What is Massage?
Massage is defined as the systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for a curative effect. Soft tissues are made more pliable through massage to promote circulation and blood flow and bring about healing effects. Receiving massage therapy is an effective way of improving one's physical and psychological wellbeing.
How Does Massage Work and What Are Its Benefits?
The system of massage treatment involves the therapist using their hands to apply pressure on your body. Therapists use various techniques to work on the body: stroking and gliding (effleurage), kneading the soft tissues (petrissage), or what is termed "percussion" (tapotement).
Massage therapy not only relieves pain, but it also alleviates stress and promotes relaxation.
The importance of taking regular massage has been increasingly emphasised in recent years, as more people recognise how beneficial it is to counteract the effects of muscle stiffness due to poor blood circulation, stress and lack of physical activities. In fact, big corporations are beginning to realise the benefits of massage for their staff's wellbeing and as a way to increase productivity.
Work-related stress is a serious problem that leads to poor health, disease and death. It is preventable, though, if employers would take the opportunity to enlist the services of a professional massage therapist, who can educate their staff about the benefits of relaxation and massage.
Conditions That Massage Therapy Can Help With
A massage therapy is a refreshing experience that helps to regenerate muscle tissue and refuel your mind and body. Receiving regular massages prevents injuries and promotes optimum physical and mental health so that you can achieve your goals. Moreover, a massage session can help treat a wide range of conditions, including:
- Body pains
- Muscular tension
- Headaches and migraines
- Stress and fatigue
- Repetitive strain injury
- Eating disorders and digestive dysfunction
- Prenatal pregnancy conditions
- Frozen shoulder
- Sports and dancing injuries
Who Provides Massage Therapy and Where Can You Get It?
Massage therapy is manually performed by a massage therapist. The therapist works out a treatment plan (if desired) by using muscle testing. Massage therapy is available in shopping malls, healing centres, at home (via mobile massage), hospitals, in the workplace, leisure centres, beauty salons, spas and health retreats. Try using the Natural Therapy Pages to locate a massage therapist working in your area.
Different Massage Therapies
There are several forms of massage on offer, and it can be confusing to know what will work best for a particular ailment or condition. Some massage techniques concentrate more on relaxing the client whilst others repair damaged muscle tissue. It may be that you need to try several forms of massage to find what works best for you. Here is a brief summary of some common types of massage therapies:
- Acupressure is a massage technique that works on the pressure points in the body to eliminate pain and muscle tension and improve blood circulation.
- Ayurvedic & Whole Body Massage, otherwise known as abhyanga, is performed with warm oil and focuses on stimulating the energy fields of the body.
- Bowen Therapy is a type of bodywork that works on the connective tissue to treat musculoskeletal issues and improve the body's different systems.
- Chinese Massage, also known as Tui na, is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that involves twisting, pulling, pushing and kneading techniques to relax tense muscles and improve circulation.
- Connective Tissue Massage involves the manipulation of thickened fascia, ligaments and tendons, to relieve pain and discomfort. It helps address arthritis, tendonitis, TMJ and other musculoskeletal conditions.
- Corporate/Workplace Massage refers to massage services that are provided for employees in the workplace to reduce stress levels and increase concentration and productivity.
- Deep Tissue Massage is a massage technique that employs firm pressure and deep strokes to treat muscle adhesions due to sports injuries.
- Hawaiian Massage, also known as Lomi Lomi, involves gentle, flowing strokes to release muscle tension, improve circulation and support the body's detoxification process.
- Indian Head Massage is a type of massage technique that works on the acupressure points along the head, neck, and shoulders to improve blood circulation, joint mobility and hair growth.
- Infant/Baby Massage is a gentle form of massage that can treat colic in babies, promote better sleep and tighten the bond between parent and child.
- Lymphatic Drainage is a type of massage technique that moves lymph fluids around the body and helps it get rid of waste and toxins.
- Mobile Massage Services refers to the provision of massage services at the client's home, workplace, hotel, or wherever the client wishes to avail the service.
- Myofascial Release Therapy is a massage technique that manipulates the fascia to break down muscle adhesions, increase blood flow and relieve pain.
- Myopractic involves stretching, cross-fibre friction and corrective exercises to release muscle tension, relieve soft tissue pain, realign the body and restore the normal functions of the bones.
- Myotherapy is a form of manual therapy that treats neuromusculoskeletal pain resulting from muscle or joint dysfunction. A myotherapist employs various manipulation techniques, including trigger point therapy, muscle stretching and acupressure, among many others.
- Oncology Massage is a type of gentle massage therapy that alleviates the side effects of cancer treatments like pain, fatigue, diarrhoea and nausea, among others.
- Pregnancy Massage relaxes expectant mothers and relieves them from the pains and discomfort associated with the complex physiological changes brought about by pregnancy.
- Reflexology is an ancient massage technique that involves the application of pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, face or ears. It aims to relax the body and restore balance to the specific organs in it that correspond to the points being worked on.
- Remedial Massage is a form of manual therapy that helps to restore the body's normal functions after an injury or illness. It eliminates muscle adhesions, realigns the bone and improves blood circulation.
- Shiatsu is a traditional Japanese massage technique that involves the use of the thumbs, elbows, forearms, feet and knees, to stimulate the meridians and improve the flow of energy throughout the body.
- Sports Massage is a type of massage therapy that treats and prevents sports-related injuries. It is tailored to the specific needs of an athlete, whether they're preparing for an event or looking for post-event relaxation.
- Stone Therapy Massage involves the placement of heated or chilled stones on the nape, back, legs and feet of the client to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and promote relaxation.
- Swedish/Relaxation Massage is a type of massage therapy that aims to relax the body and ease muscle tension. It involves long, gliding strokes, tapping, vibration and kneading of the muscles to increase blood circulation.
- Thai Massage is a type of massage that involves passive stretching and gentle pressure with the hands and feet. It aims to improve the body's musculoskeletal system, increase flexibility, stimulate the internal organs and balance the body's energy system.
- Tibetan Massage is a traditional massage technique practised in the Tibetan medical field to prevent or treat injuries. It involves the application of warm essential oils on the skin to soften it, calm the nerves and manage psychological, emotional and physical conditions.
- Trigger Point Therapy involves soft tissue manipulation to eliminate trigger points, or tender spots in the muscle, which cause radiating pain in the bones, joints, tendons and ligaments.
Available Massage Therapy Courses
Each type of massage therapy is designed to achieve a specific purpose. A massage technique for relaxation will not be able to address the needs of a person suffering from a sports injury. That is why choosing a course which aligns with your interest and career goals is of vital importance when you are studying how to become a massage therapist. Below is a list of different massage therapy courses that you can consider.
- A Certificate in Acupressure is ideal for beginners, while there are other advanced acupressure courses for certified acupressurists who are looking to build on their skills and deepen their knowledge.
- A Certificate IV in Bowen Therapy is a nationally recognised course that covers the principle, application and techniques of Bowen therapy. After completing this program, you can start practising the modality on a professional level or use your qualification to pursue specialised Bowen therapy courses.
- Chinese massage courses will teach you how to deliver massage therapy according to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). By enrolling in a Diploma of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Remedial Massage, you will learn different remedial massage techniques based on the Tuina system of TCM.
- A Certificate IV in Massage Therapy is a national qualification which you must secure first before you can proceed to take a specialised course in connective tissue massage. You have the option to enrol in a Diploma of Remedial Massage or choose from a wide array of short connective tissue massage courses to learn the essential techniques.
- Taking a certificate course in chair massage will equip you with the skills and tools to perform seated massage, which is the most common massage technique used in a corporate massage program. However, if you want to offer your potential clients other services besides seated massage, it's worth considering advanced corporate massage courses.
- A certification course in deep tissue massage further develops the skills you've gained from a Certificate IV in Massage Therapy. What's more, taking specialised deep tissue massage courses will equip you with a range of techniques for treating pain and a variety of injuries such as ankle sprain and tennis elbow.
- A practitioner training course in Hawaiian massage, otherwise known as Lomi Lomi, is delivered in a short workshop that runs for three days, or a week, in a retreat. It's also worth looking at advanced Hawaiian massage courses as this will help boost your credentials as a therapist.
- To become a qualified practitioner of Indian head massage, you have to complete a one-day practitioner course. The scope of this program is limited to the provision of Indian head massage treatments, but there are other Indian head massage courses that come bundled with other essential massage therapy techniques.
- Completing a Certified Infant Massage Instructor training course will provide you with the skills and qualification to run infant massage classes for parents. Infant massage courses will also provide you with the qualifications that you need to be able to collaborate with other healthcare providers whose work focuses on infant care.
- A manual lymphatic drainage course is relatively short as it's designed for qualified massage therapists. However, you can rest assured that there's no shortage of lymphatic drainage courses that can advance your career faster.
- Anyone who aspires to become a professional massage therapist must hold a Certificate IV in Massage Therapy, which is the minimum qualification required for the job. Taking advanced massage courses, on the other hand, will build upon your basic massage skills and take your career to the next level. Many colleges and universities in Australia deliver on-campus and online massage courses to suit every student's needs. You may check your options on the Natural Therapy Pages.
- If you're planning to offer your clients a complete suite of massage services, it's worth investing time, money and effort in different mobile massage courses, starting off with a Certificate IV in Massage Therapy.
- A certification program in myofascial release therapy is designed for certified massage therapists who want to learn how to address fascial restrictions. If you're looking for a short training program that runs for only two to three days but is packed with valuable massage techniques, check out the offerings of schools that specialise in myofascial release therapy courses.
- Completing a Certificate IV in Myopractic will provide you with the skills that you need to release muscle tension, fix structural alignment and improve the functions of the bones in the body. From there, you can pursue advanced myopractic courses to build on those skills.
- If you want to boost your remedial massage skills, it's definitely worth considering myotherapy courses. You may opt for an advanced diploma-level qualification or a bachelor's degree.
- A four-part certification program in oncology massage is what you need to complete to become an expert in this field. Taking oncology massage courses will enable you to help friends and family members with cancer, as well as support patients who struggle with the side effects of cancer treatments.
- Completing a Certificate of Pregnancy Massage will allow you to establish a career as a pregnancy massage therapist. To gain admission to this course, you must have a Certificate IV in Massage Therapy qualification and satisfied the other prerequisites for pregnancy massage courses.
- A Certificate of Clinical Reflexology will provide you with the essential skills and qualifications to set yourself up as a professional reflexologist. Some reflexology courses are designed for beginners, while others are for advanced learners. Several schools in Australia offer online reflexology courses that allow students to study at their convenience and meet their qualifications on their set timetable.
- Completing a Diploma of Shiatsu and Oriental Therapies will lay the foundation for a successful career as a Shiatsu massage therapist. It's a good idea to attend short Shiatsu courses if you want to test the waters first.
- Sports massage is one of the subjects comprehensively covered in a Diploma of Remedial Massage, so completing this qualification is key to becoming a qualified sports massage therapist. Introductory sports massage courses are recommended to those who wish to get a background on this modality and prepare themselves for an intensive learning program.
- Stone therapy massage courses are ideal for remedial massage therapists who wish to further their skills and knowledge. A certification program is delivered through a short course that runs over one weekend or retreat, which is usually bundled with other massage techniques like Swedish massage and Lomi Lomi.
- Swedish massage courses provide not only the basic techniques to deliver a relaxing massage but also the foundation for a Certificate IV in Massage Therapy.
- A Thai massage certification course is a specialised training program that can be learnt from a short workshop. Although available to certified massage therapists with a Certificate IV in Massage Therapy, there are other Thai massage courses that are intended for beginners.
- Trigger point therapy courses in Australia are many and varied. You can learn the principles and techniques of the modality by attending a short course or by completing a bachelor's degree in myotherapy.
Although massage is a hands-on therapy, you'll be happy to know that many massage therapy schools in Australia offer online courses that you can take in the comfort of your own home.
What Can You Expect From a Massage Session?
Massage normally takes place in a private room or space. Clients can expect a relaxing ambience, with candles, incense and soothing music usually part of the whole ensemble. Depending on their preference, a client may request the inclusion of essential oils or lotions. Most types of massage will take place on a massage table lying down, but in some cases the massage takes place whilst you are seated on a massage chair or lying on a floor mat.
A massage therapy session can last for 10 minutes to one hour depending on the client's request. To find out more of what comprises a massage therapy session, feel free to check out the listings of the top experienced massage therapists on the Natural Therapy Pages.