Massage Therapy Education

Massage Therapy Education

You want to be a Massage Therapist. You know it… you feel it. You want to help people in pain, or who are stressed. You want to be the one person that your clients count on to help them stay mobile, and moving!

How do you find a school? A Program that will take you to where you need to be? What’s an Accredited Program?

Educational Requirements & How to Find Accredited Programs

Depending on Province, or State, the Educational Requirements can be anywhere from 0 hours of Education to 3300 Hours.

Even if your region requires 0 hours of education, you should still chase after it.

Why? Credibility is crucial! How can you possibly be of assistance to anyone if you don’t know the basics?

So what’s an Accredited Program and how do you find it? Associations!

Massage Therapists Associations are the key ingredient to finding these programs, and you do want to join them.

CANADA:

USA:

 

Why Belong to an Association?

Simply put, with the investment you’ve made into your Education, investing to belong to an Association, is the next, logical step. You are applying, and adhering to a set of standards. This gives clientele a confidence in you and your practice. (Even for those of you in areas with no education needed to practice, I encourage you to become certified, and join an Association).

 

With these memberships there are other benefits as well.

  • Many offer Medical Benefit Packages
  • Ability to bill third party insurance companies
  • MVA claims (Motor Vehicle Accident)
  • Discounted banking (for some)
  • Continuing Education Options
  • And my personal favorite… the ability to get to know others in the industry, and form lasting friendships and contacts.

 

I became a ‘Student Member’ of the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta in 1993, and a Full Member in 1997.

Why am I telling you this?

I want to share with you what I gained in the last 26+ years of being a Member!

I was fortunate enough to have established a couple of great relationships by 1993 with an Elite Group already within the Membership. Once I joined, I became part of the Association Planning Committee. We were the ones that set up Conventions, Speakers, and the PARTIES that would ensue!

After becoming a Full Member, my focus shifted for a few years, into building my Practice, but I was still involved… just a little less. I switched over to ‘Set Up & Tear Down’ after Conventions, as it took less time away from my clients.

I found, in these years, that something was missing. Going to Conventions wasn’t enough anymore. Somehow, I was talked into becoming part of The Executive!

My personal gain in this?

Mentors:

Without these 4 key people, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. They played such a HUGE roll in my development, and technique, that I’m sure save my body from physical burnout early on. These people also were a big part of my Business Development, and the different stages of growth.

The best advice I can give you, right now, is find a Mentor, or Mentors. Someone that will support you, and teach you as you move forward. If you can, start finding these key people as soon as possible!

Professional Alliances:

Too many times I have heard, “There’s a New Therapist in town. You have competition.”

I embrace competition. Competitors can become your greatest ally, and friend.

You now have someone you can exchange massages with, and share ideas with. (The ideas that my ‘massage buddy’ and I discuss, are things like: Education/ Modalities we have or, want to take, pricing & adjustments… and so on).

Someone you can refer others to. You’re busy, on vacation, or ill. You have the ability to tell your clients where they can go during these times. Or, they offer a technique, or modality that you don’t, and you feel that the client would benefit from this treatment.

Referrals for the Masses:

In getting to know others, from different areas, I was able to compile a list of ‘Preferred Therapists’ for my clients when travelling, moving, or their family members.

Clients will trust you, so when you refer them, or a family member, to someone in another city, they will place value in that, so choose wisely!

 

 

 

 

Association Benefits

 

I was fortunate enough to have established a couple of great relationships by 1993 with an Elite Group already within the Membership. Once I joined, I became part of the Association Planning Committee. We were the ones that set up Conventions, Speakers, and the PARTIES that would ensue!

After becoming a Full Member, my focus shifted for a few years, into building my Practice, but I was still involved… just a little less. I switched over to ‘Set Up & Tear Down’ after Conventions, as it took less time away from my clients.

I found, in these years, that something was missing. Going to Conventions wasn’t enough anymore. Somehow, I was talked into becoming part of The Executive!

My personal gain in this?

Mentors:

Without these 4 key people, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. They played such a HUGE roll in my development, and technique, that I’m sure save my body from physical burnout early on. These people also were a big part of my Business Development, and the different stages of growth.

Find a Mentor, or Mentors. Someone that will support you, and teach you as you move forward. If you can, start finding these key people as soon as possible!

Injury Prevention for Massage Therapists

Injury Prevention for Massage Therapists

Most Massage Therapists will experience some kind of injury or pain syndrome at some point in their careers.

So how do you protect yourself from injury?

Get in shape: plan on working out at least three times a week, including strengthening, stretching, and aerobics. Maintaining good circulation will help you heal any incipient injuries and keep them from developing into more serious ones. • Develop proper body mechanics: using your body efficiently to produce the most effective movement with the least effort will reduce the strain of your massage work on your body. • Avoid other hand-intensive activities: there is only so much hand-intensive work one body can take. Playing an instrument professionally, or working as a computer typist in addition to your massage work will likely cause injury. • Take care of your hands every day: they are the tools of your trade; treat them well. Avoid opening stuck jars, playing sports with your hands, hammering nails – anything that can cause trauma or stress your hands. • Work with your body characteristics, not against them: if you have hypermobile thumbs, do not use them extensively in your massages. If you have a pre-existing upper extremity, back or neck injury, think about doing types of massage that don’t require strength or pressure. • Vary your massage technique: use different parts of your hand and arms to do massage, to avoid a repetitive motion to any one region. For example, use your elbow sometimes to create pressure rather than always using your thumbs. • Don’t do massage techniques that cause you pain: stop doing any method that causes you pain or discomfort – you have your choice of thousands of techniques that you can do without pain. • Monitor your work habits. Maintain a regular schedule of massages, so you don’t suddenly increase the number of massages you do or decrease the amount of time you have between massages. Experiment with table height until you find what works best for you; better yet, get an electric table that you can adjust as you work. • Take time between massages. If you don’t have enough time between massages to relax, stretch, breathe AND change the sheets, you are putting yourself at risk of injury. • Use other modalities in your massages. Hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, energy balancing, and spa treatments can attract new clients, and add to the value of your massages. This will also cut down on the amount of intensive hands-on work you do in each massage, which will allow your hands to rest. • Develop a realistic attitude towards your work: there are limits to what you can do for your patients. You are only human, with your own strengths and limitations. Respecting your own limits is healthy, and will help you keep your upper extremities healthy. • Treat injuries immediately and effectively. At the first sign of pain or dysfunction, see a physician. If you are in pain, you are probably already injured. Letting it go on will only make it worse. Injury is a complex subject.

Common Injuries Sustained by Massage Therapists

Soft tissue injuries common to massage therapists fall into two categories:
Muscle/tendon injuries and
Nerve impingement injuries.

The primary cause of these disorders is thought to be overuse or using a part of the body beyond the point where it can function normally and remain healthy. These injuries are collectively referred to as repetitive strain or stress injuries (RSIs), cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs), or simply overuse syndromes. Left untreated or allowed to become chronic, these injuries can lead to osteoarthritis, and temporary or even permanent disability and the loss of function of the hands and/or arms. The most common muscle/tendon injury among massage therapists is RSI. The most common injury sites are the thumb, the wrist, and the forearm. This chronic injury is characterized by a gradual onset. The appearance of symptoms often occurs with a sudden and/or substantial increase in workload or a sudden decrease in time spent between massages. The primary symptom of overuse syndrome is diffuse achiness, tightness, and, or soreness in one part of the upper extremity rather than a sharp pain in one specific spot.

Other symptoms include loss of function and paraesthesia.

Tendinitis and Tenosynovitis are inflammatory conditions (of the tendon and tendon sheath, respectively) that have a more sudden onset. These injuries are caused by tearing (strain) of tendon fibers or irritation to the tendon sheath.

The clear presence of inflammation distinguishes these injuries from RSI. Among massage therapists, tendinitis and tenosynovitis are less frequent complaints than overuse syndrome.

The main symptom is localized pain. The affected area is often swollen and hot. With proper treatment and careful avoidance of reinjury, tendinitis and tenosynovitis tend to heal in a shorter period than overuse syndrome.

Muscle/tendon injury as a result of doing massage is more common among massage therapists than nerve impingement injury. The two most common nerve impingement injuries sustained by massage practitioners are carpal tunnel syndrome.

TOS refers to the impingement of nerves C8-T1 at the area of the base
of the neck, where the brachial plexus descends through the space between the first rib and the clavicle.

Massaging in unnatural postures or with unaligned joints is often the cause of CTS or TOS. Like repetitive strain (RSI), these injuries tend to develop slowly and can be triggered by a sudden increase in workload or decrease in time between massages.

Massage Therapy Association Information

Massage Therapy Association Information

As I start this topic, I realize how little I know about the USA Massage Therapy Industry. I did however find some great resources for my US friends to look up for these options.

Massage Therapy Education Hours

To become a Massage Therapist, you will need, in most cases, you will need anywhere from 500 hours to 3000 hours of Post Secondary Education.

In Canada, to become a Registered Massage Therapist, you will need to complete 2200-3300 hours from an Association approved College.

In the US, only 3 states have no requirements, however in order to belong to the American Massage Association, you will need to have a minimum of 500 hours. (If my research on this is wrong, could you PLEASE let me know, and I will correct it)!

Massage Associations

I have included the links for your convenience.

CANADA:

USA:

Massage Associations

Association Benefits

Why Belong to an Association?

Simply put, with the investment you’ve made into your Education, investing to belong to an Association, is the next, logical step. An Association gives you credibility. You are applying, and adhering to a set of standards. This gives clientele a confidence in you and your practice. (Even for those of you in areas with no education needed to practice, I encourage you to become Certified, and join an Association).

With these memberships there are other benefits as well.

  • Many offer Medical Benefit Packages
  • Ability to bill third party companies
  • MVA claims
  • Discounted banking (for some)
  • Continuing Education Options
  • And my personal favorite… the ability to get to know others in the industry, and form lasting friendships and contacts.

If you have any questions, or corrections, please leave me a comment!!

How long have you been a Massage Therapist? What Association(s) do you belong to?

Have an Awesome Day!!

Education Must Haves

Whether a student of a Massage Therapy Program, or have Graduated from one, these books are must haves to keep in your library!! Great for Reference, and Charting!

I’m a huge fan of Trail Guide to The Body. These guys have nailed it!

TRAIL GUIDE

Anatomy Simplified!!

Trail Guide makes learning Anatomy so easy!! (I wish this was the textbook that I had)! Diagrams and photos with proper anatomical terms done in a way everyone can grasp.

Canadian

US

 

 

Trail Guide Flashcards



These come in handy for testing yourself, each other, or as a group. Easy to pack, and carry only the ones you need.

Canadian Links:

Muscles

Skeletal

US Links:

Muscles

Skeletal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trail Guide to Movement

How do muscles move? What joints are involved? What ligaments? How does it all tie together
TG to Movement will give you these answers, and more. If you can see how it works, you can then identify common injury areas, and from there, treatment for the best benefit for your client!

Canadian Link

US Link

 

 

 

 

 

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