It's time for a 2019 year in review.

2019 is almost behind us, and deserves a look back at some of the important news and developments in the massage therapy field.

Among MASSAGE Magazine’s coverage this year: Arizona opened its doors to all U.S. license holders. Massage was identified as a potential alternative to prescription opioids. A lawsuit threatened the entire concept of independent contractors in California. And it turns out there’s more in CBD topicals than just CBD.

Our editors chose 12 articles to provide this 2019 year in review:

January: MTs from around the globe meet to compare styles, compete in massage.

Competitors from around the globe converge to network, learn from each other, and present effective and innovative touch in front of judges and attendees at the World Championship of Massage.

Read “The World Championship in Massage: Building an International Touch Community”

February: Now you can use mobility tools for your own self-care.

When we have a tool and an understanding of how to use it, we can take time out of our day to use it and focus on our bodies. Implementing tools into our practice for our clients can help them focus on their health and wellness outside of just your time together in the session.

Read “Mobility Tools Add Value to Your Sessions and Ease the Strain on Your Body

March: Core stabilization: Coming to a massage table near you.

Core-engaging exercises that protect the back against pain are sweeping the fitness industry. Although a typical massage therapy session for back-pain relief doesn’t include core-stabilization work, it certainly can—and should.

Read “Core Stabilization: Awaken Muscular Recruitment in Clients”

April: Arizona opens its borders to licensed professionals from everywhere (in the U.S.).

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed HB 2569 on April 10. The new law provides for recognition of licensed professionals. This means anyone holding a license from another state can move to Arizona and begin practicing in that licensed occupation.

Read “New Arizona Law Allows License Holders from Other States to Move in and Start Practicing”

May: Massage therapy might provide an alternative to opioids.

We are a nation of people living with chronic, acute or long-term pain, and research is bearing out the hope that massage therapy can play an important role in pain relief for a variety of populations — while providing an alternative to opioids.

Read “Massage Therapists Must ‘Seize This Moment’: A Report from the Massage Therapy Foundation’s International Research Conference”

June: MTs can avoid burnout and extend their careers by practicing high-level self-care.

While it can be overwhelming to look at your well-being as a whole, by breaking it down into individual parts you’ll find opportunities to improve your life and the lives of others.

Read “7 Necessary Elements of Bodyworker Self-Care”

July:  Massage takes its place in the gig economy.

A number of companies have launched in the massage-apps space, capitalizing on consumers’ desire to schedule a massage without much advance notice, as well as to provide clients with therapists who have been vetted and approved in some way prior to booking.

Read “Mobile Massage Apps: The Complete Guide for Therapists”

August: New research shows palliative care patients benefit from massage, aromatherapy and reflexology.

In terms of their experience during a session of complementary care, subjects expressed feelings of increased well-being, escapism and living in the moment. Subjects reported these beneficial feelings often lasted after the session ended, and they looked forward to their next appointment for complementary care.

Read “New Review: Massage, Aromatherapy, Reflexology Benefit Palliative Care Patients”

September: Baby boomers are changing the way senior massage is delivered.

Unlike the established specialty of geriatric massage, or touch modified for people with thin skin, mobility issues and other such age-related conditions as worsened balance, diminished eyesight or dementia, massage for more active seniors looks more like

Read “Aging Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way Senior Massage is Delivered”  

October: Massage therapist staff shortage at spas reaches a critical level.

Spas are in dire need of qualified massage therapists. There are an estimated 38,000 unfilled service provider positions, of which 18,400 are full-time and 19,600 part-time positions. Massage therapists account for the largest number of unfilled positions that spas are currently trying to fill, a total of 19,150, representing almost 50% of all unfilled positions.

Read MT Shortage at Spas is as a “Critical” Level

November: In response to MTs’ questions, we explain what’s really in CBD topicals.

As U.S. states pass or modify laws to regulate CBD, with varying degrees of restriction, what has ensued is a gold rush of companies offering CBD topicals, from bath bombs to pain patches to body balms. Many reputable massage product companies sell lubricants containing CBD, advertising them as a new way to combat pain and inflammation. Less-reputable companies sell these products too.

Read “MTs Ask: What’s Really in My CBD Topical?”

December: Lawsuit filed in California could change the landscape for independent contractors, classifying them instead as employees.

In general, if you’re an independent contractor, you are truly independent: You control the means, price and terms of your work. In contrast, employees have most of these decisions made for them by an employer.

Read “New Perspectives, and a Lawsuit, in Response to CA Supreme Court Decision on Independent Contractors”

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Karen Menehan

About the Author: Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine‘s editor in chief.