Massage Therapy School Curriculum
A rich education in treating the body, mind and spirit
The general curriculum for a massage therapy program covers many different areas from both arts and sciences. You can expect to study such areas as:
Anatomy (the study of the human body) - This topic is a study in memorization. For example, the body's hundreds of muscles must become familiar to you - not just their names, but their insertion points, range of movement and impact on the body's other structures.
Physiology (the study of functions and vital processes of organs and their systems) - Manipulating limbs, joints and muscles can have profound implications for the entire body. The study of physiology will help students gain a holistic perspective on the ways in which ailments, aches and problems are treated.
Kinesiology (the study of movement) - You have to know movement in order to treat muscles and joints. Bodies are not static. In fact, massage therapy often seeks to make the body less static. If you are to enhance a person's movement, you have to know how that person moves now, and how they should be moving in the future.
Pathology (the study of disease) - Massage therapy won't always be the answer. A grounding in pathology can help a massage therapist recognize his/her limits - where massage therapy is an appropriate treatment, and where the expertise of other health practitioners is required.
Massage history and theory - Massage has existed for thousands of years, and many traditions and techniques used today have been around just as long. History and theory can help you recognize the folk origins of many modern practices, but can also help you recognize the profound impact modern science has had on the way we view the physical world.
Massage techniques and practice - You will learn how to give a massage - how to use your hands and fingers, even your elbows and feet. You'll also learn best practices, not just for clients, but for yourself; it would be a sad irony if your body became a casualty of trying to help other people's bodies.
Assessment (the study of regional orthopedic tests for client evaluation) - This will teach you how to develop an action plan. When a client comes to you, they will often only provide you with vague verbally expressed information. From that information, as well as an assessment of their physical status, you will have to develop a hypothesis about what is plaguing them, confirm that hypothesis and develop a treatment plan.
Principles of treatment - These are the structures on which you hang your techniques. Your assessment of a client will progress to deciding upon principles of treatment, which will then be put into action through specific techniques.
Nutrition - Food matters, particularly in the 21st century. A substantial number of the problems your clients are facing are directly related to lifestyle decisions, including poor eating habits. While you will not be qualified to dispense advice about diets, knowing the role food plays in your client's health may help you develop an effective treatment plan.
Ethics - People who need medical attention are vulnerable. Your clients will be giving you a level of access to their personal space that almost no other professional is granted. This is a solemn responsibility. Developing an ethical core - a framework in which decisions can be made with consistency - will help you avoid the pitfalls of poor decision making and unethical practices.
Business - Running a business well is a skill you can develop. Being more organized is also a skill you can develop. If both of these can be taught - which they can - then prosperity through massage therapy can also be a learned skill. Studying this subject will ensure that you get the maximum financial benefit from your efforts.
Many schools offer supervised clinics which are available to the general public, as this allows students the opportunity to work on a variety of clients and conditions.
Looking for a massage school? Check out our full list of massage therapy schools for a curriculum near you!