Information Taken from Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (MTBOK) Version 1.0:

Section 210.2 Anatomy and Physiology

Knowledge, skills and abilities relating to anatomic structures and their locations along with their functions, interactions and relative medical terminology.

Knowledge: Know and understand the anatomic structures and their locations along with their functions, interactions and relevant medical terminologies and relate this information to the practice of massage therapy, indications, contraindications, cautions and benefits.

Anatomic organization

• Levels of organization.
- Chemical / elements.
- Molecular.
- Cellular.
o Structures and their functions.
o Types.
o Cell division.
- Tissues.
o Structure, organization and location of types of tissues.
 Epithelial.
 Muscular.
 Nervous.
 Connective.
- Membranes, their descriptions and functions.
- Organs.
o Types.
o Structures and functions.
- Organ systems.
- Organism.

Anatomic structures and their functions.

• Body systems.
- Skeletal System.
- Muscular System.
- Cardiovascular System.
- Nervous System.
- Endocrine System.
- Lymphatic System.
- Respiratory System.
- Integumentary System.
- Digestive System.
- Urinary System.
- Reproductive System.

Metabolic function

• Anabolism.
• Catabolism.


• Homeostatic mechanisms.
- Negative feedback.
- Positive feedback.
• Hormonal and neural homeostatic regulators.

Structural identification

• Body cavities.
• Body sections.
• Body regions.
• Directional terminology.

Body positions and movements

• Anatomic position.
• Body plane/axes.
• Types of joint movement.
• Joint structures.
- Joint locations, anatomic name, structure and classification.
- Relationships between joint structures and types of movement allowed.

Human development and special populations

• Stages of development.
• Understand how the body changes and develops during normal life stages in the following populations.
- Prenatal and trimesters of pregnancy [73, 103, 108].
- Birth and infancy [46].
- Adolescence.
- Adult.
- Elderly.
- End of life.


• Locate and palpate accessible massage relevant anatomic structures.
• Palpate tissue with the appropriate speed, direction, depth and intention to sense and engage multiple layers of tissues.
• Modify massage treatment plan to accommodate the body changes of individuals in special populations.


• Recognize and modify massage in endangerment sites and areas of caution.
• Classify joints by type and location.
• Discuss anatomic structures, their functions and interactions using current medical terminology.
• Demonstrate informed interactions about client/patient status with colleagues and other healthcare providers (maintaining appropriate confidentiality).
• Apply knowledge of anatomy and physiology to determine appropriate massage applications to obtain desired and intended physiologic outcomes.
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