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Most people think of massage therapy as a luxury to enjoy atresorts, on cruise ships or in day spas. But science is revealingthat there’s a lot more to massage therapy than just a relaxingrubdown. Many members of the mainstream medical community arerecommending massage therapy for its ability to help patientsmanage pain, relieve anxiety and improve overall health.

Peer-reviewed research from around the world continues to showsignificant benefits of massage therapy.For example, in the last three years research has found:

* Massage therapy can be used to reduce pain, anxiety anddepression in children suffering from Sickle Cell Disease,according to a study published in the Journal of PediatricPsychology (2009) by researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospitalin Columbus, Ohio.

* The psychological and physiological state of patients withtension headaches improves within 24 hours after receiving a simple30-minute massage, as reported in a study published in July 2010,by researchers from the University of Granada, the ClinicalHospital San Cecilio and the University Rey Juan Carlos(Spain).

* Massage therapy can immediately reduce pain and improve themood of people suffering with advanced forms of cancer, accordingto a study sponsored by the Institute of Medicine and the NationalInstitutes of Health (2008).

* The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care(IQWiG) reported that classic massage; Thai massage and acupressurecan help relieve lower back pain (2010).

* Fifty percent of hospital patients can enjoy significantpost-surgical relief via “non-traditional” methods such as massagetherapy, as reported by a first-of-its-kind study published in theJournal of Patient Safety (2010).

* Massage therapy is an effective treatment for fibromyalgia,according to an issue of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter (April2010).

* Abdominal massage can help in the management of constipation,a common symptom in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), accordingto a report in the July 2009 issue of the International Journal forNursing Studies.

* At the Sixth International Conference of the Society forIntegrative Oncology (2009), representatives from the NationalCancer Institute presented the results of a study that showed howsimple touch and massage can relieve the pain and suffering ofcancer patients.

* People who undergo massage experience measureable changes intheir body’s immune and endocrine response, reports researchers inCedars-Sinai’s Department of Psychiatry and BehavioralNeurosciences in the Journal of Alternative and ComplementaryMedicine (2010).

Clearly, massage therapy has a wide variety of applications. Andmore benefits of this centuries-old practice are being discoveredevery year.

How to become a massage therapist

People interested in massage therapy as a career can train to bea professional massage therapist through special career educationprograms offered at community colleges, private colleges andvocational schools in most communities. Before choosing a massagetherapy program, it’s wise to consider the following:

* The duration of the program

* The cost of the program

* The program instructors’ experience requirements

* How much actual “hands-on” training you will receive

* The level of assistance the school will offer to help you findemployment upon graduation

* Upon graduation, massage therapists can seek employment in a range of locationsthat include day spas, resorts, hotels, health and sports clubs,rehabilitation clinics and other health care centers.

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