When considering going to a massage therapist, it is important to understand what your needs and medical conditions are and if the therapist is qualified to address these issues.
Three key factors to consider are:
- Is your massage therapist certified and/or licensed
- Is your therapist knowledgeable in specific pathologies that you may need addressing
- Does your massage therapist require a medical intake form
It is important when you decide to have a massage that you go to a therapist who is certified and/or licensed according to state regulations. Certified and/or licensed therapists are required to have attended an extensive education program for a minimum of 1 year or more with studies in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, neurology, pathology and massage history and technique. In order for them to attain their state certification, they must pass all subjects as well as have completed a minimum number of hands-on work in the massage clinic under supervision. Most schools require 40-100 hours of clinic work before a student can graduate. After completing school, some states even require an additional licensing test. Once the therapist is certified and/or licensed, they are required to maintain a minimum number of continuing education credits annually to keep their certification up to date.
The education process can vary from therapist to therapist due to the topic of study that they choose to obtain. For example, some massage therapists decide to take a path into spa training. In this course of study, they are educated not only in the above referenced studies, but also in such areas as body herbal wraps and exfoliation, hot stone therapy, scalp massage, etc. Students who want to go into more clinical massage receive more extensive study in pathology and anatomy as well as traditional Chinese medicine which encompasses such studies as acupressure, Shiatsu and/or Thai massage. These modalities focus on healing the body through energy balancing of the body as well as stretching and opening energy pathways. Ancient Chinese medicine techniques used in massage modalities have similar effects as acupuncture but without the use of needles. The extensive studies in pathology and anatomy also prepare them for working in clinical settings and understanding contraindications with specific medical issues.
It is important, as a consumer, to know what you need from a massage and to communicate this effectively to your massage therapist. It is also very important that your therapist requires you to fill out a medical intake form and is knowledgeable in reading the form and knowledgeable in implementing a safe and effective approach before conducting any kind of massage. There are some pathologies that have contraindications to massage techniques and should be addressed safely and effectively. There are times when a massage therapist should refer a client out to medical personnel when the conditions indicate as such. So, choosing an educated and certified/licensed massage therapist is an important decision.
For the most part, massage is a safe practice for most people. Using a qualified massage therapist is always the wisest choice for a healthy, relaxing and positive experience.
I hope this article has been helpful. If you would like more information or would like to speak directly with me, please leave a message in the "Contact Us" field under the "Contact" page.