This selection of massage news articles will help you keep on top of what’s happening in the massage therapy industry
Volunteer on Team USA
The 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in Paris. In 2026, and the Winter Olympics and Paralympics will take place in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Regardless of the surrounding vistas and cities, behind the scenes at every Olympic Village a dedicated team of sports-medicine professionals—athletic trainers, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists and physicians—tends to athletes’ physical concerns.
Team members must meet various requirements, including licensure, at least three years’ professional experience, proof of liability insurance, a background check and others. Visit teamusa.org to view the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee Sports Medicine Provider Credentialing Policy and to apply.
The number of unfilled massage therapist jobs at U.S. spas (9,830 of this figure are full-time and 11,440 are part-time positions).
—Source: 2023 ISPA Spa Industry Study “Big Five Statistics Report”
MTs Give Credit to Cultures that Created Bodywork
Massage therapist and bodywork practitioner Amy Moll, LMT, incorporates long, flowing strokes into her bodywork practice—strokes she learned while working in the spa industry on Maui, Hawaii.
However, she never advertises her work as lomilomi, because she understands that lomilomi is an ancient, whole-person healing art that encompasses much more than bodywork—even though lomilomi is oftentimes promoted by non-Hawaiian massage therapists as a massage modality.
As awareness of cultural appropriation—using knowledge or practices from another culture and calling it your own—grows, massage therapists and bodyworkers are increasingly looking at ways to respectfully honor the cultures from which bodywork traditions arise.
Reiki (from Japan), Thai massage (from Thailand), lomilomi (from Hawaii) and such types of Asian bodywork as shiatsu, anma and tuina (from throughout Asia) are among the bodywork traditions frequently practiced by U.S. therapists.
The term cultural appropriation refers to the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture, sometimes without permission or understanding of the cultural significance behind those elements. This can involve taking cultural symbols, clothing, music, dance or other cultural expressions and using them inappropriately or without proper acknowledgment of their origins.
“The importance of cultural appropriation has grown significantly in the past three years due to increased activism and awareness surrounding issues of racial justice and equality,” Amira Martin, LCSW-R, a communication expert, psychotherapist and wellness professional who specializes in diversity, equity and inclusion told MASSAGE Magazine.
“In today’s social and political climate, it is essential for individuals and organizations to understand the impact of cultural appropriation on marginalized communities and to take steps to address it,” Martin said.
When practicing or teaching a massage or bodywork technique from another culture, it is best to be honest,” said American Organization of Bodywork Therapy of Asia Director of Communications Matthew Sweigart. “Acknowledge the roots of the practice, and the traditions and culture from which it came. Do your best to be true to those teachings. Also, be honest about your own cultural roots and background, acknowledging your filters and biases.
As best you can, said Sweigart, remain true to both your own cultural roots and the tradition you are teaching or practicing. “Where possible, make an appropriate distinction between when you are teaching from another cultural tradition and when you are injecting your own viewpoint,” he said.
Massage therapist of 19 years Nancy J. Campbell, who lives and works on Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii, agrees with Moll that lomilomi is not just a bodywork modality. “The bodywork of lomi is only one part of a whole that is the culture’s original medicine,” Campbell said. “[Lomilomi is] bodywork, medicinal herbs, diet, movement, spirit, pono pono—basically a holistic approach to healing an individual, family or whole community.”
Cultural appropriation in massage therapy can have negative consequences for both clients and practitioners,” said Moll, who now practices in Chatsworth, Georgia. “For the clients, cultural appropriation can result in a superficial or distorted experience of the modality that may not reflect its true essence or value,” Moll said. “For the practitioners, cultural appropriation can result in a lack of credibility or authenticity that may undermine their professional reputation or integrity.”
How MTs Can Recognize Cultural Origins
According to Martin:
Massage therapists and bodyworkers wanting to recognize a bodywork modality’s cultural significance and cultural origins may consider:
• Educate yourself on the history and cultural significance of the practice. This includes understanding the origins, traditional uses and cultural context of the technique.
• Seek out training and certification from reputable sources.
• Look for training programs that are respectful of the cultural origins of the technique and emphasize cultural competency and sensitivity.
• Consult with cultural experts and practitioners from the culture of origin. This can provide valuable insights into the proper use and application of the technique, as well as ways to incorporate cultural sensitivity and respect into your practice.
• Be mindful of the language and terminology you use to describe the technique. Avoid appropriating or misusing cultural terms, and be respectful of the cultural context in which the technique originated.
• Continuously assess and evaluate your practice to ensure you are being culturally sensitive and respectful. Seek feedback from clients and colleagues, and be open to making changes or adjustments to your practice as needed.
Massage Guns May Reduce Musculoskeletal Pain
Percussive therapy delivered by massage guns can help improve acute muscle strength, explosive muscle strength and flexibility, and also reduce musculoskeletal pain, according to a systematic literature review of 13 studies.
Researchers searched data sources from January 2006 onward for full-text literature in any language involving adult populations receiving massage-gun-delivered percussive therapy. The studies included in “The Effect Of Percussive Therapy On Musculoskeletal Performance And Experiences Of Pain: A Systematic Literature Review” had looked at percussive therapy delivered directly to any muscle belly or tendon, with comparisons to an alternative treatment, placebo or no treatment.
Literature with outcomes relating to acute or chronic physiological adaptations in muscle strength, explosive muscle strength, flexibility or experiences of musculoskeletal pain were included, the abstract noted.
New Center to Focus on Mindfulness
What is mindfulness? Researchers at a new center plan to find out. The Thich Nhat Hanh Center for Mindfulness in Public Health was created with a $25 million gift from an anonymous donor and launched at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in April. It will serve as a hub for scientific research through evidence-based approaches to the practice of mindfulness.
The center’s mission is to empower people worldwide to live with purpose, equanimity and joy through the practice of mindfulness; pursue evidence-based approaches to improve health and well-being through mindfulness; and educate and train the public in mindfulness, a release noted. Two primary areas of emphasis will be nutrition and the environment.
The Center for Mindfulness in Public Health is named to honor Thich Nhat Hanh (1926-2022), a Zen master, global spiritual leader, scholar and peace activist revered for his pioneering teachings on mindfulness, global ethics and peace.
For Self-Care, Salute the Sun
A recent trial found that yoga provides benefits related to both anxiety-reduction and short-term working memory. The virtual eight-week moderate-intensity yoga program was geared toward full-time working adults experiencing symptoms of stress.
“There is some literature that has directly compared yoga to aerobic exercise, and we’ve known for quite a long time that aerobic exercise has benefits for the brain,” said study co-creator Sean Mullen, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, in a release.
“Our research investigates complex movements—not just riding a bicycle or walking in a straight line, but multi-planar movements that require navigating one’s space a little differently and being conscious of movement, technique and breathing,” said Mullen
The program focused on the sun salutation, a progression of yoga poses that emulates the rising and setting of the sun. Researchers wanted to know if learning new chains of yoga sequences could improve working memory, similar to the brain benefits of learning a new dance.
“Having to move through multiple active postures, as opposed to static holds, should theoretically improve attentional abilities or inhibition control,” Mullen said. “Going through the flow could potentially improve spatial memory.”
The benefits to executive functioning observed in the study are reinforced by the literature, according to the researchers.
Arkansas: HB 1729 is an act to amend the list of persons who are mandated reporters under the child maltreatment act, to name a licensed massage therapist as a mandated reporter. (Source: Arkansas Legislature.)
Massachusetts: SB1272 is an act relative to non-opioid alternatives in pain treatment. If passed, the public will be informed of non-drug alternatives to pain treatment, via both public announcement and physicians, who will be required to inform patients of non-opioid treatments for pain. (Source: Massachusetts State Senate.)
Nevada: SB270 is a bill to introduce the Interstate Massage Compact. (Source: Nevada State Legislature.)
Pennsylvania: HB 758 provides for social bias and cultural competence training for public employees and licensees, including massage therapists. If passed, The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission will develop training to include the understanding of social bias, including practical techniques to mitigate social bias and improve cultural competence. Employees and licensees will be required to complete the training every two years. (Source: Pennsylvania State Legislature.)
For more legislative updates, read “Massage Legislation: Bills Introduced in 2023.”
About the Author
Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor-in-chief for print and digital. Her articles for this publication include “Massage Therapist Jobs: The Employed Practitioner,” published in the Sept. 2022 issue of MASSAGE Magazine, a first-place winner of a 2023 FOLIO: Eddie Award for magazine editorial excellence, full issue; and “This is How Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Practices Make Business Better,” published in in the August 2021 issue of MASSAGE Magazine, a first-place winner of a 2022 FOLIO: Eddie Award for editorial excellence, full issue.