As a practitioner of healthy touch, no matter the specific modality, there is a good chance a large number of your clients come to you for relief from some sort of pain, be it physical pain, mental stress or perhaps a combination of both. There may be times, however, when your client’s pain may be linked to a particular condition, rather than a week of overtraining in the gym, overworking at the computer or overdoing it on the ski slopes or bicycle trails.

In those cases where your client may have an existing medical condition that brings with it symptoms of muscle and joint pain, it is especially comforting to have training on how best to work with the condition as a massage therapist or bodyworker.

This is where continuing education can come in handy. There are continuing-education classes available that focus on so many different types of medical conditions that massage therapists and bodyworkers may encounter. Next time you enroll in a continuing education course, it may be a good idea to take a look at these condition-based offerings.

One way to choose such a class might be by taking some time to reflect on your own clients. If you have one or more clients who have reported they have been diagnosed with a particular medical condition, and you hope to further enhance their well-being with your bodywork skills, then you might wish to take a continuing-education class that centers on bodywork for that specific medical condition.

For example, one medical condition that massage therapists and bodyworkers might encounter on a more frequent basis is fibromyalgia. That’s because one of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia, according to the Mayo Clinic, is widespread pain, usually in the muscles.

Another way to select continuing education that is based on more medically applicable forms of massage therapy and bodywork is by considering the sources of your own interest and enthusiasm.

If you find it most rewarding to practice on those clients who suffer from serious injuries or illnesses, then perhaps you should look into continuing education that teaches massage and bodywork skills and boundaries when working with such populations as cancer patients, hospice patients, patients with AIDS or HIV or maybe hospital patients in general.

At the other end of the spectrum, there also are those continuing-education classes that focus on less serious injuries, but injuries that nonetheless might commonly cause clients pain and discomfort. Typically, these classes are categorized by body part and teach pupils how to relieve some of the most common strains to this area of the body.

Examples of such classes might include those that focus on tennis elbow, iliotibial band issues, pain in and around the rotator cuff, knee problems, neck pain and more. Find the one that intrigues you the most and start there. In time, you may be able to get specialized in hands-on work for nearly every part of a client’s body.

A big benefit of taking such specific forms of continuing education—aside from honing and diversifying one’s “tool bag” of hands-on techniques—is that, by doing so, a massage therapist or bodyworker can begin to build a niche.

—Brandi Schlossberg