Massage Therapy (cont.)
Massage therapy appears to have few serious risks -- if it is performed by a
properly trained therapist and if appropriate cautions are followed. The number
of serious injuries reported is very small. Side effects of massage therapy may
include temporary pain or discomfort, bruising, swelling, and a sensitivity or
allergy to massage oils.
Cautions about massage therapy include the following:
- Vigorous massage should be avoided by people with bleeding disorders or low
blood platelet counts, and by people taking blood-thinning medications such as
- Massage should not be done in any area of the body with blood clots,
fractures, open or healing wounds, skin infections, or weakened bones (such as
from osteoporosis or cancer), or where there has been a recent surgery.
massage therapy appears to be generally safe for cancer patients, they should
consult their oncologist before having a massage that involves deep or intense
pressure. Any direct pressure over a tumor usually is discouraged. Cancer
patients should discuss any concerns about massage therapy with their
- Pregnant women should consult their health care provider before
using massage therapy.
Training, Licensing, and Certification
There are approximately 1,500 massage therapy schools and training programs
in the United States. In addition to hands-on practice of massage techniques,
students generally learn about the body and how it works, business practices,
and ethics. Massage training programs generally are approved by a state board.
Some may also be accredited by an independent agency, such as the Commission on
Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA).
As of 2010, 43 states and the District of Columbia had laws regulating
massage therapy. In some states, regulation is by town ordinance.
The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork
certifies practitioners who pass a national examination. Increasingly, states
that license massage therapists require them to have a minimum of 500 hours of
training at an accredited institution, pass a national exam, meet specific
continuing education requirements, and carry malpractice insurance.
In addition to massage therapists, health care providers such as
chiropractors and physical therapists may have training in massage.
Licenses and Certifications
Some common licenses or certifications for massage therapists include:
LMT Licensed Massage Therapist
LMP Licensed Massage Practitioner
NCTMB Has met the credentialing requirements (including passing
an exam) of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and
Bodywork, for practicing therapeutic massage and bodywork
NCTM Has met the
credentialing requirements (including passing an exam) of the National
Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, for practicing