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.

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!

3 Types of Massage You Should Try at Least Once

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, roughly one in every five Americans have at least one therapeutic massage each year. That’s a lot of massages, but it’s still a small number given the many amazing health benefits of this unique practice. As more research and data appears, the massage therapy industry is only going to get bigger. As the health and wellness benefits of therapeutic massage continue to go mainstream, the services of qualified massage therapists will be in greater demand than ever.

If you’ve never had a professional massage before, you might assume that all massages are more or less the same. Even if you go frequently for therapeutic massage, you might find yourself getting the same type of treatment over and over again. After all, if you enjoy the treatments and you find them beneficial, why change?

On the other hand, there are several different massage therapy techniques that you probably haven’t tried ­– and your new favorite type of massage might be out there, just waiting to be discovered. Here are 3 types of massage you should try at least once.

1. Hot stone massage

Hot stone massage is not necessarily a “type” of massage – but it does make use of warmed Basalt stones in order to calm your muscles, provide deep relaxation, and increase the benefits of your massage. A blend of techniques can be used in conjunction with hot stones: Talk to your therapist about your options!

2. Thai massage

A lot of people describe this type of massage as “passive yoga,” and there is good reason for this description. Thai massage is done with the patient fully clothed and lying on either a floor mat or a raised table. The practitioner then performs a series of assisted stretches, compressions, and traditional “kneading” techniques to relax the muscles and improve circulation. It’s a wonderful and healing massage technique, but it may not be the kind of massage you’re used to!

3. Foot reflexology

A foot massage is always one of the most relaxing and pleasurable experiences out there; but reflexology kicks it up a notch by using pressure points on the foot to stimulate healing responses throughout the whole body. It may sound outlandish, but this type of therapy has been in use for centuries. If you’re someone who enjoys having your feet massage, and are interested in a type of foot massage that benefits the body as a whole, foot reflexology is definitely worth a try. Just make sure you book with someone who is trained and experienced in this specific healing art!

Where are the good practitioners, and what’s the best value?

A lot of people have only one or two massage therapy sessions in their entire life, simply because they get unlucky and end up with a practitioner who is not property trained or experienced. Student clinics are a great way to get quality massage at a lower rate, since the treatments are administered by advanced students under supervision by a master massage therapist.

The Top 3 Reasons Massage Therapists Fail

Massage therapy is a growing field, and there is plenty of research and data to back that up. In fact, you only have to think in terms of first hand experience. As the health benefits of massage therapy become more universally accepted and desirable, we’re started to see massage therapists working in airports, shopping malls, and even hospitals.

All of this points toward a growing demand for quality massage therapists; but is the industry producing them? The answer, of course, is yes – there are many fantastic therapists coming out of various schools every year, and they’ll be in it for the long haul as professional therapists.

That said, there are plenty of massage therapist who graduate school, receive their certification, enter the industry, and quickly find themselves looking for another career. The question is, why does success elude so many massage therapists? Here are five of the most important answers.

1. They don’t have the physical constitution

Massage therapy can be physically demanding work, but it’s also very good for keeping in shape and maintaining great muscle tone. Working on clients day after day requires strength and endurance, and it does happen sometimes that a massage therapist simply doesn’t have the physical stamina to continue on in this profession.

2. They didn’t pick a good school

The massage therapy school or academy is a huge part of what makes a successful therapist in the long run. If you attend a reputable academy with expert teachers, student clinics and plenty of hands-on training (as well as learning about the whole business and administrative side of being a massage therapist), you’ll have a very deep skill set to lean on. Without good training, many people simply flounder in the real world of professional massage, because other therapists are able to do the job so much better. Going back to school can be a great option if you suspect you might not have the best training under your belt.

3. They didn’t learn about the business side of things

As mentioned, the business and administrative side of things is extremely important when it comes to massage therapy. A well-rounded school will cover these aspects in a comprehensive way, giving the graduate a full set of skills and professional contacts to help them succeed in the business.

Ensure your success as a massage therapist

The number one thing you can do to ensure your success as a massage therapist is to be really good at what you do – not only in terms of talent, but being properly trained and certified. That’s why choosing a school or academy is so important. The right school will set you up with the technical and professional skills you need to deliver seriously professional massage therapy services. This much is obvious. But the right school will also set you up with a working knowledge of the business aspects of being a massage therapist, especially if you intend to work on your own. A solid educational foundation is the bedrock of success in the vast majority of careers, and massage therapy is no different. Therefore, choose your school with care!

4 Ways to Keep Yourself Strong and Healthy as a Massage Therapist

Massage therapy is something that can benefit people of all backgrounds and professions. Whether a person works in a physical demanding job, such as construction – or an office job that involves a lot of sitting and stored up of tension in the body – a regular massage therapy session can make a huge difference in the way that person feels. The many health benefits of massage therapy have been extensively studied and documented by leading health organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic and many others.

But what if you’re on the other side of the equation? For massage therapists, the day-to-day practice can be very tiring, and can leave you with a lot of soreness of your own. That’s just the nature of using your own hands and strength to provide healing therapy for someone else. In fact, massage therapy patients often wonder if (and how often) their massage therapist is on the receiving end of a massage. For a lot of professionals, the answer is: Not often enough!

As a massage therapist working in the field, it’s important to respect the physical demands of your job, and to be proactive about your own health and wellbeing. After all, a massage therapist who is hurting and sore all the time will not be able to perform their job at a high professional level. So what can therapists do to keep themselves strong, healthy, flexible and loose?

1. Yoga

Yoga is a wonderful restorative practice for any professional that involves a lot of standing and physical work. Our instinct is often to lay on the couch and relax – and of course there are wonderful benefits to this too, in moderation – but a 30 or 60 minute yoga session can really set us up for a relaxing evening and a good night’s sleep. Yoga helps not only the muscles, but the internal organs and circulatory system as well.

2. Sleep

Getting a good night’s rest is important for any professional – all the more so with massage therapy. When you’re well rested, your movements are steadier and your mind is clearer – both important to delivering great massage therapy services.

3. Diet

Massage therapy is a professional that requires a lot of self-care across the board. Maintaining a clean diet is one of the pillars of self-care. It leads to better overall health and better performance in a job as physically demanding as massage therapy.

4. Massage!

The same benefits of massage therapy that we bring to other people every day are also there for us! Massage therapists need to schedule time for their own massage therapy in order to experience the benefits and remind themselves what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a good therapeutic massage.

Choose the right massage therapy school

Some of you reading this might actually be looking to get into the world of massage therapy. If so, it’s worth mentioning that the school you choose can have long-term effects on how healthy you’ll be out in the field. The most reputable massage therapy schools out there put extra thought and care into teaching their students effective self-care methods, and how to deal with the physical rigors of treating clients regularly.

3 Questions to Ask Before You Enroll in a Massage Therapy School

So you’ve decided to make it happen: You’re going to be a professional massage therapist! It’s something you’ve always wanted to do – and as a career, it offers so many things that interest you. Other people will directly benefit from your services, and being able to offer that kind of help is hugely appealing. It can also be one of the most flexible careers out there, and it’s a part of the booming wellness industry. You may have a friend or family member who became a massage therapist and loves it. These are all valid reasons to pursue your new career path without ever looking back.

Well, hold on just a second. The first and biggest step toward becoming a professional massage therapist is choosing a school and a course. This is how you’ll acquire the professional skills, knowledge, and certification needed to practice therapeutic massage in your community. But are all of these courses the same? Is there really much difference between them, and is it really necessary to research carefully before signing up?

The answer is yes – taking your time to carefully choose the right program will have benefits that continue for years into your career. On the other hand, choosing a substandard program could fail to give you even the most basic skills for working on your own or being part of a team. Here are 4 questions to ask before you enroll in massage therapy school.

1. What techniques does the school teach?

Every massage therapist has their own style. If you work independently, you’ll be able to offer your own custom menu of massage therapy services. If you work with a team, you may have to offer specific types of massage whether you like it or not. Either way, a good massage therapy school will carefully build your knowledge and techniques in several areas, including Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, reflexology, hot stone therapy, myofascial release, pregnancy massage, chair massage, thai massage, and others.

2. Does the coursework include “hands on” experience?

When it comes to massage therapy, classroom leaning is certainly important – but it’s just not enough on its own. The best schools will offer a constructive mix of classroom teaching and hands-on training with real patients.

3. How long will the program take?

Obviously, you’ll want to know how long the program will take and when you can expect to start earning a living as a massage therapist. But it’s important to maintain a “no shortcuts” mindset in order to give yourself the skills you truly need. Different states have their own requirements for massage therapy courses. In New Jersey, for example, the requirement is 500 hours. You’ll often see the better schools offering programs of 600 hours. Why? Because they really want their students to succeed!

Finding the right answers to your questions

You’ll probably have more than just these four questions when you approach potential massage therapy schools ­– and that’s a good thing. The patience and time taken to answer your questions is an important indicator of how that school will treat you as a student, and how prepared you’ll be for the real world when you graduate. So choose your school carefully, and good luck!

How Long Does it Take to Become a Massage Therapist?

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.

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.

Let’s cut right to the quick: 600 hours of coursework is a good benchmark for a quality massage therapy school. Depending on how many nights a week the class convenes, it’s often possible to complete this certification process in as little a six months. That means you could attend your very first massage therapy class and, if you stick with it, be working professionally within the year.

It might also take longer, depending on the requirements of the program and how many hours a week you attend classes.

But there are more important factors than “how long is this going to take” – after all, you’re embarking on a new career path. It’s much more advantageous to set yourself up for success by going through a rigorous program, and doing it the right way, rather than choosing a program that promises to have you working professionally in a very short amount of time. Those are the programs that tend to produce therapists who are either disreputable or simply don’t have the best techniques and methods for treating patients.

The point is that if you want to be a massage therapist, the rewards can be great – but it’s very important to choose a reputable school with an impeccable reputation and the highest scholastic standards.

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.