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What do you find in the best massage training courses?

Updated on January 8, 2018
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.


There is a significant difference between the best massage courses and those that are barely worth your time but not worth the money. What do you learn in the best massage training courses? What distinguishes the best massage programs from the rest?

The Science

The science segment of a massage program will teach you anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and pathology. You’ll learn the cause and effect of various conditions like stress, physical injuries and arthritis. The best massage training courses teach you how to recognize conditions you cannot treat through massage so that you don’t accidentally make it worse. You’ll also learn proper hygiene as it relates to massage therapy. For example, you don't want to risk contracting an infection yourself while helping a client to feel better.

Massage school cannot simply focus on academic knowledge.
Massage school cannot simply focus on academic knowledge. | Source

Massage Therapy Methods

While most people think massage therapy consists of rubbing your hands into someone’s aching muscles, there are actually many different types of massage. Swedish massage is the most commonly practiced form in the United States, rivaling the standard back massage. Thai massage, hot stone massage and deep tissue massage are common, while aromatherapy massage and Shiatsu are growing in popularity.

Reflexology or foot massage is more than a foot massage but is based on a belief that manipulating the foot treats issues throughout the rest of the body. Some massage schools teach hydrotherapy, chair massage, or lomilomi massage. More exotic techniques include cranial sacral therapy, energy balancing, myofascial massage techniques and acupressure. Infant massage is yet another specialized form of massage that not all schools teach.
You should learn the different massage techniques required when the client is pregnant or injured.

Sports massage is a well-paying field for massage therapists, increasingly offered by physical therapists to reduce the pain and discomfort after physical therapy sessions.Other massage therapists work in chiropractic offices. Learn the type of massage that suits the environment you want to work in. For example, if you want to work in a spa, chair massage and hydrotherapy will be in demand along with traditional Swedish massage. If you want to help rehabilitate people or work with athletes, learn sports massage.

Massage therapists should learn how to work with a variety of clients of all ages before working on their own.
Massage therapists should learn how to work with a variety of clients of all ages before working on their own. | Source

Clinical Time

In most states, there are a minimum number of hours students must spend in the classroom to earn certification as a massage therapist. Many schools offer more hours of instruction, whether to increase their tuition or better teach students depends on the school. The best massage programs can be identified by the high rate their students pass their licensing exam, typically the MBLEx. Ask what percentage of their students pass the exam on the first try, and run from those that say the pass rate doesn’t matter.
The best massage schools give you significant clinical time so that you have experience with a variety of clients and their health conditions. In contrast, community college classes may not give you this supervised, hands-on experience with a variety of people.

Rules and Regulations

The best massage schools will teach you the professional ethics, licensing procedures, business regulations and other rules that apply to massage therapists. They will also teach you how to run your business like the right way to set your hourly rate or the salary to expect based on the industry you plan on working in.


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