When a client arrives at a massage appointment, it's relaxing
for them to be greeted by soft music, a comfortably warm room and
low lighting. It helps them know that this is a nurturing
environment. What about relaxing through the sense of smell?
Certain smells can take us back to our childhood, or to a favorite
memory of a walk in the woods, or to an imaginary garden. The right
aroma can completely change how we feel, and even help us
"A smell can bring on a flood of
memories, influence people's moods and even affect their work
performance. Because the olfactory bulb is part of the
brain'slimbic system, an area so closely associated with memory and
feeling it's sometimes called the "emotional brain," smell can call
up memories and powerful responses almost
instantaneously."-- from "How Smell Works" by Sarah Dowdy
That's part of what aromatherapy is all about.
Aromatherapy uses the volatile essential oils in plants, either
by diffusing them in the air, or by adding them to a neutral and
fragrance-free massage oil and applying them directly on the
The fragrance of aromatherapy oils is very unlike commercial
fragrances. There are no chemicals or propellants. Some oils smell
earthy or woody, others have a medicinal quality to their odor.
Various oils can be mixed to combine their healing and soothing
properties, creating unique scents that are indescribably
While some massage therapists use essential oils to help create
a calm and relaxing environment for their clients, others use
specific oils as a therapeutic tool that can address a client's
individual needs. For example, do you wish you had more energy?
Perhaps oil of rosemary or grapefruit will give you the pick-me-up
you need. Are you depressed? How about the uplifting scent of
mandarin orange or pine? There is even an International Journal
of Clinical Aromatherapy that explores emerging research on how
the chemical properties in essential oils can address specific
Here at National
University, students can take an elective course that gives an
introduction to aromatherapy. Once a massage therapist is
certified, there are many continuing education courses in
aromatherapy offered by the American Massage Therapy Association
and other professional massage organizations.
Next time you plan to receive a massage, ask if you can try
aromatherapy. It may open up a whole new world for you. Who
Since baby boomers will be the largest population group seeking
health care over the next few decades, it's important for today's
massage therapist to understand how massage can help seniors, and
what special needs they may have. Unlike years past, today's
seniors may be more familiar with massage and more open to seeking
massage for pain and stress relief.
However, bringing the benefits of massage to seniors requires
special consideration: For example, certain stretching and joint
mobility exercises are not advised for older adults. An older
person might have difficulty with osteoarthritis as well as
decreased flexibility. Changes in older clients' skin will require
you to reduce your pressure during a massage.
In National University's massage therapy programs, you'll
explore how to address the needs of special populations like senior
citizens. That way you'll be ready to work with the largest group
of US health care consumers!
In the meantime, the American Massage Therapy Association has
two excellent articles about massage therapy that discuss the
special considerations of seniors:
When you choose a career in massage therapy, a world of
possibilities is open to you. Massage therapists work in all sorts
of interesting places--even the Olympics! Here's an article
from a massage therapist who will be traveling to the 2012 London
Olympic Games. She explains the steps that led her to this
opportunity, and also what's involved in becoming an expert in
Where Do You Work? Working in Sports Massage
The Massage Therapy Advisory Board met recently and I was lucky
enough to be in attendance. One of the functions of this group is
to review evaluations filled out by our students at the end of each
trimester. Through this process, they acknowledge the successes
within the program and make suggestions for improvements down the
road. Dr. Randy
Swenson chairs this board and takes the students' responses
very seriously. One of the reasons that National University
students have a 91% pass rate on their national
board exams is because their feedback and suggestions are used
to improve the program and better their experience.
The results of the most recent evaluations completed by first
trimester students showed that they gave the highest kudos to the
fundamentals class. In this course, new students are taught a full
body one hour massage. Second trimester students indicated that the
chair massage and sports massage courses were their favorites.
Third trimester students overwhelmingly gave a high five to the
orthopedic and assessment course which they felt gave them
invaluable working knowledge of multiple syndromes which might
throw them off in future practice.
Students identified the chair massage course as a
Open to Suggestions
In addition to evaluating the program, current students are also
asked to comment on the university as a whole. One area where
students thought we needed improvement was to have the campus store
open a little later so that they can stop in before classes (which
start at 6:00 p.m.). I am happy to report that this request is in
It was also suggested that the CPR course be included in the
basic curriculum since it is required that students have this
training before their clinical rotation starts. Because many of our
students come to us with CPR already under their belt, the Advisory
Board didn't think it would be fair to put it in as a required
course at this time.
Watching the group in action is just delightful. They have
enthusiasm for the work we accomplish here and a true passion for
touch therapy. They are the guardians of our program and knowing
who they are and how they operate I am reassured that the massage
therapy program is in very good hands.
If you missed last week's Information Night, you missed a great
event with featured speakers Dr. Randy Swenson, our Dean, and
Massage Envy owner, Jan Gentner!
The hit of the night, as usual, was our cadaver demonstration.
Because our students spend a good deal of time studying anatomy on
cadavers, it's important for them to get to view a body and hear
about how instrumental this learning tool will be in their future
Our alumnus, Matt Clement, gives a guided tour of the body as he
shares the highlights of his experience as a student and as a
professional massage therapist--and Matt's got some great stories!
We invited our guests to put on some gloves and touch the human
body (if they dare) and we had a few takers. Each person that
donates a body to science is offering the ultimate gift to medical
and health students and we are most grateful and respectful of that
gift. This type of experience in a massage school is quite
We also visited Dr. Ed Bifulco's palpation class where his
students were poking and prodding the knee area to learn how to
detect abnormal pathologies. This is a class that is not teaching
any kind of massage technique but is one of the foundation courses
that make our students well prepared to detect areas of concern in
I can guarantee you will be well prepared for your board exam
and your career if you decide to choose National for your formal
education. Give me a call (1-800-826-6285) or email me if you'd like to visit
or just chat. Personal tours are offered every week day.
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