Massage Therapy FAQs

Please let us know if you have any questions that are not answered here. We are happy to discuss more detailed information with you directly.

What is massage therapy?

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.

What are the key benefits of massage therapy?

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.

Who can benefit from massage therapy?

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. 

What is the origin of therapeutic massage?

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. 

What Do Research Studies Say About Massage Therapy?

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 ( 

What credentials should a qualified massage therapist have?

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. 

When might the use of massage therapy be inappropriate?

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. 

Is there a code of ethics for massage therapists?

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. 

What should I expect when receiving massage?

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. 

At all times, YOU are in charge of your body, so SPEAK UP and tell your practitioner if you need them to stop for ANY reason, even if it’s just stopping in one area for a moment.  

Myofascial Release

Myofascial Release is a very effective hands-on technique that provides sustained pressure into myofascial restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. The theory of Myofascial Release requires an understanding of the fascial system (or connective tissue). The fascia is a specialized system of the body that has an appearance similar to a spider’s web or a sweater. 

Fascia is very densely woven, covering and interpenetrating every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein as well as all of our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. The most interesting aspect of the fascial system is that it is not just a system of separate coverings. It is actually one structure that exists from head to foot without interruption. In this way you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the yarn in a sweater.

Fascia also plays an important role in the support of our bodies, since it surrounds and attaches to all structures. These structures would not be able to provide the stability without the constant pull of the fascial system. In fact, our bones can be thought of as tent poles, which cannot support the structure without the constant support of the guide wires (or fascia) to keep an adequate amount of tension to allow the tent (or body) to remain upright with proper equilibrium.

In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. When we experience physical trauma, scarring, or inflammation, however, the fascia loses its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted and a source of tension to the rest of the body. Trauma, such as a fall, whiplash, surgery or just habitual poor posture over time and repetitive stress injuries has a cumulative effects. The changes they cause in the fascial system influence comfort and the functioning of our body. The fascia can exert excessive pressure producing pain or restriction of motion. They affect our flexibility and stability, and are a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and strain.

The use of Myofascial Release allows us to look at each patient as a unique individual. Our one-on-one therapy sessions are hands-on treatments during which our therapists use a multitude of Myofascial Release techniques and movement therapy. We promote independence through education in proper body mechanics and movement, through the enhancement of strength, flexibility, and postural and movement awareness.

(Reprinted with permission from the Myofascial Release Treatment Center, Paoli, PA)

Neuromuscular Therapy

NMT is a thorough program of recovery from acute and chronic pain syndromes which utilizes specific massage therapy, flexibility stretching, and home care to eliminate the causes of most neuromuscular pain patterns. This specific and scientific approach to muscular pain relief will help to bring about balance between the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system. NMT enhances the function of joints, muscles and biomechanics (movement) and it releases endorphins, the body’s own natural pain killers. It can be part of a comprehensive program, complementing all other health care modalities.

Neuromuscular Therapy examines six physiological factors that may create or intensify pain patterns. These six factors are: ischemia, trigger points, nerve entrapment/compression, postural distortions, nutrition, emotional well-being.

(Reprinted with permission by Judith DeLany’s  NMT Center)

Prenatal Massage

“Prenatal massage is therapeutic bodywork that focuses on the special needs of the mother-to-be as her body goes through the dramatic changes of pregnancy. It enhances the function of muscles and joints, improves circulation and general body tone, and relieves mental and physical fatigue. The gentle, noninvasive approach of  prenatal massage can ease discomfort associated with pregnancy, help the mother-to-be prepare for labor and give her nurturing emotional support.”

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