Once just thought of as a spa indulgence, the benefit from massage therapy is now known to be so much more. It runs the gamut from being a stress buster to a way to relieve cancer-related pain. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), “massage is good medicine.”
We know that medicine’s goal is to relieve symptoms and improve health. Massage therapy does both … naturally. As more people choose to live a healthier lifestyle and prefer a more holistic approach to health care and pain management, the demand for licensed massage therapists grows. According to O*NET OnLine, the career outlook for massage therapists is expected to grow at a much faster rate than average. In Florida, the need for massage therapists is projected to increase by 29 percent through 2024.
How massage therapy works
By triggering an involuntary – but expected – relaxation response from the nervous system, massage can produce physical and emotional benefits. This causes your heart and breathing rates to slow down and your blood pressure and stress hormones to decrease. When these things occur, the negative effects of stress – such as high blood pressure, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, frequent headaches and low back pain – can often improve.
When pressure is applied to soft tissue during a massage, it improves blood and lymph circulation and can lead to a reduction of swelling. Massage can also reduce nerve compression and relax muscles, preventing contractions and spasms. Ultimately, it also helps organs function better. The AMTA says that 43 percent of those who received a massage in the previous year did it for medical reasons – both physical and mental.
Take a look at how you can benefit from massage therapy:
- Minimizes low back pain
If you suffer from chronic low back pain, the second-most common neurological complaint in the United States, you have probably tried many ways to get relief. It’s also the most common cause of job-related disability. When inflammation causes the muscles in the back to spasm and impede mobility, massage can help reduce the pain by improving circulation, relaxing muscles, increasing endorphins (the “feel-good” chemicals) and improving sleep.
- Relieves cancer-related pain
The benefit of massage therapy for those with cancer-related pain is vast. It can help relieve the side effects of chemotherapy – including nausea and extreme fatigue – and generally enhance a patient’s quality of life. Used alongside traditional medical treatments, massage therapy can help patients mentally cope with their illness. Reflexology massage that manipulates the feet aids cancer-related neuropathy pain, and lymphatic drainage massage increases the flow of lymph so that toxins are flushed out of the body.
- Helps sufferers of frequent headaches
Stress can lead to frequent headaches – especially tension headaches. Research has shown that massage can reduce anxiety, perceived pain, anger, and the intensity and duration of tension headaches as well as migraines. Massage works on headaches by blocking pain signals, increasing circulation and releasing serotonin. The pressure and kneading through massage can relieve muscle spasms and decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) while increasing endorphins.
Additional physical and mental benefits of massage therapy
Massage can reduce physical symptoms associated with:
- Postoperative pain
- Joint replacement pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
It also benefits mental health by:
- Reducing anxiety
- Lessening muscle tension
- Improving sleep
- Easing symptoms of depression and the effects of dementia
More serious conditions are positively affected by massage therapy, which:
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves quality of life in hospice care
In addition, massage is good for physical fitness and can enhance exercise performance, improve balance in older adults and increase range of motion and flexibility.
Making massage a part of your wellness program
It’s no secret that living in today’s world can be stressful. According to the American Psychological Association, stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung problems, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. The majority (75 to 90 percent) of doctor office visits are due to stress-related issues. It only makes sense that when stress levels subside, better health results. Massage therapy can reduce stress and, therefore, benefit health and wellness by producing a sense of relaxation and tranquility.
How to become a massage therapist
Florida Academy in Fort Myers offers a comprehensive curriculum (with the flexibility of day and evening classes) that can get you started in a massage therapy career in as few as 30 weeks. When you conclude your training and earn your license, you will be qualified for a massage therapist position in a clinic, chiropractic office, spa, hotel, fitness center, sports medicine facility, cancer treatment location or more.
You can choose a 600-hour massage therapy program to learn the basics needed to start your career, as well as hands-on training in the industry that teaches you to administer Swedish massage. If you choose the 900-hour (eight-month) innovative and biologically based therapies program, your training includes the coursework for the other program plus how to use medical devices for massage therapy, such as e-stim machines, near infrared light therapy and ultrasound, along with related therapies you may encounter in the workplace, such as:
- Electrical stimulation that assists chiropractic-care
- Medical massage
- Neuromuscular massage
- Chinese medicine
If you want to promote wellness and help people relieve their pain, consider a career as a massage therapist. Contact Florida Academy today.