Massage and its Benefits



This post is part of a series by our Massage Therapy Students on the Massage Profession.  This post was written by 2nd year student – Erin Pirolozzi

 Benefits of Massage

How can massage therapy benefit you? Massage therapy has been medically proven to help with a variety of aches, pains, and even medical conditions. This is a great natural treatment to a variety of problems that can come from living a full life. There are plenty of medical and non-medical reasons to improve your health, one of which is to improve the quality of your life. Being free of pain and stress is a major health benefit that you will get from regular massage therapy sessions.

Types of Massage and Benefits

The first thing you want to figure out is what benefit you are aiming for, relaxation? Muscle tension relief? Is there a specific condition or chronic pain ailing you? Once you have that figured out you can choose a modality that best fits that particular benefit. There are as many different types of massage as there are benefits. Depending on the specific benefit you are looking for you can check out a number of different modalities. A few popular modalities include: Swedish, Deep Tissue, Myofascial Release, and Reflexology. Although there are many more modalities to choose from that are extremely beneficial as well.

Swedish Massage

Swedish: Relaxation, improved circulation, pain relief, improved flow of lymph through lymphatic system, helps promote drainage of toxins from body, tension relief, and headache / migraine relief.

Swedish massage is by far the most common and well known type of massage. It is perfect for general relaxation and great for first timers to get introduced to massage. Swedish tends to be a gentler and slow full body massage, but can be used to work deeper and focus on particular muscles.

Deep Tissue

Deep Tissue: Target specific muscles groups, helps relieve chronic pain, relaxation, lower blood pressure, muscle tension relief and help rehabilitate injured muscles

Deep tissue massage is arguably the second most common massage modality after Swedish. Deep tissue, while similar to Swedish, tends to have a focus area for the session and a balance area, and does not always incorporate the full body.

Myofascial Release

MFR: Helps relieve chronic pain, muscle tension relief, increase blood flow, helps lengthen shortened muscles, improve circulation, relaxation, and help improve muscle mobility.

Myofascial release (MFR) is a type of massage that specializes in working with the fascia of the body. Fascia wraps around every cell, muscle, bone and organ in the body. Think of fried chicken, when pulling off the skin the white, spider web type stuff between the skin and the meat is fascia. Usually when we have “knots” in our muscles there are “knots”  (adhesions)  in our fascia as well.  The focus of work is on releasing those adhesions in the fascia. This modality is very slow and is a very different than Swedish and deep tissue. While it does promote relaxation, MFR can be very intense in areas of greater resistance, often accompanied by tingling, stinging or burning sensations that let the client and practitioner know the fascia is releasing.


Reflexology: Relaxation, helps promote drainage of toxins from body, improves nerve conduction, improves circulation, and focuses on particular ailments such as headache or sinus issues

Reflexology massage is the application of pressure to the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques. It is based on a system of zones and reflex areas that reflect an image of the body on the feet, hands, and ears with the idea that such work will effect a physical change to the body.

In closing

As previously mentioned there are many, many more massage modalities to choose from – these are just a few common ones that clients look to for relief.  It is fascinating to look at some of the benefits that are a result of just one massage, let alone a regular massage regime. There have been studies done that show massage can help improve certain health conditions as well. Some of these conditions include: fibromyalgia, asthma, anxiety, depression, stress, digestive disorders, insomnia, myofascial pain syndrome and even sports injuries. No one can deny the relaxation that a massage provides, but don’t be so quick to end the benefits there! Next time you are feeling a little down consult a local massage therapist to see if a massage could help!


Should Massage Therapy Be Covered by Insurance Companies




Erin Bittinger

This post is part of a series by our Massage Therapy Students on the Massage Profession.  This post was written by 2nd year student – Erin Bittinger

Many of you may be wondering why massage therapy isn’t covered by health insurance and why you have to pay out of pocket when you receive any type of bodywork. Currently it is the decision of the insurance company whether to cover massage therapy and then a decision is made within a particular plan to cover massage. The best way to get insurers to cover complementary and alternative therapies (CAM) is by making a good case that your treatment is medically necessary. The simplest way to do this is to get a prescription. Ask your primary care doctor to write one that includes the diagnosis and the frequency and length of treatment

Check Your Policy

Although they may not advertise the fact, some insurers will cover CAM if they are prescribed by a physician. Some of the most frequently covered therapies include chiropractic care, massage therapy, acupuncture, herbal remedies, homeopathy, and mind-body stress management. This may be a frustration to many, including massage therapists.  With massage therapy being recognized more and more as a health care profession, it would seem reasonable that it be covered by insurance companies.

Massage and Other Health Professionals

In order to continue to advance our profession, massage therapists need to be involved in this larger health care conversation. According to the ABMP, while most chiropractic and physical therapy treatments are reimbursed by health insurance, more than 90 percent of massage therapy sessions are paid out of pocket. In some cases, massage is covered only when prescribed by a doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractor. The question is, especially in comparison with other treatments, such as chiropractic care and physical therapy, why is massage therapy not covered by health insurance?

If physical therapists and chiropractors can use massage as a modality of treatment and insurance companies cover treatment, it would make sense to have it covered when massage therapists give the massage. It would make more sense that the insurance companies cover the massage given by the LMT (licensed massage therapist) rather than someone who doesn’t specialize in massage.

What Massage Can Help

Massage can be helpful for pain relief, tension, headaches, insomnia, anxiety and depression, sports injuries, posture, blood pressure, immunity, and those are just a few to name. If chiropractors can use massage in their office and it get covered by the insurance company, massage performed by a LMT should be covered as well.


For massage to be looked at as more of health care profession, rather than a luxury it should be covered by health insurance, just like any other health care provider. Massage has been proven to work for many and the benefits from receiving massage therapy alone are most promising. Massage is one health care profession that offers many benefits from receiving treatments.

As a future LMT, I would love to see massage therapy get covered by the health insurance companies. Not only would it make massage therapy be viewed more as health care rather than a luxury and be taken more seriously, but it would also make it more accessible to many people in need.

How Massage Changed My Life

Jessica Lowery

This post is part of a series by our Massage Therapy Students on the Massage Profession.  This post was written by 2nd year student – Jessica Lowery

Thinking back to being in the first semester of Massage Therapy, I can’t help but think of how much I have grown. I’m not just talking about growth through learning massage techniques, but also growth as a whole person.  I enrolled in the Massage Therapy program to help my husband with his PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder).  Being in this program has taught me about being present in the moment.  There have been times at home that being present made a positive difference in my husband and children’s lives, and I am thankful for that experience.

Massage and Medications

Before entering the Massage Therapy program, I was taking antidepressant medication and sleeping pills to cope with the issues in my life. One of the benefits of massage is that it helps stabilize your mood.  By the second year, I was able to go off of the medications (with the approval of my doctor) and am now living happily without the aid of medication.  There are other coping mechanisms available than medicine; you just have to seek them.

More Time Equals Greater Benefits

I am glad that this is a two-year program and not just a short period like some other schools. The extra time has given me the chance to sharpen my techniques and to sharpen my presence with my clients.  Massage Therapy has opened my eyes to a new world of thinking.  Before I entered the program, I would have never thought I would be dealing with other people’s energy, but I have witnessed and experienced it myself.  There is so much more to this work than just “giving a massage.”

Learning More than Massage

To better help our clients, it is best to know yourself first. I said to the Massage Therapy program director, “If you didn’t know yourself before you get into this program, you will by the end.”   This program has helped me do that. I think you would be hard pressed to find that kind of growth within many other programs.


I’ve seen my peers grow as well. We have grown into a confident group of students.  I think every one of us has worked through some personal things throughout this program, and I believe that having the support from each other and from the instructors, as well, made the transition much easier.  The knowledgeable staff has been there to give me constructive feedback to enable me to develop into the strong, confident person I am today.


In closing, if you are looking for a rewarding career in helping people on their journey to wellness, then the Massage Therapy program at Allegany College of Maryland is the place to enroll. I believe it is not only beneficial for the clients, but also for the therapists as well.  I am glad that I chose this program two years ago.  For more information about the Massage Therapy program at Allegany College of Maryland, please contact us.

Massage: A growing presence in the medical community.

Diane Polk

This post is part of a series by our Massage Therapy Students on the massage profession.  This post was written by 2nd year student – Danielle Polk.


It is very common to think of massage as an expensive luxury to receive only in resort spas. It is true that many spas offer massage. As the results of research in massage advances, more and more massage is considered an integral part of the healthcare community.

Massage therapists are well educated in the many benefits of massage. Some of these benefits include reduced stress, decreased pain, improved circulation, reduction of muscle and scar adhesions, improved immune system and improved joint mobility. Thanks to the research of these benefits, it is growing more common to see massage therapists working alongside many different health care professionals in a variety of settings.

Massage and Physical Therapy

Physical therapists work with a variety of medical, muscular, and orthopedic conditions. These can include joint replacements, fractures, tendon strains, muscle sprains, or medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Diabetes, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Fibromyalgia. Physical therapists are skilled in the use of many treatment techniques and modalities, but do not get the in-depth education in massage skills that a massage therapist receives. This fact, along with the often heavy case load a physical therapist, has led to the growing practice of massage therapy departments being created in many clinics. With a licensed massage therapist’s knowledge of a patient’s condition, that patient can receive the full benefits of massage while maximizing their efforts in physical therapy.

Massage and Outpatient IV Therapy

For a long time massage was not recommended for people with cancer because it was feared that massage would spread the disease. Thankfully, through research studies and education, this no longer the case. In fact, gentle massage has been proven to have many benefits to cancer patients. Cancer can be a frightening disease, and the medications used to treat it are very taxing to the body in itself. These medications can leave patients experiencing many symptoms such as pain, anxiety, fatigue, nausea, and neuropathy. Through advocacy and working closely with doctors and other oncology staff, more hospitals are hiring licensed massage therapists trained in medical massage to work with these patients. The evidence is overwhelming that massage can greatly reduce these symptoms and may allow the patient to better tolerate the cancer treatment.

Chiropractors Offices

Chiropractors are doctors who specialize in the manipulation and alignment of the joints in the body. Often these misalignments can be caused by an underlying muscular issue, such as adhesions. It is for these reasons that many chiropractic offices have licensed massage therapists on staff to work with the patient to address these issues. When these muscular issues are addressed, the alignment work of the chiropractor can be more effective and less painful to the patient.

 Massage and Dentistry

Like any other part of the body, the face and mouth have muscles and joints which can develop problems the same as any other muscle or joint. One example is pain and tightness of muscles around the temporomandibular joint (usually referred to as TMJ). This can cause significant jaw pains and headaches. Though not common yet, some dentist offices are hiring massage therapists to help address these issues. Also, since going to the dentist can cause anxiety and stress for some patients, some dentists are offering foot or hand massage while being treated. Since the number one benefit of massage is stress reduction, massage can be an ideal solution to help address those issues.

Closing Thoughts

These are just some examples of how massage is growing to be seen as part of an integrative part of a health care team. Massage doesn’t just “feel good”. It is used in doctor’s offices, hospitals, outpatient cancer centers, and many others to reduce pain and ease stress and anxiety.

There are many physiological and psychological components included in the health benefits of massage. Massage therapists are educated in these areas. Through continued advocacy more health fields are learning about the benefits of massage for their patients. When massage therapists are seen as an integral part of a health care team, it promotes the best outcomes for their patients – and that is the focus of health care.

For more information regarding massage therapy as a career please contact us.


Massage and Multiple Sclerosis

Monica Rounds

This post is part of a series by our Massage Therapy Students on the Massage profession.  This post was written by 2nd year student – Monica Rounds 

Medical practitioners are slowly but surely gaining awareness of just how important massage can be to the treatment of their patients’ conditions. What was once considered only a luxury, the profession of massage and its techniques are being proven to benefit clients in many aspects of health.  As an example with autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), health professionals are becoming more accepting of the role massage can play in a patient’s treatment plan.

Massage is Individualistic

Neurologists are well aware of the amount of pain MS patients’ encounter, whether it is during daily activity or during a relapse episode. What I have personally witnessed is how beneficial therapeutic touch can be with these varying degrees of pain.  Each case of MS varies widely.  Thus each client needs to be treated as an individual with a very detailed, specific treatment plan.  What massage therapists need to keep in mind are the parameters within which to work with an MS client.

Parameters for Massage

The first thing to keep in mind is to not work too deep or too fast. MS patients’ nervous systems are not able to withstand a great amount of pressure or vigorous stimuli.  Either of these techniques can stimulate painful muscle spasms.  Superficial techniques, such as Swedish massage, are good options for MS sufferers.  Please note that there are exceptions to this rule if the patient’s neurologist gives permission for deeper massage.  A release must be filed, the client’s medical history intricately examined, and a great deal of caution is to be taken during the session.

The second thing to keep in mind is to stay clear of any areas where neuropathy is present. The patient is unable to rate pressure in these areas, and damage to the client’s nervous system is a possibility.  Any areas of numbness are locally contraindicated.

The third thing to keep in mind is the patient’s inability to handle sudden changes in temperature. It is important to obtain a doctor’s release if hydrotherapy is being considered as part of the treatment plan.  Sometimes heat in and of itself can be enough to stimulate a relapse.  Also, clients may be less likely to seek out massage therapy when the temperature outside drops.  Extreme cold tends to cause muscles to become tightened and rigid, something that MS sufferers do their best to avoid because of the pain that can arise.

Benefits for MS Patients

MS clients experience a wide variety of signs and symptoms including but not limited to the following: poor balance and coordination, severe fatigue, numbness and tingling, headaches and vertigo, breathing problems, emotional changes, muscle spasms and weakness, confusion and forgetfulness, and problems with bladder and bowel control. Although massage therapy is limited in its treatment of autoimmune disorders, it can bring great relief to the client in a more subtle way.  Massage therapy helps relieve stress and depression and increases quality of sleep and regularity.  In addition to massage, a number of alternative therapies may act as great complements to massage for MS patients, including acupuncture and reflexology.

Collectively, these advantages may lead to the reduction of frequency of relapses. Very often clients will be more than grateful for any help s/he receives.

Please contact the director to learn about becoming a massage therapist.

Should I get a relaxation or a therapeutic massage?

When people start to become interested in massage, it can be overwhelming with all of the different terms.  Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, myofascial massage, relaxation, therapeutic–what do they all mean?

They Are All Therapeutic

If the massage you receive is from a professional massage therapist, every massage should be therapeutic.  At times, if you therapist is working with a particular condition, and using a particular modality, it may feel a little uncomfortable, especially if the therapist is attempting to break up adhesions from a scar.  Your massage hopefully will reduce your stress, help your muscles relax and reduce pain.

Relaxation Massage

Generally, when people are talking about a relaxation massage they are speaking about a Swedish massage.  The main benefit of a Swedish massage can be stress reduction.  And let’s face it, any time we can reduce our stress it can be relaxing and being more relaxed is therapeutic.

Deep Tissue

Very often people who come in requesting a deep tissue massage are really wanting to receive a deep Swedish massage. I have heard clients say “I want you to really get in there.  I like a really deep massage.” As I explore the conversation a little bit more, deep tissue is not what the client really wants.  A traditional deep tissue massage is very slow and focuses on the places where the muscles attach to the bone.  It can be very effective in working with specific conditions.

Myofascial Release

Massages such a myofascial release usually focus on areas of the body that have been experiencing more chronic issues.  It can be relaxing.  However, in this type of massage the therapist is assisting the body to release restrictions that may have developed from repetitive work, surgeries or injuries.  The work is very slow and the patient most often needs to come in more often to address the issue and help the body release those restrictions.

It’s All Good

In the end, no matter whether you are receiving relaxation massage or myofascial release work, it is all therapeutic.  Therefore, if done properly it all can be relaxing.  If you are interested in receiving more information, have questions about different types of massage, or for more information about the massage therapy program, please feel free to  contact us.


Takeaways from the 2015 Massage Profession Research Report

chemo graph

Data compiled by Scott Harrah from information received in 2014 from IV therapy patients.

As the massage therapy profession grows and becomes more mainstream, more information becomes available regarding consumer use, demographics of consumers, professionals work place, gross annual incomes and school changes.

In early spring the American Massage Therapy Association released the 2015 Research Report regarding where the massage therapy profession is today.

The American Massage Therapy Association polled consumers, massage therapists, and massage therapy schools/ programs with more than 500 hours.

Main Takeaways

Ninety-two percent of those surveyed consider massage  effective in reducing pain.

Ninety-one percent view massage as being beneficial to health and wellness.

Of those surveyed 74% stated that massage therapy should be considered as a part of healthcare.

Who is Receiving Massage

For the first time  men surpassed women in receiving massages.  Men reported receiving an average of 5.6 massages in 2014 while women received an average of 3.4 massages in that same time period.

The highest percentage of those reported receiving massages were the baby-boomers with 38% receiving massages.  This group was followed by the Gen-X generation with 31% reporting receiving massages.

Possible Implications

With the reported changes in the beliefs and attitudes toward massage, it is clear that a career in this profession could be highly successful.  There are many opportunities from working in hospitals, nursing homes or rehab centers.   If you have questions or for information, please contact the director.