Learning about a registered massage therapist is becoming more important as people look for ways to control health care costs. Wellness and preventive care are recognized as more affordable in comparison to expensive diagnostic testing and hospital stays. Massage is widely accepted as therapeutic and the benefits can go beyond the simple relief of muscular aches and pains.

Massage therapy is a recognized profession and as such has its own standards of education and certification. Various professional organizations set guidelines for professional practice and ethics and act as trade organizations consulting with government on legislation to protect the interests of consumers and practitioners alike.

Massage practitioners complete rigorous courses of study in anatomy and physiology, assessment, bodywork techniques, pathology, and patient care. Education covers modalities such as Swedish, deep tissue, myofascial, neuromuscular, and hydrotherapy, to name only a few. Sub-specialties include sports massage, pre-and post-natal massage, and trauma recovery. Coursework hours for certification vary by institution, and practitioners typically continue their education by doing advanced work in various specialties.

Increasingly, massage therapists are required to be examined by government boards for the purpose of licensing and registration. Examinations typically include both practical and written or oral assessment. Licensing boards may also require continuing education as a condition of license renewal, and massage schools offer a wide variety of courses that have been accepted for continuing education credit.

Massage can be an important part of alternative and complementary medical programs. Surgical recovery patients can benefit from various types of massage, as can long-term care residents, stroke patients, and others whose recovery depends on maintaining both physical and mental well-being in the hospital setting.

The stress-reducing benefits of therapeutic massage are well-documented, and since many today's ills can be traced to excess stress there can be no doubt that massage is a valuable tool in the prevention of illness. Workplace wellness initiatives often include access to an on-staff or visiting massage therapist so that workers may get help coping with work-induced stress.

Many couples today delay starting a family while they pursue their education and career objectives. As a result, women are having children later in life, and many find massage of significant value before, during, and after childbirth. Skilled therapists now specialize in pre-natal and post-natal massage of mothers, and it's not uncommon for obstetricians to recommend massage to help alleviate discomfort due to nausea, sleeplessness, and other symptoms of pregnancy.

As people live longer and maintain more active lifestyles, the need for sports and orthopedic massage increases. Running, bicycling, tennis, and working out at the gym all take a toll on joints and muscles. Massage therapists who specialize in preventing or treating sports-related injuries are in high demand.

Finally, while older people today may not be as comfortable with the concept of massage for cultural reasons, as populations who are accredited to massage grow older there is expected to be an increase in the need for massage practitioners with specific training in care for geriatric patients .

These are just some of the ways a registered massage therapist plays an important role in recovery, wellness, and preventive care. The search for affordable models for health care continues to expand our acceptance of rediscovered and revitalized treatment modalities with long and honored histories in world culture.