At-Home Massage Therapy Training
There is no uniform set of guidelines for what training is necessary to become a massage therapist. The requirements vary by state, and some have no licensing or registration standards. Most states require 500 hours of classroom and hands-on training at an accredited school before a student can take a licensing exam. Some allow a mix of on-line and hands-on training, but few schools offer that combination. For an individual who wants to learn massage therapy techniques solely for her own non-professional use, there are a number of video and on-line training options.
Therapist's Physical Condition
Massage therapy involves manipulating muscles, bending joints and applying friction to a patient. These activities can stress the arms, hands, back, legs and skin of the therapist. It is quite common for massage therapists to injure themselves through repetitive motion, muscle or joint strain, or physical exhaustion. Before embarking on massage therapy training, be certain you are fit enough to not cause yourself injury undertaking the rigorous requirements.
Much of professional therapist training deals with identifying conditions in which massage should not be used, which are called contraindicated conditions.
Contraindications include, but are not limited to, a rash or raw skin condition, cancer and acute injuries. For at-home massage, only perform the procedure on healthy patients with no injuries.
While there are a number of massage therapy techniques, the one most commonly used in the U.S. is Swedish therapeutic massage. This procedure typically begins with a slow, relaxing application of oil, followed by muscle manipulation, friction and percussion (the signature slapping or chopping motion). Learning the proper techniques, pressure application and how to feel for knotted muscles are all part of the hands-on training in schools. Video courses might show the strokes, but it is important to develop a sense of feel for the techniques.
Most therapist training includes study of how to manipulate joints to improve range of motion. For example, this helps patients regain the ability to raise their arms over their heads, or to squat and return to standing comfortably after prolonged inactivity. If you find a video about this topic, use extreme caution before trying it before you have mastered the necessary skills. These videos are best used by a trained therapist who wants to brush up on the technique.
Many community colleges and non-credit programs offer short classes for fun, which are geared for healthy couples who want to spice up their lives rather than as a way to administer physical rehabilitation or therapy. Some hospitals and physical therapy clinics offer non-credit training for at-home caregivers to do support therapy. This type of training tends to be one-on-one and tailored to the needs of a specific patient.