There is nothing in the world more rewarding than helping someone heal, whether that be physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. –Lisa Ianiro, Cure Spa in Malibu, CA

Do you feel like you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders? This expression embodies how the stress of life can literally lead to physical pain. And while your honey may give you a quick shoulder squeeze to ease off a rough day, sometimes you need to turn to the hands of a pro. But who are the professionals behind these healing hands? Massage therapists are trained to help you feel better, and the even better news is that many of them are happy to do so. US News recently ranked massage therapist as one of the best careers in 2012. Not only does this profession have a promising outlook for the future, but massage therapists do it because they enjoy their often physically demanding line of work.

Many feel a connection with their work that goes much deeper than deep tissue massage. Ann Marie Burns of Daryl Christopher Wellness Salon and Spa @ HealthPoint in Waltham, MA has been a massage therapist for seven years and reflects on what she thinks makes her successful massage therapist: “I have learned that the passion within you, to help others heal, relieve pain, clear the mind, reduce stress, all comes through the powerful tool, The Hands. If the passion within is not present, success may not be there.” Making their client feel better is key, but are their hands capable of more than just calming sore muscles?

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article Don’t Call It Pampering: Massage Wants to Be Medicine, which highlights recent studies that back the benefits of the back rub, and the list isn’t short. Evidence has shown that massage decreases the hormone levels of both arginine-vasopressin, a hormone that normally increases with stress and aggressive behavior, and cortisol, a stress hormone. In addition, massage has even shown signs of decreasing cytokine proteins related to inflammation and allergic reactions, and boosting white blood cells that fight infection. Massage can help treat the symptoms of many conditions and improve general health.

Marion Bendfeldt of The Women’s Club Fitness Center and Day Spa in Chantilly, VA recognizes the realm of problems that bring people to her. “I have realized that they lay on my table for many different reasons. My greatest gift to them is to remain present so that the universal energy and love may flow through me and allow them to begin their healing journey with grace and ease.” For many, massage could be the light at the end of years of pain.

As the benefits of touch continue to unfold, it is predicted that the profession will continue to grow substantially. We’re happy being treated and they enjoy their job, everyone wins! (Except sore muscles.) In addition, when you’re paying someone who is happy to be there, you’re going to get better results. A happy masseuse means a happy customer.

We asked massage therapists from our Spa Week spas across North America – ALL of which are offering $50 massages for Spa Week…

What do you love most about being a massage therapist?

I put my heart and soul into each massage trying to pass my positive soothing energy to each individual that I touch. — Juan Morillo, Details Salon Spa in Springfield, NJ

I love that a person can come in feeling run down, tired, sore or even moody and leave a different person. — Leigh Olander, Elixir Mind Body Massage in Denver, CO

I feel fortunate to be in a career where a total stranger can feel a connection that goes beyond the tension in his muscles and have it affect not only himself but the people who love him. — Ann-Marie Sevigny, Bella Santé in Lexington, MA

It’s the relief, the relaxation, a smile with a glazed look in their eyes; it’s the transformation that happens to a person who walks in with stress, muscle tension and pain, experiences a massage and it’s as if they left all that stress they brought in with them, in that room. — Wathena (Nena) Armstrong, Beyond Beaute Day Spa and Wellness Retreat in Deer Park, TX

I think everyone needs a friend and a very good massage therapist too. I can be both. — Lucy AKA Junquioa Lu, Zen Spa – Carmel Mt in San Diego, CA

As a therapist, I love educating others regarding options they have to make their life better, easier, happier, healthier! Some people just need a mini-vacation, a little down time. Others may need to relieve the “joys” of being a weekend athlete while others may just need to feel “taken care of.” Massage is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle! — Kate Moore, Spa Esoteric in McKinney, TX

Sometimes emotions that have been stored in the body due to everyday life overwhelm the client and they just want to lie there and cry it all out. That is when I feel the “Therapist” in “Massage Therapist” really comes out. — Nickm Charuworn, Riviera Spa in Dallas, TX

It allows for a unique working relationship where the their bodies do the talking and my hands do the listening for deeply theraputic outcomes. –Riich Attridge, Andrew Michaels Salon and Spa in Salem, MA

It is a very beautiful and powerful experience that I can create harmony and balance between my hands and people. I am exceptionally honored that I have this skill and can be rewarded every day for doing what I love. — Soyoung Abbate, AVEDA Red Bell Spa in Hicksville NY

That’s what makes my profession worthwhile; helping someone and then seeing them blossom. The process of deep healing is what I love most about my job. — Tania Dzleiri, La Vita Bella Salon & Day Spa in East Norriton, PA

I actually go into a peaceful state of mind relaxing, that way, they can feel my calmness and my energy so I can release it onto them. — Zakiya Clark, Tirra Salon & Spa in Chicago,IL

After some nurturing, they leave feel re-energized, they walk a little bit taller and they have this overall sense of positivity that everything will be okay. — Marisol Fitzgerald, Namaste Organic Spa in Ridgewood, NJ

Personally, I love the scent of aromatherapy oils, of fresh linen, and the sound of soothing music as I prepare to help and heal the person lying on my table. — Linda Mclver, Smooth Synergy Cosmedical Spa in New York, NY

Having someone come to me in pain and taking them through the journey back to good health and being pain free is a very rewarding experience. — Maren Hockenbrough, All About U Salon, Spa & Boutique in McKinney, TX

As a provider I am constantly searching and growing. Scientific knowledge is a perpetual evolution; it finds itself changed from one day to the next. Proof is the beacon that gives direction, but can never be reached; the excitement for me is in the trying. — Dareyth Thornton, Rio Spa and Salon in Las Vegas, Nevada

What I love most about being a massage therapist is that I get to be an instrumental part of changing people’s lives on a daily basis. Massage therapy has enriched my soul. — Christopher Ruhulessin, Elements Therapeutic Massage in Orland Park, IL

What I love the most about being a massage therapist is the bond that I have access to create with people. Clients are always in need of relaxing their bodies in pain or their mind, and through all this time being helping my clientele I can say, there is nothing more rewarding that hearing: “You are the best.” — Gisela Moncada, Massage Envy in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Stay tuned through the next two weeks for a full Massage Therapist blog series, where you’ll learn all the wonderful benefits of massage and meet many more of these magic hands!