Knead a massage? Don't get rubbed the wrong way

When thinking about ways to relax and pamper the body, people are flocking to massage therapists to rub away the stress and strain o
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

When thinking about ways to relax and pamper the body, people are flocking to massage therapists to rub away the stress and strain of life. Maria Berardi-Nainee manages and operates Sandusky Massotherapy, 422 Columbus Ave. She is happy to see massage therapy grow. But worries potential massage consumers aren’t sure what they are getting into. “I am amazed at how little people know about what to ask when getting a massage or what to look for,” she said. “Most just assume that if they are paying top dollar that the person giving the massage is licensed and trained in massage therapy.

“Itissoimportanttoinform the people so that no one gets hurt and that the public is not misled and/or paying for something that they are not getting,” she said.

Theresa Gillette, spa director for Sandusky’s Kalahari Waterpark Resort, is in tune with Berardi-Nainee’s assessment and also has a few tips.

“Do your research before booking and get recommendations from others and read online reviews,” she said. “Visit a spa’s Web site (if they have one).”

She also recommends stopping in for a quick tour.

“State licenses should be visible. All areas should appear clean and ask how equipment is cleaned,” Gillette said. “Survey the ambiance and atmosphere.”

Berardi-Nainee did a little follow-up investigation on how legitimate therapists are categorized when placing an advertisement.

“It is interesting when I put my advertisement in a local phone book, I asked the sales rep if she checks credentials to see if they are truly licensed or if they are advertising as such in the phone book,” Nainee said.

The woman said it was not her job to check credentials; it is her job to sell advertisements.

“So the point being, even if they say they are licensed, they don’t have any means of being accountable or prove otherwise,” Berardi-Nainee said.

Point being, sometimes a patient thinks he or she is going in for a Swedish massage and is asked a set of questioning other than medical history. In Ohio, in order to practice massage therapy you must be licensed by the state medical board. For that to happen, you must attend a certified and credible school. Every state is different on the requirementsofeducationandhours,butmostareattheminimum 700 hours.

“That however does not give you a license to practice unless you sat before and passed the medical boards, which is twice a year,” Berardi-Nainee said.

With the massage business booming at resorts and salons, some around the country are hiring people under the cosmetology license, which is hair and nails.

“They take a six to eight hour class on massage and claim to be able to practice,” Berardi-Nainee said.

But when asked, they say they are “only practicing massage and it is not therapeutic,” she said. “People need to ask, ‘are you licensed by the Ohio State Medical Board?’”

In 2005, the American Massage Therapy Association did a study and 32 percent of people were getting a massage for medical reasons.

“We have worked so hard to gain the trust and earn a good reputation within the medical community,” Berardi-Nainee said of massage therapists across the country. “We now deal with many doctors’ offices and get referrals for massage therapy.”

Don’t book a massage because “you like the way they decorate or it’s a pretty building, she said.

“Book a massage based on the credentials of your therapists and by all means be certain they are licensed by the StateofOhioMedicalBoard.Massageisnotcheapandtheydeserve to get what they are paying for.”

Massage has become so popular in the area that EHOVE now offers massage therapy classes and students offer massages to the public. The student clinic is part of an 800-plus hours of course instruction, included in the massage therapy program.

Over a nine-month period, students learn massage theory, practice, anatomy and physiology. The curriculum prepares students to sit for the Ohio Medical Board Massage Therapy licenser exam.

“Good therapists have the proper training and credentials,” Berardi-Nainee said, pointing to program’s like EHOVE’s lead to legitimate work in massage therapy. “It should be a relaxing experience that does have great medical benefits.”