What Is a Clinical Massage Therapist?

Are you interested in helping people find relief from injury, soreness and chronic pain? If so, you may want to explore a career as a clinical massage therapist. Read on to find out more about how practitioners of clinical massage, also known as medical massage, treat muscle injuries and soft tissue pain. Schools offering Massage Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Clinical Massage Therapist Defined

Massage is often associated with stress reduction and relaxation. When you work as a clinical massage therapist, however, you perform therapeutic massage using physical touch and pressure to heal injuries. You might work in a variety of facilities, such as a physical rehabilitation center, hospital, nursing home or outpatient clinic.

Job Duties

Your job duties as a clinical massage therapist include talking to clients to determine their symptoms, expectations and medical histories. You'll evaluate your clients to find problem areas before performing massage. You'll also provide tips on improving posture, strength, flexibility and relaxation.

Modalities

Clinical massage therapy consists of a variety of modalities that allow practitioners to apply fixed or moving manipulation to the soft body tissues. You will usually be trained in several such techniques. Examples of clinical massage modalities include deep tissue massage and sports massage.

Deep Tissue Massage

One common technique you might use as a clinical massage therapist is deep tissue massage, which can relieve chronic patterns of muscular tension. As a practitioner of this technique, you use various parts of the hands and arms, such as the fingers, fist and forearm, to apply greater pressure to the muscles than is found in other modalities. You must use care when using this technique to avoid injuring your patients or yourself.

Sports Massage

As a clinical massage therapist, you might treat patients with sports-related injuries or injuries related to other strenuous physical activity. Your treatments might also serve to enhance an athlete's performance by alleviating muscle soreness or strain. These applications will be sought most often in sports medicine clinics or fitness centers.

Education Requirements

You can earn a diploma, certificate or associate degree through an accredited clinical massage program. During your training, you will probably have to complete courses in anatomy, kinesiology and various massage techniques, as well as a certain number of clinical practicum sessions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states require massage therapists to be licensed (www.bls.gov). Your licensing requirements are determined by the state in which you intend to practice, though most include passing either a state exam, the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB) or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx).

Clinical Massage Therapy Career Outlook

The BLS reported that massage therapy jobs were predicted to increase by 23% from 2012-2022, which was much faster than the average for other occupations. Many workers only find part-time positions, particularly when they start out in their career. Massage therapists made an average yearly wage of $40,350 in May 2012.

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