After studying finance in college and doing a few internships, Myra Adu-Sarkodie knew it wasn’t the field for her. She did a considerable amount of research to see what she was best suited for. One field came up repeatedly: massage therapy.
She pondered the possibilities. “It’s a health care field. You’re helping people,” she said. “You’re doing meaningful work, and you can really have a flexible schedule and build your own business.” Adu-Sarkodie began studying massage therapy at Florida Academy last July, and graduated in January 2018.
“So far, I haven’t looked back. I love it!” she says. Adu-Sarkodie works at Spada part time and also has her own house-call massage business, Complete Cranial Relief. She specializes in head, neck and shoulder massage, but she does offer all kinds of services. “Since I have personally struggled with TMJ issues with the jaw, and because my mother is a dentist, I thought it would be great if I had that experience to help others with TMJ,” she says. Massage therapy can help with the pain of TMJ, tension headaches and migraines.
“I love helping people unleash all that stress that causes these chronic problems,” Adu-Sarkodie says. Research has shown that massage can reduce anxiety, perceived pain, anger, 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.
Learning about the body and massage’s effects on it played a big role in Adu-Sarkodie’s massage therapy training. She liked “how well everything was explained,” but especially how hands-on it was. “I think one thing we miss in traditional schooling is the kind of education that uses all of your senses, right?” she says. “Not only were we taught how to work on each other, but different modalities were practiced on us. They also used a lot of multimedia approaches – videos, 3D models, all kinds of things. I think that’s why I was able to learn so much.”
Florida Academy, like other schools that offer massage therapy, teach only classic Swedish massage. “One thing the instructors always tried to do was to, at least, expose us to the deep tissue, pre-natal, hot stone, just so we’re prepared if we encounter those things when we’re at work,” she explains. Adu-Sarkodie says she has been practicing deep tissue techniques on her own time, researching through online videos.
Practicing and giving massages every day can take a toll on the body. “That’s a big reason people are hesitant to get into massage,” she says. Those who have stayed in the profession for a long time are the ones who practice proper body mechanics while doing massage, as well as doing a lot of self-care before and after. “I try to always make sure that my posture is good – even when I’m not massaging,” she says. “And I just started a gym membership and I go four days a week – five, sometimes. It’s keeping a positive attitude, even when I’m sore after the day.”
It’s off season in Florida right now, so Adu-Sarkodie is splitting her time equally between Spada and her own business. The challenge for her right now is finding out what the next step is and pushing herself toward a goal. “That’s one thing even in my daily life I try to do – always have something in mind that I’m striving for,” she says. “Before, it was just finishing massage school, finding a good job. Now it’s making sure I find certifications in TMJ, finding out what CEUs (continuing education units) I want to do and other next steps I want to take in my career.”
Adu-Sarkodie believes that many things tie into massage very well, and that may influence her next career move. “I think herbalism is definitely one area I want to explore, just because you can do topical treatments. You can do injectable treatments,” she says. The mental health aspect of massage is what interests her most. “I really want to learn how to help people who are struggling with depression and stress, so there are a lot of different modalities that tie into that.”
Myra Adu-Sarkodie knows that massage therapy is the right career for her. “I’m super-thankful to everyone at Florida Academy, and to my family, who supported me because this has been such a great career change for me. It really makes a difference when you start doing something you love.”
How do others know if it might be right for them? “I think you’ll know massage works for you when you try doing your first massage on somebody,” she says. “It might not be the greatest massage ever, but you feel excited to learn more about how to do it better. If you like knowing that you make someone feel good just by helping them out, I think you know you can really grow in that profession.”
If you’re looking for an in-demand career, consider registering for the massage therapy program at Florida Academy. According to O*NET OnLine, the career outlook for massage therapists is much better than average. In Florida, the need for massage therapists is projected to increase by 29 percent through 2024. Contact Florida Academy today. New classes begin every six weeks.