Getting to grips with body massage

IF YOU are enthusiastic about alternative therapies and you want a job working with your hands, you may enjoy life as a massage therapist.

In this job, you may use your fingers, hands or elbows to stroke, knead and manipulate soft body tissue and bring benefits to clients.

You will need to be comfortable being in close proximity to clients. You’ll also need to be able to listen to clients and empathise with their health or emotional issues.

To get into massage therapy, it is suggested you take an in-depth course of at least six months full-time or 12 months part-time. Shorter courses should be seen as an introduction or for general interest only.

You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme, if they are run in your area.

The benefits from massage can be:

• IMPROVED muscle and skin tone;

• BETTER circulation;

• RELIEF from aches and pains associated with muscle tension, such as headaches;

• AN increased ability to rid the body of toxins.

Your clients could also include those seeking both physical and emotional healing, for example:

• PEOPLE who are ill or recovering from a period of sickness;

• ADULTS who want to manage stress more effectively;

• THOSE suffering with anxiety or depression;

• PEOPLE who want to develop their ability to relax.

You could specialise in a particular branch of massage, such as:

• INDIAN head massage – using particular oils and techniques to relax the neck, shoulders, head and face

• SPORTS massage – treating sports injuries such as sprains, torn ligaments and broken limbs

• BABY massage – helping to calm and bond babies with parents

• BODY massage (also known as Swedish massage) – working on the whole body, especially the limbs and back.

You would usually begin a session by checking the client’s medical history, diet and lifestyle. During treatment, you would apply pressure to specific areas to ease tension and you may also use essential oils. After treatment, you may give advice to clients about how to maintain and build upon their general wellbeing.

Your hours of work are likely to include evenings and weekends in order to fit in with the needs of your clients.

It could include a variety of settings such as beauty salons, health spas and fitness centres. You could also work in a healthcare environment, like a hospice or holistic medical centre.

Sessions could take between 15 and 60 minutes, depending on your client’s needs. You would carry out treatments in a quiet room, with a massage table. You may also visit clients in their homes or workplaces.

Many massage therapists are self-employed and charge a sessional or hourly rate, which can be between £20 and £60 an hour. With experience and skills in a range of therapies, earnings can rise to around £40,000 a year.