Massage Therapist FAQs

  • Introduction

    Massage therapists are health care providers that use an array of techniques to promote relaxation, relieve pain, and increase flexibility. They're required to undergo intensive schooling in anatomy and massage techniques before working with clients, and they must have up to 2,000 hours of practicum, during which they treat patients under the supervision of a trained massage therapist.

    While some massage therapists strictly specialize in relaxation massage, others have undergone extensive training to treat specific injuries and conditions using a variety of techniques, including reflexology, deep tissue, and cupping. Other specializations massage therapists may offer include hot stone massage and hydrotherapy.

  • What do massage therapists do? 

    Massage therapists use techniques such as stroking, kneading, and rubbing muscles to release tension. This can cause increased mobility and flexibility and a dramatic reduction in pain caused by tense or knotted muscles. Massage therapists often offer treatment to those experiencing day-to-day aches and pains as well as to athletes and individuals who've experienced severe injuries.

  • Is massage therapy safe? 

    While massage therapy is generally safe, individuals with underlying health conditions or injuries should discuss this treatment option with a primary or treating physician. This also applies to pregnant women who are interested in prenatal massage — while massage during pregnancy is considered safe, women with high-risk pregnancies may be advised to avoid massage.

  • Should I see a massage therapist or a chiropractor?

    When considering which practitioner to see for pain and other health concerns, it's important to note the differences between the two. While a massage therapist treats the muscles, a chiropractor's job is to ensure the spine is aligned by performing adjustments.

  • How do I hire a massage therapist? 

    Wellness clinics and chiropractic offices often employ massage therapists to increase services offered. If you're unable to find one at a local clinic, you can often obtain a referral from your primary care physician or other health care provider.

  • What are the types of massage therapies? 

    There are several types of massage therapy, each with a different purpose. While some, such as aromatherapy and hot stone massage, promote relaxation, others are more therapeutic. Each type of massage uses different techniques and levels of pressure. The most common types of massage therapies include:

    • Aromatherapy massage: Using Swedish massage techniques along with essential oils to enhance relaxation.
    • Deep tissue massage: Used to treat musculoskeletal issues and involves increased pressure and deep strokes.
    • Hot stone massage: Hot stones are laid on the muscles prior to massage to ease tense muscles.
    • Prenatal massage: Specialized massage technique for pregnant individuals.
    • Reflexology massage: Massage to pressure points in the feet and hands.
    • Sports massage: Targets injuries and strains for athletes.
    • Swedish massage: Relaxation massage that increases circulation throughout the body by manipulating soft tissues.

  • Is it normal for a massage to be painful? 

    While some muscles may feel tender during a massage, feeling pain while getting massaged isn't good or productive. In fact, pain can cause tension in your muscles, making it more difficult for the therapist to perform a proper massage. If feeling pain while being massaged, it's best to let the massage therapist know so they can reduce the amount of pressure they're using.

  • Is it rude to fall asleep during a massage?

    Massage therapists are trained to help you relax and feel comfortable during your appointment. If you fall asleep during a massage, many therapists take it as a compliment. Falling asleep during massage is considered completely normal.

  • Is massage therapy considered health care? 

    Massage therapy is a type of health care that can prove helpful for several types of ailments and injuries. When provided under the direction of a physician and in combination with other recommended treatments, many patients can find relief from symptoms, such as pain and discomfort.

  • Does Medicaid cover massage therapy?

    While basic Medicaid does not cover massage therapy, some states choose to offer waiver programs for beneficiaries who meet specific qualification requirements. Under some of these waivers, optional benefits, such as massage therapy, may be covered.

  • Is massage therapy covered by insurance? 

    Some health insurance plans cover costs associated with massage therapy. Typically, a limited amount is covered in each calendar year, and in some cases, patients may be required to pay a portion of the cost of their massage services. Because all plans are different, it's important to check with your provider to see if massage is covered.

  • How much should I tip a massage therapist? 

    In most cases, a 15% to 20% tip is recommended. If you're paying with benefits, remember to calculate your tip based on the original cost of the massage. It's also worth noting that some clinics offer all-inclusive rates, meaning that the tip is built into the price. If you're unsure if the cost includes the tip, it's best to ask.

  • Can I touch my massage therapist? 

    No. A massage therapist is a health care practitioner, and the relationship between the therapist and their patients is completely professional. When you receive a massage, you've given them consent to touch you, but they have not given permission for you to touch them. It is not acceptable to touch your massage therapist.

  • How do I become a massage therapist? 

    To become a massage therapist, you need to attend an accredited massage therapy school. In addition to graduating from a massage program, massage therapists are required to complete between 500 and 2,000 hours of practical experience. Most states also require massage therapists to obtain a license to practice and renew it annually.

  • How much do massage therapists make an hour? 

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, massage therapists earn an average of $20.97 per hour or $43,620 per year. Those with the most experience and training may have the opportunity to earn in excess of $79,150 annually.

  • How long is massage therapy school? 

    Most massage therapy programs can be completed in five to six months when you choose to study full time. When studying part-time, programs typically take one year to complete; however, most schools allow students to spread out their studies over a two-year period if they choose.

  • How much does massage therapy school cost? 

    The cost of massage school can vary depending on your geographic location and the school you choose to attend. According to Massage Magazine, some schools can cost as much as $15,000. If you choose to take supplementary courses, such as aromatherapy and reflexology, you may be required to pay extra for these additional courses.

  • What is massage therapy school like? 

    In massage therapy school, a variety of subjects are taught, including anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology. Additionally, students learn proper hygiene, bedside manner, and etiquette. Once courses are completed, students go through hands-on training and gain real-world experience.

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