National Massage Therapy Institute (NMTI) is not a conventional school or university, but a trade program for massage therapists. The programs at NMTI are geared to meet the needs of working people who wish to earn their certification while they continue to earn income, in addition to the needs of full-time students. Many healthcare professionals, including nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors wish to become certified as massage therapists as part of their work or in addition to it. NMTI graduates work at family practices, chiropractic offices, orthopedic offices, salons, spas, gyms, and stand-along massage therapy studios.
The massage therapy program can be completed in either eight months or twelve months. The eight month schedule is appropriate for a full-time student who works part-time or not at all; the twelve month schedule is appropriate for people who also work a full-time schedule or close to it.
There are four separate campuses offering massage therapy training. They are located in Egg Harbor (just outside of Atlantic City, New Jersey); Falls Church, Virginia; Wilmington, Delaware; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. All campuses offer evening class options and some locations offer an all-weekend program.
The core program at NMTI consists of 630 hours of instruction. Courses in the core program include:
A focus on Swedish massage, a modality that seeks to relieve stress-related tension and physical kinks in the muscles. This is often the most popular technique requested from massage therapists.
Training in reflexology, a method of massage of the feet and ears. It involves points on each that correspond to organs throughout the body. The big toe, for example, is connected to the head; the heel to the lower abdomen. Reflexology is based in ancient Chinese traditional medicine.
Shiatsu, a massage modality derived from Chinese medicine as well. It involves applying pressure to energy channels throughout the body to influence the flow of chi.
Sports massage focuses on relieving chronic pain, improving range of motion, and rejuvenating tired muscles. Sports massage for both during performance and afterwards are taught.
Prenatal massage includes labor pain relief, perineal massage, and emotionally calming massage for pregnant women.
The coursework in ethics and professionalism teaches students what issues are of ethical concern for massage therapists in contemporary practice and how to appropriately handle them when they come up in the course of practicing massage therapy.
The coursework in history of massage therapy covers the development and use of massage from ancient times until the current day. The use of massage as a therapeutic practice is thoroughly discussed.
The anatomy and physiology course covers all the basics of human anatomy, including the names of anatomical planes, regions, cavities, and parts of the body. In addition to being expected to memorize all these anatomical parts and terms, students are also expected to complete the course with the ability to name all ten body systems and explain the structure and functions of said systems with correct medical terminology.
The pathology course teaches students about pathological conditions they may encounter, including muscular disorders, and how to appropriately respond to them.
Kinesiology c gives students a comprehensive understanding of how the body moves and how massage can affect those movements. By the end of the course, students gain a comprehensive understanding of critical muscular structure, insertions and actions of the skeletal muscles, and involuntary muscular movements.
The business management coursework helps students develop their business plans, resumes, and marketing materials. Students also learn to create proposal, contact prospective employers, and hire employees.
In massage therapy techniques, students practice massage therapy with clients, using basic Swedish massage techniques. Students practice assessing client conditions and making recommendations for techniques in this class.
Clinical practice/fieldwork gives students further opportunities to practice their massage techniques in a supervised environment. They also make appointments, interview new clients, and determine which technique to use in each case. At the same time, the practice appropriate boundary and ethics skills.
In wellness education, students learn how massage therapy fits into the larger picture of basic wellness and how to discuss these concepts with their clients. Students learn breathing and stretching techniques that complement massage.
Chair massage teaches students how to administer a massage to someone sitting in a chair (as opposed to lying on a table)—a skill that comes in handy as a promotional technique for many therapists.
Sports massage coursework teaches students about pre-event, post-event, and rehabilitative massage for athletes.
Reflexology coursework teaches students to perform hand, foot, and ear massage for clients who prefer to remain fully clothed. This technique is also useful for hospital or otherwise ill patients for whom traditional Swedish massage is contraindicated.
Prenatal massage teaches students to position pregnant women for comfort and safety during massage and how to relief tension and provide comfort to expectant mothers.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, students learn how the meridians and chakras of the human body correlate with the organs and how to use this information when providing massage.
The hydrotherapy and spa classes teach students to use ice and hot compresses; how to perform a salt rub, and how to integrate their massage practice into a spa environment.
In the adaptive and client issues coursework, students learn how to adjust the massage techniques they have learned to accommodate wheelchair-using clients and others with physical challenges.
After completing the core program, students can go straight to work or continue into a specialty. Each specialty consists of an additional 90 hours of classes. There are two massage specialties at NMTI: Sports Massage and Muscle Performance; and Prenatal, Infant, and Geriatric Massage Therapies.
Students in the Sports Massage and Muscle Performance Therapies specialty learn to enhance athletic performance and prevent injuries. Areas of focus in the program include sports massage theory, cramp relief techniques, stretching techniques, injury risk reduction techniques, and performance enhancement techniques.
Students who complete this specialty go on to work with high school sports teams, college sports teams, professional sports teams, in rehabilitation centers, in high-end fitness centers, with physical therapists and in their own practices.
The Prenatal, Infant, and Geriatric Massage Therapies specialty qualifies students to work with pregnant women, infants, young children, and seniors—all of whom have different physiological challenges and issues of concern from the general adult population. Students in this specialty study life stage-specific techniques, pathological conditions for pregnant clients, pathological conditions for infants, pathological conditions for the elderly, and how to adapt massage techniques to the pregnant, young, and elderly. Students who complete this specialty go on to work in birthing centers, with midwives, in hospitals, in physical therapy centers, chiropractor’s offices, senior communities, nursing homes, and in their own practices.