Your Massage Toolbox

Jesse Byrd, NMT instuctor

Jesse Byrd, NMT instructor

A common question we hear from massage therapists is what Continuing Education classes they should take.  This is a great question. Most states require 16-32 hours every 2 years to maintain a state massage license.  New Mexico requires 16 hours and an extra 8 hours for Instructors.

Consider your “Massage Toolbox”, loaded with the best “tools” to serve your clients.  Is it well rounded?  Does it help most clients?  Is anything missing?

The basics are usually covered in Massage School.  We call that the “Square Massage”, where you learn the VERY basics of giving a massage.

Next, add to those “basics”, taking more Sports Massage or more Myo-fascial work.  Each of these modalities can help.

Every Massage Toolbox should have basic “Body Mechanics” and self care and good business practices.  Taking care of your body is AS important as learning fascinating skills.  If your body gives out…it won’t matter what you’ve learned.

After the basic classes are in your Massage Toolbox, then start looking for modalities that interest you.

Each therapist has specific talents and passions which they are drawn to.  Listen to your gut.

Medium deep trap work

Medium deep trap work

Massage CEUs are expensive, some more than others, and since each of us will only take 2-3 weekend classes each year, choosing your classes carefully is important.

Massage has so many options for Continuing Education!

  • Sports Massage
  • Neuromuscular Therapy
  • Pregnancy Massage
  • Oncology Massage
  • Cranial Sacral Therapy
  • Spa treatments
  • & many others

You can choose classes to help keep your hands and body from wearing out, or how to run your business.  Ethics is required by all and is often quite boring.

We can also use communication classes, personal training, nursing classes, aromatherapy, stretching, on and on.   Instead of learning ALL styles of bodywork, be specific.

If Sports or Trigger point is more your style, then ANY type of anatomy classes are a great help.  Or, if helping in a senior center or hospital is more your road, then you can find classes to help cancer patients, aging clients, or even hospice clients.

If moms are who you want to help, you could concentrate on pregnancy massage, infant massage, massage for migraines or massage for menopause.

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Whitney Lowe teaching Orthopedic Massage

If you have strong hands, then Sports Massage, Deep Tissue Massage or the like are good options.  Like Orthopedic Massage with Whitney Lowe was great.  He was easy to learn from and he very precise, which makes him good for “anal” students as well as those who don’t pay attention to details.  Or James Waslaski’s Ortho Massage is great, too.  James’ classes are more rugged or physical.  He really gets into each move and likes to manipulate the body more than other teachers.  Each modality I have found very helpful and effective back in the office.

 

Robert Stevens, Core Synchronism

Robert Stevens, Core Synchronism

 

If you don’t have strong hands or would like some smarter ways to work deeper, try Robert Stevens’ Core Synchronism  classes, which are incredible.  Even though “Core” is a subtle therapy, I use it in all of my “Deep Tissue” massages.  It is by far one of my favs.

Ultimately, you’ll need to choose your own path of learning, allowing yourself to be drawn to modalities that interest you.  Go with your gut.  The amount of CEU options is crazy and overwhelming.

Each therapist has great strengths and incredible talent in certain areas.  Explore different modalities to see which type of bodywork you excel in and like.  Which modality grabs your interest? Many will.  But, the better question is which modality KEEPS your interest.  Which do you always come back to? What is your “Go-to” when sessions get tough? When a friend or family member needs help with shoulder pain, what do you think of first?  In order to find your “Go-to” modality, you need to learn several modalities…different modalities.  I admit, some of the classes I took seemed to be a waste of time and money because I never used the specific style being taught…but I still learned from each instructor, and what was MOST important is to have clarity about what I DID NOT want to do.

Personally, I don’t think each of us is great at all modalities, and each of us has a specific way of helping people feel better.  Not each modality needs to be in your tool box….and not every person is going to “click” with you or you with them.

But, when you do “click” with a client, and you feel honored and genuinely respectful of their trust & concerned with the outcome of your time together, then having many different tools in your Massage Toolbox is very powerful. Using Trigger Points to specify pain, some stretches to loosen, deep tissue to lengthen, Core to synchronize, unwinding to calm and breathing to bring everything together, is one of oodles of examples of utilizing a well-rounded toolbox.  At the end of the day, when you get to make an amazing difference in another humans life, then ALL the classes are WAY worth it.

Orthopedic Massage with Whitney Lowe

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Orthopedic Massage demonstrations

Orthopedic Massage demonstrations

Whitney Lowe’s Orthopedic Massage was well worth the drive to Denver!

The Basics:

There were about 40 people in the class.  The class was 16 hours and yielded 1.6 CEUs for massage therapists.  The hotel classroom was clean and just a bit too small, but it still worked.  The hotel staff were good support of Whitney in a quick technical help if and when he needed them.  They also quietly kept our water, hot coffee and hot water filled and ready for our use.

The Colorado chapter of the AMTA hosted the event and did a nice job of organizing everything.  Kudos to them for collecting so many samples for all the massage therapist’s goodie bags.  Their follow up survey was well worded and they do a good job of including their AMTA members in their chapter.

The Class:

Whitney is a good scholar and has a calm teaching style that invites questions & concerns.  His gentle and humble demeanor  foster a fun & safe environment for learning.  One can’t help but giggling in support of Whitney once he starts talking.

His information is well organized in a very precise book that he wrote about Orthopedic Assessment for Massage Therapists, which has been a helpful resource and was nice to follow along with in class.

After an hour or so of lecturing, we practiced what he was demonstrating with our partner.  My partner,  Jody Foster, from Colorado Springs, was great and helped me understand the information better by figuring questions out together and getting all the movements correct together. I think having a good partner makes a big difference in this type of course because you need each other to learn and teach the movements being taught.  I was thankful that my partner and I were well matched.

The information Whitney taught was easy to remember and use the next week in my office.  I especially liked the psoas stretches, the piriformis pin & stretch, the stripping of the biceps femoris and the different ideas he had about muscle insertions/origins all around the sacrum.

I wish there had been a bit more hands-on learning and a bit more time with Whitney himself, or with a teacher’s aide.  There was only one helper, and an additional helper would have been helpful, in my opinion.

All in all, this was a great class that I highly recommend.  I plan on taking the rest of his series of classes.