Learn about this ancient technique for your health and as a career
If you’re looking for a career in healthcare, and would prefer a lot of direct hands-on contact, consider massage therapy. This is a way to use your knowledge of anatomy and physiology via various techniques to heal others who are suffering from pain, stress, and muscle tension. There are a lot of advantages to this kind of treatment. Here’s a chance for you to learn more about this profession, including interesting facts you may not know!
What massage therapists do
Massage therapists use touch to treat muscles and soft tissues in order to relieve aches and pains, heal injuries, and improve circulation. Their techniques can also relax clients and reduce levels of stress. As a kind of health and wellness specialist, these practitioners usually begin any session by talking with each clients about symptoms they may be experiencing—from sore muscles to tension headaches—so they can target the treatment therapeutically.
Did you know?
- Of the five senses, the sense of touch is the first feeling that babies develop, and it’s the last to disappear when the body begins to deteriorate in old age.
- The skin is the body’s largest organ, with about 5 million touch receptors—3,000 just on your fingertip!
- In Korea, massage practitioners must be blind or visually impaired. Blind massage therapists are also well known in Thailand.
- The first known use of the English word “massage” was in 1860, according to Merriem-Webster’s dictionary.
- Getting an hour-long massage is thought to have the same positive physical effects as a full night’s sleep.
- A hot-stone massage uses stones that get up to an average of 130 degrees F.
- The largest ever group massage session was in Indonesia in 2014, when 1,000 massage therapists massaged 1,000 people for 15 minutes.
- Egyptian tombs feature hieroglyphics with images of people giving massages.
- Julius Cesar, who suffered from epilepsy, received massages as part of his treatment.
- A study of labor pain showed that women who received massage therapy experienced significantly less pain, and labored for an average of 3 hours less.
- The first time that athletes were shown on television getting massages was during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
- Chinese medical texts dating back 4,000 years make references to massage.
- Across the world, it’s estimated that only 10–30 percent of people use traditional medicine, but as many as 70–90 percent of people turn to naturopathic and homeopathic approaches to healthcare.
Health benefits of massage
People look to massage therapy to manage a number of conditions.
- Reduce stress. People use massage techniques to relieve temporary or chronic stress. Tension builds up in the muscles over time, and massage techniques ease the muscles by applying different kinds of pressure.
- Relieve aches and pains. Massage therapists are trained in several techniques for this purpose. Swedish massage uses long strokes and gentle, kneading movements to relax (or energize) the muscles. A deep tissue massage is great for many injuries because it uses slow, forceful strokes to reach deep within the muscle as well as connective tissues. Firm, circular movements create friction between layers of tissue, which helps breaks down scar tissue and increases oxygen and blood flow.
- Aids with chronic pain. Neuromuscular therapy works with soft tissues to ease chronic pain, working with both the muscular and nervous systems. People plagued by injuries and strain from repetitive movements often enjoy this type of massage, which uses trigger points and nerve compressions.
- Flexibility and joint health. The heat created during a massage relaxes and loosens up connective tissues, which can result in freer movement in the joints. Many people say that, after a massage, they feel generally very loose and limber.
- Overall wellness. Massage therapy may also give a boost the immune system, which can help combat colds and flu. The American Massage Therapy Association cites research showing that, after 12 weeks of regular massages, people had improved immune function—increased white blood cells, which help to fight off viruses.
This range of benefits means that massage therapy is desirable to clients from many different walks of life, from pregnant women and athletes to seniors and people recovering from injuries.
Where massage therapists work
One of the advantages of being a massage therapist is the opportunity to work in a variety of different environments. The different employers who may hire massage therapists include hospitals, doctors’ offices, outpatient centers, spas, hotels, clinics, or fitness centers. Some therapists open their own practices, which means they can offer services out of their home, or travel to their clients’ homes. Wherever they practice, massage therapists tend to seek to create tranquil setting, so that the client is in a highly relaxed state while the massage is taking place. If you like the idea of staying physically active in your work, but prefer peaceful environments to chaotic and hectic ones, consider massage therapy as a career path.
We hope this overview has provided some fun and useful information about the massage therapy profession. It’s a unique choice, with lots of options in terms of where and how you practice. Some people are drawn to the flexibility it can offer, while others like the ability to heal clients using only their hands. Whatever the reason, if you’re intrigued, it’s worth looking into a professional training program like the one at the Salter School. If you’re in Massachusetts, contact us to learn more!
This article is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School. We care about helping all our students achieve their career goals. Find out about the several different professional training programs we offer at our campuses in Malden and Fall River, MA. Reach out to us for more information or to schedule a campus tour, or call 781-324-5454 (Malden) or 508-730-2740 (Fall River). We hope to hear from you!