Regardless of the type of massage school you choose (community college, vocational school, etc.) and the type of massage you study, the basic curriculum will likely be the same. In general, massage therapy curriculum can be divided into four main categories.
The science portion of your program will consist of courses in anatomy and physiology, pathology, and kinesiology. You will learn the structures and functions of the various systems in the human body, like the muscular system and the nervous system. You will also learn about pathology, which is the study of the causes and effects of diseases. You will learn how to recognize common diseases and identify which conditions can and cannot be ameliorated through massage. Your science curriculum will also include courses in kinesiology, which is the study of how the body moves. In these courses, you will learn about joints, movement, muscles, and posture. Finally, you will learn about health and proper hygiene as it pertains to the practice of massage.
Massage Therapy Techniques
Here you will learn the main theories and techniques of massage therapy. This includes understanding the effects of massage on the body and the various movements and strokes used for massage. Unless you attend a school that specializes in a different type of massage, you will probably learned the four basic techniques used in Swedish massage, as well as be introduced to other modalities, such as sports massage and reflexology. Mastering massage therapy requires a lot of practice, so be prepared to give many massages to your classmates, family, and friends. The upside is that others in your program will also need to practice, so you will likely receive many massages as well!
As most massage therapists are self-employed, good business skills are essential. In these courses, you will learn about the regulations and licensing requirements for massage therapists in your state and the scope of practice of massage. You will also learn about things like business finance and accounting, taxes, insurance, and marketing. Finally, these courses will cover professionalism and business ethics, which are essential for massage therapists to understand and apply.
The clinical practicum is your opportunity to practice massage therapy on people who aren’t your classmates. Under an instructor’s supervision, you will schedule appointments, interview clients to determine the type of massage to use, and then provide them with massage therapy. In states that require massage therapists to be licensed, there is usually a maximum number of hours you may spend in a practicum before licensing is required. For example, in Texas, the maximum number of hours is 50.
Depending on the school you attend, you may take a variety of different courses, but all massage therapy programs should cover these four basic areas. Enjoy your studies!
Texas Department of State Health Services. Massage therapy: Basic curriculum outline.
National Massage Therapy Institute. Massage therapy curriculum.