When patients think of massage therapy, they often picture a massage table at a clinic or athletic facility. But massage therapy involves many different techniques, not all of which require massage tables to provide effective therapeutic benefits. Chair massage is often more effective for shorter, focused massage therapy treatments that can be performed in a wide variety of locations.
Why is chair massage included in massage therapy education and how does it benefit patients? Read on to find out.
Unlike most other massage modalities, patients are seated during a chair massage rather than lying down. They sit in a specialized ergonomically designed and fully adjustable massage chair, and rest their heads in a cradle designed for comfort and stability.
A registered massage therapist then performs a combination of Swedish, trigger point, and other massage therapy techniques on the patient. A chair massage treatment (often lasting between 10-30 minutes) is usually shorter than table massage and does not require the patient to remove any clothes, other than bulky coats or jewelry that might interfere with the massage.
The massage therapist focuses on the back, shoulders, neck, and arms during this seated massage, using techniques that don't require massage oil. In just ten minutes, massage therapy can decrease heart rate and blood pressure while leaving patients refreshed and rejuvenated. Students learn the most effective chair massage techniques in their therapeutic massage courses.
The history of chair massage can be traced back to early uses of massage in Ancient Egypt, but it didn't become widely popular in North America until the 1980s with the invention of the massage chair.
At the time, massage therapists faced a key issue: many patients felt unsure about massage and were too nervous to book an appointment. While they might have heard about the benefits of massage, they were intimidated by the thought of a long appointment or needing to remove their clothes for a massage.
To help educate the public and make massage more accessible, in 1986 David Palmer invented the massage chair. Patients could sit in the massage chair, remain clothed, and enjoy a short massage from a registered massage therapist. Massage chairs and massage therapy as a whole benefited from additional public interest.
Students of massage therapy at OVCMT will discover that chair massage enables access to a broader population of patients in situations where using a table is not possible or appropriate. The college has a fleet of chairs for student use during the clinical practicum, both in the onsite clinic and outside the college for other events. While massage tables are ideal for performing most types of treatments, they also require more space and the privacy of an enclosed area for patients to remove at least some of their clothing.
During on-site clinical practicum treatments, massage students practice their techniques on real patients at some locations where chair massage may be more appropriate. Many of these patient outreaches occur at care homes, athletic events and other facilities that don't always have the space necessary for performing table massage. Chair massage is a flexible and portable solution for working with athletes at sporting events, for example. Medical professionals at health units and hospital staff may receive the benefits of a brief chair massage when it is most needed during the course of their busy days. Massage students can also gain experience with work-related conditions using chair massage at corporate offices, where space and time are limited.
As chair massages can take place on-site in public areas like malls, conferences, festivals, fundraisers or other community events, patients see for themselves the benefits as they watch a friend or colleague receive a massage. Chair massage is a great addition to a community or corporate event and, when practiced in public places, it can be an effective way to attract new patients.
Are you interested in learning more by completing our massage therapy diploma? Check out our program for more information or to speak with an advisor.