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Massage Today
February, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 02

Practice What You Preach and Go Back to Massage School

By Teresa M. Matthews, LMT, CPT

For all of us, the massage school experience is (or was) transformational in nature. As students, we were feeling "new" things, literally and figuratively, every day. Our wonder at and reverence for the human body and all of its systems grew by the hour.

Sometimes it seemed that our skill and confidence increased minute by minute as we studied and practiced and found new meaning in the phrases "living in the moment" and "gratefully holding space." Sometimes, don't you find yourself asking "Where did all that disappear to?"

The simple answer is nowhere. It's all still there at massage school.

As a continuing education provider for massage therapists and personal trainers, I have had the privilege of traveling around the country and meeting face-to-face with practitioners of all levels of education and experience. In my course material, regardless of the topic title, there is always a unit on self-care. I'm constantly amazed at the responses I get when I ask, "What do you do to take care of yourselves?" Almost across the board, the answer is little or nothing. Incredibly, many working massage therapists do not receive massage on a regular basis!

When asked "Why not?" suffice to say there are as many excuses as one can imagine; time, cost and availability rank among the most often heard. Here again, there is a simple solution to be found at massage school!

woman getting massage - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Most massage programs have an established student clinic and though the hours vary from school to school, they are usually designed to accommodate working adults, retirees and others. The cost for services in the student clinics will vary also but normally fall in the range of $20 to $35 per therapeutic hour and a student therapist is almost always available and eager to work with you. We all very well know the benefits of bodywork and remind our clients and others all the time. Why then do we not consistently "walk our talk," especially since there is a quick, affordable and convenient resolution available at massage school.

The benefits of booking at your local massage school also go to the student therapists and the school, as well. It is where skills are refined and abilities are explored. As an integral part of the educational experience, it is the place where the students initiate contact with the public and receive invaluable feedback from a mostly impartial client base, all in a safe place. For you, aside from the obvious stress management value of the relaxation response you can check in on what techniques are currently being taught and practiced and who knows, maybe even pick up a new stroke or two.

The student clinic is just one great reason to return to school. If you still live in proximity to your massage alma mater, you may wish to reconnect with a favorite instructor. You may be invited to share your success story with a class or serve as a mentor or other resource for the current students. If you have relocated from where you trained, you might be able to find a school in or near your community where you might introduce yourself and network with administrators or faculty. You may find the school has a bookstore or retail outlet where you could find items of interest. It would certainly not be a wasted trip.

Speaking of trips, when traveling, a visit to a local massage school student clinic is a low-cost alternative to spa or out call service arranged through your hotel. When visiting a student clinic there are some general, common sense rules to keep in mind:

  • Good personal hygiene is a necessity (and try to be scent-neutral).
  • Provide as complete an intake history as possible, listing all medical conditions your student therapist may need to know.
  • Of course, you would not wish to be under the influence of anything for your session.
  • Keep your cell phone in the car or on "silent" and know you are responsible for any personal belongings you carry with you.
  • Do not offer a gratuity; students cannot accept them.
  • DO provide feedback; the student and the school will appreciate it.

So, the next time you find yourself in need of a self-care strategy, send yourself back to school. You'll be glad you did!

Teresa M. Matthews, fitness expert and world champion athlete, has 30 years experience in the fitness industry. She is the president and founder of Health, Wellness & Fitness Professionals, Inc. and is the owner of Arlington School of Massage and Personal Training in Jacksonville, Fla. She is a sports massage instructor for the Florida State Massage Therapy Association and was awarded the FSMTA 2009 Sports Massage Therapist of the Year award. Teresa travels the country teaching self care and wellness classes. Contact her by e-mail at with questions or comments.


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