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What Is Therapeutic Massage?

Therapeutic massage manipulates the body's soft tissue and muscles to relieve pain and stress. Required education and training for massage therapists is regulated by the states, which may require licensure or certification. Read on to learn more about this practice.

Therapeutic Massage

Therapeutic massage is the manual manipulation of the body's soft tissue, and it's generally used for the reduction of stress and pain. It has been used in many world cultures for more than 4,000 years. Because many diseases are exacerbated by stress, therapeutic massage can help a person become healthier and more resistant to disease.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Salary (2019) $42,820 for massage therapists
Entry -Level Education Postsecondary non-degree award
Licensing Licensing requirements vary by state
Work Environment Private practice, clinic, spa

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Benefits of Therapeutic Massage

Through the manipulations of the body's soft tissue and muscles, therapeutic massage relieves muscle aches and pains. This practice is often used in sports conditioning, but it can also be beneficial in a variety of other ways. Therapeutic massage can help with the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relaxation
  • Sleep problems
  • Stress reduction
  • Immune system function

Training Required

As of 2016, massage therapy was regulated in 45 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The boards governing massage therapy in these states require a massage therapist to complete a formal education program and pass a national certification examination or state exam.

Therapeutic massage programs can be found at some postsecondary institutions. These programs typically cover anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, ethics and the hands-on practice of massage techniques.

Job Outlook

The BLS reports that employment for the massage therapy profession is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations. Employment for massage therapists is expected to increase 21% from 2019 to 2029. The BLS reports that increased acceptance of alternative medicine and holistic healing will help drive projected growth.