client. If you have a large or muscular client that wants deep work, lower your table an extra notch. Ensuring your own comfort is a large part of staying health throughout your massage career.
What is Massage Therapy? Relax!
Could you be doing less and getting the same results? Most of us are using more energy than we need to while massaging our clients. Check in with your breath and body while massaging. Consciously deepen your breath while you’re working and relax all the muscles that you don’t really need to perform massage. By relaxing, you’ll not only save energy, you will also be more effective.
Remember, too, that the same way we are sensing our clients, they are sensing us. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your clients will be. If you finish a massage more tense than when you started, you aren’t doing yourself or your clients any good.
What is Massage Therapy? Feeling Stretched
Try placing a tight muscle in a position that stretches the muscle before massaging it. Doing so will intensify the massage work you do on the muscle without intensifying your workload. Likewise, beware of the client that wants you to pound away on a tight spot. Tight spots are usually a symptom and not a source of pain. Take time to find the source of the pain. The source of pain is usually quite sensitive, so you won’t need to use a lot of pressure to release it. And when it does release, so might the hot spot your client is complaining about.Client Participation
For most people, breathing isn’t something they pay close attention to. Encourage your clients to breathe, especially if you are massaging an area that is tight. For example, ask if they’ll breathe into an area you are massaging. This increases circulation to that area and also relaxes your client. Use their breath as a helpful and effortless tool for deeper relaxation of both mind and body.
Practice good body mechanics. Use your legs more than your arms. Stand in a wide stance while massaging. By standing in a wide stance you will naturally activate through the legs. As you move across your client’s body, move your entire body with each massage stroke. This will ensure that you are using your body weight and not muscular force. Keep your back straight, navel slightly in toward your spine (this engages your core muscles and keeps you from overarching), chest open and shoulders relaxed.
Massage therapy is a physical profession, and there’s no getting around that. However, finding ways to work more efficiently without sacrificing the results you achieve can go a long way in keeping you in the profession you love.
Many people think that massage therapy is just a type of relaxation service in spas, actually this is also a way to support the treatment of headaches, blood pressure, digestion, muscle pain, arthritis … If you know how to do this treatment, your recovery may be faster.
What is Massage
There are many different types of therapeutic massage treatments such as orthopedic massage, pregnancy massage, and hot stone massage. The application of massage therapy to overcome and improve a number of medical conditions or to enhance health has existed since ancient times, in both the East and the West. This is also one of the first ways that people use to relieve body aches and aches.
Sitting at a desk for a long time causes some muscles such as the hips, calves, and chest to be overactive and become strained. Meanwhile, the muscles of the back, lower buttocks, shoulders, and feet become looser and weaker. This imbalance causes diseases such as back, shoulder and neck pain, and ulcers.
Through a variety of techniques such as deep tissue massage and trigger point therapy, massage therapy restores balance, heals overloaded or injured muscles so that these muscles work properly, allowing the system to function properly. Musculoskeletal system and other organ systems function optimally.