Massage Therapy Principles and Practice (book)$80.86
Covers Everything a Massage Student Needs To Know5.0/5
Professional Massage Practice Guidelines5.0/5
Anatomy & Physiology5.0/5
- Practical topics of Massage Therapy
- Detailed information for Anatomy & Physiology
- Section Devoted to Muscle origin/insertion/movement
- Could Not Access Online Materials
- Student Could Be Overwhelmed by Huge Amount of Information
I. Love. This. Book.
I absolutely love it.
Massage Therapy Principles and Practice is like having an entire massage school in the form of a book!
Seriously, it is 800 pages of well organized, specific, clear material that, if read front to back and memorized and practiced (in the case of the massage practice and session instructions) would give you the equivalent of a 500-hour massage school course.
Of course, that is also a HUGE amount of information to take in, and if there is any problem with the book it is that the amount of information in the book could be overwhelming to some students preparing for the MBLEx if it is the only resource that one has access to.
But that is not really a problem because the series of reviews I have been writing has been to cut down on that feeling of overwhelm and to offer clarity for MBLEx exam prep.
If you have been following my posts as a way to create your own study guide, this book still places us in “Step 2” of the process, which is moving from vocabulary memorization (“Step 1”) to connecting the vocabulary into deep understanding of the systems, pathologies, body parts, etc so that you have both the vocabulary memorized and the understanding to use that vocabulary.
Before I get into the details of the review, it is important to note two things.
The first is that this book works hand in hand with the Plain & Simple Guide to Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Examinations.
While Massage Therapy Principles and Practice gives you everything you need to know as a massage therapist and to prepare for the MBLEx and is really well organized, if you spend a little time reading it, you will realize that this was written as a textbook for the classroom, not as a study guide for the MBLEx.
When reading the Plain and Simple Guide you will get the feeling that it is giving you what you need for the MBLEx and orienting you toward the information you will definitely need to know, but that the information, presented at a deeper level, would give you a better understanding of whatever process it is describing and therefore help you to memorize and understand what you are studying.
* NOTE *
The second thing I would like to note is that I own the Fourth Edition of Massage Therapy Principles and Practice. As of this writing, the Sixth Edition is the newest edition. If there are differences between the editions, I do not know them because I do not own the latest edition.
This Book Explains EVERYTHING
When I say this book explains everything, I do mean EVERYTHING one could possibly want to know as a student of massage therapy.
Not only does this book get deep into the anatomy, physiology, pathology, systems of the body and all of the other biology you must learn about human bodies, but it also covers the practical aspects of being a professional massage therapist, such as knowing how to properly drape a client in an assortment of positions, or which business entity to choose when setting up your practice.
It goes into an insane amount of specificity and that specificity is not just facts and figures but guidance about the nuances of massage.
For example, when reading about the urinary system, it not only shows the parts of the urinary system, but how it functions, and then talks additionally about common pathologies.
And then it takes you one step further and offers recommendations as a massage therapist as to how to adjust your message if you come across a client with a specific pathology.
This is normal for pathology classes in massage school, but having that information in a textbook format (not just in my school notes) is SO useful because you can use it as a reference as well.
This is definitely a textbook, but it is also a reference for your practice, in the same way that medical doctors keep references about the drugs they prescribe.
I have never had to open this book to check proper procedure for a pathology yet, but I could see it being handy in that situation.
In the urinary system example, the book states that a massage therapist should not use heavy percussive massage on the kidneys for someone with a history of kidney stones.
I learned that in my pathology class in massage school, but if there was a pathology (as there are so many) that was not covered in pathology class, this book will offer additional material.
Again, this is so specific that it is likely not going to be on the MBLEx, but in other instances where the details are important, Massage Therapy Principles and Practice will prove invaluable.
How Is This Book Organized
There are two primary units to Massage Therapy Principles and Practice.
Unit One is all about massage therapy and being a professional massage therapist.
As I mentioned earlier, it goes into topics in a very specific way, with comprehensive coverage regarding topics like body mechanics and reflexology and different massage strokes.
Unit Two is all about anatomy and physiology. This unit is organized by body system and, like Unit One, also gets into the minutia and high level of detail for each body system.
In addition to the book, there is also a CD-ROM included, and the book states that there are online resources available.
What I Love About this Book
I absolutely love the level of detail in this book.
And the nice thing is that it is so well organized, if you are looking for a specific topic, you can find it easily.
It works really well with the “Plain & Simple Guide” because if I want more focus and deeper learning on a specific topic that I feel I need to know better for the MBLEx, like the reproductive system, for example, I can easily find that chapter in Massage Therapy Principles and Practice and study that specific chapter.
And along with studying that chapter, it will include, as mentioned earlier, things that will tie in the pathologies and massage contraindications for that system.
I also love that there is a whole section of descriptions for each muscle of the body, including origins and insertions.
I spent days in massage school creating a booklet and notecards of this information to prepare for my anatomy exam, and this book presents all of that information right in the book.
Finally, I love the whole first unit of the book that is about being a massage practice.
We all got into massage therapy because we love the modality of massage.
I also love the perfection of the human body, and so I love learning about anatomy and physiology, but really, it is so enjoyable to revisit massage school topics such as massage techniques, hydrotherapy, seated massage, energetic bodywork, joint mobilizations and so on, and so I really found Unit One to be a very fun read at times.
I realize that this sounds really weird because it is a textbook, presented in a very formal, textbook-style format, but I think most massage therapists will enjoy and get a lot out of Unit One, just as I did.
There ARE questions on the MBLEx that relate to section one, by the way, so you definitely should not skip over it, even if it doesn’t interest you.
For example, even though my massage school covered ethics of massage, we never got into the specifics of labeling certain relational dynamics between client and massage therapist or identifying possible psychological behavior (like transference and countertransference) which I KNOW could be on the test because the practice exams I have taken have covered these definitions.
These vocabulary words won’t be in your anatomy flashcards, so you definitely have to study them in a textbook such as Massage Therapy Principles and Practice.
I also know that the MBLEx has questions that cover situational issues like, “What if your client invites you to lunch?” and other topics that deal with appropriate behavior regarding professional (yet friendly) relationships and holding healthy boundaries professionally.
Massage Therapy Principles and Practice offers a healthy amount of information on these topics and it is worth checking out before moving onto anatomy and physiology.
What Could Improve this Book
Honesty, not much.
This is the quintessential book on professional massage therapy and worth keeping long into one’s professional practice because it can act as a reference book as well.
I will say that I have not been able to sit down and read it front to back, I start to get a bit squirmy after reading a chapter or two.
And those chapters that I have read have been read out of order when I felt a need for a deeper understanding on a topic.
And by doing so, I have covered most of the book.
And I feel that this is the right way to get through the book.
So I guess my only word of caution is for the massage student that thinks she is going to read this book from front to back.
That is unlikely unless you are very good at focusing on books with a very textbook-oriented, formal writing style.
About the Included CD-ROM
I didn’t even know this book included a CD-ROM until I started writing this review, 2 years after purchasing the book.
I watched it and it was mostly about the Unit 1 material, such as draping and foot placement for the massage therapist during a massage.
I am glad they included that, though, because the videos on the CD-ROM offer better clarity for topics such as foot placement or body mechanics that may be difficult to clearly describe with only words and pictures.
It is not vital to use this CD when studying for the MBLEx exam, though.
About the Online Materials
The book states that if you go to the publisher’s website there are additional materials for studying that assist with the material in the book.
As I read the book, I constantly found reference to the online materials, though I did not know that this was included with the book when I purchased it on Amazon two years ago.
For the purposes of this review, I tried to get access to the online materials but I needed an “access code” and I could not find that access code in the book or on my receipt.
I sent an email to the publisher and am waiting to hear back.
I will be quite disappointed if I cannot access the materials because they look awesome.
The book states that the student resources include,
- Video clips
- Certification and licensing Review Exam
- Photo Galleries
- Drag and Drop Labeling Exercises (I especially love these – I have seen them on other websites and they are so helpful)
- Crossword Puzzles
- Audio Glossary
- Downloadable Forms
- Body Spectrum Electronic Coloring Book
- Additional information for each chapter
- Scientific Animations
When I wrote to them I asked if I could get an instructor’s account, since, again, I am guiding myself without the benefit of a school or instructor.
So I am my own instructor and could use additional test questions and PowerPoint slides to give me better overviews of the vast material in the book.
But right now I am not sure any of it exists or if I have access to it because finding the required access code and gaining access to the online materials is not an obvious process.
I don’t think I could make it more clear how much I love this book.
In relation to the MBLEx, if you take the second unit of this book and match it up with the corresponding topics in the Plain & Simple Guide to do a deep dive in the areas that you know you need to focus on for the exam, I think that will offer you a clear and succinct way to study and gain comprehension/retention in the fastest amount of time.
Be sure to look at Unit One of the book for topics that are outside the scope of anatomy and physiology.
The MBLEx grading is most affected by the anatomy and physiology questions, but there will still be topics from Unit One, like massage practice ethics, that you will need to know to pass the exam.
The CD-ROM was fun but unnecessary for passing the MBLEx.
And who knows how good the online resources are.
I could not access them. They look awesome, though.
But it is pretty irrelevant because you have plenty to study in Massage Therapy Principles and Practice.
I recommend this book in a big way.