Massage Therapists – What Do They Do?

What do massage therapy; personal training, reflexology, chiropractors and homeopathy have in common? They are all part of a growing field of health care. Massage therapy seems to be the front runner. Today, in this high-strung world, more and more people are looking into getting massages to relax them. And for this a massage can be even more effective and beneficial than tranquilizer pills!

The benefits of massage have long been recognized in almost all cultures. Its use is even reported on in the Bible. (Esther 2:12) “Massage techniques play an important part in traditional Chinese and Indian medical care,” observed the British Medical Journal (BMJ) of November 6, 1999. “European massage was systematized in the early 19th century by Per Henrik Ling, who developed what is now known as Swedish massage.”
Massage is credited with relaxing the muscles, improving circulation of the blood, and removing toxins that have accumulated in the tissues. Doctors now prescribe massage for such ailments as back pain, headaches, and digestive disorders. Most people who receive massage therapy comment on how good it makes them feel. According to Dr. Sandra McLanahan, “eighty percent of disease is stress-related, and massage reduces stress.”
“As massage becomes more mainstream, consumers are becoming concerned about a massage therapist’s credentials, and they should be,” noted E. Houston LeBrun, past president of the American Massage Therapy Association. BMJ advised that to avoid unprofessional behavior, “patients should ensure that practitioners are registered with an appropriate regulatory body.” A report last year noted that therapists were licensed in 37 states in the United States. There are basically two types of certification tests. One is the National Certification Examination (NCE) for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. The other is National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage. You must check with state boards to see which type of exam they require for practice. Of course in order to take the exams you must have accumulated 500 hours of supervised instruction and graduated from an accredited school. In states that do not use the NCE, anyone applying for licensing must either take that state’s test or apply for reciprocity, which is usually on a case-by-case basis. Reciprocity refers to the exchange, recognition or enforcement of licenses, privileges or obligations between states of US or between nations.
Characteristics of Massage
Basically there are four kinds of movements used in massage. There is the stroking of the muscles of the body. This is performed with the palms of the hands and the pulps of the fingers. Kneading (actually the French word for massage means kneading) is accomplished by grasping the muscles between the thumb and the fingers, both hands working together. Then there is friction, which involves a rotation movement. And there is also percussion, which is performed by striking the muscles with the edges of the palms. While there is a trend toward using mechanical means, such as a vibrator, there are many in the profession who believe that only by means of the hands are these movements most beneficially and effectively performed.
These differing procedures of massage are, in turn, modified and varied by certain factors. There is the matter of pressure, which can be light, medium or heavy. The rate or pace, at which the massaging is done, as well as the rhythm, is also important, being governed by whether stimulation or relaxation is the goal. Still another factor is that of duration, the length of time involved, usually from forty-five minutes to an hour for a thorough head-to-foot treatment. How frequently one gets a massage is another consideration. Once or twice a week can be beneficial, if time permits, unless an injury is involved. Once a client is balanced, it may be once a month for maintenance. Then again, the use of baths and heat in preparing a person for a massage is considered by many to be essential for maximum results.
There is reason to believe that massage is undervalued, even as are other aspects of physical medicine. Of course, a massage is a time-consuming treatment. By way of contrast, a thorough massage may take sixty times as long as a chiropractic treatment. A massage also involves a great deal of physical exertion on the part of the practitioner. Additionally here are some tasks a massage therapist may undertake:
• Providing clients with rehabilitative exercises
• Conferring with clients about medical histories
• Developing client treatment plans
• Preparing clients for tests, therapy or treatments
• Maintaining treatment records
• Preparing and blending massage oils
So, if you want to become part of this growing industry, making people feel better and improving your own quality of life; enroll in an accredited school of massage therapy and bring your credentials to us so that we can begin long a meaningful relationship in the field of health care.

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