Massage therapists undergo training to learn the art and science of massage. To practice massage therapy, a massage therapist must learn how to perform specific massage strokes on certain parts of the body. The training program usually lasts from eight to twelve weeks, and the courses may be offered in specialized schools or at traditional colleges. Massage therapy education programs vary widely by locale or state.
Massage education programs are generally offered at both public and private postsecondary educational institutions. Most programs are designed to prepare students to enter accredited massage therapy programs. Most programs required at least 500 hours of classroom study for their completion; many programs require 1,500 or more hours. Massage therapy students typically require at least two years of undergraduate study, plus at least four years of graduate study, to be eligible for licensure. Massage therapists must complete a minimum of four years of massage therapy training and experience before they can apply for licensure. The requirements for licensure vary by state and locale.
Massage therapy programs may be offered by traditional schools and institutions of higher learning, or by local community colleges. Many states require massage therapists to be licensed through continuing education programs, although licensure is not required for most modalities. Continuing education programs are designed to meet the continuing education requirements that apply to professionals who hold regular employment. In most states, a massage therapist must pass a test before becoming licensed, and continuing education credits may be renewed each year. Most programs may also be approved for credit by the American Board of Massage Therapy, which licenses practitioners in many states.
Massage therapists learn how to identify and treat injuries, while helping their clients to prevent injury. Massage therapy involves a variety of movements and techniques designed to manipulate the various muscle groups in the body. By working with their clients, therapists help them strengthen and stretch muscles, as well as improve range-of-motion, flexibility, and range of strength. Massage therapists must have a thorough knowledge of how their body responds to touch, in order to provide effective treatment. For instance, if a client has an injury that requires massage therapy, therapists must first take note of the specific areas that need treatment.
Communication skills, both verbal and nonverbal, are fundamental for success as a massage therapist. Effective communication skills allow therapists to help their clients with their pain and discomfort and open the lines of communication between them and their clients. In addition, good communication skills to create a safe, secure atmosphere in which clients feel comfortable and can openly discuss their problems. Good communication skills also make it easier for therapists to identify and address the needs of their clients.
There are a variety of modalities available to massage therapists, including sports massage therapy. Sports massage is designed to reduce stress and restore health to athletes and serious athletes who perform at high levels of intensity. Sports massage techniques include stretching, friction, and light cardiovascular work. The use of light massage strokes and smooth, flowing movements, combined with stretching and friction, are used to relieve pain and prevent injury. This type of massage can be very helpful when used before or after a workout session.
One of the most common uses of massage therapy is for the relief of chronic tension, such as that found in the back, neck, and shoulders. Massage therapists can also perform reflexology on clients’ hands and feet. Reflexology utilizes the acupoints located in the fingers and palms to help clients reduce stress and relax their muscles. Reflexology is different from other types of massage therapy because it does not directly touch muscles; instead, it uses pressure on different parts of the fingers and palms in order to achieve relief from different symptoms.
Massage therapy is beneficial to adults as well as children. It provides individuals with relief from anxiety, invigoration, and a general sense of well being. When relaxation is achieved, mental and physical stress is relieved. This allows clients to focus on other activities while receiving therapy. Relaxation also encourages the growth of soft tissues throughout the body. When individuals engage in regular exercise, they can engage in a variety of activities that include muscle relaxation, improvement of flexibility, circulation improvements, stress reduction, and a general sense of well-being.