3 Great Things About Being a Massage Therapist

In case you haven’t heard, professional massage therapy is one of the hottest industries out there. The reasons for this are many – but it doesn’t hurt that interest in holistic treatments has skyrocketed in recent years. As more and more people turn to natural, drug-free and surgery-free alternatives, massage therapy has emerged as a powerful form for restoration and maintenance for the body and mind.

It’s not actually a new phenomenon. If you look at the Wikipedia page on massage, you’ll see that the first known evidence of massage therapy dates back more than 4,000 years. As time passed, it became clearer that massage was being used in various settings and geographical areas throughout the world.

But let’s not get too caught up in history lessons here – the point is, massage therapy is hugely popular in the 21st century, and it shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. If you’ve ever had a truly skillful massage, you understand exactly why. There are many ways to release neuromuscular tension from the body, including exercise routines like yoga and Pilates. But a dedicated pair of hands working out your muscular tension is another experience altogether. It truly is possible to achieve a deep, healing state – both during the massage itself, and for days afterward.

All of this highlights the fact that massage therapy is a viable industry and a highly intelligent career choice for those who have the aptitude and the passion. You might be someone who has been thinking about training in massage therapy for some time now, and you’re look for the best school or program to attend. Or, the idea of becoming a massage therapist may have only just crossed your mind – and you’re wondering if it really could the path you want to take. Either way, let’s take a look at three simple reasons why being a massage therapist is great.

1. You get to help people

This is a simple reason, but a good one! The direct connection you’ll have with your clients is satisfying, especially as you help them to achieve a more optimal state of health and wellness.

2. You can get a job almost anywhere

Whether you want to go out on your own as an independent therapist and build a list of dedicated clients, or whether you want to join a spa or hotel and commit your services to a team – the possibilities are endless. Highly-trained massage therapists are very often able to find as much work as they want – and thanks to the increasing demand, therapists can often find work in a new city if they wish.

3. It keeps you tuned to your own health and wellbeing

Professional massage therapists help many people get healthier on a day-to-day basis. As a result, they’re often more in tune with their own health and wellness. An added benefit is that therapists are always collaborating and trading information on various wellness practices. For many people, being a massage therapist is a great way to maintain their own health and fitness.

The quality of your training is hugely important

Embarking on a new career path is exciting – especially a career path that has so much promise in the years to come. The massage therapy course you choose will lay the groundwork for your technical ability and knowledge as a therapist – not to mention your business acumen. Look for a school that goes above and beyond the minimum and leaves you well-prepared for the realities of the industry; that’s the very best thing you can do to optimize your chances of long-term success!

Is it Better to Work as an Independent Massage Therapist?

The massage therapy industry is in the middle of a boom. Part of it has to do with new medical research, which continues to show the benefits of massage therapy. Part of it also has to do with the growing popularity of wellness and self-care techniques. A regular massage therapy session is a great way not only to receive great physical benefits, but also to help reduce stress and anxiety. People know this, and are coming out in unprecedented numbers to reap the benefits.

This means that it’s good time to be a massage therapist, or to be considering massage therapy as a career. As massage continues to gain relevance and credibility as an important health and wellness tool, the opportunities for career success in this field will multiply. It deserves to be said up front, however, that wanting to be part of a thriving industry is not enough. The massage therapists that really do well over the long term are always those who have a genuine passion for their work.

But let’s say you’re ready to commit and enroll in a school. Or perhaps you’re already in a program, or have graduation, and are wondering what your first (or next) move is going to be. Are you going to work for a spa or wellness center, and be part of a team? Or are you going to step out on your own and work as a freelance massage therapist?

The benefits of going freelance are tempting. You set your own schedule and prices, and you get to keep all of the money you earn. You can work hard and building a dedicated clientele, and over time, you can do quite well for yourself. You may have heard some success stories of freelance massage therapists who love what they do and earn a very good living doing it. These stories are true.

But consider the importance of experience, ongoing training, and dedication to the healing art of massage therapy. Many of the most highly-successful freelance therapists have years of experience working in hotels or spas. The truth is that for many new therapists who are just starting out, working with a team of professionals is a good way to gain vital experience and hone your skills. You’re in touch with other therapists every day, and you can share knowledge and techniques. Like any working relationships, some are smoother than others, but the experience is all worthwhile.

Other people are a knack for building their own clientele, and for delivering quality massage. People respond to them right away, and they quickly form a solid reputation. It’s definitely possible to be a good freelancer out of the gate, but it’s not for everyone.

This brings us to a final point, which is that a good massage therapy school will always include “real world” and business knowledge into the coursework. Too often, students enter the field with the technical skills they need, but without any knowledge of the various business choices involved in the career of a massage therapist. That’s definitely something to think about as you choose a school and embark on the beginning of your career in this booming industry.

Why Do Some Massage Therapists Fail?

By now you’re probably aware that the massage therapy industry is booming. This is true in the United States, and it’s true in many other parts of the world as well. As more and more people become attuned to the benefits of professional massage therapy, the industry naturally grows larger. The opportunities become bigger. Schools and academies multiply, and the number of people training to work as massage therapist increases.

As you can imagine, the results for these new therapists run the spectrum. Some new therapists are able to build a clientele and find success right away. Others have a slower start, but with hard work and persistence, they’re able to break through to a new level of success and career satisfaction.

There are, of course, those massage therapists who simply can’t make it work. There could be many reasons for this. Let’s take a closer look at some of those reasons:

The work is too physically demanding

Let’s be honest: Performing massage therapy for 8+ hours per day can be taxing, and it requires a greater awareness of one’s own health and wellness. Therapists have to look after themselves and be able to read their own bodies very skillfully, so as not to push themselves too hard.

The schedule is too sporadic

There are certainly massage therapy jobs out there that are contained within a 9-5 setting. Also, as a freelancer or independent therapist, you have the option to constrain your own hours as you like – provided you’re able to maintain a sufficient number of clients within those hours. But a lot of massage therapy clients are people who have 9-5 jobs themselves (especially office workers, who often develop chronic stiffness in the back and shoulders). That means it’s often necessary – especially when your career is first starting out – to work evenings and/or weekends.

The passion isn’t there

Like any profession, it helps to be passionate about what you do. If massage therapy is “just another job” and a therapist ends up “going through the motions” with clients, neither the therapist nor the client will find the treatment to be as worthwhile as it could be. This will eventually affect the therapist’s ability to attract and maintain new clients. On the other hand, when a new therapist is passionate about their work and feels that they’re on the right path, this shines through in the treatments, and translates to greater amounts of success in the business – as well as personal success and fulfillment.

Setting yourself up for success

The massage therapy school or academy you choose is another big factor in determining how successful you’ll be as a massage therapist. This has a lot to do with the skillset you receive as a student of a given school – without the right skillset and guidance from experienced therapists, it’s very hard to be successful. The best school also provide their students with the practical business skills, and personal wellbeing techniques, to make sure they avoid common pitfalls and find lasting success in this booming industry.

3 Ways to Maximize Your Massage Therapy Treatments

You may have come across recent research about the many proven benefits of therapeutic massage. Are they true? Absolutely. In the past, you may have thought of massage as just a way to unwind, relax, and reward yourself after a tough week. These are still great reasons to enjoy a massage, but now we know so much more.

We know, for example, that massage therapy can help people with high blood pressure by lowering the blood pressure to healthy levels. We know that it can improve circulation, which leads to a cascade of other health benefits. We know that massage therapy can help improve posture, restore range of motion, and lead to more restful sleep. This is just the half of it – if you look at the research, the list of health benefits is long.

But there’s another fact about massage therapy that needs to be acknowledged: There is a wide spectrum of quality when it comes to receiving treatments. Different states have different requirements in terms of certification, and it’s often possible to see a certified therapist who really doesn’t have a high level of knowledge or skill. It’s also very much possible, as with any profession, that you might receive a treatment from someone who has not even passed the basic certification. This points to the importance of researching therapists carefully and choosing one that’s both reputable and experienced.

With that in mind, here are three important ways to maximize your massage therapy treatments:

1. Communicate with your therapist

One of the biggest reasons why so many treatments produce results that are less than ideal is a lack of communication between the therapist and the patient. Some people report feeling “bad” about asking for adjustments in pressure or technique, or letting the therapist know when something is painful. Any good therapist will let their clients know that feedback is important, and will be happy to make immediate adjustments based on how the patient is feeling.

2. Follow common guidelines

Not drinking alcohol before or after your treatment, and making an effort to hydrate and eat healthy foods, are an important way to maximize your health benefits from therapeutic massage. When setting up your appointment, as about any guidelines your therapist recommends. Making good lifestyle adjustments in the period before and after your treatment can make a big difference.

3. Explore different modalities of massage

Many people prefer to stick with Swedish or deep tissue massage, and these are very good styles. But some people also respond very well to other modalities, such as Thai massage, or the incorporation of hot stone therapy. Consider exploring different styles of massage to find the one that has the most health benefits for you.

Where to look for a better-quality massage

Let’s face it, massage therapy can seem like a slot machine if you don’t know what to look for. There are plenty of qualified and highly talented professionals out there who consistently deliver a better-quality massage to their clients – so take your time when researching options.

How Much Training Should Massage Therapists Have?

Most adults have had some sort of professional massage therapy in their lifetime, whether it was a 90-minute deep tissue massage with hot stone therapy, or a 10-minute shoulder rub in a chair at the airport. Massage therapy comes in many different forms, modalities and time durations – but it’s safe to say that most of us have had at least one experience with professional massage.

And if you talk to those who have had multiple experience with massage therapy in different locations, and with different therapist, a definite theme will emerge: Some massage therapy experiences are great, and others not so much. Sometimes we walk away feeling relaxed, de-stressed, loose, and on the path to healing, Other times we feel short-changed, unhappy with the experience, and even worse-off physically than we had been when we came in the door. That’s why people tend to find a good therapist and see them regularly, in order to ensure the health and wellness benefits of therapeutic massage.

When the spectrum of quality is considered in the massage therapy industry, an important question comes to light: How much training should massage therapists have? Is there a broadly accepted standard, or does each school set its own bar in terms of training? After schooling is completed, how much hands-on experience should a therapist have before they start giving treatments in professional settings?

The answer is that each state will have their own testing standards to certify graduates of massage therapy schools for professional work. There are, however, generally accepted standards that come up again and again.

If you’re a student looking for legitimate massage therapy schools in your area, it’s a good policy to look for schools that exceed minimum requirements, provide hand-on training with real patients during the coursework, and prepare their students to thrive in the real world of professional massage therapy.

In New Jersey, for example, top-of-the-line programs require up to 600 hours of training before graduation. A student clinic also offers students the chance to work on real patients as a part of their training, which gives them a much higher level of preparation for entering the massage therapy industry.

People often wonder whether some massage therapists are inherently more “talented” than others – and of course, this may be the case. Some people just have a knack for their profession, while others have to work harder to achieve the same level of service. But regardless of aptitude, all massage therapists should have hundreds of hours of specialized training with reputable and experienced instructors. This is how vital knowledge and techniques are transferred to a new generation of therapists – whether this is your first career out of high school, or whether you’re making a career change later in life. Deciding to become a massage therapist is an exciting moment, but it’s easy to get carried away and rush into a program that doesn’t reach the highest standards. Carefully researching massage therapy schools in your area should reveal which ones consistently equip their students with the tools they need to succeed.

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3 Questions to Ask Before You Sign Up for a Healing Arts School

In case you haven’t noticed, the health and wellness industry is set for record expansion. Why is this? The answers are fairly clear: People are looking for natural and non-invasive ways to stay healthy. There is so much information out there, and new pharmaceutical drugs are being invented all the time. Of course, there is a very important place for this kind of medical treatment; but more and more, people are leaning toward maintaining health and wellness through preventative measures.

What this means is that healing arts – such as massage, acupressure, trigger point therapy, kinesiology, and others – are experiencing a huge wave of interest and popularity. It’s also an industry that many people find extremely rewarding. As a career, it can offer great potential for growth as well as deep levels of personal satisfaction. Anytime you have a career field with this kind of potential, there will be a lot of interest in education and training to become a practitioner.

If you’re someone that has recently become interested in a career in the healing arts, you probably already know that there are many different paths available to you – and for each of those paths, there are many different institutions that offer courses and certifications of various lengths.

The key question is what kind of school, and what kind of program, is truly going to help you achieve your goals. The right choice can set you up for career success and satisfaction in the field of healing arts, but the wrong choice can bring no small amount of frustration.

Here are three basic questions that can help you make a better decision when it comes to choosing a school for the healing arts.

1. Is it grounded in medical science (e.g. biology and human anatomy)?

There are a lot of healing programs out there that are based on understandings of “energy” and other aspects of wellness that are not understood by medical science. These modalities may have a lot of meaning for many people, but there is also a very strong argument for healing arts that are grounded in medical understanding and knowledge.

2. Does it offer a variety of techniques?

Massage therapy is good example of a healing art with many different techniques, and the most successful professionals in the field usually have a good working knowledge of these different areas. Some healing arts schools are more focused on getting as many students as possible enrolled in the program, with less attention to the standards of professional education being offered. A reputable massage therapy school is much more concerned about training dedicated students to reach a high level of skill and professionalism in the field.

3. Does it offer certifications that meet or exceed state requirements?

Different states have different requirements when it comes to certification and license in the healing arts. It’s hugely important to make sure that your school meets or exceeds these requirements, if applicable. Otherwise, you could find yourself graduating with a certificate that doesn’t actually hold water. Pay close attention to the real world applicability and certification standards of any healing arts program you choose to attend.

What are the Most Common Complaints Against Massage Therapy Schools?

Massage therapy is one of those rare industries that bridges the mainstream medical community and the world of holistic or “alternative” wellness. The medical benefits of professional massage therapy are becoming better documented each year, and this type of treatment is often recommended by doctors in conjunction with physical therapy and other areas of health. At the same time, the holistic wellness community is constantly growing and expanding, with massage therapy being one of the central and most popular areas at the center of this community.

This is another way of saying that the future of professional massage therapy is bright. But in order to meet the demand for high quality services, a lot of new therapists need to be properly and professionally trained. This means that many new schools and programs are coming up, and aspiring massage therapists have more choices than ever when it comes to choosing a school.

A big part of the process of “vetting” massage therapy schools involves reading about the experiences of past studies, and looking at the professional reputations of people who have graduated from that school. This is a common sense way to find out what kind of standards a given school actually has, and what caliber of massage therapists they’re putting out into the world.

Like any academic program or service, there are plenty of reviews out there to help people make a more informed decision. A school’s overall reputation should be largely visible online, and possibly also in trade journals and other publications related to the industry.

When you start to look into a school’s reputation, you might begin to notice complaints that have been made about the way the course was conducted, or perhaps about the curriculum itself.

So what are some of the most common complaints made against massage therapy schools?

1. “The curriculum was too narrow.”

Reputable schools invariable offer a comprehensive curriculum that includes many different modes of massage therapy, and a very detailed understand of technique in each of these modes. Some people graduate from massage therapy school and are surprised to find out that spas, hotels and other employers want a broader skill set.

2. “It was mostly classroom learning.”

The balance between classroom learning and hands-on field experience is a very important aspect of any massage therapy program. If the vast majority of time is spent discussing topics and reviewing academic information, students will be ill prepared to succeed in the real world of massage therapy. Always seek a course or program that goes heavy on “hands-on” experience. If a school has a student clinic, this is a good sign that you’ll have a lot of field training by the time you graduate.

3. “They didn’t prepare me for the real world.”

Being a successful massage therapist is about more than just mastering techniques and accumulating experience. It also has a lot to do with being a savvy businessperson, especially if you’re going to be working on your own. You’ll see a recurring pattern where the best schools put time and effort into developing the business acumen of their graduates.

Contact a reputable massage therapy school in your area for specific details on coursework, and good luck in your search!

Is One Massage Therapy School as Good as the Next?

Every year, new information and statistics are revealed about massage therapy. What are we learning about this booming industry? Basically, we’re learning that it’s “booming” for a reason: The health and wellness benefits of professional massage therapy services are well documented, and the body of evidence is growing all the time. The pool of clients is growing, as is the pool of massage therapists.

To that end, there are a lot of massage therapy schools courting new students. But there’s an obvious (yet important) question that needs to be asked: Is one massage therapy school as good as the next?

The answer, quite simply, is ‘no’ – there are significant differences between massage therapy schools, just as there are with other fields of study. Here is a breakdown of some of the most important differences:

1. Student-to-faculty ratio

Studies have shown that better student-to-faculty ratios have a direct impact on the quality of education received. In the field of massage therapy, smaller classes provide more individual learning opportunities for each student, and allow for more personalized feedback and instruction. You’re bound to have questions during your journey through a massage therapy certification program, and your skills will progress much faster if you have easy and convenient access to your instructors.

2. Variety of techniques

Massage therapy includes a vast field of knowledge and incorporates many different techniques. Examples include Swedish, deep tissue, therapeutic, Thai, and sports massages. There are many other massage techniques; this is only a short list. When you inquire with a massage therapy school, you’ll want clear information on what techniques are included in the curriculum, and whether you as a student will be able to ‘focus’ on certain techniques over others. Different programs have different ways of going about this, but a broad range of techniques should be properly and correctly taught in order to maximize the student’s potential as a therapist.

3. Student clinics

Not every massage therapy school has a student clinic, in which massage therapy students have the opportunity to refine their skills in a hands-on environment will real clients. This “real life” experience is a crucial aspect of training, and students of massage therapy schools that don’t have a student clinic (or other opportunities for hands-on training with real clients) are going to be far less prepared to succeed in the real world of massage therapy.

Taking massage therapy to the next level

The opportunities for a successful and rewarding career in massage therapy have never been greater. If you (or someone you know) are thinking about entering the field, one of the very best pieces of advice you can receive is to research schools carefully – don’t rush into anything! Compare the various curriculums, including the balance between classroom learning and hands-on training. Also pay close attention to whether or not the school prepares students for the business and administrative side of being a massage therapist. A well-rounded set of skills is essential in order to deliver next level massage therapy to your clients. Good luck!