Careers: Massage Therapy
Massage therapy involves the manipulation of muscle and connective tissue to promote circulation of blood, relieve muscle tension, induce relaxation and encourage healing. A therapist may use her hands, forearms, elbows, feet and even warm stones. Plant essential oils may be added to the massage oils to enhance relaxation and to augment relief of pain and inflammation.
There are a number of types of therapeutic massage ranging from the long, kneading strokes of Swedish massage to the deep bodywork developed by Ida Rolf to acupressure, an Asian technique that stimulates key acupuncture points.
Since day one, humans have likely used touch to relieve suffering and to provide comfort and pleasure. Ancient texts from Egypt, Asia, India, Greece and Rome refer to therapeutic massage. Europeans have also long enjoyed massage. Swedish massage techniques eventually spread to America. Massage therapy is now quite popular. The 2007 National Health Interview Survey estimated that 18 million adults and 700,000 children enjoyed massage therapy during the previous year.
Primary Reference: Massage Therapy. MedicineNet.com. Retrieved April 13, 2011 from www.medicinenet.com/massage_therapy/page2.htm#history.
In the U.S., massage therapists are licensed. After completing training, would-be massage therapists must pass an examination such as those offered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. In Colorado, massage therapists must register with the Department of Regulatory Agencies. Practitioners are variously referred to as Certified Massage Therapist (CMT), Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) and Licensed Massage Practitioner (LMP).
Make sure the school you attend is regulated and approved by the Colorado Division of Private Occupational Schools, Department of Higher Education for certification. Certification requires a minimum of 500 hours of training at an accredited institution. Schools in Colorado often provide 600 to 800 hours of training. Tuition ranges from $6,000 to about $12,000. Scholarships and financial aid may be available.
Here is a partial list of massage schools in the Denver-Boulder area:
Colorado School of Healing Arts
7655 W. Mississippi Avenue, Suite 100
Lakewood, CO 80226
Denver Integrative Massage School fuses training in Western massage with Thai yoga massage techniques. Students can also take individual classes in Thai yoga massage.
2416 West 32nd Avenue
Denver, CO 80211
You can also email the school's founder Hillary Olsen Hilliard.
Massage Therapy Institute
1441 York Street
Denver, CO 80206
Massage therapists may work in clinics alongside chiropractors and physical therapists. They may work in spas, corporate settings, group practices or solo practices. Salaries vary depending upon the exact location, experience and marketing savvy of the therapist, hours worked, etc. Indeed.com estimates the annual income of a massage therapist practicing in Denver at $61,000.
Linda B. White, M.D. is a freelance writer, the coauthor of The Herbal Drugstore and Kids, Herbs & Health and is a visiting assistant professor in the Integrative Therapeutic Practices Program at MSU Denver.