What are the Most Popular Types of Massage?

If you’ve been to a massage therapy studio or “spa” lately, you’ve probably noticed there’s more than one type of massage on the menu. That’s one of the great things about massage therapy, both from the perspective of the patient and the practitioner. There’s always something new to learn, and there is no end to the ways in which different massage techniques can be blended and used for therapeutic purposes.

The drawback is that people are sometimes confused by the different types of massage therapy being offered, whether they’re going for a treatment or thinking about becoming a practitioner. Let’s take a look at three of the most popular types of massage, and what they bring to the table.

1. Swedish massage

Swedish massage is the most popular type of massage the world over – in so small part because many people also consider it to be the most pleasurable. Relaxation is the main objective of most Swedish massage work, and practitioners aim for a deep state of relaxation in the patient. Long, firm and gliding movements are used to massage the muscles in the direction of the heart, in order to facilitate better circulation and the elimination of toxins. Swedish massage is often a full-body treatment, but it’s also common to see treatments that focus on certain areas, such as the back or shoulders.

2. Hot stone massage

During hot stone massage, smooth stones are heated in water and then placed on strategic points along the patient’s body. This source of heat provides deep relaxation of the muscle tissues. It’s pleasurable and therapeutic in its own right, but it also opens the way for the therapist to be more effective with other massage techniques. Usually the therapist will begin by massaging the patient with a warm stone in hand, replacing it when cold. At one or more points during the treatment, stones may be left along the spine or torso in order to more deeply relax certain areas.

3. Prenatal massage

You might not have expected this one to make the list, but the reality is that prenatal massage is a very distinct form of massage therapy – and it’s in very high demand. The ability to safely and effectively treat pregnant women is a huge advantage for any practitioner, and the treatment itself can be highly beneficial to expecting mothers. Depending on how far long the woman may be, and her individual comfort levels, side positions with special cushions may be used to relieve pressure and tension during the treatment. The massage itself focuses on relieving common pains and symptoms associated with pregnancy, including back aches and leg cramps, amongst others.

How to learn the right techniques

If you’ve been curious about a possible career in massage therapy, it’s important to find a reputable school that gives you a complete repertoire of therapeutic options, including (but not limited to) the three types of massage mentioned above. Look for a school that offers comprehensive training in a whole array of therapies, as well as a solid grounding in the real-world business of being a professional massage therapist. Your patients will feel the difference!

3 Questions You Should Ask Before You Join a Massage Therapy Program

When you find yourself inspired to embark on a brand new career, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. If you have a clear idea on what career path you want to take, that feeling of excitement and anticipation is even stronger. A lot of people decide they want to try a career as a massage therapist, and they immediately start searching for courses and programs in their area. After all, it’s not that difficult to achieve certification in this field, right? Virtually anybody can pick a program, complete it, and have a brand new career on their hands.

This isn’t exactly the case. In fact, massage therapy is one field where you want to be extra careful in terms of choosing a reputable school or certification program. If you’re careless in your choice, you might not come out of the program with the skills you need to succeed in the real world.

If you’re considering a career in massage therapy, don’t make this mistake. It pays to be meticulous in your research, and decide carefully about what school is worth your efforts. Here are 3 questions you should definitely ask before you join a massage therapy program.

1. What types of treatment will I learn?

Knowing the extent of your training, and what specific techniques will be covered, is an important aspect of your decision. You might find programs out there that are rather one-dimensional and don’t say much about how comprehensive your training will actually be. On the other hand, you might find programs that offer integral training in many vital areas, such as Swedish massage, deep tissue, Myofascial release, medical massage, trigger point therapy, anatomy, physiology, and other areas of knowledge. These are the programs that are going to prepare for the realities of being a trained, professional massage therapist.

2. What about hands-on experience?

Classroom learning is good and necessary – but does the program offer hands-on field experience as a part of your certification? If not, you probably want to focus your efforts elsewhere. A program that doesn’t subject to abundant hours of hands-on training will not really prepare you to succeed in your new career.

3. How experienced are the teachers?

Knowing who is teaching you, and what level of experience and training they have, is supremely important when choosing a massage therapy school. You’re embarking on a new chapter and a new career – and you need to know that you’re in good hands. Look for qualified, experienced professionals with a solid track record as both practitioners and teachers. That’s how you’ll know you’re being held to a truly professional standard as you train.

How to find the best school in your area

There might be several massage therapy schools operating in your area, and some of them might be new. Of course, you shouldn’t discount a school just because it opened recently. The people behind the school – who will actually be teaching you the real world skills you need – are more important. But you definitely should pay attention to the number of years a school has been operating, and get first-hand information from past graduates of the school. These efforts will help ensure that you make the best choice, and start your new career in the best possible way.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Massage Therapist?

We live in a world of convenience. It seems like every device, service, and new technology is geared toward making our lives less complicated and more efficient. Information is coming at us 24 hours a day, to the point where it is impossible to absorb everything. That’s just the nature of modern life. Sometimes it’s more about filtering the information we don’t need rather than seeking the information we do need.

As the old saying goes, time is money. But is that really true? When you’re talking about education and training that leads into a new career, spending more time is justifiable. After all, professionals that are rewarding and worthwhile take skills. Those skills don’t come automatically, without investing any time or money. If they did, everybody would do them. That what separates somebody who’s really driven, and really ambitious, from somebody’s who’s not.

So what does this have to do with being a massage therapist? In this age of constant information and speed, people want to get things done as quickly as possible. When you think about completing a new task or reaching for a new goal, you immediately think about how long it is going to take, how much money it’s going to cost, and what kind of effort you’re going to have to put in. This is only natural because he gives you a realistic idea of what it will take to reach a goal.

But we all have to be practical. There are bills to pay and trips to fund. Embarking on a new career is one of the most exciting things in life, but it’s important to know how long it will take to become a professional who earns money in a given trade. Massage therapy is no exception. There are countless candidates out there who want a career in massage therapy, both for the economic opportunity it provides, and for the chance to make a living in a way that helps people. But they need to know how long it takes until the checks start coming in. That’s only fair.

In terms of being a massage therapist, people often wonder what kind of commitment is necessary to fulfill the licensing requirements for a practicing massage therapist, and how quickly they might be able to start along the path of offering professional massage therapy treatments in the real world.

The answer varies from state to state and from program to program, but 600 hours of training is a good benchmark for what it actually takes to acquire the knowledge and techniques of professional massage therapy.

Does 600 hours seem like a long time? It actually is a long time — that’s because there is a big difference between professional massage therapy and simply knowing a few massage techniques. Certification in professional massage therapy is going to give you a wide range of practical knowledge, including a working knowledge of various types of massage, including: Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, hot stone massage, prenatal massage, chair massage, energy work, hydrotherapy, reflexology, trigger points, myofascial release, and more.

It’s also going to give you a blend of classroom and real world experience. No massage therapist should be certified and licensed to practice without a substantial amount of experience treating actual patients in the field. Another thing the coursework is going to give you is practical knowledge of how to run a massage therapy business in the real world, and what it takes from an administrative standpoint.

Completing the requisite hours and earning a massage therapy certification will take different amounts of time, depending on how intensive your program happens to be. A common setup is to complete about 4 classroom hours per week, plus one or two weekend workshops per month. With a schedule like this, massage therapy programs often wrap up after 9 or 10 months of study.

One thing is for certain: Massage therapy isn’t one of those “quick” professions you can simply learn in a few hours, get your certificate and be on your way. It takes a strong commitment and dedication to learning the craft in a comprehensive way — that’s the only way to ensure you’ll have the knowledge and skills you need when it comes time to treat patients out there in the real world!

Don’t take the easy path

There are massage therapy schools out there that promise to rush you through the training and have you working with paying clients in very short amount of time. You should always make sure the school’s program meets your state and local standards for certification in massage therapy. Beyond those basic requirements, always look for a school that goes above and beyond to prepare you for working with real people in the real world. Of course, this involves comprehensive training in a number of different massage disciplines – but it also requires knowledge about the administrative and business side of being a massage therapist, whether you plan to work independently or with a team of professionals.

Why Continuing Education is Important for Massage Therapists

Striving for an academic milestone is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in life, no matter what your field of study. In the case of massage therapy, completing a reputable certification course means that you’re finally able to embark on the journey of being an active massage therapist in the real world. Getting out of the classroom and actually treating clients is an amazing prospect for students, as it represents the culmination of countless hours of training and study.

Once you’re out in the field (whether you’re working independently or as part of a team), there’s no doubt that experience is a great teacher. In fact, there’s no replacement for experience when it comes to treating clients in the real world. Every client is different, with unique physiological needs and preferences. The only way to get better at meeting these individual challenges is to accumulate real-world experience, gradually learning what works and what doesn’t. Eventually, your instincts and skills as a massage therapist grow and evolve — and clients can tell the difference it makes.

But experience itself — important though it may be — is not enough to make you the very best therapist you can be. In order to succeed and thrive over the long term, another ingredient is necessary: Continuing education.

The best way of understanding this necessity is to understand massage therapy not as a perfectly established or understood discipline, but as an ever-evolving practice with an endless number of personal styles and areas of focus. There are aspects of massage therapy we all have to learn in order to form a bedrock of knowledge and technique — but once that bedrock has been formed, the need for new knowledge continues.

One of the strongest signs of a quality massage therapy program is, of course, the intensiveness of the training. When you end up with hundreds of hours of classroom study, in addition to a having a great deal of field experience as a part of your training, you’re in a good position to enter the field upon graduation. But another great sign of a quality program is the emphasis on continuing education throughout your career.

Finding a good place to focus on continuing education — every year, if possible — is important. It allows you the chance to brush up your old skills, learn new perspectives, and develop a more integrated approach to your massage therapy work.

So where do you go for quality continuing education in the field of massage therapy? If you attended a reputable school for your certification, you might look there first. Many programs offer continuing education programs specifically for past graduates and established therapists, as a way to stay in touch with the latest knowledge and keep your practice moving forward.

It’s tempting to think that you can earn your massage therapy certification and rely on experience for the rest — after all, you’re earning a living at the same time. Continuing education, on the other hand, might require an investment from you. But the returns on that investment will almost certainly be worthwhile as you move forward on your journey as a professional therapist.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Certified Massage Therapist?

We live in a fast-paced world — there’s just no two ways about it. People today have more information than ever, and sometimes it seems we also have less time. These factors effect virtually every facet of life, including the educational decisions we make. Recent studies and statistics about student loans and college tuitions have been fast and furious in recent years. People are questioning the time and money they put into various educational programs, and weighing the disadvantages against the benefits. How much it’s going to cost, and how long it’s going to take, are important deciding factors in deciding what kinds of educational programs to pursue.

Massage therapy has emerged as a more viable option than ever for these reason. It’s generally a program that you can get through in less than a year, and the cost is extremely low when compared to something like a liberal arts degree.

And what about the career prospects? Newly certified massage therapists are able to start work almost immediately, whether they’re hired by a spa or massage therapy studio, or deciding to go into business on their own. That’s one of the things we’re hearing more and more in the news lately: Specific trades like massage therapy offer real job prospects and long-term career possibilities right out of the gate, whereas something like a liberal arts degree can be much more difficult to pin down, in terms of long-term economic value.

But let’s back up a minute. Can you actually become a certified massage therapist in less than one year?

The answer is yes — and that’s assuming the program you choose is highly reputable. 600 hours is a good benchmark for education in massage therapy, and schools that offer 600 hour programs usually offer flexible nighttime and daytime options for meeting these requirements. In many programs, enrolling in the fall will have you graduating near the beginning of summer. That means you can be working as a fully trained massage therapist less than one year after starting school — and as many therapists will tell you, the money and career prospects are real. Professional satisfaction and fulfillment also scores high amongst massage therapists.

Well-rounded training

It’s important to realize, however, that choosing your massage therapy certification program is a very important moment. This is the moment when you’ll decide whether to learn from a highly reputable program with a range of modalities, including classroom instruction and supervised field work — or whether you’ll end up in a less reputable program that doesn’t offer the same comprehensive standards of training.

To make sure you find the right program for you, talk to past-graduates and asking the school itself plenty of questions. This is a great way to get a fuller idea of what the school offers and what you can expect as a student and a graduate. There are a lot of massage therapy schools out there, but they’re not all going to give you the same blend of technical and business-related preparation to actually work as a massage therapist in the real world.

3 Common Complaints Against Massage Therapists

As professional massage therapists, we meet a lot of different people. If you’re interested in working as a massage therapist, or if you’ve recently been educated and certified in massage therapy, you’ll find that working with people is a vital part of running a good business. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that people skills have a direct impact on your ability to do well in your practice, whether you’re working solo or part of a team.

1. Too much pressure or not enough

This is the complaint massage therapists hear most often, but there are also a surprising number of cases in which they don’t actually hear about it (even though the complaint exists). People are sometimes reticent to talk directly to the therapist about pressure that’s too firm or not firm enough. Instead, they’ll complain to others after the fact, and/or take their business elsewhere. Actively seeking feedback on the pressure is a good way to do this, since patients are more likely to answer honestly when prompted. The other thing to point out is good, honest training. When you’ve been through a quality massage therapy program with abundant hours of classroom instruction and hands-on practice, your ability to find the right pressure for different patients and different needs is much greater.

2. Smoke, perfume and other odors

Because massage is such a personal experience, with a great deal of physical closeness between therapist and patient, it’s important to pay close attention to odors or fragrances that might cling to clothing or linger in the treatment room. If you’re a smoker (and we hope you aren’t), this can cause a fair bit of discomfort to your patients, and take away from the sense of professionalism. Perfumes and other strong odors should also be avoided. In general massage therapy should only involve natural and unobtrusive fragrances, such as natural essential oils.

3. Lack of focus

This is often a “nebulous” complaint that manifests itself in other ways, including insufficient pressure, or taking time out of the client’s treatment to answer a phone call or use the restroom. Clients are going to think more highly of you and your practice when you stay focus and present throughout the entire duration of the treatment. Being able to do this — especially if you have a full day of treatments to get through — can be challenging. It takes a professional attitude and a good deal of endurance. Legitimate massage therapy schools will address this and many other practical issues involved in being a top-level massage therapist.

Getting to the next level

Massage therapy can be a tough trade — but it’s also one of the most rewarding out there. Being consistent and successful as a practitioner of massage therapy takes practice, patience, and a careful study of common mistakes. If you’re thinking of enrolling in a massage therapy certification program, make sure it’s one that covers all aspects of the business, and gives you the technical as well as the practical skills you need to thrive in the long term.

5 Bad Habits of Aspiring Massage Therapists

Part of massage therapy is encouraging better habits, both amongst ourselves (the therapists) and patients. Taking better care of our bodies is really the name of the game in massage therapy, and it’s why our industry is getting stronger every year.

That said, there are a number of “bad habits” that often show up amongst massage therapists. We’re not talking about bad physical habits, but bad business habits. Developing the following habits will definitely affect your business in negative way, while getting rid of them can really help things flow.

1. Short-sightedness

Taking your massage therapy certification into the world is a big step, but too many therapists lack vision, and simply enter the industry without much of a plan or sense of where they want to go. Putting the time and effort into a long-term plan, and visualizing where you’d like your career to go, is enormously helpful and lays the groundwork for greater success.

2. Passiveness

When you’re new in the massage therapy industry, it’s easy to think that everything will happen more or less automatically for your business. People need and want professional massage, right? But for any number of reasons, things can move slowly. The economy might take a downturn, or the community in which you’re working just might not seem very responsive. Being proactive — including clever promotions and price adjustments — is necessary for new and aspiring therapists in the business.

3. Not listening to clients

You’re the expert — that’s why the patient is here. But don’t forget to listen (and react) to the client’s needs and concerns. A good massage therapy session is based not only on expertise, but on communication between therapist and client.

4. Forgetting to evolve

Graduating with a certification in massage therapy is exciting. Hundreds of hours of classroom study and hands-on experience have paid off. You’ve got the basic skills to be a certified therapist. But too many therapists stop here, in terms of education. The truth is, massage therapy is a never-ending process of learning and evolving. Even the most advanced practitioners are constantly seeking new knowledge. Graduating with certification in massage therapy is a huge milestone, but it’s really only the beginning.

5. Going it alone

Networking is important in this business — especially if you’re an independent practitioner. Too many independent massage therapists becomes an island unto themselves, and view other therapists in the area as a threat. Taking a synergistic approach, and strengthening bonds with your fellow professionals, will produce infinitely better results over the long term, both personally and professionally!

Where to turn for advice

The best massage therapy certification programs don’t leave their students and graduates to figure out the business side of things on their own. A solid groundwork in the administrative and business side of massage therapy is just as important a the knowledge and techniques that allows us to accomplish an effective treatment. If you’re looking for a program, make sure to find one that gives you a complete set of tools to thrive as a massage therapist.

3 Things to Look for in a Massage Therapy Program

The number of massage therapists across our country is on the rise. As a result, there are also more massage therapy training programs than ever. Depending where you live, there may be dozens of programs in your area that can give you some kind of massage therapy certification. That doesn’t mean, though, that all of the programs are equally valuable to aspiring therapists. When it comes to choosing the right program for you, consider the following three factors that will help you separate the mediocre programs from the excellent ones.

Range of Modalities Taught

There is a wide range of styles and techniques that massage therapists use in their day-to-day work. When choosing a program, you want to ensure that it will provide you with adequate training on a wide variety of massage modalities. While most programs will start with Swedish massage, which is often the most commonly used modality, a qualified massage therapy training program won’t stop there. Make sure to ask any prospective programs about what modalities will be taught, and to what extent.

Alumna Employment Rates

While there are plenty of people who feel passionately about massage therapy and want to learn more for their own enrichment, most individuals will pursue massage therapy training in order to secure a job in the field. If you want to work as a massage therapist once you’re certified, it’s natural to be curious about how difficult or easy it is for graduates of a given program to find work after they’ve completed their training. When researching massage therapy programs, ask for employment statistics for recent graduates. Another good question to ask is if the program has a career services team and what sorts of support is provided in finding employment.

Specialization

Find out what the specialization of a school is before committing to it. There are plenty of schools that solely train students in massage therapy, and others that lump massage together with dozens of other skills and certifications. Although there are exceptions to every rule, in general you should look for a program that specializes in massage therapy above all else. Choosing such a school will often guarantee higher quality instructors and curriculum.

Choosing an Excellent Massage Therapy Program

Whatever you do, don’t jump a massage therapy training program without doing adequate research. While getting certified as a massage therapist can be an enjoyable and enriching professional experience, there are plenty of programs that provide substandard training, or that don’t provide training on all specializations. Choosing a high-quality program will increase your chances of having a positive learning experience and having a good start to your career when you finish school.

Your best bet in getting reliable and unbiased information about massage therapy programs is to ask to be put in touch with recent graduates. Massage therapists who have recently completed a given program will be able to speak to the quality of instruction, the preparation provided, and their ability to find a job upon completion of the training.