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Unlocking the Value of Massage Therapy: Why We Need to Start Recognizing Its True Worth

I recently read a Facebook post where someone was asking where to find a less expensive Massage Therapist.

My immediate response was wanting to help the person because they were likely asking since they wanted to schedule a massage but had a hard time with the cost in their budget. Then I also thought about how undervalued Licensed Massage Therapists are.

When I became a Licensed Massage Therapist in 1998, I charged $50 an hour when I did out-call massage. This is where I traveled to homes with my table and supplies. I believe that was the average at that time and I worked for every cent of it and some. I like others were not in the profession to become wealthy. We wanted to serve and help others. I began my training working a full-time job and went to East West College of Massage in Portland on my two days off each week. I passed my State computer exam and practical exam (had to demonstrate proficiency in all massage skills) and began working for two companies. I worked in a Chiropractic office and for a large hospital system. I received a cut of the cost due to the business taking their cut as well. I was scheduled for several massages with no break time between which meant cleaning the room very quickly. If my clients did not show up or canceled without time to schedule another, I was not paid for that time. I also worked as a Personal Trainer in Portland for Gold's Gym. I had one day off for myself and struggled to pay the bills.

I was fortunate to be in my young adult years to handle the physical toll on my body as I massaged clients for 1-2 hours and completed at least 8 hours of massage a day. I knew some LMTs whose dream to serve people with a massage came to an end due to injuries they sustained on the job. I continued to do massage for years while I was in graduate school and volunteered many hours at athletic events. I even worked at track and field events in Eugene while being 7 months pregnant. I think that is the only event they allowed me to take breaks without question. Oh and yes, volunteering meant no pay. Some people just assumed all events pay the therapists for their long hours working and away from their families on weekends. If you feel reluctant to give a tip, please consider how much it means when people value what you do for them.

Licensed Massage Therapists are required by the state to complete continuing education each year. This means each therapist needs to take classes and pay for them as well. Each year, classes become more expensive and you might also have to travel to find the classes you need. This often will take entire weekends of at least 8 hours a day. This is very exciting to learn new techniques and benefit from the education as well as network with others in the field of Massage. In many careers, you will see that the more educated and experienced the therapist is, the more they charge for their services. It makes good sense.

There is much more that involves being a Licensed Massage Therapist than I can put into words. I have met so many wonderful and talented LMTs in my career. They tend to be some of the most deeply caring people I have ever known. They are worth the $75-$100 they charge. You need to find the therapist or therapists that match your needs or preferences. I think word of mouth as they say with others' recommendations as well as calling their office or location for questions. The more you know what you are looking for, the better the questions you ask. Communication is very important, you need to let the therapist know what you are looking for in a massage.

I have been on the receiving end of many great massages. Some massages saved my career as a Physical Therapist when I was in a head-on car accident. At times in my life, I had to keep extra cash in a jar and schedule when I had enough for a massage. Other times I had to prioritize my overall health and budget massage monthly or quarterly. Some insurances also work with FSA and HSA (Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts) which take pre-tax money earned. Another option is calling massage schools that might have clinic days where students complete massages at a discounted rate or free! Massage school students are also required to give massages each week while in school. I gave many free massages during my time in school.

It is time to finally start focusing on your health and wellness. Time to schedule a massage!

#Live Inspired

Karen Baltz Gibbs, PT, DPT, LMT, CSCS, CMP


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