Massage is not JUST massage anymore.
Updated: Aug 26, 2019
There is no denying that massage therapy has been growing in popularity over the past decade here in Florida and around the country. This means it is fairly easy to find a licensed massage therapist; they seem to be on every corner in some cities. This brings up a point I would like to make. “One size does not fit ALL”, or “One type of massage does not fit all”. There are many, many, many different types of massage therapy out there to choose from, many of which are specialties that have been developed to work with specific issues one might encounter. The key is to find what is right for YOU.I have been a Florida licensed massage therapist for 12 years, and have chosen a path of learning various specialties. Here is a little tour of the process to becoming a therapist. To begin with, I had to attend a basic 750 hour (11month) course of study that included massage theory along with anatomy and physiology studies. In the last portion of our program I was then also required to complete massages that were offered to the public by our school’s clinic. After the completion of our program, I was required to pass a licensing exam. Beyond passing the board exam, the state of Florida requires us therapists to complete 24 hours of continuing education units (CEU) every 2 years to maintain our licenses.
For many massage therapists it is sufficient to complete school and the base mandatory CEUs. Often it is because the level of education received supports the kind of practice they wish to have. For many others it is due to limited finances, as continuing education courses aren’t always inexpensive or close by. (There are many more reasons why therapists keep with the minimum, but these two are among the most common that I have heard from colleagues.)
In this competitive market, it is becoming clearer to us therapists that we must stand out more. Also, as the general public becomes more aware and educated about massage therapy and its benefits, individuals are becoming more aware of their specific needs. We must continually increase our level of education to meet those needs. As a result, many therapists will invest into their future and will go way beyond that basic level education to expand their knowledge base and/or to specialize in a particular field or modality. That is not to say that a relaxation massage can be taken for granted, as it is still highly effective for many issues and ailments. However, in many cases it is no longer enough to help with many of the body issues, stressors, and demands facing our bodies these days.
Some of the many specialties people will seek out include Neuromuscular Massage Therapy, Myofascial Release Therapy, CranioSacral Therapy, (Manual) Lymphatic Drainage Therapy, Reiki, Lomi Lomi, Sports Massage, Pregnancy Massage, Infant Massage, Reflexology, Postural Integration, Rolfing, etc. The list goes on and on. Without going into the details about what each of these massage modalities do or how they work, I would like to point out that these specialties requires additional training and some even require an additional certification process. This being said, it is easy to see that massage therapy isn’t JUST massage therapy any more.
If you haven’t tried massage yet, go for it and see what you’ve been missing. If you have and you love it, stay with it. If you need something specific, do your research and find a local therapist that might be able to help.
Nicole Longwell LMT, CHMLDT, owner of Longwell Massage Therapy, Inc. Contact: (727) 742-5313 www.longwellmassagetherapy.com.