Massage Therapist Jobs
Massage therapy is the practice of using touch to manipulate the soft-tissue muscles of the body. It is performed for a variety of reasons, including treating painful ailments, decompressing tired and overworked muscles, reducing stress, rehabilitating sports injuries, and promoting general health. Clients often seek massage for its medical benefit and for relaxation purposes, and there is a wide range of massage treatments available.
Massage therapists may specialize in more than 80 different types of massage, called modalities. Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, reflexology, acupressure, sports massage, and neuromuscular massage are just a few of the many approaches to massage therapy. Most massage therapists specialize in several modalities, which require different techniques. Some use exaggerated strokes ranging the length of a body part, while others use quick, percussion-like strokes with a cupped or closed hand. A massage may be as long as 2 hours or as short as 5 or 10 minutes. Usually, the type of massage given depends on the client’s needs and physical condition. For example, therapists may use special techniques for elderly clients that they would not use for athletes, and they would use approaches for clients with injuries that would not be appropriate for clients seeking relaxation. Also, some forms of massage are given solely to one type of client; for example, prenatal massage and infant massage are given to pregnant women and new mothers, respectively.
Massage therapists work by appointment. Before beginning a massage therapy session, therapists conduct an informal interview with the client to learn the person’s medical history and desired results from the massage. This interview gives therapists a chance to discuss which techniques could be beneficial to the client and which could be harmful. Because massage therapists tend to specialize in only a few areas of massage, customers will often be referred to or seek a therapist with a certain type of massage in mind. Based on the person’s goals, ailments, medical history, and stress-related or pain-related problem areas, a massage therapist will conclude whether a massage would be harmful and if not, move forward with the session. While giving the massage, therapists alter their approach or concentrate on areas of particular discomfort as necessary.
Many modalities of massage therapy use massage oils, lotions, or creams to massage and rub the client’s muscles. Most massage therapists, particularly those who are self-employed, supply their own table or chair, sheets, pillows, and body lotions or oils. Most modalities of massage require clients to be covered in a sheet or blanket and to be undressed or wear loose-fitting clothing. The therapist exposes only the body part being massaged. Some types of massage are done without oils or lotions and are performed with the client fully clothed.
Massage therapists must develop a rapport with their clients if repeat customers are to be secured. Because those who seek a therapist tend to make regular visits, developing a loyal clientele is an important part of becoming successful.
Work environment. Massage therapists work in an array of settings, both private and public: private offices, studios, hospitals, nursing homes, fitness centers, sports medicine facilities, airports, and shopping malls, for example. Some massage therapists also travel to clients’ homes or offices to provide a massage. It is common for full-time massage therapists to divide their time among several different settings, depending on the clients and locations scheduled.
Most massage therapists give massages in dimly lit settings. Using candles and/or incense is not uncommon.
Ambient or other calm, soothing music is often played. The dim lighting, smells, and background noise are meant to put clients at ease. However, when visiting a client’s office, a massage therapist may not have those amenities. The working conditions depend heavily on a therapist’s location and what the client wants.
Because massage is physically demanding, massage therapists may succumb to injury if the proper technique is not used. Repetitive-motion problems and fatigue from standing for extended lengths of time are most common. These risks may be limited by the use of good techniques, proper spacing between sessions, exercise, and, in many cases, by the therapists themselves receiving a massage on a regular basis.