Are you interested in becoming a massage therapist? Massage is a sought-after form of relaxation and is often thought to be a luxury. At Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM), we teach more than massage for relaxation. We know that massage is good for the body as well as the mind. With our ancient Asian Bodywork healing techniques, we know that massage can improve many health issues. From injury rehabilitation to oncology and cancer treatments, massage can be a powerful form of healing.
Who Needs Massage?
According to a recent U.S. Department of Labor study, employment for massage therapists is expected to increase 19 percent between 2008 and 2018, faster than average for all occupations. Why the prospected increase in massage therapist positions? Because there is a rising demand for qualified massage practitioners, especially those familiar with biomedicine principles.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) estimates that, in 1998, only 7.7% of hospitals offered integrative therapies such as massage. By 2013, that number is estimated to be 42%. Massage therapists can make a difference in a patient’s recovery from a variety of health issues that are traditionally treated at a hospital, from surgery (massage reduces post-surgery adhesions and swelling), injury rehabilitation, and cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy (massage can alleviate side effects of oncology therapies).
How Does Massage Therapy Help Physical Ailments?
Massage is the ultimate mind-meets-body treatment. A good massage offers both mental and physical benefits. As certified Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP) and Pacific College Faculty member Lara Stillo puts it, “Touch is innate. It has a healing quality even via just the basic comfort it conveys, one person to another. Taking this further by learning how to address the complexity of the human body through massage therapy is a wonderful way to deepen the healing power of touch."
When muscles become relaxed, the body’s range of motion is improved. This leads to better mobility. So, for example, when a patient recovering from a sports injury receives massage, it can dramatically improve his or her recovery time by increasing the flexibility of the injured limb.
Massage also improves blood circulation, which is crucial for injury recovery. This is also why massage is great for athletes: in addition to helping recover from injuries, it can help prevent them from happening. Stillo adds, “It is instinctual to rub areas that are sore, apply gentle touch to areas that are injured, and to stretch when we feel less range of motion and movement. Massage therapy takes this natural wisdom our bodies promote for healing and brings it into the health field as a form of integrative medicine." Consistently relieving muscle tension with massage can help athletes prepare for strenuous workouts and keep muscles limber so tearing is avoided.
When circulation is improved, the nervous system is also benefited. Massage can calm the nervous system, which will in turn help lower blood pressure, heart rate, and can even enhance skin tone and relieve migraines.The mental and emotional tie-in to this host of physical benefits is that patients come away from a massage feeling rejuvenated and de-stressed. In addition to helping patients unload stress, massage and Asian Bodywork can improve the immune system: helping to prevent illness and fortifying the immune system for recovery from current sickness.
Massage Can Help Cancer Patients?
Oncology patients show less pain, fear, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, and depression following massage therapy, according to a recent study by the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. As we mentioned above, massage can strengthen the immune system. This is paramount in a cancer patient’s recovery, as many cancer treatments (like radiation and chemotherapy) weaken the immune system.
When the immune system is boosted with massage, the lymphatic system is also benefited. The lymphatic system serves as the body’s natural defense system. This is how the body moves waste and toxins outward (notice how you sweat most out of your armpits? That’s your lymphatic system working!). By stimulating the lymphatic system, massage supports the body’s natural healing mechanisms. In fact, there is a form of massage specifically developed for patients recovering from cancer treatments, called lymphatic drainage massage.
At Pacific College, we know that massage therapy is an important form of holistic healing. With us, you will develop a background in biomedicine that will enable you to communicate and complement any Western medicine setting.
You will also gain an in-depth knowledge of Asian Bodywork techniques. These massage modalities are derived from principles of Oriental medicine and are tailored to each patient’s needs. From Tui Na, a Chinese massage based on the acupoints used in acupuncture and focused on the neck and shoulders, to Thai massage, a traditional Thai modality in which patients experience gentle stretching of the entire body, you will have a diverse tool belt!