Massage FAQs

Q: What Is Massage Therapy?

A: Massage therapy spans a wide variety of therapeutic approaches, working to improve an individual’s health and well-being through the hands-on manipulation of muscles and other soft tissues of the body.

Q: What Are The Key Benefits Of Massage Therapy?

A: Physically, massage therapy is designed to stretch and loosen muscles, improve blood flow and the movement of lymph throughout the body, facilitate the removal of metabolic wastes resulting from exercise or inactivity, and increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients to cells and tissue. In addition, massage stimulates the release of endorphins — the body’s natural painkiller — into the brain and nervous system.  Mentally,  massage therapy provides a relaxed state of alertness, reduces mental stress and enhances capacity for calm thinking and creativity.  Emotionally, massage therapy satisfies the need for caring and nurturing touch, creates a feeling of well-being and reduces anxiety levels.

Q: Who Can Benefit From Massage Therapy?

A: People throughout the life cycle — from the very young and very old to those in between — all find that a professional massage can have special applications suited for their needs.

Q: What Is The Origin Of Therapeutic Massage?

A: Therapeutic massage methods used today have both Eastern and Western origins. The first written records of massage date back 3,000 years to early Chinese folk medicine and ancient Ayurvedic medicine of India. Shiatsu, acupressure and reflexology spring from these Eastern sources, as do other contemporary methods.Western civilizations were introduced to therapeutic massage by Greek and Roman physicians. Modern Western massage is credited primarily to Peter Henrik Ling, a 19th century Swedish athlete. His approach, which combines hands-on techniques with active and passive movements, became known as Swedish massage — still one of the most commonly used methods in the Western world.

Q: What Do Research Studies Say About Massage Therapy?

A:  Today more and more people rely on therapeutic massage and bodywork for relaxation, pain relief, health concerns, rehabilitation and general wellness.  Myriad research studies confirm that massage therapy provides physical, mental and emotional benefits at all stages of life.  For more information visit The Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami  (), The Rolf Institute ( or The American Massage Therapy Association (

Q: Is Massage Therapy A Luxury?

A: Certainly massage therapy may feel like a luxury, but in fact it is an essential part of keeping the human body healthy and functioning.  More and more people, as well as the medical community, are becoming aware of the health benefits of massage therapy.  It just happens to be wonderful that something so good for you feels so good too!

Q: What Is The Average Cost Of A Massage?

A: Cost depends upon the type of treatment, the experience of the practitioner, geographic location and length of the massage. Nationally, the range is generally from $55 to $100 for an hour-long treatment, with home visits and medical massage being somewhat more expensive.

Q: What Credentials Should A Qualified Massage Therapist Have?

A: Check to see if the massage therapist is licensed to practice.  Florida and twenty-nine states, as well as the District of Columbia have passed legislation to regulate the massage therapy profession. If practicing in those states, the massage therapist should hold a current license. Local governments may also regulate massage therapists. In such areas, make sure your massage therapist is licensed in your area.

A massage therapist should also be able to document professional training in massage therapy at a massage training institution such as those accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) or is a member of the AMTA Council of Schools. He/she should be a member of a professional association with high standards for membership and/or be Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTMB), though this is not required

COMTA-accredited massage training programs require a stringent course of study, including at least 500 hours of classroom instruction in anatomy and physiology, massage and technique, relationships with clients, plus related subjects. AMTA Professional membership is limited to massage therapists who have demonstrated a level of skill and expertise through testing and/or education. In addition, all AMTA-member therapists must agree to abide by the AMTA Code of Ethics.

Q: How Many Massage Therapists Are There In The U.S.?

A: The number of massage therapists is estimated at between 160,000 and 220,000, including part-time and full-time practitioners, and students.

Q: Where Do Massage Therapists Practice?

A:Massage therapists offer their services in a wide variety of settings, including:

  • on-site in the workplace
  • in clients homes
  • nursing homes and hospitals
  • private practice clinics and offices
  • physicians’ offices and wellness facilities
  • chiropractors’ offices and rehabilitation clinics
  • salons, spas, resorts and cruise ships
  • health clubs and fitness centers
  • sports massage teams are usually present at major sporting events

Q: When Might The Use Of Massage Therapy Be Inappropriate?

A: If you suffer from certain circulatory ailments (such as phlebitis), infectious diseases, certain forms of cancer, cardiac problems, certain skin conditions, or any inflamed or infected tissues, be sure to consult your physician before initiating any massage program. A trained and experienced massage therapist will also be able to tell you when massage is not indicated.

Q: What Should I Expect When They Receive A Massage For The First Time?

A: The first appointment generally begins with the massage therapist asking what prompted you to get a massage, your current physical condition, medical history, lifestyle, stress level, and painful areas. The massage therapist may ask you about your health goals and what you hope the massage will do to help you achieve those goals.

For a full-body massage, you will be asked to remove clothing to your level of comfort. Undressing takes place in private, and a sheet, towel or gown is provided for draping. The therapist will undrape only the part of your body being massaged, ensuring that your modesty is respected at all times. Your massage will take place in a comfortable atmosphere and on a cushioned table. You should expect a peaceful, relaxing experience.

Medical Massage will be similar, but the experience will not likely be relaxing and comfortable.  It might feel more like physical therapy, with areas of tension and injury being the most uncomfortable.  IT SHOULD NEVER CROSS THE LINE INTO PAINFUL.

Q: Does The Consumer Have Any Responsibilities During The Massage?

A: Absolutely, a person receiving a massage should give the therapist accurate health information and always report discomfort of any kind — whether it’s from the massage itself or due to room temperature, volume of music, or other distractions.  Additionally, since it is YOUR body, YOU are in charge at all times.  If the therapist does ANYTHING that makes you uncomfortable, SPEAK UP.  NEVER allow someone to hurt you during a session.  Some discomfort is common, pain is unnecessary.

Q. What Are The Basic Types Of Massage And How Are They Different From Each Other?

A. For details on the different types of massage, see the link on the homepage.

Q.  Is there a Code of Ethics for Massage Therapists?

A. Yes and No.  While there is no uniform legal code, many of us abide by the code of ethics set by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and are members of that and other similar organizations.  Here is the AMTA Code of Ethics:

This Code of Ethics is a summary statement of the standards by which massage therapists agree to conduct their practices and is a declaration of the general principles of acceptable, ethical, professional behavior.

Massage therapists shall:

  • Demonstrate commitment to provide the highest quality massage therapy/bodywork to those who seek their professional service.
  • Acknowledge the inherent worth and individuality of each person by not discriminating or behaving in any prejudicial manner with clients and/or colleagues.
  • Demonstrate professional excellence through regular self-assessment of strengths, limitations, and effectiveness by continued education and training.
  • Acknowledge the confidential nature of the professional relationship with clients and respect each client’s right to privacy.
  • Conduct all business and professional activities within their scope of practice, the law of the land, and project a professional image.
  • Refrain from engaging in any sexual conduct or sexual activities involving their clients.
  • Accept responsibility to do no harm to the physical, mental and emotional well-being of self, clients, and associates.
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