When choosing home study courses for continuing education, you’re faced with a wide variety of options. Outside of a few specific classes, such as ethics, you must take in order to fulfill state or national licensing requirements, you’re open to choose whichever courses most interest you. However, unless you’re practicing massage therapy as a hobby, you should always try to pick classes that will have the most benefit on your practice.

You might want to take courses that reinforce modalities and techniques you already use, so your skills remain on the cutting edge, or you may want to learn an entirely new technique to diversify your massage services and scope of practice. You may even decide to enroll in courses that enhance your business skills, so you can become more adept at managing the business side of your practice. 

Therapeutic massage

If you practice therapeutic massage—as opposed to massage strictly for relaxation—and you’re looking to learn new techniques through home study, you can facilitate the selection process by thinking in terms of the different conditions you’ll be able to treat with the new skill. Massage therapy is an accepted complementary treatment for a wide range of pathologies and conditions, and each one you’re able to successfully treat stands to attract new and more diverse clients.

However, massage therapy does not cure disease. Rather, it’s used primarily to help alleviate symptoms of an illness or injury, and one of the symptoms most frequently treated with massage is chronic pain. Whether caused by injury, disease or overuse, pain can be extremely debilitating for people suffering from any number of ailments—but massage can be remarkably effective at reducing and eliminating such pain.

Pain management

Unless you’re looking to specialize in a single pathology, such as massage for cancer patients, it’s often most practical to look for courses that teach massage techniques for general pain management, instead of courses that cover a specific disorder or disease. In this way, you’ll be able to address a wider range of clients and conditions. Moreover, when treating pain, there is no one technique or modality that works best for all types of pain, so learning several techniques that target pain can diversify your skills even further. 

Massage therapy has proven highly effective in managing the painful symptoms of numerous conditions and disorders. Some of these include:

  • Low-back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Scoliosis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Breast cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Tendonitis
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
  • Migraines
  • Sports injuries

Because massage therapy can reduce pain in so many different conditions, learning pain-management techniques can be extremely beneficial for your practice. By selecting home study courses that teach methods for alleviating and reducing pain, you stand to increase your scope of practice, expand your client base and boost your income. But more importantly, you’ll be providing an invaluable service for the millions of people struggling daily with chronic pain’s crippling effects.

Chris Towery is the former associate editor of MASSAGE Magazine and is currently a full-time freelance journalist. He has written hundreds of articles for more than 20 different magazines, newspapers and custom publishers. Much of his recent writing has been for the complementary and alternative health-care industry. To contact Towery, e-mail cmreuben@yahoo.com.