Did you know that massage therapy is both a science and an art? Far from being just a luxurious way to spend one”s time, there are sound scientific principles behind the practice and benefits of massage. First of all, the process of becoming a certified massage therapist requires study and training. At the same time, a successful client-therapist relationship is nurtured through an approach that is closer to art than science.
The Science of Massage Therapy Not everyone can become a professional massage therapist. Many states require licensing before one can practice massage therapy as a business. Massage therapists need to complete hundreds of hours of classroom instruction using an approved curriculum. In addition to massage theory and application, massage therapy classes cover human anatomy, physiology, kinesiology (study of human movement), and pathology. Massage therapists are expected to know how muscles, nerves, tendons, bones and joints work together in the human body. They study the effects of injury, stress and pain on physical and emotional well-being, as well as overall health. They are familiar with medical terminology and use this knowledge to help patients with chronic or temporary medical conditions. Massage therapists also receive instruction in injury prevention and practices to aid in physical rehabilitation and the relief of specific conditions. Some may even take specialized classes in skin health and nutrition. In addition to formal classroom instruction, massage therapists are licensed only after they accumulate hours of practical experience in a supervised environment. Many accredited schools have their own clinics where students get hands-on training, under the watchful eye of qualified instructors.
The Art of Massage Therapy Massage therapy doesn’t simply involve manipulation of muscles to achieve relaxation and pain relief. It also requires that the therapist essentially listen with their hands and offer an environment that provides compassionate care to their client. The massage therapist thus blends science and art toward the goal of providing a total experience. Several elements go into a successful massage. Among these are the layout and appearance of the therapy room, sensory details such as the touch of the sheets, the scents of aromatherapy oils, and the sound of soothing music in the background. During a massage session, the therapist uses her hands to find areas that need specific attention and adapts her techniques to meet those needs. As with art, the experience is different for each client and even for each session. Each massage therapist blends science and art by using her knowledge, skills and ability to relate with her client to provide the best benefits every time. The result is an overall encounter that soothes both the body and mind.