How Infants Benefit From Massage Therapy - by admin@mcb on February 27 2015

How Infants Benefit From Massage Therapy

Infant massage therapy is an effective natural treatment that can help impact a baby’s temperament, stress levels, and overall emotional health. Babies benefit from the nurturing touch and light pressure that feels both soothing and calming.

massage therapy skills
Source: Freedigitalphotos

Infant massage offers a wide range of benefits such as:

  • Helping to reduce infant hormones that can impact stress levels.
  • Reducing crying and periods of fussiness.
  • Aiding an infant’s ability to relax and sleep soundly.

Expanding your massage therapy practice to include infant massage is an excellent way to reach a new demographic and gain new clients. Offering infant massage services gives you the opportunity to have a positive impact on infants and their parents. You may also want to use the infant massage sessions as an educational opportunity for parents. Demonstrating effective techniques that they can use at home helps transfer the benefits of massage therapy to their everyday lives. Consider enrolling in continuing education for massage therapy courses aimed at working with infants to learn more about these specific techniques.

The Institute of Somatic Therapy is proud to offer a variety of courses designed for continuing education for massage therapy. Visit our website today to learn more about these courses and the opportunities to expand your massage therapy skills and knowledge.

Massage Therapists in Wisconsin: Be Prepared to Meet New Requirements Beginning March 1 - by admin@mcb on February 25 2015

Massage Therapists in Wisconsin: Be Prepared to Meet New Requirements Beginning March 1

Beginning March 1, 2015 the continuing education requirements for licensed massage therapists in Wisconsin will change. It is important to stay current on the continuing education requirements to ensure that you remain certified and in good standing to practice in the state of Wisconsin. The new requirements include:

  • massage therapy business
    Source: Freedigitalphotos

    Massage therapists need to earn 24 continuing education credits every two years to remain current.

  • Two of the 24 credits must be in ethics courses.
  • All 24 hours of credits may be earned as online education.
  • Each course must be offered by a NCBTMB approved provider.

All of the courses we offer at the Institute of Somatic Therapy are valid for meeting the continuing education requirements in Wisconsin. Our NCBTMB approved provider number is #280672-00. Consider contacting us to learn more about our continuing education for massage therapy courses and which ones may be best for your individual needs. We can help you determine which courses will help you advance your massage skills and knowledge, grow your practice, and become a better massage therapist.

The Institute of Somatic Therapy is to proud to offer a wide variety of courses in continuing education for massage therapy. Visit us online today to learn more about each of the convenient online classes available to you as you meet your continuing education requirements.

Thailand Massage from an American Standpoint - by admin@mcb on February 24 2015

Thailand Massage from an American Standpoint

Thai menuTo celebrate 25 years in the massage industry, the Institute of Somatic Therapy held their annual corporate retreat in Thailand this year. Director of Education, Judith Koch, wanted an opportunity to find ways to better market Thai massage and Thai massage continuing education courses in the United States, and to explore the Thai massage establishment model to see what aspects, if any, might be incorporated into the United States.

Massage therapy in Thailand is everywhere. It is not unusual to see two or three massage establishments on a busy block. A typical hour-long session is in the 250-300 baht range. At approximately 31 baht per dollar, that makes an hour session roughly eight to nine dollars. Most massage businesses have a full menu of services, with the two most popular being the one-hour foot massage (which also includes the arms, neck, and upper back) and the traditional Thai floor massage and bodywork session. Variations of these include some oil massage combined with Thai stretches and pressure points. Most facilities also offered pedicures, manicures, and facials. The photo of one such menu was taken at one of the higher priced locations.

In the course of our visit, Judith had three traditional Thai massages (one with coconut oil massage incorporated), by three different practitioners, and six Thai foot massages (five of which were one hour) by six different practitioners. She also had a facial massage with clay treatment the final day, when she was feeling too overworked from all the bodywork to be able to comfortably receive any that day.

The first session was held at a massage school located at the famous Wat Po (“wat” is the Thai word for temple), home of a famous enormous side-lying Buddha. This temple is located next to the Grand Palace, which is a major tourist attraction in Bangkok.

The massage school here ( has four affiliated schools in other areas of Thailand. Founded in 1955, and the first approved Thai medical school accredited by the Thai Ministry of Education, it offers courses in massage as well as in Thai pharmacy, Thai medical practice, and Thai midwife nurse training. The two basic courses are General Thai Massage and Foot Massage, both of which are 5 day courses. Advanced courses include Thai Herbal Compression (3 days), Thai Medical Massage (10 days), Massage for Women’s Healthcare (5 days), and Oil Massage and Aromatherapy (5 days). Their professional Thai massage course is 165 hours  (tuition roughly $1,000 American dollars), spa body treatment for 120 hours, and a professional Thai massage therapy program for 200 hours (tuition roughly $1,400 American dollars).

At Wat Po we opted for a 30 minute foot massage, which included an approximate 15 minute wait due to their popularity. This was the only facility where we had to wait for a therapist.  We also paid more for a student massage than we did for established therapists the rest of the trip, and had also paid admission to get into the temple area. Of the six foot treatments I had, this was in the top two as far as skill of practitioner. It was also the only location where we had (or even saw)male therapists.

A typical Thai foot massage includes some warm-up strokes, and the deeper work is done with the use of a small wooden tool. The tool was about six inches long, about half an inch around at the large end and a little smaller on the tapered end. The therapist would grip it so that the tip of the tool was right along their thumb, almost making it difficult at times to tell if they were using their thumb or the tool. The tool was also used perpendicular to the skin to perform light strokes along the top and sides of the foot.

One foot was thoroughly massaged, both by hand and with the tool, then cocoon-wrapped with a hand towel while the other foot was massaged. Strokes were generally restricted to the foot area, with some strokes extending all the way to the knee. It was very common to start with a double tapotement “thump, thump” with the little finger side of their closed fist. This would be done on the bottom of the foot or the middle of the calf muscle as a warm up and closing stroke. During the hour-long foot session, the foot work is extended to around 40 minutes, with the remaining time on the arms (with the therapist approaching from the side), the head and neck (with the therapist standing behind the lounge chair), and then the client would move to sit on the footstool with their back to the therapist for the final back work. Some therapists included arm stretches at this point, while others did not. They always ended with a series of tapotement strokes.

Our second session was in a private establishment, where we had a traditional Thai massage on a floor mat.  Judith felt this first Thai-styled massage session was the best she experienced, or maybe it was just the many miles she had walked the day before. It definitely helped loosen up her sore legs. The first practitioner seemed to have a smoother flow to her technique, and a better sense of limitations on stretches, which is why it was rated the best. Since our standard of expectation was set by the enormously talented Michael “Mukti” Buck of Vedic Conservatory as seen in his video training courses that we offer, we were disappointed at the “pushy” lack of flow that several of the therapists displayed. To receive traditional Thai massage, the patron was given a two-piece cotton outfit, much like a pair of pajamas, to wear during the session, regardless of how loose and comfortable the clothes being worn at arrival.

The best foot massage was done so smoothly that Judith had difficulty determining at times if the therapist was using her thumb or the wooden tool. (It was the wooden tool.) She held it so close to the tip of her thumb that they almost become one. Some therapists who were not as proficient with the tool either had too much tip exposed, which felt rough, or not enough depth of pressure, which felt more tickling than therapeutic. In addition to using the tip of the tool to make a series of vertical and horizontal passes along the bottom of the foot, the side of the tool was used to stroke along the top of the foot and whirled between the toes. Many therapists would wrap the tip of the tool in a towel or cloth (to prevent slipping) and apply pressure to various points along the top of each toe and along the side of the big toe, likely corresponding to reflexology points. Unfortunately most of the therapists did not speak much English, to it was difficult to have a detailed conversation with them about their training and practice.

Most of the facilities were set up in a similar fashion, with several reclining chairs in the front area for the foot massages, and several individual curtained-off areas in the back or upstairs for the Thai sessions. Privacy was minimal. For the oiled sessions, some establishments had large wooden tables (approximately four feet wide, about one foot off the ground) while others used the same mat as for traditional Thai bodywork. I saw no American-style massage tables in any of the establishments.

Massage therapists who were not working on a client would solicit in the street, calling out to passersby with their laminated schedule of services in hand. Rumor has it that the locations where the women were wearing a certain color of t-shirts was a code that they offered services of a sexual nature, although prior to hearing that rumor we had not encountered any establishments fitting that description, and we avoided the one we saw afterwards just to be on the safe side. One establishment in Phuket had a “no sex” sign on the front door, which was the only open reference we saw to sexual services. A newspaper article in the Bangkok Post that same week discussed governmental efforts to reduce sex tourism and human trafficking, so hopefully that aspect is being addressed, although the article seemed to indicate that it was the women victims who were being humiliated and arrested instead of the patrons.

One of the establishment owners was interested to know what massage establishments were like in the USA. He was curious if the Thai model would work here. As we discussed the logistics, we both agreed that we did not think that it would transfer well, except perhaps in high tourist zones like a beach or riverfront boardwalk, busy shopping malls, or airports. Most of us don’t have the needed amount of foot traffic to bring in a significant number of passersby off the street without an appointment. But even in high foot traffic zones, considering the high rent that would accompany such locations in the states, and the typical wage paid to massage therapists, the prices would be so much greater in the US that they would probably not do a fraction of the business. A $10 service is an easier impulse decision than the same service for $60 and higher.

Overall, while I enjoyed the low cost and the variation, I must admit that I’m looking forward to getting back on my local therapist’s soft table in a private room to receive an American style massage. As the old saying goes, it was a great place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.

For students interested in learning Thai massage, we offer two continuing education courses to choose from. The first is the traditional style on a floor mat, the second is modified for American-style massage tables:

Thai Yoga Massage

Thai on the Table

For therapists who would like to earn continuing education credits through Michael Buck’s training titled Four Attitudes – Nuad Borarn Thai Massage, we offer a “test only” option. You will obtain the DVD series through and then when you are ready to earn your continuing education hours, you can take the test through our online system.

Your Massage Business Can Benefit the Thousands of People Suffering From Anxiety - by admin@mcb on February 23 2015

Your Massage Business Can Benefit the Thousands of People Suffering From Anxiety

Recent clinical research has proven what massage therapists have long known, massage therapy offers significant benefits to patients suffering from anxiety. Researchers at the University of Miami have concluded that massage therapy is able to alter the body’s biochemistry therefore helping to relieve both anxiety and depression.

massage therapy
Source: Freedigitalphotos

Specific findings from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine include:

  • Breast cancer patients that participated in massage therapy or progressive muscle relaxation for five weeks or more reported feeling more energetic and less angry and depressed.
  • Men, women, and children who report having stress problems also benefit from massage therapy. Researchers measured the cortisol hormone before and after massage therapy sessions and discovered that levels decreased 53% on average. Cortisol can increase blood pressure, raise blood sugar levels, and suppress the body’s immune system.
  • Regular massage therapy increases dopamine and serotonin in the body, vital neurotransmitters that work to reduce depression in a patient.

Visit the Institute of Somatic Therapy online today to learn more about the online courses for massage therapy that we offer. We are committed to helping massage therapists learn new skills and grow their practices. Our online courses for massage therapy are convenient and specifically designed to provide the knowledge you are seeking.

Do you know what causes 80% of myofascial pain? - by admin@mcb on February 19 2015

Do you know what causes 80% of myofascial pain?

Can you identify the physical abnormality that Dr. Janet Travell, the pioneer of myofascial pain and trigger point training, stated is the cause of approximately 80% of all myofascial pain? Did you even know that 80% of all myofascial pain came from a single cause? I didn’t.

An example of Morton's Foot Structure
An example of Morton’s Foot Structure

If you are like most massage therapists, your massage training didn’t teach  you about the most common cause of foot, knee, and hip pain. It is a condition called Morton’s Foot Structure (sometimes referred to as Morton’s Toe or Morton’s Foot Syndrome). Morton’s Foot Structure is primarily caused by one of two anatomical conditions of the foot:
1) hypermobility of the plantar ligament, or
2) a first metatarsal that is shorter than the second metatarsal.

One or both of these conditions will cause hyperpronation during walking, which in turn tends to lead to structural compensation of the knees and hips, which then results in the development of trigger points and myofascial pain throughout the entire lower extremity.

Institute of Somatic Therapy just created a new 3 CE pathology online massage therapy continuing education course which covers the anatomy, symptoms, causes and assessment of Morton’s Foot Structure, and teaches about a very simple method your client can employ to greatly reduce their symptoms. You will learn the many muscles that are negatively impacted by Morton’s Foot so that you can address the problems it has caused. You will also learn a simple way to significantly reduce the pain your clients have as a result of this condition. To enroll in the course, or read more about it, visit The Institute of Somatic Therapy.

Sanitation is Key to Preventing Disease in Massage Therapy - by admin@mcb on February 18 2015

Sanitation is Key to Preventing Disease in Massage Therapy

As a massage therapist you have no way of knowing whether a client is spreading pathogens throughout your office. You also may be contagious with an illness and not know it. Maintaining proper sanitation in your working environment is key to preventing the spread of disease in massage therapy. Clients come to you to feel rejuvenated, not to get sick. Make the effort to keep your practice healthy and germ free.

massage therapy business
Source: Flickr

Running a safe massage therapy business involves proper sanitation, including:

  • Maintaining personal hygiene Make sure you are showering daily and thoroughly washing your hair on days that you work. Avoid overly fragrant hygiene products and perfumes because they may cause sensitivity in some of your clients. Make sure your nails are short and filed to a smooth edge and take the time to practice proper oral care as well.
  • Washing hands regularly The best way to prevent the spread of disease is by regular hand washing. Use an antibacterial foaming soap and thoroughly clean between your fingers and under your nails. Consider using an alcohol based rub immediately before a massage and at the end of the massage session.
  • Properly cleaning clothing Make sure your work uniform is laundered at the end of each work day and avoid cleaning products that are heavily fragranced. Keep an extra uniform with you at all times in case you need to change and replace your uniforms as they become worn. Wear clean shoes with socks to avoid spreading any foot fungus or disease.

The Institute of Somatic Therapy is committed to helping professionals in running a safe massage therapy business. Visit us online today to learn more about the courses we offer.