Massage therapists treat clients by using touch to manipulate the soft-tissue muscles of the body. With their touch, they relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, reduce stress, increase relaxation, and aid in the general wellness of clients.
Also known as: Medical Massage Therapist, Deep Tissue Massage Therapist, Clinical Massage Therapist, Registered Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Practitioner, Certified Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist
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Massage therapists typically do the following:
Massage therapists use their hands, fingers, forearms, elbows, and sometimes feet to knead muscles and soft tissue of the body to treat injuries and to promote general wellness. A massage can be as short as 5–10 minutes or could last more than an hour.
Therapists also may use lotions and oils, massage tables or chairs, and medical heat lamps when treating a client. They may offer clients information about additional relaxation techniques to practice between sessions.
Massage therapists can specialize in many different types of massage, called modalities. Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, and sports massage are just a few of the many modalities of massage therapy. Most massage therapists specialize in several modalities, which require different techniques. Usually, the type of massage given depends on the client’s needs and physical condition. For example, therapists may use a special technique for elderly clients that they would not use for athletes. Some forms of massage are given solely to one type of client; for example, prenatal massage is given to pregnant women.
Because therapists work by appointment in most cases, their schedules and the number of hours worked each week vary considerably. In addition to hours giving massages, therapists may also spend time recording patient notes, marketing, booking clients, washing linens, and other general business tasks.
Massage therapists work in an array of settings, both private and public, such as private offices, spas, hospitals, fitness centers, and shopping malls. Some massage therapists also travel to clients’ homes or offices to give a massage. Most massage therapists, especially those who are self-employed, provide their own table or chair, sheets, pillows, and body lotions or oils.
A massage therapist's working conditions depend heavily on the location and what the client wants. For example, a massage meant to help rehabilitate an injury may be conducted in a well-lit setting with several other clients receiving treatment in the same room. But when giving a massage to help clients relax, massage therapists generally work in dimly lit settings and use candles, incense, and calm, soothing music.
Because massage is physically demanding, massage therapists can injure themselves if they do not use the proper techniques. Repetitive-motion problems and fatigue from standing for extended periods are most common. Therapists can limit these risks by using good techniques, spacing sessions properly, exercising and, in many cases, receiving a massage themselves regularly.
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A massage therapist is a professional who performs massage and bodywork. The field of massage therapy is quite large, running the gamut from therapists who perform basic Swedish massage to people trained in more esoteric fields like trigger point.