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According to Joseph Alpert in the American Journal of Medicine, massage therapy was first described in the second century in China and soon spread to India, Egypt and beyond. Not only do massages help you relax and release oxytocin, they’re also great for helping you find relief from a myriad of health conditions or injuries. Fun fact, according to an article published in Frontiers in Psychology, they also release oxytocin in the person giving the massage! It’s a win-win!
Quite a bit of the current research on massage therapy focuses on the benefits of massages on pain syndromes like foot pain, arthritis, carpal tunnel, and other joint pain. When you talk about back pain, it’s inevitable someone will recommend getting a massage to alleviate it. But studies into the effects of massages on other conditions like hypertension, dementia, and PTSD have shown improvement in participant’s blood pressure, sleep patterns, or even quality of life. Just 15-minute hand massages given to patients in the 24 hours post-surgery reduced their pain intensity and muscle tension — it’s that powerful.
According to the Mayo Clinic, other benefits include reduced stress, improved circulation, lowered heart rate, and even improved immune function. Who among us doesn’t need all of that? I know I definitely do. And, you don’t have to go to a professional to reap those benefits if you don’t want to. Self-massage in the form of foam rollers, massage therapy guns, or just your own two hands can get you similar results.
So, if you’re looking to learn more about massage therapy in general, want to learn the basics to do it at home, or think it might be a good career for you, here are ten massage therapy books to pick up to get you started.
Massage Therapy Books
A Nation in Pain: Healing our Biggest Health Problem by Judy Foreman
Aren’t convinced massage therapy is beneficial to pain management? A Nation in Pain is an in-depth look into the history of the U.S.’s pain management systems from all angles: surgery and medication, yes, but also alternative methods like acupuncture and exercise and massage. A better understanding of what pain is and how it works will only make it clearer how beneficial massage can be as part of a management regimen. It won’t get rid of it completely, but it will help.
Massage Therapy 101: 101 Tips to Start, Grow, and Succeed as a Massage Therapist by Nicole Urban and HowExpert
In this massage therapy 101 guide, Urban talks aspiring massage therapists through the basics of the field. The book covers what education and certifications are required and even strategies to help pass classes, how to build your business as a therapist, and how to avoid burnout. This is perfect for anyone considering the career path or just curious about the inside perspective of a massage therapist from a licensed therapist!
Encyclopedia of Thai Massage: A Complete Guide to Traditional Thai Massage Therapy and Acupressure by C. Pierce Salguero and David Roylance
For massage therapists wanting to learn more about the practice of Thai massage, this encyclopedia is a great resource. The authors incorporate the history and traditions of the practice into a step-by-step guide with helpful diagrams and photos to follow along. You’ll get to see the poses, but also learn the reason behind them, which is just as important!
Healing Self-Massage: Over 100 Simple Techniques for Re-energizing Body and Mind by Kristine Kaoverii Weber
Maybe you’re always on the go and can never find time to work in a massage. Maybe you want a little more stress and pain relief in your life. Either way, this book is a great way to find massage techniques that take only minutes. Organized A to Z, Weber incorporates illustrated treatments for every part of the body. Clarity of mind? Check. Get a good night’s sleep? Check. This book has got it all.
The Perfect Touch: A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Success by Jason Garica
Garcia shares his experiences making it in the world of massage therapy in this entertaining and practical read. The importance of client/therapist relationships, the management you work under, or even the space you massage in matter, and Garcia has advice for all of it and more. His stories from the job are sure to keep you entertained, too! For future massage therapists and those just interested in some of the wacky clients out there, this is a great read.
Trigger point therapy is a huge aspect of massage therapy and pain management. And, even better, you can use it on yourself! Through diagrams and self-tests, this workbook will teach you how to use trigger point therapy to help your back pain, foot pain, muscle stiffness, and more! It’s easy to understand and easy to follow along with: great for learning to do it yourself.
The Complete Guide to Modern Massage: Step-by-Step Massage Basics and Techniques from Around the World by Ryan Jay Hoyme
In this one, anyone can learn how to massage! It starts with a brief history of massage and how it interacts with modern medicine. Then, you’ll get an introduction to the many massage techniques from around the world, like Deep Tissue, Swedish, Shiatsu, and more. After that, you’ll learn how to use them for different types of pain or injury. With pictures and step-by-step instructions guiding you all the way, you’ll be a massage pro in no time.
Complete Guide of Self-Massage: A Natural Way for Prevention and Treatment through Traditional Chinese Medicine by Guo Changqing
Through an introduction to Chinese acupressure, you’ll learn the traditional Chinese medicine theories the practice is based on along with common massage techniques. The author also gives you a list of 50 common ailments and what self-massage techniques help them. The list includes how often to use them and how intense it should be, both of which are aspects often missing from massage therapy books.
Gua Sha Scraping Massage Techniques: A Natural Way of Prevention and Treatment through Traditional Chinese Medicine by Zhongchao Wu
You’ve probably heard of Gua Sha as a way of sculpting out your cheekbones or slimming your jaw, but the reality of the practice is much more than that. Gua Sha is a traditional practice for removing toxins, stimulating blood flow, and alleviating pain in the body. This book covers techniques, tools, and tips to do your own Gua Sha scraping massages at home.
Healing Massage An A-Z Guide for More than Forty Medical Conditions: For Professional and Home Use by Maureen Abson
This one’s great for both the professionals and the homebodies! Organized alphabetically, this book breaks down helpful treatments for conditions like frozen shoulder, plantar fasciitis, asthma, and many more. There’s even an index so you can go straight to the ailment or illness you’re looking to treat. The instructions are thorough and detailed and even include some contraindications to consider when deciding if a massage is right for you.
Whether you’re hurting or just curious, I hope one of these massage therapy books caught your attention. If you’re looking for more health-related content, try these gut health books or these mental health books!