- Karen Stoner, LMT
Massage Tips and Trivia: Massage Therapists receive hundreds of hours of training
"Massage Therapists go to school and receive hundreds of hours of training to do what they do. Many states also require therapists take an exam before receiving their license to practice."
There is a very common misconception among many people that Massage Therapists one day just decided that they like to rub people in a calm, zen environment, so they just started giving people back rubs and getting paid for it. This is extremely very far from the truth.
Massage Therapists, in order to do their job properly, need to know more than just how to give a good back rub. In many states, they are regulated by either a license or certification, usually attached to the state's medical board, making a Massage Therapist a licensed medical professional. In order to obtain that license, they need to take an exam and have a minimum number of hours of training, ranging from 500-over 1,000 hours, depending on the state. These training hours (and the licensing exam) include information about the skeletal and muscular systems, including all the muscles in the body, the origin and insertion points, and actions of those muscles. Understanding of the nerves and nervous system, lymphatic system, digestive system, and every other system in the body. We study range of motion and how to body moves and reacts to movement in order to assess what needs to be done to help. Additionally, we also study epidemiology (Study of diseases) in order to keep ourselves and other clients safe.
And this is all before we learn the massage strokes themselves.
Then we study how to assess the body for an issue - learning how to visually determine of someone is holding tension somewhere, walking strangely, or has something that is causing their issues, and then also finding by touch where the issues are if they can't be seen visually. We have to learn not only how to do massage strokes, but how to do them with different pressures. We also learn stretching and various other techniques to help the clients with their specific needs. Not to mention that there are over 80 different massage modalities from Swedish Massage, to Shiatsu, to Myofascial Work, to specialty forms of massage such as Prenatal or Sports Massage.
After learning all of that, and sitting for an exam, we aren't done. With licensure, also comes Continuing Education. In Pennsylvania, for example, we have to complete 24 hours of Continuing Education every 2 years, so our education is constantly ongoing. Additionally, since the laws and requirements vary from state to state, if we get our license in one state, and want to move or transfer our licenses to another state, we may have to take MORE classes or ANOTHER exam depending on the license requirements of the new state.
So the next time you go for a massage, know with confidence that your Massage Therapist is more than just someone who like to be chill and rub people to relax. We have as much (if not more) medical knowledge, training, and hands-on practice than some doctors. We are full medical professionals, with the training and education to back it up.