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Finding a massage therapist

Did you receive a massage while you were in the hospital and find it helpful?  It can be difficult to find a massage therapist in your community, but this article will help you find one who meets your needs. 

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What to look for

Finding a massage therapist who is right for you can be challenging. Some of the most important factors to consider are your goals and personal preferences, accessibility, and of course their training and experience.

Your Goals

Which of the following do you want?

  • Reduce stress
  • Address muscle tightness or recovery
  • Enhance general wellbeing
Your Preferences
  • Would you be more comfortable with a male or female massage therapist?
  • Does location matter to you (hospital, clinic, spa, home)?
  • Is transportation an issue?
  • Do you want a massage therapist with additional training in guided relaxation techniques?


  • What is a reasonable cost for you? (there is a wide variation)
  • Can you get onto and lay flat on a massage table or do you need a modified position?
  • What is the location like and it is doable for you (stairs, elevator, parking)?


Therapist's Experience
  • How many years of practice do they have? (You want  someone who has significant experience.)
  • Do they have experience or specialize in hematology, oncology, BMT, etc.
  • What is their education or training?
  • Do they have advanced certification(s)?
  • Do they belong to professional organizations?

What you should discuss with your massage therapist before beginning

Begin by discussing the primary reason you want to get a massage. For example, if you are having pain, give details about where the pain is, how long you’ve had it, and what makes it better or worse. 

Be sure to tell the therapist if:

  • You are taking any medications that change the way your blood clots or any medications that make your skin sensitive. 
  • Your blood counts are low and you could be at risk of bruising, becoming lightheaded or short of breath
  • Your immune system is compromised.
  • You have any implanted devices or tubing (central line, enteral feeding tube, pacemaker, etc.).
  • You have an acute or chronic medical condition and what type of treatment plan you are on. 
If you are at high risk of bruising

Here are some talking points to discuss with your massage therapist before getting started, if you are at high risk of bruising, bleeding, or if you are sensitive to pressure.

  • Be firm that the therapist should avoid deep pressure.
  • State what level of pressure (on a scale of 1 to 10) that you prefer.
  • Identify the level you are experiencing throughout the massage and what adjustments you would like. (Pressure should be noticeable but not painful or uncomfortable.)

More about qualifications

You should look for a massage therapist who has at least 500 hours of training from a reputable, accredited school. (You can find out if a school is accredited by contacting the school or visiting their website.) 

Another clue that the therapist is qualified is membership in a professional association that has established a certain level of professional preparation to join. These are the American Massage Therapy Association and the Associated Bodywork Massage Professionals.

If there is any doubt or apprehension on your part, it is always appropriate to clarify the style or techniques that the massage therapist uses.

Licensure of massage therapists


The federal government does not regulate the practice of massage therapy, and there is no national  license to practice massage. Each state dictates massage therapy laws and regulation. Many states  have individual Massage Therapy Boards to advise on licensure and practice issues.  

Additionally, massage therapists can obtain board certification. Board certification in Therapeutic  Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) is a separate credential beyond massage therapy training.  Certification is a voluntary achievement that represents validation of education and skill set.  


Minnesota is one of five states (Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Wyoming) that does not  have any laws regulating massage therapy. This means that any individual is allowed to practice  massage therapy, regardless of training or experience. Each city can choose to regulate massage  therapy. Minnesota has the Alliance for Licensing Massage Therapists, which moderates massage  therapy issues and concerns. 

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