For Fourth of July, Offer Discounts for Veterans - by admin@mcb on June 11 2018

For Fourth of July, Offer Discounts for Veterans

This Fourth of July, offer special deals for those who have sacrificed to keep us safe. ©
This Fourth of July, offer special deals for those who have sacrificed to keep us safe. ©

Consider a Fourth of July Promotion

The Fourth of July is a celebration of everything that makes America great. From coast to coast we celebrate with parades, fireworks, cookouts, family, and friends. It is also the perfect time to remember and celebrate the veterans that have fought to keep our country free.

Offering a Fourth of July massage therapy promotion is an excellent way to honor veterans and active duty military personal and promote your massage therapy business at the same time.

Advertise Your Promotion Through a Press Release

Consider writing a press release to advertise your promotion. If you have never written a press release, here are some ideas:

  • Look professional. Do an online search to find the proper format for a press release.
  • Word it to be of interest to the readers, not to look like you are simply advertising yourself.
  • You can quote yourself as though it was written by a reporter.
  • Try to keep it to a single page. The real purpose is for the media to want to interview you for a full story.

Send your press release to local newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, and any other local media outlets.

If you are interested in more ways to improve your massage therapy business visit us online at the Institute of Somatic Therapy. We can help you discover innovative courses that are perfect for growing your massage therapy business and better meeting the diverse needs of your clients.

If you haven’t already, we urge you to take our free sample course. Click here:  Seven Mistakes Massage Therapists Make, and How to Avoid Them. This course will help you analyze your massage practice to find potential areas of improvement.

Institute of Somatic Therapy  is approved by the NCBTMB (Provider #280672-00) as a continuing education Approved Provider. Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by Florida (#MCE-326), and New York (#0019). Our courses are also valid for AMTA, ABMP, and most individual states.

Positioning for Prenatal Massage - by admin@mcb on June 01 2018

Positioning for Prenatal Massage

There are two schools of thought on client positioning for prenatal massage therapy.

  1. Some therapists prefer to keep the woman in as close to fully prone and supine as possible to provide prenatal massage in the same positions as a standard massage. This is achieve with the use any number of specialty tables and support systems to achieve this purpose.
  2. Other therapists prefer to use a sidelying and modified supine position for performing massage therapy during pregnancy.

At the Institute of Somatic Therapy, we carefully considered positioning for prenatal massage. Our decision has been to teach in the  sidelying and modified supine (semi-reclining) positions. The routine we teach focuses on the back and legs while the pregnant woman is in a sidelying position, and the abdomen, arms, neck and face when she is in a modified supine position.

Why IST Prefers Sidelying Positioning for Prenatal Massage

Image from Istockphoto
Image from Istockphoto

There are several reasons why the Institute of Somatic Therapy prefers sidelying positioning for prenatal massage rather than the use of a support system that allows for a fully prone position.

Some of our reasons for preferring the side-lying position include the following:

1. Potential Strain to Uterine Ligaments: With some prenatal massage tables, it can be difficult to get a perfect, firm fit over the abdomen, so uterine ligament strain can be caused. While the woman may not notice it during the duration of the massage, she may have some discomfort afterwards.  Other systems do not provide good support for the legs, and others only allow for prone and don’t provide a way to modify the supine position to keep the weight of the uterus off the vena cava for the supine portion of the massage.

2. Ease for Client: As the pregnancy reaches the final trimester, it can be difficult for the client to get into and out of the prone position without assistance, and it can be difficult to assist an undressed client in and out of that position without compromising her privacy.

3. Cost Efficient: Most therapists already own a standard table, and can’t afford the expense of another table when it is not absolutely necessary. The cost of the sidelying and modified supine bolsters are often less than a specialty table.

4. Comfortable: A sidelying, fetal position is a very nurturing, comfortable position, one in which most people sleep, so it is very calming physically and psychologically.

5. Effective: A sidelying position places the client in a position which makes it very easy for the therapist to access her hip, IT band, piriformis, and sciatic nerve areas. These areas of the body are often in need of special focus to relieve the strain of the pregnancy. You cannot get the same access to these trouble spots in a prone position.

That being said, we realize this is a personal choice, and do not require our students to adopt this position if they have strong feelings about the prone positioning. Most of the techniques we teach are easily adapted into a prone position if that is what you and your client prefer.

Becoming Certified as a Prenatal Massage Therapist

To learn more about becoming certified as a prenatal massage therapist with Institute of Somatic Therapy, click here.

Institute of Somatic Therapy  is approved by the NCBTMB (Provider #280672-00) as a continuing education Approved Provider. Institute of Somatic Therapy is also approved by Florida (#MCE-326), and New York (#0019). Our courses are  valid for AMTA, ABMP, and most individual states.


What Does “Somatic” Mean? - by admin@mcb on May 16 2018

What Does “Somatic” Mean?

As the Director of Education with the Institute of Somatic Therapy, Judith Koch is often asked the meaning of “somatic”.

Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary cites somatic as being from the Greek word “soma”, meaning body. The three definitions Taber’s provides are:

  1. Pertaining to non-reproductive cells or tissues.
  2. Pertaining to the body.
  3. Pertaining to structures of the body wall, such as skeletal muscles (somatic musculature) in contrast to structures associated with the viscera, such as visceral muscles (splanchnic musculature).

shutterstock_222305086-1When we use the term “somatic” at the Institute of Somatic Therapy, we are referring to the third definition, pertaining to the skeletal muscles. This same concept is found in the name of the pharmaceutical drug “Soma” which is a muscle relaxant.

Some confusion has arisen out of various practitioners referring to their style of bodywork as “somatic therapy.” Some clients have come to believe that only that particular style of bodywork falls under the meaning of the term “somatic.”

The first “somatic therapy” class that Koch took was a technique similar to Institute of Somatic Therapy’s course titled “Fascilitated PNF Stretching”, which is a form of neuromuscular bodywork using isometric and isotonic contractions. In reality, any type of bodywork that seeks to address tension or dysfunction in the skeletal muscles can be referred to as “somatic therapy.”

Online Continuing Education for Massage Therapists

The Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB (Provider #280672-00) as a continuing education Approved Provider. We are also approved by Florida (#MCE-326), and New York (#0019). Our courses are also valid for AMTA, ABMP, and most individual states.

Our goal is to provide massage therapists with quality online continuing education courses, to improve their skill as somatic practitioners. We offer many popular categories of courses such as prenatal massage, infant massage, ethics, research, pathology, and more. You can view our list of CE courses HERE.


Manitoba Massage Continuing Education Approval - by admin@mcb on April 19 2018

Manitoba Massage Continuing Education Approval

Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba Approval

Attention Manitoba massage therapists: The Institute of Somatic Therapy is pleased to announce that we have received another approval for our massage continuing education. Effective April 3, 2018, Institute of Somatic Therapy has several courses approved by the Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba (MTAM) for continuing education. The MTAM is a not-for-profit association of over 1150 professional massage therapists in Manitoba. We look forward to serving Manitoba massage therapists with their continuing education needs. We are committed to providing the best online home study continuing education courses available to massage therapists.

Manitoba Massage Continuing Education Requirements

Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba members are required to complete 24 continuing education credits in a 2 year cycle due every other August 31. CE credits needed are as follows:

  • 18 CECs from Primary/Core Competency activities, and
  • up to 6 CECs from Secondary/Complementary activities.

All CECs can be from Primary/Core Competency coursers. Approved online course work is acceptable.

Manitoba Massage CE Course Approvals

The MTAM has approved the following online courses offered by the Institute of Somatic Therapy through 4/3/2020. (Click each title to go to course information page.)

Prenatal Massage Fundamentals – 12 primary/core competency credits.
Prenatal Massage Techniques – 12 primary/core competency credits.
Infant Massage – 16 primary/core competency credits.
Massage Doula Support – 21 primary/core competency credits.

Institute of Somatic Therapy plans to seek Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba approval for more of our courses in the near future. If you are a Manitoba massage therapist and are interested in more of our courses, please contact us. Let us know which courses you would like us to submit for approval next.

(MTAM Disclaimer: The approval of these courses for continuing competency credits by the MTAM Education and Competency Committee does not represent an endorsement of the course or any products or services promoted within the course.)

Additional Canadian Massage Therapy Continuing Education

Several other Canadian associations currently accept Institute of Somatic Therapy courses for continuing education. Our courses meet the criteria for College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) and Natural Health Practitioners of Canada (NHPC). We also have course approvals pending with the College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia.

Laws can and do change, and your associations will hold you responsible for knowing the laws that apply to you. Please note that we provide this information as a courtesy, but cannot guarantee its accuracy because laws are continually subject to change.

United States Massage CE Approvals

Institute of Somatic Therapy (Judith Koch) is approved by the NCBTMB (Provider #280672-00) as a continuing education Approved Provider. Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by Florida (#MCE-326), and New York (#0019). Our courses are also valid for AMTA, ABMP, and most individual states. Some states limit how many hours can be done online or by home study. Please refer to our State Guidelines section for specific information about your state.


IST Announces New Discount Savings Program - by admin@mcb on March 01 2018

IST Announces New Discount Savings Program

Customize Your Own Package  – Discount Coupon Saving Program

The Institute of Somatic Therapy has always offered a number of pre-designed package coupon discounts for our most popular course combinations, such as prenatal plus doula, or 24-CE packages to meet NCBTMB board renewal.

We are now happy to announce that we have yet another savings opportunity for our students who want to take three or more of our courses, but can’t find a pre-designed package on our website that precisely fits their needs. You can now customize your own package. We have created coupon codes for three different tuition levels – the more you learn, the more you save.

How it works:

Click on the “Courses” tab on our website to browse from our course offerings. Select your desired courses (three or more) and add them to the shopping cart.Then enter the applicable coupon code during the checkout process.

For the customized package discount, you must have a minimum of three courses in your shopping cart for the coupons to work. Please note that our shopping cart recognizes our pre-designed packages, such as our prenatal certification package, as a single course. If you are interested in courses that are also part of pre-designed packages, you will need to calculate if you are better off using the existing package discount, or entering each course into your shopping cart individually and using the customized package discount. In many cases, the two amounts will be very similar, so the main advantage of using these codes is if you are also getting additional courses, such as your ethics and research requirement, so your savings will extend to those additional courses as well.

During the checkout process, in the space for a coupon code, enter the coupon code based on the criteria below. Before you finalize the checkout process, you will be able to see the discount applied to your total.

Coupon codes:

  • For three or more courses whose total tuition is $151 – $299, use coupon code CP299 to receive 10% off the total.
  • For three or more courses whose total tuition is $300 – $499, use coupon code CP499 to receive 13% off the total.
  • For three or more courses whose total tuition is $500 or more, use coupon code CP500 to receive 15% off the total.

Helpful hint: If you are close to a discount, our one CE Pathology-Shoulder Dysfunction or our Diversity and Cultural Awareness courses are only $12 each. They can help you get up to the required three courses, or help push you into the next coupon bracket. We also have two and three CE ethics courses, three CE research courses, and two, three, and four CE pathology courses that may help you reach a desired level and/or help you meet your state or national board’s CE requirements.

As with all coupons on our website, the coupon code must be applied at the time of enrollment or it will expire. Coupon codes are not retroactive, so this offer does not apply to previous enrollments.

Please also remember that all courses must be completed within one year of enrollment. Please refer to each individual course description page for specific information about that course.

Are you ready to start saving? Simply go to the “Customize Your Own Package” link in our course directory.

Valid For NCBTMB and Most States

Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB as a continuing education approved provider, #280672-00. We are also approved providers in Florida, Georgia, and New York. Our courses are valid of AMTA and ABMP continuing education requirements, and most states. Please refer to our State Guidelines section for more information about your state.

Prenatal Massage and HELLP Syndrome - by admin@mcb on February 13 2018

Prenatal Massage and HELLP Syndrome

Prenatal Massage and HELLP Syndrome

Prenatal massage therapists need to have an understanding of complications of pregnancy that could contraindicate massage in their clients. One of the most severe conditions that may affect pregnant women is called HELLP Syndrome.

HELLP syndrome is a serious, but rare, complication of pregnancy. Chances are if a prenatal massage client has HELLP, she is too sick to come for a massage, so it is very unlikely that a prenatal massage therapist is going to encounter it during a massage session. However, if you suspect that your prenatal client has any serious complication, do not perform massage, and if necessary, call 911 or secure other help for your client.

What is HELLP Syndrome?

HELLP syndrome is extremely rare, occurring in only 2 out of 1,000 pregnancies. Approximately 20% of women who develop preeclampsia or eclampsia go on to develop HELLP Syndrome. HELLP can develop during the pregnancy or after giving birth. It is named for the following blood and liver conditions:

H–Hemolysis, a condition where red blood cells rupture, leading to a reduction in oxygen delivery throughout the body.
EL–Elevated liver enzymes, which are indicative of a problem in the liver.
LP–Low platelet count, which interferes with the ability of blood clotting.

Symptoms include:

  • Visual disturbances (blurriness)
  • Lethargy/Tiredness
  • Rapid onset of edema/water weight gain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Nosebleed, or other bleeding, that persists without quickly clotting
  • Seizures
  • Abdominal pain, most often on the upper right side

HELLP syndrome can become life threatening for both the mother and the baby, so it usually leads to an emergency induction or C-Section, even if the baby must be born prematurely.

Prenatal Massage Certification

Massage therapists who wish to become certified in prenatal massage can do so through the Institute of Somatic Therapy. We offer a variety of options, including prenatal massage certification, doula certification, infant massage certification, and fertility massage certification. To see these, as well as many other massage therapy online continuing education courses, visit

Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB as a conatinuing education approved provider, #280672-00. Our courses are valid for NCBTMB, AMTA, ABMP, and most states.

Low Back Pain – Psychological? - by admin@mcb on October 30 2017

Low Back Pain – Psychological?

Is Low Back Pain Caused by Our Emotions?

We’ve all used expressions similar to something or someone being “a pain in the neck” (or lower), but did we stop to consider that pains in our body, especially low back pain, may actually be brought on by a situation or relationship? More and more health care providers are starting to see that low back pain could be a result of psychological or emotional origins. This would include stress or relationship upheaval, rather than physical causes.

This is not true in all cases, and unexplained back pain should be assessed by your primary healthcare provider. Back pain could actually be a symptom of a more serious problem, such as a kidney stone, aortic aneurysm, appendicitis, gynecological issue, or other conditions.

The number one cause of job disability is back pain. In the USA alone, nearly one hundred billion (yes, billion with a b) dollars is spent on back pain each year. It is also often a gateway into opioid use, which causes chemical dependencies and an alarmingly high rate of deaths.

Back Pain Doctors Recognize the Mind/Body Link

People may not want to think that their very real physical pain has an emotional or psychological causes, but more and more medical studies are bearing this out.

The late Dr. John Sarno, “America’s most famous back pain doctor” (according to an article at, believed and taught that we unconsciously cause our own pain. He explained that pain is our brain’s response to stress, anger or fear that we are suppressing. By not addressing such emotions, our brains cope by redirecting the emotional impulses to restrict blood flow to certain parts of our body. This will result in pain. The pain serves as a distraction from the emotions that we consciously or subconsciously suppress.

Dr. Sarno firmly believed most people could overcome their pain if they were willing to acknowledge its psychological roots. To recover, he encouraged his clients to maintain their normal physical activity, and stop treatment for the pain. He also advised them to talk back to their brain, telling it they were no longer willing to feel the physical pain of repressed emotions. Patients should also stop repressing their emotions, stop thinking of themselves as having a physical injury, and accept that they had the mental power to overcome the pain.

Dr. Mel Pohl, with the University of Nevada School of Medicine, also believes emotions are a primary cause of pain. He claims that emotions trigger as much as 80 percent of all pain, including low back pain.

New Medical Guidelines for Treating Low Back Pain

This view has become so prevalent that the American College of Physicians recently issued updated treatment guidelines for low back pain. In order to avoid the use of opioids or other potentially addictive drugs, they now recommend the use of non-pharmacologic treatment. This includes superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation, and exercise or mindfulness-based stress reduction such as tai chi or yoga.

While massage therapists are not counselors or psychologists, if they have clients with recurring back pain of no specific origin, and medical causes have been ruled out, they should recommend that their client consider ways to reduce any emotional factors that could be contributing to the pain.

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Institute of Somatic Therapy offers online continuing education courses for massage therapists. Visit us at for all of your CE needs.

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Is “Fibromyalgia” Actually Morton’s Foot Syndrome? - by admin@mcb on October 09 2017

Is “Fibromyalgia” Actually Morton’s Foot Syndrome?

The Fibromyalgia-Morton’s Foot Connection

Fibromyalgia syndrome is often present in people who have a condition known as Morton’s Foot Syndrome (sometimes called Morton’s Toe). Fibromyalgia is sometimes a bit of a “catch all” diagnosis for multiple areas of pain in the soft tissue. There are 18 pain points used in the diagnosis. What is little known and not well understood is that often the source of pain can actually be an abnormal bone structure of the foot called Morton’s Foot Syndrome.

What is Fibromyalgia?

“Fibro” mean fibrous tissue (connective tissue such as tendons and ligaments), “My” means muscles, “Algia” means pain. Therefore, fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles and connective tissues of the body.

What is Morton’s Foot Syndrome?

Morton’s Foot Structure (also known as Morton’s Foot Syndrome and Morton’s Toe) is a hereditary condition characterized by either 1) excessive mobility of the first metatarsal bone, or 2) a short first metatarsal bone in comparison to the second metatarsal bone.

This foot structure results in less stability and improper weight bearing action of the foot. With each step, the overly mobile or overly short first metatarsal tends to give way, forcing more weight to be put onto the second metatarsal. The foot attempts to compensate by hyperpronating or dropping the arch. The body compensates with an inward rotation of the lower leg, and to compensate for that, an external rotation at the hip joint. Every joint is bearing weight in an awkwardly rotated position, which causes every muscle attached to those joints to be lengthened or shortened in the process, creating a series of trigger points in the muscles.

When a foundation is unbalanced, the entire structure is unbalanced, so the pain goes from head-to-toe. Seemingly unrelated conditions such as jaw pain are often side effects of Morton’s Foot Syndrome.

Morton’s Foot and Myofascial Pain

The leading physician behind most of our current understanding on trigger points and myofascial pain, Dr. Janet Travell, determined that as much as 80% of all myofascial pain (not just in fibromyalgia) is caused by Morton’s Foot Syndrome.

Among my fibromyalgia patients, I am finding that nearly all of them actually have Morton’s Foot Syndrome, and when the foot condition and the muscle imbalances it caused is addressed, the “fibromyalgia” suddenly gets much better.

To Learn More

To learn more about Fibromyalgia and Morton’s Foot, Institute of Somatic Therapy offers two online continuing education courses for massage therapists. Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB as a continuing education Approved Provider #280672-00.

For details on these courses, click the links below:
Fibromyalgia – Stop the Suffering
Morton’s Foot Structure
Complete List of Our Courses

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Institute of Somatic Therapy

“Committed to Excellence in Continuing Education”

The Institute of Somatic Therapy is committed to providing the best online home study continuing education courses available to massage therapists. Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) as a continuing education Approved Provider. Provider # 280672-00. Our massage CEUs/credits are also valid for AMTA and ABMP. We are approved by the Florida Board of Massage (Provider #MCE326), the Georgia Board of Massage, the New York State Board for Massage Therapy (#0019), and CE Broker (Provider #50-1116). Our massage therapy continuing education courses are valid for most state massage therapy CEU requirements.

Birth Plans – Covering the Bases - by admin@mcb on August 07 2017

Birth Plans – Covering the Bases

Birth plans are a valuable tool for a massage doula to understand the goals of her client. Some women want to birth completely naturally, while others prefer an epidural so they can give birth with the least amount of pain possible. Women who have had a prior C-Section may just want a vaginal birth, regardless of what intervention they may need to achieve it. There is no right or wrong answer; each woman gets to determine what is right for her and her baby. The doula is in a better position to support her client if she understands the goals and mindset of that client.

Birth plans need to factor in the woman’s individual tolerance to pain, and past emotional experiences (such as sexual abuse) that might resurface during the childbearing process. It is important to help clients realize that what they plan might not be what happens during labor. Birth plans, to be most effective and complete, should consider common contingencies, and include back-up plans accordingly.

Birth Plans Don’t Always Match Reality

Labor is a “roll with the punches” pursuit if I ever saw one. Yes, it is great to have an ideal birth plan in mind, and even more wonderful if you actually get to have that type of labor. But anything can happen, and the more regimented you were mentally to stick to a rigid plan, the harder it can be to process emotionally what happened after the fact. I found in my practice that it was unrealistic to make an absolute determination in advance of whether or not you would accept various interventions.

Birth Plans Without Pain Medications

While the doula client may have every intention of having a natural labor, nature might not allow that. Maybe her water will break and contractions don’t start and artificial induction becomes necessary to lower the chance of infection to the baby. Often induced labors result in harder contractions, so going drug free becomes more challenging.

It is impossible to plan length of labor in advance, and a slow labor will lead to tiredness and stress that can make staying focused and fighting off the pain more difficult. Or maybe the mother is doing great but the baby starts to experience fetal distress and internal monitoring or even a C-Section become necessary. In all of these circumstances, failing to consider pain medications in the birth plans could result in later feelings of having been out of control or forced into something unwanted.

Birth Plans That Rely on Pain Medications

It is just as unrealistic to decide in advance that you’re going to have an epidural, in an effort to have a pain free labor. What if you progress slowly and you aren’t prepared for the pain that will happen before you’re far enough into labor that you can receive an epidural? What if you get to the point where you can have it, but you’re third in line for the anesthesiologist, and by the time he/she arrives, you’re too far along to have it? I’ve seen both of those situations occur. Failing to plan a strategy and mentally prepare for pain will make these types of situations more stressful.

The best birth plans are going to lay out the woman’s ideal birth, but they will go beyond that, and give consideration to the more common complications or interventions that may arise.

To Become a Certified Massage Doula

Massage therapists who want to become certified to attend births with their prenatal massage clients can earn the title of Certified Massage Doula through the Institute of Somatic Therapy. Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB as a containing education approved provider. Our courses are valid for AMTA, ABMP, and most state massage continuing education requirements. To learn more about becoming a certified massage doula, click here. To become a certified prenatal massage therapist, click here.


Practice Safe Massage for Elderly Patients - by admin@mcb on July 20 2017

Practice Safe Massage for Elderly Patients

As part of our continuing education for massage therapy courses we encourage therapists to expand their business and begin taking on new patients. One of the quickest growing demographics for massage patients is aging adults. These patients are seeking massage to relax, rejuvenate, and help treat common medical issues associated with aging.

massage therapy business

Although every massage client is different we do suggest several general guidelines for working with elderly patients:

  • Reduce session length Treatment sessions for elderly patients are typically shorter than standard massage sessions. Aim for about 30 minutes. If time allows and the patient wants to continue you can extend the session based on specific needs.
  • Lighten up As people age their skin changes. This requires massage therapists to change their approach when treating elderly patients. Reduce the amount of downward pressure you exert and be careful not to apply too much sliding force.
  • Be aware Pay close attention to the patient’s body during the treatment session. Be aware that many patients prefer sitting or the supine position instead of the prone position.  Take care not to require too many position changes.
  • Remain flexible Understanding the needs of an elderly patient is important. Take time to talk to the patient about specific requests such as only scheduling during daylight hours, traveling to their home for the appointment, and using a couch or favorite chair instead of a massage table.

The Institute of Somatic Therapy is ready to help you master new skills and knowledge to take your massage practice to the next level. Visit our website today to learn more about the courses we offer in continuing education for massage therapy.