The Healing Powers of Massage Therapy

Massage instructor discussing healing benefits of massage

You’ve probably heard about the healing benefits of massage therapy services. In fact, there’s a huge body of medical research that supports the use of massage therapy for healthy mind and body. In addition to the “healing” aspect, people often forget about the myriad of ways bodywork therapy can enhance performance for athletes and others who need to stay in top shape to do their jobs.

This ancient treatment also has the ability to help injured patients recover and get back on track. Finally, one of the most common forms of therapy, Swedish massage, simply aims to deliver a full-body relaxation effect for stressed muscles and minds. As licensed massage therapists, we have the potential to make every client’s life better in many different ways.

List of Styles You Should Know

While everyone seems to know a few of the major benefits of getting a massage, the list of what this ancient bodywork can do is quite long. Below is a summary of the key points, which includes not just well-known forms of massage to assist the human body and mind, but several techniques that you have likely not heard of.

Each method (called a “modality” of treatment by massage therapists) is briefly described. Even if you won’t be offering every form in your practice, it’s important to know a little about each type and what it does for clients.

Acquaint yourself with the list and decide which specific treatment methods might fit in with the kind of practice you hope to build. Remember, most professionals offer three or more kinds of massage therapy, but some specialize in just one type of treatment, like Swedish, sports or chair massage:

Swedish, or Relaxation Massage

By far, this is the most common form of massage offered and asked for in clinics and private offices. Swedish massage is a whole-body technique that kneads muscles, strokes the skin and delivers general relaxation to tired, sore bodies.

Deep Tissue

This modality uses a higher level of pressure than others form of massage. It’s mainly for clients who have chronic soreness, injuries, or even balance problems. Deep tissue is a more intense form of Swedish and includes slower strokes with deeper, fuller finger pressure.

Sports Massage

This method has two basic purposes, depending on the client. It can be used to help injured muscles recover or to make muscles more supple and ready to perform at a higher level of competition. Many “weekend athletes” need sports massage to help heal repetitive injuries from their activity.

Chair, or Seated Massage

Often called “corporate massage,” seated therapy is a fully clothed system for treating everyday tension in the neck, back and arms. It’s really a “disguised” form of Swedish massage done while the client is on a special chair.

Trigger Point

When people have muscle pain and chronic injury-related conditions, trigger point helps activate small areas within the tissue in order to relive soreness in other areas.

Thai Massage

Quite different from all other items on this list, Thai massage is actually a combination of assisted stretching, massage, and yoga techniques. It’s done on a mat rather than a table, and clients are fully clothed. Thai styles of treatment are becoming more popular as people begin to seek out more “active” types of massage therapy.


This is a specialized treatment for pregnant women who want to get relief from typical aches and pains that occur during the months before delivery. Think of it as a gentler version of Swedish, but it does have its own set of protocols and techniques as well.

Healing Benefits of Massage Therapy

Besides knowing about the common forms of massage therapy, it’s also essential to know the healing benefits of massage therapy. All the different styles will help you deliver healing and relaxation to your clients. Every “body” is different, but after you are in practice for several months, you’ll begin to notice a pattern about how people respond to your type of treatment.

Above all, you’ll notice that when you tell people you are a massage therapist, they will typically ask you about the benefits of massage. Be ready to educate them on this key point because they are, in effect, asking you why they should hire you as their masseur/masseuse. Pro tip: if you want to get fancy on your business card and use the traditional form of wording, it’s “masseuse” for a female practitioner and “masseur” for a male massage therapist.

Massage Goes Beyond Physical Healing

The beauty of massage as a form of therapy is that it affects much more than the physical anatomy; it delivers positive benefits to our emotional and mental states as well. How does massage heal, empower, sharpen and strengthen the mind and body? In other words, what are the primary reasons people seek out massage therapists on a regular basis?

Healing With Massage Therapy

Clientele can benefit from massage therapy. Some of the advantages include whole-body pain relief, stress relief, increased circulation, regulation of blood pressure, boosted immunity, improve posture and flexibility, offers physical, emotional and mental relaxation, and speeds up injury recovery.

Whole-Body Pain Relief

This is the most common benefit of massage therapy. Whether the pain is mild or chronic, results from an injury or everyday activity, massage has the power to bring general pain relief to the entire body. Using targeted pressure, the massage therapist helps clients relax and get both short- and long-term pain relief.

Stress Relief

Many clients fall asleep during a full-body massage. That’s how relaxing a typical session can be. But for long-term stress relief, massage delivers the goods. People who receive massage regularly are better able to deal with stress, have less of it and are generally more content. For example, when someone has a massage once per month, the brain learns to release pain-killing endorphins into the bloodstream on a regulated basis, causing a lasting effect that helps eliminate common types of emotional stress.

Increased Circulation and Regulation of Blood Pressure

One of the best-known benefits of massage is better blood circulation. By stimulating the skin and muscles, eliminate waste products from the system and generally enhance the efficiency of blood flow, massage therapy can lower blood pressure and improve many of the body’s key functions.

Boosts Immunity

When the lymph system is in good condition, the human body is able to fight off colds, flu and other sickness more effectively. Massage helps stimulate the flow of fluid within the lymph system and thus boosts the immune system in most people. People who receive regular massage get fewer colds, illnesses and infections of all kinds.

Improves Posture and Flexibility

Both Swedish and sports massage can help improve overall posture and whole-body flexibility. Some people seek out massage for these reasons alone. In conjunction with a regular stretching routine, many adults find that massage helps keep muscles pain-free and allows for a fuller range of motion in all the limbs and torso.

Brings Physical, Emotional and Mental Relaxation

Massage has the ability to activate the body’s parasympathetic nerves. That means the emotions get relief alongside the physical body. This benefit can also be achieved through meditation, yoga, tai chi or deep abdominal breathing. The kneading motions of massage bring physical relief and the combined effect often has the power to soothe the mind by quelling negative thoughts.

Speeds Up Injury Recovery

Because massage can enhance circulation, relax the muscles, improve posture, increase flexibility and boost the immune system, doctors routinely prescribe regular sessions with a massage therapist for injured clients. Massage decreases recovery time for most major forms of injury.

Which Healing Methods Should You Offer?

A full list of the benefits of massage therapy along with a description of the most common forms of treatment used by working professionals today. Many new practitioners experiment with different modalities in an effort to find what is best for the clients they have in their first years of practice.

If, for example, you mainly treat referrals from a doctor who specialized in cancer treatment, you might want to specialize in Swedish massage to bring general pain relief to people undergoing chemotherapy. Or, if your clientele consists of young adults who are active in competitive sports, then sports massage would be a must to have on your “menu” of services. Likewise, if you choose to work in the resort industry or on a cruise ship, you’ll need to be adept at all the main forms of massage because your clients will come in all ages, sizes, shapes and levels of fitness.

The choice is yours. After just a few months as a professional massage therapist, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you want to specialize in and what your most frequent clients need. After that, your new career can go in just about whatever direction you want it to.

Want to Learn More?

Did this information about the benefits of massage therapy interest you? If you are interested in the healing powers of massage, you can begin your career in massage therapy at Minnesota School of Cosmetology. Our short-term massage therapy training program is designed to be completed in as little as 13 months with full time enrollment. Our massage therapy training program is designed as a holistic program that will prepare students to focus on body mechanics of their clients as well as develop positive habits for the therapist. Together, those two areas will provide a foundation that can lead to longevity in the career field.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist and starting a rewarding career in the massage industry.

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