Massage Therapy Archives | Broadview University

What Type of Degree Do You Need to be a Massage Therapist?

Students in class training to become a massage therapist

Interested in becoming a massage therapist but want to know what education you need to become licensed? You should know that you don’t have to attend a 4-year college to become a licensed massage therapist. All you need to do is complete a certification program at your local vocational school and pass the MBLEx licensing exam. This will allow you to apply for licensing from the city, county or state, depending on your community licensing practices. The massage therapy certification program will prepare you for the MBLEx licensing exam and get you started on your path to a new and exciting career.

The Steps to Becoming A Massage Therapist

As the demand grows for massage therapy, so does the need for high-quality, comprehensively educated and trained massage therapists who’ve earned a certification. However, achieving your massage therapy diploma takes dedication and work. There are four necessary steps to becoming a massage therapist.

Step #1: Complete an Accredited Massage Therapy Program

A prospective massage therapist needs to complete a certificate, degree, or diploma program at an accredited state-approved school. Accreditation of a program ensures the education provided meets the required quality training level. Also, most states require a minimum time of training. During a massage therapy program, you will study:

Kinesiology – Studies the mechanics of movement and how it impacts the body’s health and overall well-being.

Business preparation – Learn business strategies to run and market your massage therapy practice.

Physiology – Refers to the in-depth knowledge regarding the body’s systems’ inner workings to develop treatment strategies that are safe and effective.

Anatomy – Studying biological science regarding locating, identifying, and describing the body structures.

Medical terminology – Medical terminology is the language used to describe the human body’s components and processes, medical procedures, diseases, disorders, and pharmacology. In simpler terms, it means the vocabulary that medical professionals use to refer to the body, what the body does, and the medical treatments prescribed in their particular field.

Step #2: Complete All Practical Requirements

Practical training means the opportunity to adapt and practice what you learn and develop skills professionally. Practical training in massage therapy aims to help you develop the massage skills that support professional studies, prepare you to receive a certification, pass the city, county or state exam, and, eventually, obtain employment. Each state has a required number of hands-on experience hours students must satisfy before getting their license. Practical training must be well-planned and adequately supervised through an externship or working at the school’s in-house massage clinic.

Step #3: Passing the State Licensing Examination

After completing the massage therapy education program, students need to pass a licensing exam. Massage school graduates take a specialized exam created by the state known as Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination or MBLEx. The MBLEx is a 100-question test requires completion in just under two hours. Areas covered by this exam include kinesiology, ethics, client assessments, and massage’s physiological effects.

Step #4: Apply for State Licensure

Requirements to obtain a massage therapist license vary from state to state. Prospective massage therapists must put in an application and prove that they satisfied the licensure requirements. Those who want to pursue a massage therapy career find information regarding each state’s licensing guidelines on the American Massage Therapy Association’s website, otherwise known as the AMTA.

Types of Massage Techniques

A little-known fact, there are many different variants of techniques in massage therapy, with new ones in development all the time. Here are some techniques you’ll learn when attending a massage therapy program:

Swedish Massage

This technique adds flexibility to the ligaments and tendons, increases blood flow to the skin, stimulates the nervous system, and relieves physical stress. By placing pressure on the muscles and the skeletal system, you enhance the client’s blood oxygen flow and elevate the muscles’ toxin removal. The Swedish massage further helps flush out uric acid, lactic acid, and other harmful toxins from the body tissue.

Shiatsu

Shiatsu massage is a combination of Chinese medicines and acupressure. The pressure gets applied through hand manipulation instead of the use of needles. The vital force, termed as chi, flows through connected channels in the body called meridians. Blockages within those channels cause fatigue, pain, depression, and stress, the root cause of diseases. In this massage therapy, step by step pressure, applied to the meridians’ pressure points, stimulates the nerves and tissues, and enhances chi’s flow in those meridians.

Reflexology

During reflexology therapy, blockages get released, healing and revitalizing the entire body. Free flow of energy gets restored in specific areas by working on points within the hands and feet. The free-flowing energy helps blood circulation, detoxification of the blood, and proper nerve functioning.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue is a technique used to treat musculoskeletal problems, like strains from sports injuries, through applying sustained pressure involving deep, slow strokes targeting the muscles and the inner layers of connective tissue. During a deep tissue massage, discomfort, described as a “good hurt,” is normal and felt if there are general inconsistencies in the body tissue.

Sports Massage

This technique, used to help athletes attain peak performance, helps diminish muscle fatigue, relieves swelling, and reduces tension. However, therapeutic sports massage isn’t just for athletes anymore; it also treats soft tissue aches and pain from injuries associated with everyday recreational activities. Sports massage incorporates other massage techniques to provide an in-depth and rehabilitating process that manipulates the soft tissue to prevent damage, rid the soft tissue of stress, and alleviate muscle and tendon pain.

Chair Massage

Chair massage is a versatile yet highly effective massage technique, focusing on the back, shoulders, neck, arms, and head. On average, this massage lasts for 15 minutes while the client is fully clothed and seated upright in a position that resembles sitting backward. This massage is ideal for instant stress relief when time and resources are limited. Chair massage is designed to relax the muscles, improve flexibility, and ease movement.

Hot Stone Massage

Hot stone massage helps bolster relaxation, relieve muscle pain, and release tension. This technique is a type of therapeutic massage similar to a Swedish massage, but you will use heated stones combined with hand manipulations. Hot stone massage eases muscle tension, improves blood flow, alleviates pain, promotes relaxation, and relieves stress. During a hot stone massage, heated stones are placed on various areas of the body. You will also hold a stone as you massage different parts of the body utilizing the Swedish techniques.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy adds an emotional healing component to the massage through the sense of smell, combining relaxing, gentle pressure with essential oils. During a session lasting 60 to 90 minutes, the client receives a full-body massage during which they inhale essential oils through a diffuser and the skin. Various essential oils are available for aromatherapy and typically depend upon the client’s issue or preference.

Trigger Point Massage

Trigger point benefits people who experience chronic pain, injuries, or a specific issue. Sometimes areas of tightness in the muscle tissues, known as trigger points, cause pain in various other body locations by focusing on applying pressure to specific trigger points. Trigger point massage utilizes broad, flowing, gentle strokes combined with more robust, deeper pressure. The technique includes the entire body or focuses on specific areas of your client’s body that need to be released depending on the purpose of the client’s visit.

A Day in The Life of a Massage Therapist

A typical day for a massage therapist is anything but ordinary. In addition to massage, you help assess the range of motion and muscle strength of a client or propose client therapy plans. Other tasks include:

  • Confer with clients regarding medical history and health problems.
  • Determine what course of treatment that will benefit the client.
  • Maintain treatment records.
  • Possibility of traveling to clients’ office or home.
  • Provide clients with guidance and information about postural improvement techniques.
  • Recommend home routines for stretching, strengthening, relaxation, and rehabilitation exercises.
  • Perform other adjunctive therapies or treatment techniques.

Various Work Settings

While massage therapists work in various work environments, sole practitioners account for the biggest group of practicing massage therapists. Of this group, most work part of their time in a client’s home, business, or corporate facility, while a few work in a health care setting, in a spa setting, or out of their home. Other places therapists work:

  • Hospitals
  • Wellness centers
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospice
  • Chiropractic offices
  • On-site seated massage (airports, malls, public events)
  • Health clubs
  • Fitness centers
  • Sports teams
  • Hotels
  • Spas
  • Salons
  • Cruise ships
  • Resorts

Why Become a Massage Therapist?

Massage therapy is projected to grow 21 percent from 2019 to 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. More and more healthcare providers understand the benefits, increasing the demand for these services to become part of a patient’s holistic treatment plan.

Final Thoughts

When you graduate from an accredited program, receive your certification, diploma or degree, pass your MBLEx exam and gain a license, you become a licensed professional in one of the country’s most in-demand careers. This career offers job availability in multiple related specialty areas, like sports massage, prenatal and infant massage therapy, and Swedish massage to name a few. Being a massage therapist is a lucrative, flexible, and rewarding career path. Once you are licensed, the sky’s the limit.

Now that you know you can become a licensed massage therapist with a certification, diploma or degree, want to learn more about a massage therapy program? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

What Does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Include?

Man practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine

Interested in learning about massage therapy and the influence of traditional Chinese medicine? Massage therapists learn different techniques that help them curate massage routines and relieve the stress and pain of their clients. Some of the more common massage techniques that massage therapist learn include Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and trigger point therapy. One technique that influences a massage therapist’s training and services is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

What Does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Include?

Traditional Chinese medicine helps to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases. TCM is based on the Qi, the body’s vital energy, that flows along meridians in the body to keep a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health in balance, according to the National Cancer Institute. The body is balanced by two opposing forces, the Yin and Yang. Half of a body’s organs are considered Yin and the other half Yang. When the Yin/Yang is out of balance it causes a blockage of Qi. These imbalances can be caused by stress, pollution, poor diet, emotion and infection.

Traditional Chinese medicine proposes that every organ in the body is made up of five elements, fire, earth, metal, water and wood. Made up of these elements, the body represents the larger surrounding universe and is interconnected with nature. It is the elements of nature that will help balance the body, relieve pain and reduce stress.

The Different Treatments to Regain Balance in TCM

Traditional Chinese medicine includes acupuncture, diet, herbal therapy, meditation, physical exercise, cupping and massage (Tunia).

Acupuncture – involves the insertion of very thin needles in strategic points on the body. It is used to treat pain, improve overall wellness and manage stress. By inserting the needles into specific points of the body’s meridians, the client’s energy flow will re-balance.

TCM Diet – foods are thought to have warming and cooling properties, that in turn have specific healing properties. Traditional Chinese medicine embraces eating locally and growing foods organically to align with the tastes, temperatures, colors and seasons. This diet encourages balance, clean burning digestion, and a functioning body full of energy.

Herbal Therapy – a TCM practitioner will create a formula of herbs that can change, depending on a patient’s needs. The combination of herbs includes astragauls, cinnamon, ginkgo biloba, ginger, and ginseng, to name a few.

Meditation – technique that encourages a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. Meditation can help with stress, relieve headaches, reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve self-awareness.

Physical Exercise – traditional Chinese medicine focuses on movement and concentration exercises like Tai Chi. Tai Chi cultivates the life energy within and flows smoothly and powerfully throughout the body. Described as meditation in motion, Tai Chi is a low impact exercise that utilizes the natural weight of the body to exercise the muscles.

Cupping – the use of warmed glass jars to create suction on certain points of the body. Cupping can help with pain reduction, reduced inflammation, increased blood flow, relaxation and increased well-being.

Tuina – a type of bodywork that combines massage and acupressure. Helps certain health problems like chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, insomnia, and other disorders that cause the imbalance of the body that result in increased pain.

What is Tuina?

During a massage therapy program at a vocational school, students learn the art of traditional Chinese medicine and how it overlaps with massage. Tuina is a bodywork that combines massage and acupressure. Tuina helps stimulate the flow of energy or Chi throughout the body. This bodywork technique helps remove blockages and restore the body’s balance to improve the body’s health.

Why is Tuina Used?

This form of bodywork helps treat many disorders and diseases of the body. These body conditions that cause pain, stress, high blood pressure and poor mood include:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – numbness, tingling or weakness of the hand caused by a pinched nerve in the lower arm. This disorder can lead to slower nerve impulses, less feeling in the fingers and poor coordination of the hand.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by an underlying medical condition. Symptoms include poor sleep, difficulties with memory, focus and concentration and dizziness when lying down or standing too fast.

Fibromyalgia – a disorder that causes widespread pain, fatigue, sleep problems and memory and mood issues.

Insomnia – trouble falling or staying asleep. This disorder can be caused by stress, noise, light, temperature, and changes to a sleep schedule. It can also be caused by mental health, medication, diet, and other triggers.

Headache and Migraine – from pain in the head to severe throbbing causing nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Muscle Spasms – a slight twitch or painful cramp in a part of the body. The muscle spasm may last from a few seconds to several minutes.

Sciatica – a shooting pain down the sciatic nerve from the lower back through the hips and buttocks down the leg.

What are the Health Benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine?

There are many different health benefits for traditional Chinese medicine that can address specific diseases and disorders. These benefits include:

Reduced Stress – those with increased stress have headaches, stiff muscles, muscle pain and overall discomfort. Stress can also increase blood pressure, cause poor mood and increased weight gain.

Lower Blood Pressure – the reduction of stress and increased relaxation can cause blood pressure to improve.

Reduced Pain – many disorders like arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Sciatica can cause pain. The use of traditional Chinese medicine can supplement traditional medicine in the reduction of pain in the body. While traditional medicine mutes the pain receptors in the body, traditional Chinese medicine works to relieve stress, improve mood, and remove toxins in an effort to re-balance the body, thus reducing pain.

Improved Mood – the release of endorphins induced by massage, acupressure and acupuncture can help improve mood. Disorders like depression and insomnia can be resolved with the help of traditional Chinese medicine.

Clearer Skin – the use of herbs, the reduction of toxins and improvements in diet will improve skin health and help patients achieve clearer skin.

Weight Management – traditional Chinese medicine embraces eating locally and growing organically that align with the tastes, temperatures, colors and seasons. This diet helps manage obesity, while the massage and acupressure relieve pain that allows the patient to perform physical exercises like Tai Chi.

Final Thoughts

Every technique whether traditional, herbal, supplemental or holistic is worth using for clients that are suffering from stress, pain and discomfort. Learn the art of massage with the help of traditional Chinese medicine and start a career as a massage therapist. You will be trained to help your clients both physically and mentally.

Did learning about how massage therapy uses traditional Chinese medicine interest you? Want to learn more about a massage therapy program? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

What is Active Release Therapy (ART)?

Massage therapist helping a client by using active release therapy

Are you interested in learning more about the advanced techniques of massage? One of the advanced techniques is the art of active release therapy. This technique can help your clients reduce pain and inflammation while breaking up scar tissue and restoring blood circulation to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia. Active release therapy (ART) is taught during massage therapy programs at Broadview University. With these skills you can help those in pain and reduce suffering one massage at a time.

What is Active Release Therapy (ART)? 

Active release therapy is a massage therapy technique that works to correct soft tissue restrictions, reduced range of motion and pain. This technique breaks down scar tissue and adhesions to improve body mobility. This technique focuses on the body’s muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and fascia. The difference between active release therapy and other forms of massage is that the client will move in a sliding motion in tandem while you, the massage therapist, apply pressure to the tender or injured area. You will work with the client to perform active release therapy.

Muscles

Muscles are soft tissue and classified as cardiac, smooth and skeletal. According to the Library of Congress, cardiac muscles make up the wall of the heart. Smooth muscles make up the walls in many bodily organs like the intestine, blood vessels and eyes. Skeletal muscles are attached to the body’s bones. Skeletal muscles can come in pairs and allow us to raise our arms or walk. One muscle contracts while the other extends. As the arm or leg moves back, the opposite muscle movement occurs. As we walk, our leg muscles are in a constant flow of contraction and extension.

Tendons

Tendons are made up of fibrous connective tissue that attach muscles to bone. The job of a tendon is to move the bone or body structure (like an eye for example). A tendon can become injured as the result of many tiny tears that happen over time, usually diagnosed as tendonitis.

Ligaments

Ligaments are a fibrous connective collagen that attaches bone to bone. They hold body structures together and prevent them from bending, twisting and tearing. Ligaments also maintain the body’s stability.

Nerves

The nervous system transmits signals from the brain to parts of the body to coordinate action. There are two types of nerves, sensory and motor. Sensory nerves carry impulses from sensory receptors to the brain. Conversely, motor nerves carry impulses away from the brain to different body parts. There are two places in the body that nerves converge, the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous, in the brand and spinal cord, are central. Whereas peripheral nerves are stored in the limbs outside of the skull and vertebral canal of the spine.

Fascia

Fascia is the thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds the body’s organs, blood vessels, nerves, and muscles to hold them in place. Active release therapy can help with fascia restrictions caused by poor posture, muscle overuse, inflammation, sedentary habits, poor stretching, and stress. ART can help lengthen restricted fascia and restore properly blood flow to reduce inflammation.

How Does Active Release Therapy Work?

The massage element of active release therapy involves precise pressure that helps to break up dense collections of scar tissue or adhesions that form on injured muscles and fascia. As a massage therapist, you will apply deep tension to the tender area allowing the client to stretch and elongate their muscles. You will work with the client in a sliding motion to help elongate the soft tissue, nerves, ligaments and muscle beneath the tender point.

What are the Conditions Treated with Active Release Therapy?

There are many different conditions that can be treated with active release therapy. The following conditions are:

General Pain in the Upper Body – whether acute or chronic, active release therapy can reduce pain by breaking up scar tissue and removing adhesions from the affected area. The back, shoulder and neck are common locations that are subject to pain. Active release therapy can target the tenderness with pressure to reduce inflammation and restore blood flow.

Bursitis – the inflammation of small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the bones, tendons and muscles. This disorder is characterized as pain in the shoulders, elbow, hips, knee, heel and base of the big toe. Bursitis usually occurs from repetitive motion near the body’s joints, when the motion or body position puts pressure on the bursae (small, fluid-filled sacs). This disorder can afflict those that lean on their elbows, kneel for long periods of time or lift items above their head repeatedly. Active release therapy helps to elongate muscles and tendons that have constricted, allowing the bursae to heal properly.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – can cause pain, numbness and weakness in the wrist and hand. After repetitive work like typing, the nerve in the wrist gets compressed. A massage therapist will use active release therapy to massage the forearm, relieving stress and removing scar tissue that has built up over time.

Frozen Shoulder – this isa disorder characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. Active release therapy allows the shoulder to stretch and regain full range of motion.

Plantar Fasciitis – a repetitive strain injury in the ligament on the bottom of the foot. This injury is caused by excessive running, poor footwear or heavy landing from a jump. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by a stabbing pain in the heel of the foot.

Runner’s Knee – also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, a chronic pain in the knee occurs due to overuse, a blow to the knee, weak thigh muscles, tight hamstrings, bone misalignment, poor posture or balance and a breakdown of cartilage under the kneecap. It is characterized as a dull pain in the front of the knee where the knee connects with the thighbone. There might even be a rubbing, grinding or clicking sound in the kneecap.

Sciatica – a pain along the sciatic nerve that runs down the leg from the rear and lower back. The pain is caused by a slipped disk or bone spur on the spine that is pressing a nerve. This condition causes inflammation, pain and some numbness. The combination of active release therapy, proper posture and managing the body while standing for long periods of time is what will reduce the pain that travels down the sciatic nerve.

Shin Splints – microtears in the muscle and bone tissue caused by overuse from running and dancing. This disorder is characterized by a pain along the shin bone and mild swelling in the lower leg.

Swimmer’s Shoulder – a common disorder for athletes that perform repetitive movements with their shoulder, similar to the butterfly in swimming. This disorder is characterized by shoulder soreness, difficulty reaching or extending the arm overhead. Other symptoms include pain or inflammation in the shoulder, pain that worsens during rest, and reduced range of motion. Active release therapy helps the athlete regain full range of motion through simultaneous stretch and pressure applied to the tender part of the shoulder.

Tendinitis – an inflammation of the tendon that attaches muscle to bone. This disorder is characterized by dull ache, mild swelling and tenderness just outside a joint. Some specific body parts that have specialized names for tendonitis include tennis elbow, pitcher’s or swimmer’s shoulder, and jumper’s knee. Tendinitis is typically caused by repetitive movement. Active release therapy can help remove scar tissue, improve blood circulation and allow the tendons to reduce inflammation.

Tennis Elbow – often associated with tennis as a player swings a racket with a repetitive motion of the wrist and arm, tennis elbow can cause pain in the tendons around the elbow. As with tendinitis, active release therapy helps reduce inflammation through the breakdown of scar tissue and increased blood flow.

What are the Benefits of Active Release Therapy?

There are many different benefits of active release therapy. Whether it is increased range of motion or improved circulation, the main benefit from active release therapy is reduced inflammation. Inflammation is what causes most range of motion issues, impaired mobility, increased scar tissue, and poor circulation. Reduce inflammation and the body can return to its previous status, with a little bit of exercise, stretching and strength training to supplement recovery.

Benefit #1: Flexibility

Active release therapy allows muscles and joints to return to a full range of motion. Stiffness and a lack of stretching before exercise can cause injury.

Benefit #2: Improved Mobility

Restricted mobility is a common complaint with inflammation. The swelling and pain inhibit a person’s ability to move their muscles through a full range of motion. With the help of active release therapy and strength training, clients can improve mobility and return to full range of motion.

Benefit #3: Increased Strength

After active release therapy, the client is able to do exercise to strengthen the shortened and contracted muscles. If strength training is continued without active release therapy and removal of the adhesions, more restriction will occur to the soft tissue and only perpetuate the injury.

Benefit #4: Reduction of Scar Tissue

Scar tissue can cause inflammation and works to connect injured tissue. When a muscle has scar tissue, it is shorter and weaker. Active release therapy massages and breaks up scar tissue allowing the muscles to regain its original length. This also helps reduce inflammation and pain.

Benefit #5: Improved Circulation

Exercise, overuse and inflammation can cause muscles, tendons, and fascia to restrict which in turn reduces blood flow. After strenuous exercise the body’s muscles are contracted and can stay in that state if they are inflamed. Active release therapy helps elongate muscles and unbind fascia to improve circulation and increase blood flow.

Benefit #6: Reduced Inflammation

Ultimately, it is inflammation that causes much of the restriction to the client. Whether it is scar tissue, reduced blood flow or contracted muscles, inflammation can cause swelling, pain and mobility issues. Using active release therapy to breakdown scar tissue, remove adhesions and reduce inflammation, helps your client improve blood flow and allows them to engage in exercise and strength training without further harm to their muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and fascia.

Final Thoughts

If you are interested in helping those with pain then learning active release therapy during a massage therapy program may be the right choice for you. Start earning in under a year by attending a massage therapy program at your local vocational school.

Career Services at Broadview University

Broadview University’s commitment to your future doesn’t end at graduation. We provide ongoing career services both during and after your time at Broadview, so you can prepare for your future career. Our staff is dedicated to helping you work toward your career goal and will help you through every step of your career search. They’ll even offer one-on-one workshops and assistance with, resumes and cover letters, completing online applications, mock interviews, job fairs and networking. As part of your massage therapy program, you’ll take a capstone course which will help develop career-planning strategies for entering or advancing in massage therapy.

Massage Therapy Program at Broadview University

Did learning about active release therapy interest you? Want to learn more about a massage therapy program? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

What is Bodywork Massage Therapy?

client receiving bodywork massage therapy

Interested in learning more about bodywork massage therapy? A massage therapist is a professional that’s trained to relieve pain and stress in the body by manipulating soft tissue. The soft tissue in the body includes the ligaments, connective tissue, tendons, and muscles. After earning a certificate as a massage therapist and learning different bodywork techniques, you can advance your career by specializing in different bodywork therapies.

What Is Bodywork Therapy?

Bodywork is a generic term that refers to re-aligning and manipulating different areas of the body to reduce pain, stiffness and improve the function of the body and the mind. The supplement to traditional medicine incorporates different methods to heal clients holistically. The practitioner uses techniques that will enhance the client’s posture and the range of motion.

In massage therapy, the practitioner uses oils or lotions to reduce the amount of friction to the client’s muscles. During bodywork therapy, oils and lotions aren’t usually used. A massage therapist focuses on the fascia. The fascia is the connective tissue that covers the body’s internal organs and muscles. By stretching, warming, and relaxing the connective tissue, tension, and pain in the muscles are released.

What is the Purpose of Bodywork Massage Therapy?

The purpose of bodywork therapy is to improve how the fascia functions, decrease discomfort, make movement more manageable, and provide the client with increased energy. Another way bodywork therapy is beneficial is in healing sports injuries, to prevent further damage to the muscles. Athletes and dancers find this bodywork treatment helps in preventing injuries.

Learning how to use one’s body safely and effectively is one of the goals of bodywork. The treatment is referred to as holistic because the massage therapist may incorporate guided imagery or visualization techniques to make the client more self-aware. Teaching clients how to break old patterns of movement is one of the methods practitioners may utilize.

How Is Bodywork Therapy Performed?

Bodywork uses different techniques to release the body’s energy and relieve pain and tension. Unlike traditional massage, bodywork focuses on the mind-body connection. The massage therapist chooses the method that will benefit the client based on the initial assessment.

Bodywork may leave client feeling sore after the first few sessions, but this usually diminishes as the treatment starts to have positive effects on the muscles and deep tissue.

What Are Some of the Common Types of Bodywork?

There are a wide variety of bodywork techniques. Each with their own benefits. These bodywork techniques include:

Craniosacral Therapy

CST or Craniosacral Therapy is a therapy in which the massage practitioner manipulates the skull, the membranes that cover the spinal cord and skull, and sometimes the bones in the face. The bodywork treatment is designed to create an adequate distribution of the cerebrospinal fluid. For this type of treatment, the patient lies on a table while the massage practitioner presses on the spine or skull, using a gentle touch. When the cerebrospinal fluid isn’t flowing naturally, the massage therapist must identify where the interruption of the flow and abnormalities are. Soft manipulation with the hands and fingers can release the abnormalities and create a normal flow. CST is especially useful for migraines, problems with the sinuses, ringing in the ears, and head injuries.

Hellerwork

The purpose of Hellerwork is to release tension in the fascia. Physical stress can result in the fascia getting rigid and stiff, which can cause pain and stiffness. A massage practitioner begins a session by working with the connective tissue to release fascia stress. Once the tension begins to diminish, the practitioner educates the client about movement education with the use of videos. Clients learn new methods of movement that keep their bodies in alignment. The third portion of the bodywork treatment is a constructive dialogue between the practitioner and client to teach about how emotions can affect stress levels in their muscles.

Rolfing

Rolfing is a holistic type of bodywork therapy that manipulates soft tissue to balance the body and get the structure of the myofascial into alignment. Ida Rolf, the founder of this holistic method, studied with alternative health practitioners. She created a technique called structural integration.

Initial Rolfing treatments consist of multiple sessions. Each Rolfing session is a duration of around an hour. Practitioners usually recommend that clients have advanced sessions every few months. The massage therapist uses hands, knuckles, elbows, and fingers to make the connective tissue soft and more pliable. When the body’s deep tissue is pliable, the muscles can lengthen and will be appropriately aligned.

Shiatsu

Shiatsu has been practiced in Japan for centuries and is considered to be the oldest type of bodywork massage therapy. In Japanese, Shiatsu means finger pressure. Shiatsu is similar to acupuncture. Both are based on the concept that energy or Ki flows through the body and the meridians through which energy travels to the body’s organs. According to Asian beliefs, Shiatsu unblocks the energy and redistributes it so it goes to where it’s needed within the body. Shiatsu helps stimulate endorphins and relieve pain.

The first Shiatsu treatment involves the massage therapist conducting an assessment of the client’s health. The practitioner evaluates the client’s skin tone, condition of their hair, and posture. The massage therapist uses this information with the energy level of the client for the most effective treatment. The practitioner uses pressure with their fingers to locate the trigger points where energy collects. Pressure on these points releases the energy, so it’s distributed to parts of the body where it’s needed.

Trigger Point Therapy

Myotherapy, also referred to as Trigger Point Therapy, is a form of treatment that relieves pain in the musculoskeletal system by applying pressure to the body’s trigger points. Trigger points may be within the muscles or in other susceptible spots within the body. When the trigger points are located, the pressure helps to relieve tension and pain.

What Are the Benefits of Bodywork Therapy?

Medical experts estimate that a significant proportion of disease is the result of stress. Bodywork is a natural method of managing stress. Reduced stress levels result in more restful sleep, less fatigue, more energy, better circulation, and improved concentration. Better, overall health is a benefit of bodywork, including:

  • The lymphatic system is stimulated, which helps build immunity to disease.
  • Less pain in the lower back.
  • Joints become more flexible and less painful.
  • Scar tissue can be reduced when treatments regenerate the skin.
  • Swelling and adhesions following surgery can be reduced.
  • Muscles that suffer from overuse following strenuous activity are relaxed and pliable.
  • Endorphins that reduce pain are released.
  • Clients have fewer incidents of anxiety and depression.
  • Holistic treatments reduce the need for prescription medications.
  • More oxygen is pumped into the organs and tissue of the body and improves circulation.

What Are the Essential Bodywork Therapy Skills?

Massage therapists treat several clients each day and require a lot of stamina. Standing for long periods and kneading muscles with the hands and fingers requires a lot of dexterity. Knowledge of physiology is a must for a massage therapist. They must know how tissue, muscles, and organs function to treat clients and alleviate pain and stress. This is learned during a massage therapy program at a vocational school.

Any professional who works with the public must have excellent communication skills. It’s essential to listen closely to clients, ask questions, so the massage therapist understands what treatment will be most effective, and make sure the client understands the procedure. It would be best if the massage therapist always treated clients with compassion.

Final Thoughts

Do you have an interest in holistic medicine? Ready to help others relieve stress and reduce pain with massage therapy? Attending a massage therapy program will give you the massage skills and bodywork knowledge needed to succeed in this new career. Be a general massage practitioner or choose a specialty, the choice is yours.

Did learning about bodywork therapy interest you? Want to learn more about a massage therapy program? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

What is Reflexology in Massage Therapy?

Client receiving reflexology treatment

Massage is growing in popularity as a supplemental remedy for injury, pain and stress. Drug-free, it relieves muscle soreness, improves circulation and reduces inflammation. Reflexology, an ancient practice rooted in Eastern medicine, is a type of massage that enhances traditional bodywork and can be used as a complementary treatment. What is reflexology, and how does it work? Massage therapy students learn about reflexology during a massage therapy program, preparing them for an entry-level position as a massage therapist.

What is Reflexology?

Reflexology is a type of hand, foot and ear massage used to heal connected parts of the body. Since all body parts are connected, reflexology uses pressure points to manage pain throughout the body. Reflexologists believe the application of pressure to points on feet, hands and ears can produce physiological changes in the body. The palms, soles and the outer part of the ear are divided into zones corresponding to nerves that lead to muscles and organs throughout the body.

Early practitioners believed blockage in chi, or qi, the energy or life force that flows through all living beings, was responsible for illness and disease and that releasing obstruction would restore balance to the nervous system. Today, science suggests it stimulates the release of endorphins by the brain, feel-good chemicals that are known to mediate stress and physical discomfort.

While reflexology is not recognized as a medical treatment, it’s gaining support in the medical community for its beneficial effects. Research is limited but demonstrates it’s helpful for alleviating:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Migraine and tension headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Sinusitis
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Premenstrual Syndrome
  • Digestive complaints
  • Sports injuries
  • Chronic pain

Techniques are similar to conventional massage, but since the work areas are smaller, they utilize the fingers and hands more than the shoulders and upper body. The most frequently used include:

Thumb Walks

Thumb walks are like a crawl. Fingers or thumbs apply pressure followed by release as they move forward over reflex points in millimeter increments.

Circle Technique

The reflexologist uses their thumb or finger to apply pressure to the client’s soft tissue in a circular motion over the reflex point.

Pivot-On-Point

Reflexologists push a flexed thumb against a reflex point while using the other hand to rotate the foot beneath it. By moving the foot instead of the thumb, pressure stays firm and consistent.

How Does Reflexology Work?

Reflexology is about connections and how parts of the body connect to the feet, hands, and ears. The application of pressure to the feet, hands and ears sends signals to different parts of the body to adjust the tension levels. This is what offers the benefits of reflexology to the rest of the body.

Reflexology in the Feet

The feet are the gateway to the brain, eyes, sinuses, ears, shoulders, heart and other internal organs. By putting pressure on the big toe, the nerves connected to the brain produce endorphins to improve relaxation, reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Near the base of the second and third toes is a zone that reduces pressure in the eyes. Most internal organs can be improved by massage of the middle portion of the foot, literally the sole of the body.

Reflexology in the Hands

Both the tips of the fingers and tips of the toes correspond with the sinuses. The thumb, like the big toe focus on the brain and the chemical release of endorphins to produce relaxation and stress reduction. Most of the palm is connected to the internal organs, heart, kidney, colon, and liver.

Reflexology in the Ears

The ears are also connected to many parts of the body and internal organs. The area near the top of the ear and outside near the lobe connects the different parts of the body, from the chest, elbows and upper arms to the hip, fingers, legs and feet. The inner canal of the ear is connected to the body’s internal organs, including the liver, heart, and lungs.

Using Reflexology to Supplement Traditional Massage

Massage therapists use their hands to push, pull and knead muscles to achieve a range of benefits from improving circulation to relieving sore muscles. Reflexology is more targeted, using the fingers and thumbs to apply pressure to reflex zones, yet the techniques are similar and complement each other perfectly.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, 67 percent of people surveyed who received massages requested them to relieve stress or a medical disorder, that reflexology can help to relieve. Since foot massage, including basic reflexology, is already a part of a massage therapist’s training, incorporating it into their practice or offering it as an alternative therapy will allow them to better meet their clients’ needs.

What are the Benefits of Reflexology?

Reflexology has many of the same benefits as massage, including stress reduction, pain relief, lower blood pressure, improved mood, improved circulation, better sleep, and faster healing. All of these benefits are complements of massage and reflexology.

Benefit #1: Stress Reduction

There’s a neurological relationship between muscles, organs and skin. When nerves are stimulated anywhere, the entire nervous system responds, it’s why we feel pain. When stimulated, reflex points in the ears, hands, and feet appear to send messages to the brain to release calming chemicals. The result is a deep feeling of relaxation with benefits extending deep into the body. When used in conjunction with regular massage, the benefits are exponential.

Benefit #2: Pain Relief

Gate control, the theory that pain originates in and can be modified by the brain, plays an important role in reflexology and helps explain why it works. It assumes that discomfort is subjective, processed by the body but interpreted in our minds in the context of other cognitive and emotional factors, like stress.

In gate control theory, according to the Center for Integrated Healthcare, nerves can be closed like a door, blocking painful sensations, while open “gates” permit nerve signal transmission and increase the perception of discomfort. Reflexologists liken the nervous system to the chi and believe that too many open gates reflect an imbalance in the body that leads to chronic pain.

How applying pressure to reflex points improves symptoms isn’t clear, but gate theory supposes that because it stimulates the production of two neurotransmitters, endorphins and Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), it can induce relaxation and mediate nerve signals.

Benefit #3: Lowered Blood Pressure

Reflexology has been found to reduce high blood pressure and triglycerides, common risk factors for heart disease. Many individuals that suffer from high blood pressure also suffer from stress. The reduction in stress with the help of massage and reflexology in turn can help lower high blood pressure. More research is required to determine if the effect is lasting, but early results suggest reflexology is a promising therapy.

Benefit #4: A Brighter Mood

Depression and anxiety are common mental health disorders. A 2019 study of 90 post-menopausal women published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that those receiving a foot massage and reflexology twice weekly versus a conventional foot massage alone had 50-percent fewer symptoms of depression. Why it worked isn’t clear, but additional research suggests it’s likely related to endorphin production and its effects on female hormones.

Benefit #5: Improved Circulation

Reflexology is known to affect blood circulation throughout the body. There may be a correlation between reflex pressure points in the feet and the dilation of blood vessels in the associated dermatomes, areas of the skin innervated by spinal nerves. There also may be a link between dermatomes, circulation and organ function. The potential for helping patients with circulatory disease due to heart conditions and diabetes is significant.

Benefit #6: Better Sleep

For those with occasional difficulty sleeping, it can become chronic. The use of reflexology, and acupuncture for sleep disturbances may improve sleep patterns. Why? Any therapy that promotes relaxation is likely to help, and it’s possible that stimulating reflex points can increase the hormones that help regulate sleep.

Benefit #7: Faster Healing

Massage helps athletes recover from acute injury by targeting inflammation and maintaining strength and flexibility. Reflexology can help by stimulating the adrenal glands to make more natural glucocorticoids, the body’s natural inflammation-fighting steroids. Applying pressure to a single point in the center of the sole is all it takes.

Final Thoughts

Massage is relaxing and has proven body-wide health benefits, but reflexology adds a deeper dimension to a massage therapist’s practice. The power of touch is healing, it’s a holistic approach to well-being whose time has finally come.

Did learning about reflexology interest you? Want to learn more about a massage therapy program? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

Does Massage Therapy Help to Relieve Pain?

Female sitting at a desk in front of her computer expressing discomfort with back pain

Nothing feels better than a soothing massage after a stressful week, but beyond its relaxing effects are undeniable pain-relieving benefits that make it a drug-free treatment option in the fight against chronic stiffness and injuries. A majority of visits to doctors are related to pain, and at least 50 million Americans suffer from chronic discomfort, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With the opioid crisis, massage has become a supplemental pain management therapy whose time has come.

What Causes Pain?

Humans are programmed to feel pain. When your fingers touch a hot surface, nociceptors beneath the skin send a danger signal to the brain producing a muscle contraction that pulls your hand away, it’s a defense mechanism. But chronic pain and discomfort from acute injuries are different.

Pain associated with strains and sprains is due to inflammation and the build-up of scar tissue, but why discomfort persists after injuries have healed remains a mystery. Nerves, brain chemicals, lifestyle factors, medication side effects and even genes all play a role, but the good news is that massage effectively relieves aches regardless of the cause.

Doctors recommend massage for many conditions:

  • Exercise-related injuries, including strains and sprains
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sciatica
  • Tension headaches
  • Lumbago
  • Postural Abnormalities
  • Chronic Inflammatory Diseases

How Does Massage Relieve Pain?

Eighty-seven percent of people surveyed believe massage therapy can relieve pain, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). It achieves this remarkable success by reducing tension, improving circulation, breaking up scar tissue, relieving sore muscles, managing trigger points, reducing inflammation, and boosting feel good brain chemicals.

Reducing Tension on Compensating Muscles

When the body is injured, it finds ways to adapt. It’s not unusual, for example, for someone with a hip sprain to feel pain in the opposite hip and lower back because those muscles are compensating for the injury. Massaging the affected areas not only reduces pain but improves mobility while the damage improves, making it less likely that someone will overuse a healing muscle and delay its return to normal.

The same principle applies to treating chronic muscle pain due to fibromyalgia and joint stiffness from arthritis. Keeping opposing muscle groups limber and the musculature supporting joints strong reduces overall discomfort.

Improving Circulation

Massage improves circulation in two ways. First, kneading techniques move fluids, including blood and lymph, to or from affected areas depending on the treatment goal. When soft tissue is injured, inflammation causes localized fluid build-up, speeding necessary oxygen and nutrients to the wounded area. But if swelling lingers too long, it impairs the later stages of recovery and causes discomfort. Pushing fluid away restores normal range of motion.

Patients with lymphatic drainage disorders also benefit from mobilizing fluid. Too much lymph in limbs not only causes pain, but it can also lead to skin ulcers.

Secondly, the ability of massage to improve circulation makes exercise more comfortable. Movement is the best way to keep blood and lymph moving freely.

Breaking Up Scar Tissue

A build-up of scar tissue from an incision or injury can cause pain by pressing on the surrounding muscle. Collagen fibers form bundles, creating knots that are palpable just under the surface of the skin. Massage loosens those fibers, breaking up what feels like uncomfortable lumps where injuries once occurred.

Relieving Sore Muscles

Muscle aches aren’t devastating injuries like broken bones, but they can be debilitating for performance athletes. A simple sprain or soreness from overexercising can set a training schedule back months. When a competition is on the line, massage helps relieve pain and restores muscle function when it’s needed most.

Massage also benefits people who sit at a desk for long periods. Shoulders tend to hunch over time, causing neck, shoulder and upper back soreness. Massage not only relieves the discomfort, but it facilitates otherwise painful postural changes by loosening the muscles required to sit erect.

Managing Trigger Points

Trigger points are the result of muscle injuries or repetitive strain. When muscle fibers are overstretched, tiny tears in the soft tissue occur. If they don’t heal properly, the fibers can twist, and form knots known as trigger points that can restrict circulation and cause pain.

Trigger points affect mobility by making muscles stiff, reducing range of motion. This prevents muscles from relaxing, causing them to fatigue quickly and recover from exercise more slowly. In severe cases, it can cause spasms.

In some locations, painful trigger points can also affect the balance between muscle groups, causing joint misalignment. Regular massage helps alleviate both pain and stiffness.

Reducing Inflammation

Scientists have made a remarkable discovery about inflammation and massage, some of the benefits are genetic. Athletes that are subjected to a grueling workout find more signs of cellular repair in post-workout tissue samples than in pre-workout samples.

Doctors have long known that exercise activates genes controlling cell repair, what is noteworthy is that massage improves the genetic response. Genes responsible for building mitochondria, our cellular engines, increase while genes associated with inflammation decrease.

Boosting Feel-Good Brain Chemicals

The body has a natural way of quelling pain with endorphins. These opioid-like chemicals are produced by the brain and stored in the pituitary gland where they’re released during times of physical and emotional stress. Deep tissue massage has been shown to increase endorphin release, helping muscles relax.

Other feel-good hormones, including dopamine and serotonin, rise during a massage, boosting mood and mitigating pain by altering patients’ perception of its severity. Clients who report feeling cheerful and optimistic tend to manage pain better.

Massage as Adjunct Pain Management Therapy

There’s rarely a single cure for pain. More often, it takes a variety of approaches to achieve the best outcomes. The goal is to use as many non-pharmaceutical, non-invasive methods as possible as part of an overall pain management plan.

Massage is typically used in combination with physical therapy, stretching, heat and cold, surgery, and analgesics.

Physical Therapy

Managing patients’ pain is a challenge for physical therapists. While a certain amount of discomfort is an expected part of the process, clients don’t participate at optimal levels when they hurt. Massage helps by decreasing pain not directly associated with an injury, improving both attitudes toward physical therapy and resiliency.

Stretching

Stretching has effects similar to massage, and it can be done at home. It relieves stiffness, improves flexibility and enhances circulation. Regular massage magnifies those benefits by improving those processes and adding a pain relief component. It is called the dynamic duo.

Heat and Cold

Heat and cold therapies can be as effective as oral pain relievers. This causes vasodilation, a widening of blood vessels that improves circulation and speeds metabolic byproducts out of the system. Nutrients and oxygen rush to sore tissues, encouraging healing. Temperatures over 104 degrees are proven to block superficial pain receptors, easing away aches.

Cold is particularly effective for reducing inflammation after an acute injury. By reducing blood flow to the affected area, it limits swelling and the pain that comes with it.

Surgery

Some pain can be relieved only through surgery, joint replacements are a good example. Post-surgical discomfort, however, is a significant issue, lasting weeks and often months after discharge.

Physical therapy speeds rehabilitation while analgesics manage the most severe pain, but lingering aches and medication side effects can set back recovery. As an adjunct therapy, massage is shown to reduce post-operative pain intensity and improve participation in activities of daily living.

Analgesics

Analgesics are among the most controversial therapies for pain. They work, but the side effects and dependency potential can be profound. Opioids, once the gold standard for severe pain relief, are responsible for millions of addictions nationwide and are now prescribed only for limited use.

The safest pain relievers are over the counter options, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, but even those are not without risks. A black box warning for cardiovascular events has been added to NSAIDs like ibuprofen, and GI irritation, including ulcers, is a known side effect. Acetaminophen, better known by its brand name Tylenol, can cause liver damage and is responsible for more drug overdoses than any other medicine in America, so new daily dose limits were recently imposed.

Analgesics can be a safe part of a pain management program. Still, as awareness of their unwanted effects grows, doctors are increasingly turning to non-pharmacological interventions, including physical therapy and massage. Among chronic pain patients who take analgesics daily, most agree that massage results in less overall use.

Final Thoughts

Massage is a proven pain-reduction treatment embraced worldwide by both mainstream and alternative medicine. It’s a billion-dollar industry and growing because it works. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job opportunities for massage therapists will rise more than 21-percent in the next ten years as more patients seek services. For motivated self-starters with an enthusiasm for wellness, now is an unprecedented time to train for a massage therapy career.

Did learning about how massage therapy helps to relieve pain interest you? Want to learn more about a massage therapy program? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

Is Massage Therapy a Good Second Job?

Massage therapist at providing a client with a massage

Have you cut your expenses as far as they will go? Looking for a second job to supplement your income? Many of us are having a hard time making ends meet in today’s economy. Some of us can put food on the table and pay the rent, but others of us need to take a second or even third job to pay the bills. Are you looking for a second job that is flexible, offers independence and on demand? Massage therapy is a good second job for those that can travel, have time to learn a new trade and have the dexterity to give massages.

What Does A Massage Therapist Do?

For those considering a second job as a massage therapist, you will manipulate a person’s muscles and soft tissue to relieve their pain and stress. Massage helps relieve pain and stress, heal injuries, improve circulation, remove waste, increase relaxation, improve sleep and even helps athletes perform better. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics massage therapists typically do the following:

  • Talk with clients about ailments, symptoms, and medical history
  • Evaluate clients before and after massage
  • Identify the massage modality to best suit a client’s needs
  • Manipulate muscles and other soft tissues of the body
  • Educate clients on proper stretching, strengthening, overall relaxation, and how to improve posture
  • Document clients’ conditions and progress

Part of what a massage therapist does can be completed as a gig. These gigs are short-term, temporary positions focused on a specific short task to supplement full-time employment. Ready to join the gig economy and start working as a massage therapist?

What is the Gig Economy?

There are many different gigs available. Gigs are flexible, allow supplemental income, and can be on-demand. You can become an Uber driver, pick up groceries, pet-sit, babysit, deliver food for GrubHub or deliver packages for Amazon. You may even choose to become a massage therapist. Unlike many of the jobs listed above, massage therapists need to become certified. It only takes less than a year to complete a massage therapy program and prepare for an exam to become certified. Good news is you will be certified and have an advantage over the everyday gig worker. Along with massage therapy and other gigs, there are some benefits.

Benefits of a Second Job in Massage Therapy

There are many benefits to a second job in massage therapy. Whether you are starting a new massage business or taking a few gigs on the side, massage therapy is a great way to make supplemental income. You can start earning quickly, enjoy flexibility and independence, and work on-demand.

Start Earning Quickly

The program to become a massage therapist takes less than one year and includes hands-on experience in a clinical lab. You will learn all of the massage modalities, and take classes on anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and pathology. There is also coursework on the business side of becoming a massage therapist. Those looking to massage therapy as a second job should learn how to run a business and get customers. Once you complete a massage therapy program, you are prepared to take an exam to become certified.

Flexibility

As a massage therapist, you have the ability to set your own hours as long as your clients are available. You can work during the day at an office or do evening appointments at client’s homes. There are also some part time jobs at spas, resorts and fitness centers. If you are caring for a family or elderly parent, becoming a massage therapy will allow you to work around your schedule. Being a massage therapist as a first or second job offers you the ability to take care of your responsibilities and schedule clients when you are available.

Independence

Some of us don’t like to answer to a boss or work a 9 to 5 job. Some freelancers choose to work independently outside of the traditional office hours. As a massage therapist, you can answer to yourself and choose when you want to work. You can even choose who you work with or what specialties you offer. Some massage therapists focus on hot stone massage and others specialize in sports massage. Regardless of when you want to work and what kind of massage you specialize in, starting a second job as a massage therapist is a great way to supplement your income.

Supplemental Income

If you need a second job to supplement your income, becoming a massage therapist can be a good solution.  Do you want to set aside a nest egg for a rainy day? Do you have high interest rate debts and want to pay them off? Regardless of your situation, a second job can help pay down debts and give you some security from a financial pandemic.

In addition to supplemental income, a second job will diversify your current income stream. For example, you have the freedom to quit your first job, knowing that you have a second job in reserve.

On-Demand

Although you will have regular clients as a massage therapist, you have the choice of when to work and whom to work with. When using gig platforms, you have the choice of when to be available to pick up a gig. You can also decide not to work. The choice is yours.

What are the Different Types of Massage?

There are a few different types of massage that you will learn during a massage therapy program. The most common massage therapies are Swedish and Deep Tissue. There are also Hot Stone Massage, Sports Massage, Myofascial Release, Shiatsu Massage and Trigger Point Massage.

For those looking to massage as a second job, you may want to keep the supplies to a minimum. It can be costly to buy the massage table, pillows and supplies in order to be a self-employed massage therapist. If you are on a budget, you can either perform specialized chair massages or massage clients in their own business chairs. Spas and resorts that hire part-time massage therapists will also have the supplies on hand that you need to perform a massage.

Is Financial Aid Assistance Available?

Vocational schools offer financial aid assistant to those that qualify. Make sure that the vocational school you attend is properly accredited so you can apply for federal financial aid. Only those schools that are properly accredited can offer federal financial aid options to their students. Broadview University will help you fill out the necessary paperwork, like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and talk with you about your financial aid options. Broadview University helps students apply for grants, military discounts and employee tuition reimbursement benefits. Mark your calendar for important deadlines for financial aid and learn about all the scholarships offered to students that qualify.

How Do You Get Customers?

Again, if you are on a budget, start with your friends and family. Let them know that you are a new massage therapist looking for clients. They can spread the word to their contacts, and you can pick up a few clients that way. Social media is another great way to get the word out. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok are all communities that help you inform the masses. Create a community, start groups and interact with friends to share your new abilities as a massage therapist. There are also start-ups that are looking for a gig massage therapist to sign up, for example Thervo.com and iHireTherapy.com.

Final Thoughts

Whether you opt to make massage therapy your first or second job, there are many different benefits of becoming a massage therapist. Not looking for a second job and just want to work one job? There are also opportunities to work full-time in spas, resorts, casinos, fitness centers or cruise ships. Either way, you can be earning in less than one year and making that additional money you need to pay the bills.

Did learning about a job in massage therapy interest you? Want to learn more about a massage therapy program? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

What is Myofascial Release Massage?

If you’re interested in a career as a massage therapist, one of the common massage techniques you will learn during a massage therapy program is myofascial release massage. During a massage therapy program, you will gain the knowledge about anatomy and kinesiology that you need to successfully perform myofascial release massage. With this technique, you can help clients reduce pain and live a happier life.

Massage therapist providing a myofascial release massage to a client

What Is Fascia?

Fascia is an expanse or band of connective tissue that’s predominantly composed of collagen. The fascia is underneath the surface of the skin and encloses an internal organ or muscle. The fascia is a tightly woven, dense covering. This specialized system of the body covers:

  • Arteries
  • Bones
  • Internal Organs
  • Muscles
  • Nerves
  • Veins

The fascia is continuous, from head to foot. Surgery, inflammation, and trauma can exert pressure on muscles that may not be evident on CAT scans, myelograms, or X-rays. A lack of motion, inflammation, or pain may be due to undiagnosed pressure on the muscles.

Fascia plays a significant role in the function of the body. When it’s in the normal state, the fascia has a wavy appearance. When emotional or physical trauma, inflammation, or scarring are present, the fascia becomes tense and restricted. Among the causes of tightness in the fascia are:

  • Bad posture
  • Repeated stress injuries
  • Trauma from injury or surgery

What Is Myofascial Release Massage?

Myofascial release massage is a technique that focuses on pain that originates in the myofascial tissue or membranes that connects and wraps around the muscles throughout the body. Myofascial pain differs from other types of pain treated by massage therapists because the pain originates in trigger points.

The primary difference between traditional massage techniques like Swedish massage and myofascial is that traditional massage focuses on the muscles and soft tissue. Myofascial release massage is concentrated on the fascia or connective tissue. The myofascial release technique uses a sustained pressure to lengthen and stretch the connective tissue. Pressure may be applied for several minutes to soften the fascia and properly align it.

Another significant difference between the two types of massage is that traditional massage uses lotions or oils to prevent friction on the client’s body. If any oil or lotion is used in myofascial release massage, it can prevent the practitioner from finding the trigger point that’s causing the pain or discomfort.

What Are the Benefits of Myofascial Release Massage?

There are many different benefits of myofascial release massage. They include reduced pain, release of trigger points, improvement in movement and flexibility, improved muscle function, enhanced circulation, reduced soreness, help correcting posture alignment issues, strengthening the immune system, improved tissue recovery, reduced scar tissue and stress reduction.

Benefit #1: Reduced Pain

Rather than using light pressure to relieve sore muscles, the massage therapist must locate the trigger points that cause the pain. They use manual and stretching techniques that loosen up restricted movement in joints and muscles and relieves the pain.

Benefit #2: Release Trigger Points

Using this technique over a broad area of the body can identify the trigger points that cause pain, by releasing and lengthening the muscles. The technique uses sustained pressure and may be done several times until the tension is released.

Benefit #3: Improved Movement and Flexibility

Myofascial release massage has been effective in reducing shoulder pain and relieving pain in women recovering from breast cancer surgery. Clients with neck and arm pain can improve faster with myofascial release massage than by using electrical nerve stimulation, strengthening exercises, or moist, warm packs.

Benefit #4: Improved Muscle Function

Trainers and sports team professionals are discovering the benefits of myofascial release therapy when treating athletes with sore and injured muscles. Applying pressure to sore muscles for extended periods has been shown to improve muscle function and provide a faster recovery.

Benefit #5: Enhanced Circulation

Myofascial release massage is an excellent way to improve blood circulation throughout the body. The pressure on the trigger points encourages the flow of oxygen and helps to improve blood circulation.

Benefit #6: Reduced Soreness

Blood flow is restricted in areas that are tight. The increased pressure on trigger points allows the blood to flow freely and reduce inflammation, so pain and soreness are reduced.

Benefit #7: Correction of Posture Alignment Issues

When muscles are tight and there’s poor circulation, muscles can get dehydrated. If there’s an injury, scar tissue may form, and fascia attaches to it. Painful adhesions make movement painful. As adhesions become solid, they can restrict movement and cause poor posture. Myofascial release massage helps address poor posture.

Benefit #8: Strengthens Immune System

Massage helps to improve physical and emotional health. Myofascial release massage rids the body of stressors. When the body and mind are strengthened, the immune system works more efficiently.

Benefit #9: Improved Tissue Recovery

Myofascial release massage helps to ease tissue that’s constricted. When scar tissue is present, the massage therapist works along the scar tissue to soften it. When the tissue becomes soft and more pliable, it heals faster.

Benefit #10: Reduced Scar Tissue

Scar tissue that isn’t treated can eventually harden, causing more pain and mobility issues. Myofascial release massage is one of the most effective ways to reduce scar tissue. As the massage therapist continues to massage the area, the scar tissue will soften, and adhesions can be eliminated.

Benefit #11: Stress Reduction

When the fascia is constricted due to stress, injury, or aging, it can cause stress and tension. Myofascial release massage is one of the most effective techniques to stretch tissue and relieve tightness. When the fascia is in a healthy state, there’s less stress throughout the body. The treatment is effective in alleviating the feelings that are associated with chronic stress.

What Ailments are Myofascial Release Massage Used For?

Myofascial release massage helps those suffering from disorders that cause pain. These disorders include fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, muscle spasms, whiplash injuries, bulging discs, sciatica, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia pain comes from fascia that is stuck and inflamed. When the fascia gets restricted, it becomes almost glue-like and dehydrated. The gentle pressure that’s applied during the myofascial release massage can relieve the pain caused by fibromyalgia.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain and swelling in the body’s joints and soft tissue. The pressure exerted in myofascial massage can alleviate the pain and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Muscle Spasms

One theory about muscle spasms is that they may be caused by repeated trauma to a muscle that creates a trigger point. Myofascial release massage is geared towards trigger points and alleviating pain in other parts of the body.

Whiplash Injuries

Whiplash can cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches, arm or neck pain, dizziness, and memory loss. People who suffer from pain associated with whiplash injuries can experience improvement after a few sessions of myofascial release massage treatment.

Bulging Disc

Myofascial release massage treatments to decompress a bulging disc combined with techniques to improve mobility can reduce the chronic pain associated with disc injuries and prevent the disc from degenerating further.

Sciatica

Acupressure and pain medications are often prescribed for sciatica pain, but myofascial release massage is the most effective treatment in alleviating the pain. Massage treatments help to decrease the tension in the muscles. When the muscle loosens up, the inflammation in the muscle decreases.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Myofascial release massage is one of the most effective treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome. The massage therapist uses a kneading motion to massage the wrist joint. The repeated movement can break down adhesions in the tendons and help to reduce the level of pain.

What are the Myofascial Release Massage Skills?

There are many skills a massage therapist will need to be successful at myofascial release massage. They include stamina, dexterity, communication, active listening, and body language interpretation.

Skill #1: Stamina

A massage therapist may spend most of their workday on their feet, and it can be exhausting at the end of the day. Physical stamina is a necessity for a massage therapist who must be able to provide treatment for several clients each day, with sessions possibly lasting as long as an hour.

Skill #2: Dexterity

A massage therapist must have manual dexterity to perform all the maneuvers needed for a rigorous myofascial release massage treatment. Repeated application of pressure on trigger points may be necessary to loosen tight muscles and restore mobility.

Skill #3: Communication

A massage therapist needs as much information as possible to provide the most effective treatments for their clients. Excellent interpersonal skills help to make a client feel comfortable. The massage therapist should explain what they’re doing and why, to put the client at ease.

Skill #4: Active Listening

A massage therapist should always practice active listening. When a client is explaining their pain or symptoms, they should be allowed to finish before the massage therapist asks questions.

Skill #5: Body Language Interpretation

Observing a client’s body language can help to interpret what they’re feeling. Responding in an appropriate manner can help to build a rapport between massage therapist and client.

Final Thoughts

Do you enjoy helping others? Have the stamina and dexterity to perform myofascial release massage? If so, a career as a massage therapist will allow you to help others and keep them living a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Did learning about myofascial release massage interest you? Want to learn more about a massage therapy program? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

What Happens During a Prenatal Massage?

Woman who appears in pain and would benefit from a prenatal massage

Are you interested in learning about what happens during a prenatal massage? Want to become a massage therapist yourself? Those who want to earn a certificate to practice in under a year and work in a career helping people with an excellent job outlook, may want to look into massage therapy. Massage therapy is invaluable to clients suffering from stress, experiencing pain, or recovering from an injury.

Massage therapy is becoming accepted as an alternative form of healing. The field is expected to grow 22 percent in the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can complete a degree or certificate program in less than a year and have hundreds of hours practicing various techniques. One of the many massage techniques you will learn is prenatal massage.

What is Prenatal Massage?

All pregnancies are different and expectant mothers may experience some unusual sensations or pain during their pregnancy. Prenatal massage is designed to relieve some of the discomfort that a mother-to-be experiences. When an expectant mother experiences fewer aches and pains, it’s easier to stay healthy. Prenatal massages can help to relieve anxiety, depression, and tension.

What Makes Prenatal Massage Different?

Prenatal massage shouldn’t be confused with other massage therapy techniques. Many people choose massage treatment as a way to relax, relieve tension, and alleviate pain. Pregnant women have issues that differ from non-pregnant women. Many of the problems mothers-to-be face can be reduced with massage.

  • Lower back and hip pain are common problems during pregnancy due to the increased weight carried in front of the body.
  • The organs in the abdominal cavity are more crowded together and can cause issues with breathing.
  • Pain and discomfort in the upper back are common due to larger breast size during pregnancy.
  • A lot of pregnant women find that they have difficulty with movement due to their weight gain.

Prenatal massage is an excellent way to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. This form of massage is similar to traditional massage treatment with a few changes.

After the woman has passed the first trimester, you will no longer work with the client in the face down or prone position. This avoids putting unnecessary pressure on the ligaments in the uterus and the abdomen. During the pregnancy and depending on what week the mother’s pregnancy is in, you may work with the client lying on her back shifted slightly to the left. Later in the pregnancy, you may position the client in a semi-reclined position for prenatal massage treatment.

When the client is semi-reclined, it avoids compressing the vena cava, that can decrease circulation to the mother and baby, and cause low blood pressure in the mother. You will factor in any special instructions or concerns of the OBGYN, so the prenatal massage treatment is most effective.

A significant portion of the massage treatments for expectant mothers is done with the client on her side and propped up with many pillows. This position allows for the maximum amount of comfort and safety for the mother and baby. Some women continue to sleep in this position after the baby is born because it’s so comfortable and relaxing.

Avoiding Areas of Pressure During Prenatal Massage

There are areas of the body which you should avoid putting pointed or deep pressure on, during prenatal massage. These areas include the shiatsu points used to induce contractions of the uterus, the inside portion of the legs, and the abdomen.

A client has the right to choose or deny any type of massage therapy treatment. Although some women choose not to include the abdomen in a prenatal massage, most agree that it’s very soothing. The abdomen may be massaged in a very gentle way that produces relaxation and reduces stress.

Why Prenatal Massage?

Prenatal massage helps reduce swelling, caused by muscle and joint pain. The gentle touch of massage can also reduce anxiety and stress. Prenatal massage treatment can improve digestion and strengthen the mother’s immune system.

Prenatal massage has more significant benefits in addition to offering the mother relief from pain, stress, and anxiety. Mothers-to-be that undergo prenatal massage experience fewer sleep problems and reduced pain, have fewer complications during delivery, and newborn babies have fewer post-natal complications.

How Does A Massage Therapist Perform Prenatal Massage?

A prenatal massage usually lasts about an hour. You will position the client on a massage table, specially designed for pregnant women. In some cases, you may have the client positioned slightly to one side supported by pillows. The pillow method is especially useful during the later stages of pregnancy.

Swedish massage is a technique commonly used in prenatal massage. This type of massage is the treatment most recommended for pregnant women. Swedish massage addresses many of the common problems pregnant women experience in the circulatory and skeletal systems. These changes are brought about by changes in hormone levels. The treatment is designed to decrease tension in the muscles, improve blood flow, and aid the lymphatic system.

What Are the Discomforts of Pregnancy?

Mothers-to-be have some discomforts that prenatal massage can alleviate. They include anemia, backaches, edema, constipation, headaches, leg cramps, and nausea.

Anemia

Anemia in pregnancy occurs when a woman lacks healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissue throughout the body. This typically is a concern because it can affect a mothers’ mortality rates, cause premature births, and low birth weights.

Backaches

Backaches are common in pregnant women due to the baby’s additional weight pressing on the lower back. The pain may be a general feeling of achiness, sharp pain, or a dull ache. After the first trimester, prenatal massage can alleviate the discomfort and help a client relax and sleep.

Edema

Edema is one of the most common problems that pregnant women experience. Almost all pregnant women experience some form of edema at one time or another during pregnancy. The swelling is most common in the legs, ankles, and feet. You can advise your clients to eat high potassium foods, avoid standing for long periods, and minimize time spent outdoors when the weather is hot, to help alleviate swelling.

Constipation

The most common reason that many pregnant women experience constipation is an increase in the hormone known as progesterone that relaxes the smooth muscles throughout the body, including the digestive tract. The relaxation of the muscles allows food to pass through the intestinal tract at a slower rate.

Headaches

Most headaches during pregnancy are known as primary headaches, meaning a secondary problem doesn’t cause them. The types of headaches that are common during pregnancy are cluster, tension, and migraines. Women who commonly suffer from migraines seem to have fewer incidences during pregnancy. Common symptoms of pregnancy headaches include sharp pain behind one or both eyes, a pulsating or throbbing pain, or a dull ache.

Leg Cramps

Leg cramps can be painful, especially during pregnancy. Changes in circulation usually cause cramps in the legs during pregnancy. The baby’s position may also cause pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that lead to the legs. Stretching exercises, sitting with the feet elevated, warm compresses, and massage can alleviate the discomfort. You should be careful with leg massage as some pregnant women suffer from blood clots in the legs. These blood clots can get dislodged during massage and travel to vital organs in the body, causing complications.

Nausea

This is a common symptom, especially during the first trimester.Nausea and vomiting during the first trimester may be linked to the hormone HCG or suggest viable placenta tissue. Even though it isn’t necessarily indicative of a problem, nausea can be very unpleasant. Prenatal massage can help alleviate nausea during pregnancy.

What Are the Other Benefits of Prenatal Massage?

Prenatal massage offers many benefits for the mother and the baby. Some of the benefits of prenatal massage include stress relief, hormone level regulation, decrease in morning sickness, improved blood circulation, reduced swelling, and less nerve pain.

Benefit #1: Stress Relief

Prenatal massage can help relieve stress, a common problem during pregnancy. It can also help to alleviate pain, especially in the lower back.

Benefit #2: Regulate Hormone Levels

Prenatal massage helps stimulate blood flow and regulate hormone levels. The hormones associated with stress levels and relaxation are altered when prenatal massages are part of the health regimen. Cortisol and norepinephrine, the hormones commonly related to stress, can be reduced after five weeks of bi-weekly prenatal massages.

Low levels of dopamine and serotonin can cause depression. Pregnant women who include prenatal massages as part of their routine can see increased dopamine and serotonin levels, offering less depression. When prenatal massages are a regular part of prenatal care, there may be fewer complications with the birth, resulting in healthier babies.

Benefit #3: Decrease in Morning Sickness

Morning sickness may seem like an inconvenience, but it can cause serious side effects, including dehydration. After the first trimester, if a woman is still experiencing morning sickness, prenatal massage can reduce the incidence of nausea and vomiting. Prenatal massage also improves the circulation of blood flow and relaxes the muscles. When the muscles begin to relax, hormones release into the body to alleviate nausea.

Benefit #4: Improved Blood Circulation

Prenatal massage can aid the circulatory system and improve the blood flow to the organs, tissues, and muscles. Since massage reduces stress, the release of the chemicals that reduce tension can help keep blood pressure at a healthy level.

Benefit #5: Reduced Swelling

Decreased circulation and increased pressure on the blood vessels can cause swelling. Prenatal massage stimulates soft tissue and reduces the amount of fluid that can build up in swollen joints. Prenatal massage can also help to remove waste tissue from the lymphatic system. A reduction of swelling from prenatal massage can reduce pain and discomfort.

Benefit #6: Reduced Nerve Pain

Improvement in nerve pain is another benefit of prenatal massage. During the late stages of pregnancy, many women experience sciatic nerve pain because the uterus is resting on the pelvic and lower back muscles. The pressure of the uterus causes tension in the upper and lower leg muscles, causing swelling. Prenatal massage helps release the tension in the muscles.

What are the Skills Needed to Offer Prenatal Massage?

In addition to the technical abilities that you must possess as a massage therapist, soft skills are also essential. These soft skills include communication, active listening, body language interpretation, and continued education.

Skill #1: Communication

Excellent communication is vital to creating a relaxing environment during prenatal massage. You must have the ability to listen to your client, ask questions, and alleviate any concerns the client may have. The client also must know what is involved in the treatment before the prenatal massage begins.

Skill #2: Active Listening

It’s essential for you to focus entirely on the client, Listen and offer viable solutions when they are describing any issues regarding pain, stress, or anxiety. The client’s well-being should always come first.

Skill #3: Body Language Interpretation

It’s vital to “read” your clients body language. Different factors may include cultural differences and drawing out clients who find it difficult to discuss what’s troubling them. The more conscious you are of the client’s body language, the more you’ll be able to help your clients.

Skill #4: Continued Education

The techniques used in massage are as different as the clients you’ll treat. The more you learn about the various massage techniques, the more effective the treatment will be. You will have more positive outcomes by using the most appropriate methods learned during continued education.

Final Thoughts

You can help your clients with prenatal massage, with the right training and understanding of the kind of practical, safe, and appropriate treatments for the mother and baby. You should be knowledgeable about pregnancy and the anatomy of a pregnant woman’s body. These will be learned during a massage therapy program at your local vocational school.

If you desire a career helping people, want to earn a certificate in under a year, and work in a field with an excellent job outlook, then becoming a massage therapist may be the right career path for you.

Are you interested in learning more about prenatal massage? Ready to start a program to become a massage therapist? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

What is a Deep Tissue Massage?

Massage therapists providing clients with a deep tissue massage

One of the techniques you may seek to master is deep tissue massage. Deep tissue massage is one of the many techniques learned during a massage therapy program at a vocational school.

Touch is a powerful healer. Even a gentle embrace can give people a sense of relief from their stress. As a massage therapist, you will be helping people overcome pain and injuries related to injuries, sports, or associated with medical conditions. You will come to understand how various massage techniques can assist with healing the innermost layers of muscle or connective tissue.

Becoming a massage therapist means using touch to assist clients with injury prevention and management, as well as rehabilitation. You will work directly with your clients to improve their overall well-being. You will also learn to assess someone’s physical condition, then provide them with therapeutic sessions that complement other treatments they may be receiving.

What is Deep Tissue Massage?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), massage therapy involves “manipulating the soft tissues of the body.” Such therapies have been utilized for thousands of years. This gives the modern-day massage therapist a variety of techniques and tools to relieve pain, such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, Shiatsu, myofascial release, and so on.

Deep tissue massage is like other forms of massage, but it is generally used for a single purpose: penetrating deep layers of skin, muscle, ligaments and tendons to break up scar tissue that has formed from an injury or surgery and to reduce tissue and muscle tension. This massage offers slower and firmer movements. The goal is to accelerate healing by reducing inflammation and increasing circulation to the affected area.

Because deep tissue massage requires the massage therapist to use a firm touch to reach the affected tissues, this technique is recommended for clients who are comfortable with more pressure.

Techniques Used During Deep Tissue Massage

Before understanding how deep tissue massage benefits the body, you need to understand the techniques involved. Most manipulations carry over from other forms of massage therapy and bodywork. Yet, as a massage therapist, you can adapt the techniques to suit your client’s needs or to match their individual preferences.

There are four techniques that are used during a deep tissue massage:

Stripping – the characteristic movements of the deep tissue massage include penetrating, gliding movements and applied pressure to the entire length of a muscle using the thumbs, knuckles, elbows, and forearms.

Friction – uses fingers, palms, and circular or transverse motion, the massage therapist rubs the muscles and connective tissues at various angles.

Myofascial release – a therapy that pinpoints the fasci, an elastic sheath that wraps around the muscle, with sustained pressure to increase circulation and reduce tension.

Cross-fiber work – sometimes referred to as transverse friction massage or cross friction massage, this technique uses two fingers to apply friction in a direction perpendicular to the muscle or scar tissue. It is similar to traditional friction techniques that work to breakdown certain fibers and accelerate healing.

Who Should Get a Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage helps repair minor muscular injury and relieve chronic pain. There are a few reasons a client will ask for a deep tissue massage.

Chronic Pain

Some of your clients will have a condition that exacerbates chronic pain. Deep tissue massage is an alternative medical treatment to medication, offering a more holistic approach to relieve chronic pain. There are also those that suffer from disorders like fibromyalgia, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, and tennis elbow. Deep tissue massage is helpful to reduce the symptoms of these conditions.

Being an Athlete

Sports is rough on the body and works every muscle. As a serious athlete or weekend warrior, your client will need deep tissue massage to remove scarred tissue and rejuvenate muscles. This will either be an ongoing treatment, or for those that over do it every once in a while, a treatment as needed.

What Types of Issues Benefit from a Deep Tissue Massage?

The greatest benefit of deep tissue massage is the reduction of pain. Here are some of the issues that benefit from this form of massage:

  • Lower back pain
  • Repetitive strain injury, like carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Muscle tension in the upper back, rhomboids, gluteals, IT band, calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings from exercise or sports
  • Postural issues, such as scoliosis
  • Recovery from injury (falls, whiplash, etc.)
  • Limited mobility
  • Sciatica
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Neck pain
  • Tennis elbow
  • Osteoarthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Stress and anxiety

How Is Deep Tissue Massage Different from Swedish Massage?

Most people have experienced Swedish massage at least once, and it may even have inspired you to become a massage therapist. You should know that the Swedish style and deep tissue massage are not identical. In fact, while both forms of massage therapy did use many of the same strokes and techniques, they differ in purpose and the pressure used. Here are some the key differences between Swedish and deep tissue massage:

Intended Purpose

Swedish massage therapy is used for relaxation and relief from muscle tension caused by daily activities, such as extended commuting hours or slouching at the computer desk. A Swedish massage uses light pressure and gentle manipulations. Meanwhile, a deep tissue massage is meant to treat musculoskeletal and sports-related issues and chronic pain. This form of massage uses heavier pressure to dig into muscles and relieve chronic pain.

Area of Focus or Application

Swedish massage techniques target the superficial tissue and focuses on the places of tension in the body, neck, back, and shoulders. Deep tissue bodywork, on the other hand, goes deeper, aiming for the adhesions within muscles, myofascial, and the joints, thereby relieving stiffness and inflexibility.

Pressure

While both types of massage therapy utilize knuckles, fingers, and palms to perform the manipulations, a massage therapist may also use their elbows and forearms to apply even more pressure to the body.

What a Deep Tissue Massage Session Is Like

As a deep tissue massage therapist, you are going to work with many people with various aches, pains and medical conditions. Many clients will walk through the door not knowing what to expect, and some of them may be confused about the differences between a Swedish massage and deep tissue massage.

If this is their first session, you can expect to review their medical history, as well as some questions about how they currently feel or what they have recently experienced. You can then explain what you are going to do, what techniques you use, and how those manipulations will help them with their pain, stress, spinal alignment, and even their general wellness.

Be certain to listen for any contraindications. For instance, as a deep tissue massage therapist, you will have to understand the potential risk of such a massage therapy. Those individuals with a risk of deep vein thrombosis or who have skin conditions or rashes, infected skin, abdominal hernias, cancerous or benign tumors, fractures or fragile bones, pregnant, or blood conditions like hematoma should first receive clearance from their primary care physician before receiving deep tissue massage.

Once you have reviewed deep tissue massage with the client, the session can begin. First, you will work through the superficial layers of muscle, as if giving a Swedish massage. This is the only way the deeper tissues can be reached effectively. Should you neglect this important step, the client will most likely experience more pain during the massage.

Gradually, the pressure increases to prevent against “muscle guarding,” a natural reaction of the body against pain. During your massage therapist courses, you will learn how to read body language to understand how a client is feeling during a deep tissue massage. There are also numerous techniques that assist you in distracting the client from the force of pressure being applied.

Final Thoughts

Helping others can be both challenging and rewarding. Becoming a massage therapist will allow you to help those with chronic pain live happier and healthier lives. Take the first step to a rewarding career and learn more about massage therapy at Broadview University.

Did learning about what a deep tissue massage is interest you? Ready to start a program to become a massage therapist? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

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