Massage Goes Mainstream

Massage therapy is becoming more popular as a technique to relieve stress as well as pain. Much of this trend stems from scientific studies showing its efficacy and safety as an alternative to medication that have helped to shed its image as a luxury indulgence or even cover for prostitution. As a result, companies are increasingly offering massage on site to workers and many doctors, dentists, chiropractors and even hospitals are incorporating massage therapy in their treatments or referrals.

The status of massage has also been boosted by celebrity testimonials such as Florida’s Governor Jeb Bush, who said, “I get massage therapy regularly, because a happy governor is a stress-free governor. I recommend massage therapy to the next Governor of the state of Florida.” This was in connection with again proclaiming Oct. 22 – 28 as Massage Therapy Awareness Week. Florida has officially recognized the practice of massage therapy since 1997, when Governor Lawton Chiles declared the first Massage Therapy Awareness Week. Florida, which has 24,000 licensed massage therapists with almost 100 practitioners or salons in the Fort Myers area alone. Florida is also one of a growing number of states that recognizes and regulates massage as a medical modality and has four area educational programs to teach applicants the necessary knowledge, skills and techniques to become licensed under the Florida Department of Health.

One facility offers both a Therapeutic Massage diploma, which requires approximately 45 weeks of study, and an Occupational Associate of Science degree in Massage Therapy, which requires an additional 15 weeks of instruction. Studies include skeletal and musculature anatomy as well as specific techniques such as deep tissue sports massage, medical massage and spa massage, all of which are designed to achieve different effects. Many therapists provide services at home. States vary with respect to their Licensure requirements for training, experience and passing specific examinations and several, including California, Colorado and Massachusetts have no requirements although municipalities may impose standards.

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