Massage Therapists Care For Bodies And Minds

1818: Tanya Stenner Reutler of Apple Valley began a career as a massage therapist at Desert Cities Chiropractic after completing an externship there at the end of her education at Four-D College. She hopes to some day become a physical therapist. Photo by Chris Sloan

By Staff Reports

(Victorville)– Some of them work in hotels, casinos, sports gyms and stand-alone health spas. Others work in doctors’ offices, chiropractors’ offices and physical therapists’ offices.

As massage therapists, all of them are members of one of the most rapidly growing health care fields in California.

“Massage is universal,” said Dale Sloan, director of the Massage Therapy program at Four-D College. “Who does not want to get a massage? It helps people to feel better, and makes the pain they were dealing with disappear.”

Robert Ruseico of Hesperia began a career as a massage therapist at High Desert Medical Group after completing an externship there at the end of his education at Four-D College. Ruseico is considering further college education to become a physical therapist. Photo by Chris Sloan

“Massage therapy has been around for thousands of years, and today it is used in many disciplines, including health care, sports and recreation,” Sloan continued. “Even though many therapists don’t work in a medical setting, massage therapy is still considered health care. It is regulated by the California Massage Therapy Council, which requires all massage therapists to receive 500 hours of education and training.”

At Four-D College, Massage Therapy students receive 760 hours of training. That training includes history of massage, ethical concerns, anatomy and physiology, and of course, massage techniques. Much of this training focuses on the health care aspect of massage therapy in addition to massage techniques.

At Four-D College, massage therapy is an eight-month program. After an introductory course, students spend two months studying anatomy and physiology, starting with bones and muscles, but also circulatory, lymph, nervous, endocrine, respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems.  They also learn medical terminology.

“The health benefits of massage therapy include relieving body aches, as well as stress and anxiety,” Sloan said.

After in-depth anatomy and physiology study, the students focus more extensively on therapeutic massage. Although they study massage strokes and other aspects of massage therapy in the introductory course, in their fourth month of study, this study becomes more hands-on.

By midway through the program, students have learned some of the most prevalent massage techniques, such as American, Swedish, and deep tissue massages. They also learn to give massages on the traditional massage table and chair massages.

“Our students go out into the community and give chair massages at health fairs and other public events,” Sloan said. “We have also given chair massages to radio DJs.”

Massage therapists and trained students (who donate their services) can give chair massages almost anywhere. For many, chair massages serve as an introduction to other forms of massage.

“Chair massage is different from table massage, because they keep their clothes on and are not fully relaxed,” Sloan noted. “But if someone is apprehensive about getting a full-body massage, a chair massage can help put them at ease.”

During their education at Four-D College, Massage Therapy students spend later months focusing on sports massage, how massage therapy can help those who are injured, and principles for working with older adults, pregnant women and infants.

Students will also learn how to keep medical records and how to work with insurance companies, as the massage therapy for an injured person could be covered by insurance if ordered by a chiropractor or physician.

Many massage therapists find work in a health care setting, or in a spa. Like any jobseeker, graduates of the Massage Therapy program will need to know the best ways to impress a potential employer. Others may immediately after obtaining certification wish to open their own massage therapy practice. With all of this in mind, Four-D College also spends a month instructing Massage Therapy students in business and professional ethics.

The final month of study is an externship with a spa or health care provider, where students put into practice what they have learned in a work environment. Sometimes, externships lead to employment; in other cases Four-D College works with the students before or after their graduation to find employment elsewhere.  Four-D College offers lifetime job placement assistance to all its graduates.

Sloan, who is himself completing a Master’s degree, also encourages students to continue their education beyond a certificate in Massage Therapy. “The more certificates and degrees a person has the better their chances of finding a job.”

It’s especially important for those interested in the medical aspect of the field, Sloan noted, as further training could help them to become physical therapists, chiropractors, nurses or doctors. Meanwhile, anyone who wants to one day open their own spa could benefit from business courses.

Four-D College provides education in the growing health care field at locations in Colton and Victorville. It offers programs in medical assistant, medical billing and coding, dental assistant, massage therapy, pharmacy technician and vocational nursing. Both campuses have received full accreditation from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

New courses begin monthly at Four-D College and most courses are offered in the day and evening. Massage Therapy and Dental Assistant programs are offered in the daytime only.

For more information or a free tour call (909) 783-9331 or (760) 962-1325 go to <> .

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