Twenty years ago, it was almost impossible to find a place to get a massage. Small massage studios were pretty much non-existent and massage was billed only as a pampering treat and relegated to high end spas or found in very low-end and very sketchy red light hovels.
Fast forward to today and it’s a very different picture. Now massage is available in many more places. Literally everything about massage has changed, from the people giving the treatments to the readiness of the clients. Here’s a short list of five reasons why the massage you get today will likely be a LOT better than one you received 20 years ago.
- Better training. Like any profession, massage therapy requires specialized, thoughtful training provided by reputable schools. Not long ago, there were very few regulations governing massage schools. Just about anyone could open one. But over the years, massage schools have begun to fall under the same scrutiny as other public and private institutions. As a result, many schools closed and the strongest flourished. In the early 1970’s, the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) was founded for the purpose of improving education and training. It was recognized by the US Dept. of Education and in 1998 became the only recognized accrediting agency certified by the International Organization for Standardization. Nowadays, several major massage schools have earned ACCET accreditation. The cream of the crop schools, such as California’s National Holistic Institute, hold ACCET accreditation as well as approvals by their respective states to operate as a private post-secondary school. NHI students, like their public university counterparts, also qualify for Pell Grants and other funding programs, too. All this adds up to the highest quality training possible. Do you know where YOUR massage therapist was trained? If not, you should ask.
- There’s a licensing exam. Until very recently, many states did not require massage therapists to pass a competency exam to earn licensing or certification. Today, a professional exam is now required in many states (but not all) in order to become a “Certified Massage Therapist” (CMT) and to get a license to work or do business. The nationwide professional exam is called the MBLEx, an acronym for Massage and Body Licensing Examination. It’s a challenging, well constructed evaluation tool created with input from many medical and wellness professionals (including experienced massage therapists) and governed by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). Ask your therapist if they’ve passed the MBLEx.
- More opportunities for specialization and continuing education. Today’s massage therapists have many options for continued learning and skill development after they complete an accredited education program. Therapists can specialize in an area of massage targeting specific populations, such as oncology massage (for cancer patients), pediatric massage, massage for seniors, or sports massage. Or learn more about massage techniques, like trigger point therapy, neuromuscular therapy, active release techniques (ART), Thai massage, and many more. Therapist also have access to advanced “graduate” courses. Ask your massage therapist if they have completed any continuing education courses.
- More research. Since it’s beginnings around 3000BCE, the practice of massage has been in and out of the public eye. For a long time, massage was known, but not really talked about, and certainly not much research was conducted. That’s continuing to change now. Thousands of studies have now been conducted about everything from the effects of massage therapy on surgery recovery, to the benefits of massage for helping people with PTSD. There’s even a Massage Therapy Foundation dedicated to collecting, and championing, massage therapy research. There are also professional journals, such as the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, highlighting current research. All this research continues to improve the practice of massage. Check out the MTF website and read a few articles, you might find yet another reason to visit your local massage therapist!
- More knowledgeable public. The final reason why your massage might be better today? Your own education and awareness about massage. Now that much more information is available on the web, and many hospitals and medical professionals are recommending massage as an integral part of recovery or treatment, people are more information about massage and seek it out more. Insurance companies are beginning to wake up, too, and some offer massage benefits now. About one in four people will get a massage this coming year, with many of those opting for regular massage appointments to maintain wellness.
While much has changed in education and awareness, one thing that has not changed is the dedication and passion for the work among therapists. Massage therapists are all about helping you with pain relief, promoting relaxation, and making a positive change in your mind, body and spirit. Find a qualified massage therapist today and support your local business!