In our fast-paced society, relaxation treatments and techniques are in demand more than ever. If you’ve ever had a massage, you know exactly how rejuvenating the experience can be. Beyond being a relaxing experience, however, massage therapy is now widely recognized as a reputable healing method. 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.).
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.
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.
With your massage license, you’ll be qualified to work in a number of settings—especially as the demand for massage therapists grows. Consider a few of these potential workplaces:
Spas: A spa environment is one of the first places people think of when they’re craving a soothing massage experience. Massage therapists “stage” their work space so it’s comfortable and inviting for the client. The goal of the massage therapist is to make the client feel transported to full relaxation mode.
Rehab clinics and hospitals: In a rehabilitation setting, your massage methods will focus on soothing and healing injuries. For instance, if someone is recovering from a knee injury, you would use massage techniques meant to relieve pain and restore mobility.
Cruise ships, hotels and resorts: What better time to relax and refresh with a massage than on vacation? For many people, vacation is a time to splurge on luxuries, so massage therapist will often enjoy a steady stream of clients. However, it will be rare to build long-lasting relationships since clients are only in the location temporarily.
Health and wellness centers: As the shift toward natural healing methods continues, massage therapists can fill a needed role. Patients who don’t want to take medication may come to a health or wellness center for massage treatments to help aid anything from muscle injuries to headaches to anxiety.
Self-employed private practice: Another great option is to start your own massage therapy practice. This route requires an entrepreneurial spirit and hard work to get things off the ground, but the benefits include choosing your own hours and getting to keep all the profits.
Virtually all massage therapists in the United States are trained in Swedish and deep tissue techniques; in addition, they may specialize in other methods and adjunct modalities which require further education.
Massage therapists typically do the following:
Talk with clients about symptoms, medical history, and desired results
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 stretching, strengthening, overall relaxation, and how to improve their posture
Document client’s condition and progress
Massage therapists treat clients by using touch to manipulate the soft-tissues of the body. With their touch, therapists relieve pain, help rehabilitate injuries, improve circulation, and relieve stress, increase relaxation, and aid in the general wellness of clients.
They use their hands, fingers, forearms, elbows, and sometimes feet to knead muscles and soft tissues of the body.
Massage therapists may use lotions and oils and massage tables or chairs, when treating a client. A massage can be as short as 5–10 minutes or could last more than an hour.
Therapists talk with clients about what they hope to achieve through massage. Some massage therapists suggest personalized treatment plans for their clients. They also may offer clients information about additional relaxation techniques to practice between sessions.
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.
Massage therapists who are self-employed may need to do business-related tasks such as marketing and maintaining financial records. They also may have to buy supplies and do laundry.
Communication skills. Massage therapists need to listen carefully to clients in order to understand what they want to achieve through massage sessions.
Decision-making skills. Massage therapists must evaluate each client’s needs and recommend the best treatment on the basis of that person’s needs.
Empathy. Massage therapists must give clients a positive experience, which requires building trust between therapist and client. Making clients feel comfortable is necessary for therapists to expand their client base.
Physical stamina. Massage therapists may give several treatments during a workday and have to stay on their feet throughout massage appointments.
Physical strength and dexterity. Massage therapists must be strong and able to exert pressure through a variety of movements of the arms and hands when manipulating a client’s muscles.
*For a complete list of these qualities click here..../learning_services/career_and_technical_education/massage_therapy/downloads/Massage%20Therapist%20Personality%20Traits.pdf
Employment of massage therapists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations according to the "Bureau of Labor Statistics." Continued growth in the demand for massage services will lead to new openings for massage therapists.
As an increasing number of states adopt licensing requirements and standards for therapists, the practice of massage is likely to be respected and accepted by more people as a way to treat pain and to improve overall wellness. Similarly, as more healthcare providers understand the benefits of massage, demand will increase as these services become part of treatment plans.