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Natural Awakenings Boston

Finding a Good MassageTherapist

Oct 23, 2013 03:35PM ● By By Tamar Myers

The field of massage has grown dramatically over the last decade, creating some confusion for people that are searching for a qualified massage therapist. When it seems that a massage business is located around every other corner, how does one go about finding the right one? Follow these helpful guidelines for finding a good massage therapist:

Make sure to find a therapist that is licensed in Massachusetts. Statewide licensing has created an important standard and legitimacy within the profession. The Massachusetts Board of Registration requires therapists seeking licensure to successfully complete a Board-approved course of study consisting of a minimum of 650 hours. Within the 650-hour course of study, graduates must complete 550 hours of academic courses, including 100 hours in the anatomy and physiology of the body; 45 hours in pathology; 45 hours in kinesiology; 300 hours in supervised massage theory and technique; and 60 hours in ethics, professionalism and business practices. Additionally, 100 hours of unpaid and supervised clinical or internship experience is required.

Determine the reason for seeking out a massage therapist. Is there a specific issue within the body that needs to be addressed, or is an hour of relaxation the motivation? Determine whether a pampering environment or more clinical approach is what is desired so that expectations can be met. For example, most chiropractic office environments differ from those of a day spa, so drop in to the place of business, when possible, before scheduling an appointment.

Don't be afraid to interview them. There are a number of criteria to consider when searching for a good massage therapist, so ask questions about the focus of the school they attended, how they describe their work, how long they have been practicing and how often they see clients. For example, someone that sees 20 people a week and has been in practice two years may be more experienced than someone that has been in practice for 10 years, but only sees one or two clients on the weekends. Another important question to ask is whether any additional coursework has been completed after leaving massage school. Some schools only cover the basics of what a therapist needs to safely perform a massage. 

Ask therapists about the techniques they use. There are many types of bodywork available, so tell a therapist about your needs to determine if its a match. For massages beyond a generic, overall relaxation massage, seek out someone that has completed continuing education which suggests another area of expertise has been learned, and that the therapist is curious, motivated and excited about the profession.

Ask friends to recommend a good massage therapist. It may be surprising to learn how many acquaintances see a massage therapist regularly.

Tamar Myers is a certified Aston-Kinetics practitioner, addressing her clients' needs with a unique blend of bodywork, fascial work, fitness, movement and ergonomics. She has been practicing in Lexington, MA for 22 years.

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