Monday, March 31, 2014

Why should I buy a Portable Massage Table?

Are you a massage therapist freshly out of school, looking for some freelance work and building a clientele? Are you a seasoned massage therapist planning to continue freelancing and wondering what type of massage table to invest in? Or you are a massage “connoisseur” and prefer to have massages from your favorite therapist within the comfort and privacy of your home, on your own massage table?

Choosing the right kind of massage table is perhaps the most important decision when it comes to massaging. The services of an excellent massage therapist can be wasted if the massage table is uncomfortable. Thus, if you want to give your clients a chance to experience your skill to the fullest, or if you want to enjoy the service of your massage therapist, then it becomes imperative that you put some effort in choosing the right massage table.

There are two basic types of massage tables – portable and stationary. Stationary massage tables are ideal for spas and salons, where there is no need to move the table here and there. These tables have thicker cushioning, storage cabinets and may have additional features such as tilt-top, face cradle, etc. Stationary tables, because of these extra features, can be quite expensive.

On the other hand, portable massage tables are the objects of choice for those therapists who prefer to travel to their clients’ place, offering them the convenience of personalized services within the privacy and comfort of their home. For marketing purposes, some therapists also prefer to put up stalls in local fairs, festivals etc. Some therapists prefer to work for a salon for some days of the week, and work as a freelancer for some other days. For all these cases, a portable massage table becomes the tool of choice. A good portable massage table will weigh less than 30 lbs, with a sturdy frame made of metal or wood. Such tables are generally designed to be easy to set up and break down, while ensuring stability at all times.

Always ensure that, though portable, the massage table is comfortable and does not wobble even slightly. Always look for high quality models, with at least 2.5 inches cushioning to help your clients relax comfortably. Portable tables are generally less expensive than stationary ones. You could also look for additional features such as adjustable height, durable carry case, soft polyurethane vinyl cushion, etc. Never compromise on the size of the table – some cheaper varieties are smaller in size. These can get really uncomfortable for heavier clients. The massage table should be at least 78”-83” in length (with head rest).

These portable tables, after folding, reduce to the size of a suitcase – typically about 40”x28”x10”. They can be as light as 27 pounds!

Do a bit of a market search before choosing your table, and use a massage table that is portable, lightweight, sturdy and comfortable, to enable your clients enjoy your services, without any distractions.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What is the Difference between a Spa Massage and a Therapeutic Massage?

Massage therapy is generally seen as a way to relax the body and mind, and considered a relaxing treat. However, massage therapy is much more than that. Massage therapy is actually a therapy that is finding increasing clinical use in treating certain chronic diseases and injuries. You will be surprised to know that massage therapy is even prescribed for palliative care for relief from cancer treatment symptoms!

A spa massage is a personal consumer service that is delivered to a client who wishes to indulge in a wellness regime. Therapeutic massage is medical care delivered to a patient, prescribed by a medical practitioner, in order to relieve the patient of certain symptoms or injuries. In a spa massage, the massage therapist uses a straightforward massage technique, and applies light to medium pressure to various parts of the client’s body, with the ultimate intent to help the client relax and re-energize. A spa massage can be a part of the overall services offered by a typical beauty salon. The technique is rather intuitive, without a thorough scientific basis, with the ultimate focus on client satisfaction. The main types of spa massages include the Swedish massage, circulatory massage, hot stone massage, and craniosacral massage.

Therapeutic massages are set up quite differently from a spa massage. These massages are done in hospitals, clinics, and private practice offices. Therapeutic massage uses advanced techniques based on scientific studies that are aimed at providing medical relief to a patient. Therapeutic massages are found to be useful for a number of chronic symptoms and injuries such as fibromyalgia, chronic body pains such as chronic back pain, palliative care massage, pediatric massage, massages to heal sports injuries, arthritis, certain accidents, and posture and weight issues. Therapeutic massages are usually given in multiple sittings, and can continue for months. The focus is on functional outcomes, rather than merely patient satisfaction. The main techniques for therapeutic massage include myofascial treatment, deep tissue massage, neuromuscular trigger point technique, muscle energy technique.

While choosing a massage therapist for your requirement (whether a wellness massage or a therapeutic massage), please keep these differences in mind. Expecting a therapeutic massage from a spa massage therapist might not provide you the expected results. The training a spa massage therapist receives is geared towards providing relaxation to the client, and she might not have sufficient understanding about advanced massage techniques used for therapeutic massages. Likewise, if you go to a therapeutic massage therapist for a mild pain, and expect to be given the kind of treatment you would receive at a spa, you might be wasting your time.

I hope this article helps you in making the right choice so that you can get the most out of your massage – be it spa or therapeutic.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Massage Oil, Massage Lotion or Massage Crème?

Massage oil, lotion and crème, all come under the category of massage lubricants. Massage lubricants, just like any other lubricant, are used to reduce friction, so as to allow your hands to smoothly glide on the skin of your client without causing you any discomfort. What type of massage lubricant to choose depends on several factors – personal preference, type of massage to be performed, and desired outcome.

Massage oil

Massage oils are the least viscous of all massage lubricants, and are free-flowing. Oils have been used for massages for thousands of years, and are time-tested. Almond oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil and jojoba oil are among the most popular. Oils do not contain any water, and hence are generally preservative-free. Since oils are liquids, they can easily spill and get messy. Oils can turn rancid, and it is recommended that you check the expiry date of the oil that you are using. Oils are also not absorbed by the body quickly. However, many massage therapists prefer using oils for massages due to various reasons: for long massages (60- or 90-minute massages), you have to come back to areas again and again. Since the oil just stays there (and is not absorbed quickly), it does not have to be replenished very often. This helps you in focusing more on the massage (and less on going back to the massage pump over and over again).

Massage lotion

Massage lotions have viscosity that is slightly higher than that of oils. Lotions have water added to them, and hence require some preservative to increase their shelf life. Lotions do not get as messy as oils, and a large part of it is generally absorbed into the skin. Hence, massage sessions that use lotions do not leave the body greasy and smelly, unlike an oil massage. Also, lotions do not stain your linens and clothes. However, since lotions absorb into the skin quickly, you need to use a much greater quantity of lotion to maintain the slickness of the skin.

Massage crème

These are the thickest, or most viscous, of all massage lubricants. These come in a tube or a jar, and are not pumpable. Hence, be doubly sure that you are using a fresh bowl to draw out the crème for your use. Some hygiene freaks, carry a massage crème of their own, and request the therapist to use it. Crèmes also have high absorption rate, and are easily absorbed by the skin. Crèmes do not leave the skin greasy, and are generally recommended for the face, and arms.

Depending on your own preferences and needs, decide on the massage lubricant of your choice. Remember that the lubricant just facilitates massaging, and should not be the real focus. Only a few considerations are sufficient to make the decision – the “oiliness” factor, care of linens, moisturizing effects and therapeutic properties.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Career as Massage Therapist: Pros and Cons

The size of the massage industry in the US is much larger than you might think. With an increase in the popularity of alternative medicine, there has been an ever increasing demand for massage therapy, and as a result, massage therapists. A certified massage therapist can find a good job in various sectors such as spas, hospitals, hotels and physiotherapy centres. What’s more, a massage therapist can even work as an independent professional and operate from home. Sounds interesting? Please go through this article and make an informed decision.

1. Becoming a certified massage therapist

You might have come across various programs that offer courses in massage therapy. What is important to consider here is whether the institute is nationally accredited. National accreditation means that the program (and the institute) has been evaluated by a competent authority to ensure that it offers high quality learning opportunities. Some questions you could ask before enrolling for a program are: Will I qualify to practice massage following my graduation? What are the steps to get licensed? Do I qualify to take the national certification exam after graduation? What is your placements statistics?

2. After graduation

After completing your course you need to make a choice – would you work for a third party (a spa, a cruise, a hotel, a hospital) or start your own practise.

Pros: if you really enjoy this work, you will never tire of working. It can be really encouraging when a client is visibly satisfied by your service and tells you how much s/he loves the style of your massaging. The hours of work are more often than not flexible. The pay is much better than the average, and can potentially increase beyond limits depending on your own skills, experience and location. And if you are working on your own, there is practically no investment and 100% profit!

Cons: After a few years of practise, you might start finding the work monotonous, and just not feel like doing it anymore. Apart from this “burn-out”, you might develop certain physical discomfort that might prevent you from practising – the Carpel Tunnel syndrome or a backache problem due to continuous bending for long periods of time. After all, there is a lot of physical effort that goes into practising massage therapy. The work might not be steady at all times, and you may take a hit during bad economic times – luxuries cannot prevail when the wallet is not as full.

3. Misconceptions about a massage therapist

At times, massage therapists may be mistaken for people who perform for pleasure only. This can be a sensitive issue for some. However, with an increase in state training and degree programs, and licensing requirements, massage therapists are now receiving more “official” recognition and enjoy more credibility with doctors. Physicians today are regularly recommending massage therapy for their patients, and recognizing the healing benefits of massage therapy.

In the end, it’s all about your personal preferences and priorities in life. If you feel comfortable with the profession as a massage therapist, do go ahead with it, and see your dreams fulfilled! You are most likely to start a career that will make you happy and satisfied for the rest of your life.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My recent experience with Massage Therapy

I went to a spa resort last weekend where I got a whole body massage. The experience was so exciting that I thought I’d share it with you in order to make you aware of the great effects and to motivate you to go for one yourself.

Working through the week, and resting through the weekend – this becomes the routine after a while, and things start getting monotonous. I’m sure this resonates with most of you. At a certain point of time, you desperately need a break! So, I took that much-needed break, and we went on a weekend getaway to a place about 100 miles from our home. This is a resort spa, and it has beautifully landscaped gardens with fountains, birds chirping, and geese flocking all over the place. Trust me, the place itself was truly invigorating.

I went for a whole-body massage there. This was a 90-minute session. The massage therapist first introduced herself, then went on to explain the massage she would be performing. She explained to me that I would be given a Swedish massage. Swedish massage is a relaxing type of massage, and does not involve lots of pressure. Those are therapeutic massages, and are performed by trained, licensed massage therapists. The therapist told me that she would be using a mix of medicated oils for lubrication during the massage.

The massage started with a head massage. I really liked the way the therapist did this. She first started with some gentle strokes, and then went on to slightly firmer movements. She told me that these movements warm up the scalp, releasing tension and promoting relaxation. Following the head massage, she went for the neck and shoulders, which she did well at. Following these initial massages, I was advised to lie down on a massage table face down. The therapist then started with the back and used a variety of massage strokes – kneading, stretching, tapping, and pressing. What came as a surprise to me was her use of a hot pouch-like thing that she kept placing over my back, while applying slight pressure. This one felt awesome. Following the back massage, the therapist went on to massage my legs and then my arms. This was extremely relaxing and I loved how perfectly she used her skill – the pressure she applied was just right!

It was actually after the massage session that I came to fully realize its true effects. That night, I slept like a baby! I could feel my entire body relax and feel refreshed the next day! There are great benefits attached to massage therapy. I definitely recommend for you to indulge in massages and pamper yourselves at least once a month or very other month. It’s just awesome!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Why do I need to drink lot of water after a massage?

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is an association serving massage therapists, massage students and massage schools, and works towards advancing the art, science and practise of massage therapy.

The AMTA provides various tips to get the most out of a massage. Interestingly, it recommends drinking extra water after a massage session. This tip is the same with any massage therapist you go to. They will always recommend that you drink a lot of water after a massage. This article will explore the reason for this recommendation. Is there a scientific basis for it, or just a myth that has been around, and so everybody recommends it? Let’s take a look.

One of the main benefits of getting a massage, especially deep tissue massage, is to detoxify the body. So, how exactly does the “detoxification” happen? Toxins are chemical substances that need to be physically thrown out of the system. During massaging, it is believed that toxins are pushed out of the cells, and into the blood stream. As you know, kidneys are the organs in our body that filter out toxins from the blood stream and throw them out of the body in the form of urine. Drinking lot of water helps in diluting the concentration of toxins in the blood stream, and eases the pressure on the kidneys to handle high concentrations of toxins.

However, according to massage therapist Tracy Walton, the detox benefit of massage therapy does not find firm research support. There is a need for systematic research to firmly establish the fact that massaging indeed causes the release of toxins from cells of the body.

That said, drinking water is essential to good health, and water is often associated with its ability to dilute the toxins present in the blood stream – whether or not due to massaging. Water also improves the capacity of the body to transport oxygen and other nutrients to all its cells. Thus, even though there might not be sufficient research evidence to prove that drinking water after massaging is necessary, just go with the fact that drinking lot of water is good for your health.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Can Anyone get a Massage?

Massage is known to be beneficial in improving blood circulation, accelerating healing, reducing stress, enhancing metabolism, and even improving cell growth. Given the many benefits of massaging, massage therapy is fast becoming a popular means for people to reinvigorate their mind and body. And, this popularity is uniformly distributed across the population, i.e. massage therapy is not only limited to a certain age group of people, or to only people of any specific occupation. Massages can be of many types, targeting different groups of people – babies, children, older people, and even pregnant women!

Let us take a look at the benefits each of these age groups can obtain from massage therapy, and how each type is different from the other.

1. Massage for babies

Infant massage is a proven technique to help improve sleep, relax the baby, strengthen its growing muscles and bones, improve digestion, and also reduce colic. Massage is also an excellent way to build a bonding between the mother or father and the baby by means of the touch therapy. Touching, stroking, and caressing also increases the levels of growth hormones and helps achieve various development milestones. Massaging a baby involves gentle stroking in each and every part of the baby’s body. Always make sure you are using baby oil, and that the room is sufficiently warm (since you will be taking off your baby’s clothes during massaging). Detailed descriptions about massaging babies of different ages are provided at

2. Massage for children

Children, as such, do not NEED massage, but massaging can be a good way towards the overall well-being of your child. Massaging infants is a relatively easy task, since an infant isn’t very mobile. But as the child grows, massaging her will depend on her own wish. Children’s attention spans are short, and they may not particularly like longer massage sessions. A short 15-minute massage that concentrates on the arms and legs, especially on the fingers and toes, and some amount of gentle massaging of the head would be sufficient for a child. Sometimes, the child might fall asleep during massaging, which is a good sign, indicating that the massage has created a soothing and relaxing effect on the child. Massaging has been found to be especially effective for children suffering from diseases such as diabetes, hyperactivity disorders, psychiatric problems, and autism as well. It is believed that the reduction in stress, and the improved blood circulation help alleviate the effects of these diseases to some extent.

3. Massage for older people

Just as good massage can be to an infant, it can benefit an elderly to the same extent. Massaging is known to improve cell growth and accelerate healing. Massaging helps keep elderly fit and active by having the mind and body function optimally. Massaging promotes healthy skin, boosts immune system functioning, reduces muscle tension and friction, reduces anxiety, stress, improves sleeping, enhances flexibility, and also helps in arthritis. The warmth that is created during the rubbing of the skin whilst massaging provides a soothing effect on the muscles of the elderly and relieves joint pains. It is highly recommended that the elderly receive regular massaging (at least once in a week) for their better health and overall sense of well-being.

4. Massage for pregnant women

All the benefits of massaging mentioned in the previous sections apply to a pregnant woman as well. However, there are certain precautions that need to be considered when massaging a pregnant woman.

A. Any form of massage or essential oil usage should be avoided during the first trimester.
B. Every massage session should be followed with good amount of water intake.
C. Avoid placing any pressure on the abdomen area.
D. There are certain pressure points on the ankles and the wrist that can stimulate uterine and pelvic muscles, and cause contractions. Be careful and avoid such areas.
E. Always use only gentle, light strokes
F. Discontinue immediately in case of ANY form of discomfort.
G. Always consult your medical practitioner before initiating massage therapy for a pregnant woman
H. Consider taking the services of a certified massage therapist.

Anyone can benefit really from massage therapy. Nobody is too young or too old to get their first massage.

Monday, March 3, 2014

How Can Massage Therapy Help Me?

Massage therapy is a general term for the various techniques used to manipulate the superficial and deeper layers of muscle and tissues by systematically applying pressure to various parts of the body. The purpose of massage therapy is to prevent or relieve pain. Massage therapy benefits people of all ages.

There can be different ways to administer massage therapy, some are listed here:

Swedish massage: This is a type of massage which starts from light pressure to medium pressure. It is a gentle form of massage. It helps to promote blood circulation and lymph movement. This type of massage is good for stress related conditions and also for chronic pain.

Deep tissue massage: This massage technique starts with a slower movement, but with more forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. Deep tissue massage is found to be very helpful in healing muscle injuries. It releases muscle tension and provides deep pain relief.

Sports massage: This type of massage is similar to Swedish massage. But it is mainly concerned with people who are involved in sports activities. This massage also helps to prevent or treat injuries occurred to sportsmen. It promotes flexibility and also decreases the risk of injuries. This massage improves endurance and reduces post-workout recovery time.

Trigger point therapy: This technique focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers and relieves the tight areas within muscle tissues.

Foot scrub therapy: This type of massage therapy mainly concentrates on the foot. It makes the feet smoother, hydrates and protects the feet. This type of massage also relieves foot pain and reduces any discomfort of the foot.

Therapists usually evaluate new patients by touching various strategic points to locate painful or tense areas and determine how much pressure to apply. The patient lies on the table either in loose fitting clothes or undressed (covered with a sheet, except for the area being massaged). Oil or lotion is used to reduce friction on the skin.

Some important benefits of massage therapy are as follows:

· Boosts immunity.
· Eases medication dependence.
· Relieves migraine pain.
· Improves blood circulation.
· Promotes tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissues and stretch marks.
· Reduces fatigue.
· Helps reducing pain and anxiety.
· Helps curing digestive disorders, headaches and sports injuries.
· Revitalizes the skin.
· Helps to relax and soften injured, tired and overused muscles.
· Improves concentration.
· Enhances sleep.
· Relieves back and neck pain.
· Promotes deeper breathing.
· Enhances skin tone and skin health.
· Increases and prompts joint flexibility.
· Creates a calm mind.
· Increases peace of mind.

Massage therapy is not only useful for our body, but also useful for our health and skin, and provides a holistic approach to well-being. When is your next massage appointment?