Choosing a specialty is one of the most exciting aspects of becoming a massage therapist. Do you have to pick a specialty as a massage therapist? Not at all. Many massage therapists work as “generalists” capable of delivering many massage techniques. However, some massage therapists choose a specialty allowing them to focus on specific techniques that offer specialized wellness benefits. The advantages of choosing a specialty after becoming a professional include:
- The ability to become proficient in a single technique.
- Maintaining a steady list of clients seeking a specialized treatment.
- Avoiding the need to purchase specialized equipment for various specialties.
There is no rule that says a massage professional needs to settle on one specialty before attracting clients. However, aspiring massage therapists should know that the popular specialties that are driving demand in the massage industry usually fall into many popular categories. Hot stone massage is unique, while deep tissue and other massage techniques are rooted in Swedish massage. It’s important for anyone considering this career field to be familiar with all massage techniques as they plot their training and educational journeys. Rest assured that no student in training at a reputable institute will get through the program without learning how to safely and effectively perform both hot stone therapy and deep tissue therapy.
Which Is Better: Hot Stone or Deep Tissue?
Both options are considered highly desirable specialties. In fact, there really is no “right” or “wrong” answer when it comes to choosing one. However, both offer different benefits that could ultimately make one option more attractive than the other to someone who is plotting out a career path in the healing arts.
It’s important to remember that choosing a specialty should involve many different factors. First, you should consider what you enjoy doing. This is important because the enthusiasm that you bring to the table enables you to be better at your jobs. Next, you should consider what you are good at. It’s not uncommon for a massage therapist to discover that they simply have a talent for one method. The good news is that training programs give you the opportunity to try both hot stone and deep tissue techniques to gain an understanding of how you feel about both.
Next, you can decide which specialty stands to be the more lucrative option. The popularity of hot stone versus deep tissue is sometimes regional. For instance, a massage therapist working in a resort location may get more requests for hot stone treatments simply because this is a more exotic and relaxing option. A massage therapist working in a traditional suburban setting may find that deep tissue treatments are highly requested simply because people need help working out everyday aches, pains, and strains. While both hot stone and deep tissue techniques are covered thoughtfully during training, it’s helpful for anyone considering this career path to have a basic understanding of both.
What Is Hot Stone Massage?
A hot stone massage shares much in common with any traditional massage. However, there are some added elements that make this a truly extraordinary therapeutic experience for your clients. Hot stone treatment involves the use of something called basalt river rock on various points of the body. The purpose of the rocks is that they allow you to apply deeper, more targeted pressure without any worries of causing pain. Prior to a session, the rocks are heated for added comfort and relaxation. The smoothness of river rocks also helps to create a soothing experience.
The perk of a hot stone therapy is that the recipient becomes immersed in deeper states of relaxation from a combination of deeper movements and the soothing effect of hot stones. You may find that the heat that is contained within the heated rocks actually releases slowly with each movement to help relax the muscles on a deeper level. A professionally trained expert always takes time prior to a session to learn about the places within the body where a client is experiencing soreness and tension. This enables you to strategically place the stones in “problem areas” that need to be addressed. However, stones are typically arranged down the center of the spine as part of a traditional hot stone treatment. Some experts claim that hot stone therapy can be used for relieving stress, helping with symptoms of stress and anxiety, managing depression, soothing sore muscles, and providing relief from chronic pain.
Clients should really trust you when it comes to hot stone therapy. In fact, clients often want to know if there’s a risk of being burned when using hot stones. As a certified massage therapist, you have the training necessary to safely and effectively heat these stones to ensure that they are warm and soothing without creating any dangers. When done properly, hot stones will not burn or cause any negative side effects.
What Is Deep Tissue Massage?
Deep tissue massage is a classic therapeutic method that helps clients around the world enjoy pain relief and relaxation. In fact, it is commonly used to treat both musculoskeletal issues and sports injuries. What makes deep tissue stand out from other massage techniques is that it addresses the deepest layers of a client’s muscles, fascia, and tendons. During a deep tissue massage session, you will apply slow, firm pressure over and over to help release muscle tension. Like all forms of massage therapy, deep tissue massage is most effective when you spend time communicating with a client to learn about any pain points, injuries, or strains that need to be addressed. Deep tissue massage has been credited with improving circulation, reducing pain, increasing range of motion, and stopping inflammation. Many clients also find that deep tissue massage helps to improve circulation to speed up the healing of injuries.
What Is the Main Difference Between Hot Stone Massage and Deep Tissue Massage?
The biggest difference between hot stone and deep tissue comes down to intention. Deep tissue is focused on helping a client to “work out” areas that are affected by chronic and recurring pain and injury. Hot stone is focused on helping a client to relax tight muscles. Both offer benefits for relieving pain, removing tension, inducing relaxation, improving circulation, and boosting mood. Of course, the other obvious difference is that deep tissue massage does not use hot stones. During regular massage therapy, you use your hands to apply pressure to various areas of the body. With hot stone therapy, the pressure is applied using stones to increase pressure. However, that doesn’t mean that some “specialty” touches can’t be added to deep tissue techniques. Deep tissue therapy is often accompanied by cupping, massage tools, and aromatherapy to create a holistic experience.
One last thing that hot stone and deep tissue have in common is that both should be performed by a licensed massage therapist. In fact, all trained massage therapists are instructed on how to perform both massage techniques safely and effectively. These trained experts then have the choice to specialize in hot stone, deep tissue, or a combination of both.
How to Become a Massage Therapist
Becoming an expert in the therapeutic and healing arts is one of the most satisfying career choices you can make. The journey begins with the right education for becoming a certified massage therapist. Generally, an easy way to become a licensed and qualified professional capable of legally offering services and treatments is to enroll in a vocational program for massage therapy. While deep tissue and hot stone are two areas of focus, the truth is that they only scratch the surface of the knowledge that is gained in a massage therapy program. This program covers core topics that include anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, kinesiology, pathology for massage, and much more. In fact, aspiring massage therapists are even trained in in-demand massage techniques that include Swedish massage, chair massage, sports massage, prenatal massage, and much more. However, an education in massage therapy doesn’t end with learning techniques, programs also cover the topics of health, hygiene, and safety.
Massage therapists in training can also expect to learn the essentials of running a business. This is useful because you may work your way up to management and leadership roles at spas and wellness practices. You may decide to begin your own massage businesses because you enjoy the freedom and flexibility of managing your own client lists based on their availability. The cornerstone of any massage therapy program is a hands-on clinical lab that enables you to run a spa. It all comes together to make you fully prepared to become licensed massage therapists capable of meeting the expectations of clients.
Massage Therapy Program
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. Our massage therapy training program is designed as a holistic program that will prepare students to focus on body mechanics of their patients 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.