Therapeutic Massage Training

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Therapeutic massage training is a requirement for receiving a license or registration in most states. The requirements vary by state, but most require 500 hours of classroom and hands-on training. Chief among training requirements are contraindications (situations where massage may cause harm) and professional ethics.

Typical Training for Theraputic Massage

Any credible massage school offers a combination of written instruction, including tests, and practical or "hands-on" instruction. In the majority of states with licensing or registration requirements, the school bases its curriculum on meeting state guidelines.

For example, the State of Texas requires 500 hours of training. This training must include Swedish massage therapy techniques and a hands-on internship.

Courses include anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, disease pathology. Hydrotherapy, hygiene, general health, first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will be a mix of course and practice training. There must also be training regarding massage laws, business practices and ethics.

Practical Training

In most schools, the largest single training section involves direct "hands-on" massage training. In those courses, the students most often practice on each other. Early training involves proper draping (how the patient's sheets should be maneuvered in order to maintain modesty), gauging contact pressure, Swedish therapy strokes and proper methods to move joints to improve mobility. There is no method other than practice for a therapist to learn how to find knots in muscles.


The therapist learns situations where use of massage may be harmful to the patient. As a part of the medical field, massage therapists are bound by the rule of "Do no harm."

Inflamed joints, skin conditions, acute injuries and some cancer conditions may be made worse by massage, and the therapist must learn to recognize those cases.

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