What it Takes to Be a Successful Massage Therapist

Interested in becoming a massage therapist in as little as 5 months with full time enrollment? While attending a vocational school and taking a massage therapy training program, students learn Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, hot stone massage, prenatal massage, and sports massage therapy. But first, what does a massage therapist do on a day-to-day basis and what skills will make them successful?

What a Massage Therapist Does

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, massage therapists treat clients by using touch to massage the muscles and soft tissues of the body. Massage therapists relieve acute and chronic pain, help heal sports injuries, improve circulation, relieve stress and aid in the general wellness of clients. Massage therapists typically do the following:

  • Talk with clients about their symptoms, medical history and daily routines
  • Evaluate clients to locate painful or tense areas of the body
  • Massage muscles and soft tissues of the client’s body
  • Provide guidance on stretching, strengthening, overall relaxation, and how to improve posture
  • Document clients’ conditions and progress both on paper and electronically

What are the Skills that will Make a Massage Therapist Successful?

The skills that will make a massage therapist successful include communication, compassion, respect, safety, time management and trust. Having one or more of these skills is important for the massage therapist to be successful. For those that do not have all of these skills, attending a vocational school programs and externships are great ways to obtain these important massage therapy skills.

Communication – keeping an open line of communication with the client is important. The massage therapist will need to exchange information throughout the massage process for the them to best help the client. The massage therapist will need to know how the massage is progressing and to get feedback about the massage’s effectiveness after the session. The massage therapist also communicates with words, gestures and facial expressions. Nonverbal cues and body language will indicate to the massage therapist what the client is feeling. The massage therapist may interpret different non-verbal cues as a sign of discomfort or pain.

Compassion – the massage therapist will need to empathize with the client in order to give the client the best massage therapy available. The massage therapist will be sympathetic and concerned for the pain endured by the client and want to work to minimize it.

Respect – can be shown to the client through consideration exhibited by words and actions. The massage therapist will need to hold the session confidential and anything shared with the massage therapist will not be repeated. The breach of confidentiality is illegal as per HIPAA guidelines.

Safety – the massage therapist should protect the client from possible harm. The massage therapist must be well versed in anatomy and physiology, knowing the good and bad ways to manipulate soft tissue.

Time Management – the massage therapist must make the most of the allotted time they have to work with the client. The massage therapist must give the client their complete focus. The session should start and end on time and interruptions should not be allowed.

Trust – The client must trust the massage therapist during a massage therapy session. The massage therapist must also respect the client’s privacy. The client must trust that the massage therapist is doing what is in the best interest of the client. Trust grows throughout the relationship, one session at a time. If trust fails, the massage therapist must allow the client to refuse service and terminate the relationship if requested.

What are the Different Types of Massage?

The different types of massage that are taught during massage therapy training programs at vocational schools include Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, hot stone massage, prenatal massage, and sports massage therapy. Each type of massage will impact the client differently and it is up to the massage therapist to understand all techniques and pick the combination of massage that will be the greatest benefit for the client.

Swedish Massage – the foundation for many types of massage therapy. During a Swedish massage, the massage therapist will perform various massage strokes. The specific massage strokes include effleurage strokes, friction, petrissage strokes, tapotement strokes, and vibration. Swedish massage movements help warm up the muscle tissue. It can also help increase circulation, lengthen muscles, release tension and break up muscle knots. These massage movements are combined with joint movement to relax and energize the body.

Deep Tissue Massage – offers deep pressure to release muscle tension. Deep tissue massage focuses on the surroundings of muscles, bones and joints. This type of massage is used to improve posture and increase range of motion. It also helps break up scar tissue that forms in muscles from injury and repetitive motion.

Hot Stone Massage – the application of smooth, basalt mineral stones that are heated and combined with oil. Hot stone massage is designed to relieve muscle stiffness and reduce fatigue. The hot stones can be placed in many different places on the body depending on the area of the body that needs stress and fatigue relief. Massage therapists may hold the hot stones as they massage the body. The massage therapist can use long strokes, circular movements, vibration, tapping and kneading to assist in the relief of muscle tension. Hot stone massage can also relieve pain by increasing blood flow to the stiff muscles of the body, reduce spasms, increase flexibility and range of motion.

Prenatal Massage – Massage therapy performed during pregnancy. Typically, prenatal massage is performed in the second and third trimester when the client has the most strain on the body and back. Prenatal massage helps reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve fatigue, reduce headaches and help control blood pressure. Prenatal massage can relieve muscle aches and joint pains and improve labor outcomes.

Sports Massage Therapy – ideal for the treatment of injuries and to prevent injuries in the first place. This type of massage can help prepare athletes before an event and/or after the event to reduce recovery time. Sports massage therapy can be used for range of motion, tone, symmetry, increased circulation, balance of muscle and quality of posture. Sports massage therapy can reduce muscle tension, promote relaxation, reduce muscle hypertonicity, increase range of motion, decrease muscle stiffness, decrease muscle soreness, reduce swelling, and enhance athletic performance. Sports massage therapy is important for top athletes to perform at their best.

Did this information interest you in becoming a massage therapist? 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 5 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.

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*Completion time for this program is defined by 35 hours per week.

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