Massage Therapy involves any technique in which touch is used to manipulate tissues in the body for health benefits. The use of massage has been traced back to a wide range of Ancient civilizations including China, Egypt, Greece, India, Japan, and Rome. Some cultures such as those of China and India have been using massage for thousands years to promote healing. Biblical references date massage with olive oil back to 493 B.C.
The commonly known Swedish Massage technique was introduced in the United States in the mid-1800s by two New York physicians, back from a trip to Sweden. Since then, massage therapy has become increasingly widespread across the U.S. and many types of massage have evolved into an established and regulated practice throughout the country. Numerous types of massage that have become very popular including Thai Massage, Shiatsu, Swedish Massage, Abyanga Massage, and Reflexology, to name a few. Massage is offered as a medical service in the Olympics and is being utilized in business organizations, elderly facilities, hospitals, corporations, spas and even at U.S. Department of Justice.
There are over 70 different types of massage therapy. In all of them therapists press, rub, or manipulate the muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments, skin, fat, or other soft tissues of the body, often varying in pressure, movement and rhythm. To do this they often use their hands and fingers, but may use their forearms, knees, elbows, or feet as well. Typically, the intent is to increase delivery of blood and oxygen to the massaged areas, soften tissue, increase range of motion, relax the nervous system, break up stagnation and decrease pain.
Numerous research studies conducted in the United States, Europe, and Asia have documented that far beyond simply ’feeling good’ massage therapy has an impressive range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Massage reduces the effects of stress and anxiety, relaxes tense muscles, increases blood circulation, decreases chronic pain, strengthens the immune system, and can improve nerve function and skin tone. There are numerous other benefits including: lower blood pressure, reduced swelling and headaches, improved sleep, increased concentration, straighter posture, relief of cramps and muscle spasms, and a sense of well-being. Since massage therapy involves physical manipulation of the body, it is essential that an individual consults a well trained professional to avoid injury.
Professional massage therapists are required to have 330 to 1000 contact hour credits, depending on state regulations. Massage therapists can attend any number of schools accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (CoMTA), with courses ranging from a few weeks to 2 years or more, depending on the specialization.
Credentials and Regulation Bodies
The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation and individual states are responsible for the regulation of massage therapy. 37 states and the District of Columbia require licenses to practice massage therapy. In order to obtain a license a practitioner must complete the required hours of contact training as well as pass the state board exam.
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) and Hands On Trade and are three of the largest professional associations for licensed massage therapists.
Massage Therapy sessions can last from 30 minutes to one and a half hours. Average costs per hour range from $60 to $100 depending on the type of massage and the practitioner's experience level.
To learn more about massage therapy, visit the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) or Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP)or Hands On Trade Association (HOTA).