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Massage therapy is an ancient art that, over the past three decades, has become an established health care specialty.

Throughout those decades, with all their growing pains, challenges and celebrations, MASSAGE Magazine has served as the massage field’s first choice of professional publication

This month, MASSAGE Magazine celebrates its 30th anniversary. When it launched in 1985, MASSAGE Magazine became the first magazine to serve the massage therapy profession—and from the premier issue onward, the magazine’s focus has been on providing tools and information to help therapists thrive in their session rooms and practices.

Massage in the ‘80s

In 1985, massage therapy flew under the radar—of most of the general public, of the medical establishment and of corporations.

Massage was almost unregulated as a stand-alone health care profession; laws that governed massage tended to be adult-establishment laws or massage parlor codes. Massage was rarely used by athletes or at hospitals. No massage franchises existed, and most massage schools were small businesses owned by one or two people.

That year, MASSAGE Magazine was launched from a home in Kealakekua, Hawaii, by Robert Calvert (1946–2006), a former massage therapist and massage school owner; his wife, massage therapist Judi Heyamoto (now Calvert); and a team of 12 volunteers. (The magazine was sold by the Calverts in 2005 and is now headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.)

Massage Milestones

Over the past 30 years, many milestones have shaped the massage field.

In the 1980s and into the 1990s, for example, massage therapists throughout the U.S. toiled to create state regulations and organizations that elevated both the practice of massage and the public’s perception of it. The Massage Therapy Foundation was established in 1990 and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork was created in 1992.

Then, the gates to medical professionals’ and the media’s awareness of massage began slowing swinging open upon the 1993 release of Unconventional Medicine in the United States—Prevalence, Costs, and Patterns of Use, by David Eisenberg, M.D., which highlighted the popularity of complementary and alternative medicine. This caught the interest of researchers, who began investigating the effects of massage therapy and changing massage’s relationship to the medical world.

It was determined, for example, that massage therapy benefits cancer patients, when previously massage students were taught that massage could hasten the spread of cancer. As the Touch Research Institute, founded in 1992, began publishing study results, infant massage became popular, as did pregnancy massage.

Soon, articles about massage therapy were published in mainstream magazines. Massage was recognized for its ability to ease stress, lessen depression, reduce pain and more. Massage therapy began to be portrayed in movies and TV shows. Massage therapists became part of the Olympic Games medical team.

Mainstream attention led to corporate attention, and many small, sole-proprietor schools and spas were purchased by larger business entities. Massage and spa franchises began opening throughout the U.S., altering the educational and vocational landscape and providing employment opportunities to therapists.

Seated-massage therapists provided massage therapy sessions at major corporations, health fairs and other public locations. Massage therapy became a standard offering at hospitals nationwide; the military began investigating the benefits of massage for service people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; and, today, the general public is familiar with terms such as craniosacral, reflexology and myofascial.

MASSAGE is for Therapists

MASSAGE Magazine has grown up alongside the massage field, and today publishes an award-winning, monthly print magazine and a website that is updated daily with content including technique and business articles, self-care advice, research results, blogs from experts and more.

The publication also maintains communities on Facebook and LinkedIn, where massage therapists discuss issues and offer guidance. The magazine offers Massage Magazine Insurance Plus, comprehensive, low-cost liability insurance intended to protect therapists’ practices. MASSAGE Magazine also offers a newsletter, e-books, monthly giveaways, samples of the month and resources for students.

This year, MASSAGE Magazine launched an Online CEU Center to make continuing education accessible and affordable to more massage therapists.

News 8-5-15 featured imageTo the Future

Many milestones have shaped the massage field over the past 30 years. The August 2015 print issue of MASSAGE Magazine includes a special anniversary feature, “30 on 30,” in which experts, educators and therapists discuss their impressions of where massage has been—and where it is heading. Additional experts are featured in an online companion article.

The staff of MASSAGE Magazine is pleased to be part of the team that has reported those milestones as they have occurred; proud to have financially supported a variety of nonprofit massage organizations and events that have helped propel this profession upward; and grateful to the massage therapists who have provided—and continue to deliver—the sessions that bring clients such needed relaxation, pain relief and nurturance.

About the Author

Karen MenehanKaren Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief. She began an internship at MASSAGE Magazine in 1992, and subsequently served as the magazine’s editorial assistant, managing editor and editor. Menehan has reported and edited for additional publications and organizations, including Imagine Magazine, the Sacramento Bee newspaper and the LIVESTRONG Foundation.