Massage therapist was ranked 12th out of 100 of the “Best Jobs Without a College Degree” by U.S. News and World Report, and number three among the “Best Health Care Support Jobs.” Many massage therapists are taking their careers to even more lucrative levels by specializing in specific areas of practice.
Why specialize? For starters, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), 85 percent of consumers report using massage for medical reasons. This included getting massage for pain relief, stiffness or spasms, injury recovery, migraines, prevention, pregnancy or prenatal care, and general well-being. In fact, 70 percent of consumers in the AMTA research agreed that massage therapy should be considered a form of health care. This trend opens doors to new opportunities for those who specialize.
Another reason is that the average massage therapist provides about 15 hours per week of hands-on massage. Increasing hours to increase income could be exhausting, both physically and mentally. By specializing, massage therapists have the ability to provide higher quality care while increasing potential earnings.
Here are just a few popular specializations worth considering:
Sports Massage Therapist
High-performance athletes put their bodies under considerable stress and are always looking for better and faster ways to recover. Working with a sports massage therapist can help athletes improve their speed and performance while shortening recovery time. It is important for sports massage therapists to have an advanced understanding of anatomy and physiology so they can use specific techniques to achieve the best results for their clients. Sports massage therapists can also have a pretty exciting work life. Working with a sports team or elite athletes can mean providing support on the sidelines and traveling to competitions.
Fertility Massage Therapist
Fertility treatments can be invasive, expensive and emotionally exhausting for hopeful parents. They’re also increasingly common. When a woman is dealing with infertility due to reasons such as blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or uterine fibroids, massage therapy can prove to be beneficial. This is because massage therapy helps increase circulation to the reproductive organs and reduce inflammation that may be impeding conception.
Massage therapy plays another very important role in aiding fertility treatments – reducing stress. Stress produces higher levels of cortisol in the body, which is known to interfere with fertility. Massage therapy can help ease emotional and physical tension and induce relaxation ̶ or both prospective parents! Massage therapists specializing in fertility and prenatal issues can help their clients live their dreams of becoming parents.
Infant Massage Therapy
Providing infant massage can be a fun and fulfilling way to specialize in your practice. The benefits of infant massage are well documented and include better sleep, reduced stress, improved motor development and enhanced parent-child bonding. Not only will you be able to provide the massage, but you will also have the opportunity to educate the parents. Giving exhausted and nervous new parents the gift of infant massage will help them to feel empowered as they learn how to help their new babies sleep better and feel more calm.
This is a type of massage therapy that focuses on releasing muscular tightness. This can involve targeting knots with pressure and gentle traction along with positioning joints in different angles. Learning the techniques of myofascial release gives you the tools to help relieve your clients’ pain conditions. It can be used for migraines, fibromyalgia, menstrual pain and just about any chronic pain disorder.
The Best Massage Therapy Schools
For those interested in becoming a licensed massage therapist, the first step is to get the type of education that will provide you with the foundation for whatever type of practice you desire. The Massage Therapy program at National University of Health Sciences provides you with the distinct advantage of learning human anatomy and physiology in a graduate-level medical cadaver lab. Students actually see the musculature, ligaments and organ systems, not just read about them in books.
"Our curriculum explores different disease processes that therapists might see in their practice,” explained massage therapy clinic supervisor Patricia Coe, DC, ND. “It explores whether massage would be beneficial or not for certain medical conditions. We don't just list problems, we explain systems,” she commented, adding, "Our goal is not to have students simply think, 'I've heard of this so I can work on it.' They're going to have the knowledge to be able to reason out whether massage would be appropriate for this person.”
Being on an integrative health care campus provides an additional benefit. “You think you’re not going to need to know about things like Chinese medicine, but you do,” stressed NUHS massage therapy graduate Esperanza Lee. “I was able to ask questions of professors who weren’t in the MT program and learn from them as well,” she noted. “Someone considering going to National should go knowing they will be confident in their knowledge after graduation,” encouraged Lee. “They will never have to second guess themselves!”