Massage therapy involves the manipulation and rubbing of the soft tissues of the body, with particular focus on muscles and pressure points. Massage therapy may be used as part of physical therapy, or on its own to help relax areas where muscles are tight. In other cases, massage therapy may focus on pressure points of the body that are thought to give relief from pain or health problems in other parts of the body.
There are numerous forms of massage therapy. Most people find a method or two that they like and then stick with practitioners who use this form. Often people find a particular massage therapist who makes them feel comfortable and remain loyal customers of that massage therapist.
Some may be uncomfortable having a different sex massage therapist, and prefer to work with a massage therapist who is of the same sex. This is particularly the case for women, since generally a fully body massage means being at least mostly unclothed. Women may wear their underwear only and be covered by a sheet. The less clothing the better access the therapist has to parts of the body. For example wearing a bra can limit access to the shoulders and mid-back.
Those who get frequent massages are often quite comfortable with this process. As well, a good massage therapist will have given frequent signals that his or her goal is to help promote relaxation, or to address physical issues, and that his or her job is not to stare at a naked body. A massage therapist, like a doctor, gets fairly used to seeing the naked body in various shapes and sizes, and any touching should not be sexual in nature. To ensure that a massage therapist is a professional, one should work only with reputable massage therapists who are licensed and can demonstrate experience or affiliation with reputable massage organizations.
One can go to different kinds of schools to learn massage therapy, and it is well worth one’s time to research the credentials of a potential massage therapist. Generally, one can feel fairly safe with people who work at either physical therapy offices, health clubs, or with doctors or chiropractors. One can ask such offices about their policies regarding background checks of any employees.
In the US, there is one organization of board certified massage therapists, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Using a board certified massage therapist can help ease one’s mind regarding the proprieties of a massage, and also assure one about the experience level of the practitioner.
There are many different schools of thought in the area of massage therapy. Some most popularly known in the US are Swedish massage, emphasizing long stroking of the muscular groups, and soft tissue therapy, which has pain management and soft tissue healing as its goal. Other massage types include Thai massage, Shiatsu, and Trigger point therapy. Some massage therapists use more than one technique to adequately address the needs of a client, while others practice only from one school of thought.
Massage therapy ranges greatly in price. Some massage therapists may offer discounts if one purchases several massage therapy sessions, ranging from a half hour to an hour, at once. Others may occasionally discount. An hour-long massage may cost anywhere from 50 to over 200 US dollars (USD). Most hour-long massages cost about a dollar a minute.