This selection of massage news articles will help you keep on top of what’s happening in your industry.

This selection of massage news articles will help you keep on top of what’s happening in your industry.

Massage Movie Featured at Film Festivals

A new documentary, “Touched: A Massage Story,” follows Jonathan Grassi from struggling, new massage therapist to business owner. The 29-minute film, which also details the benefits of massage and the use of massage therapy worldwide, is now making the rounds at film festivals, including the LA Indie Filmfest, DocuWest International Film Festival and the Illuminate Film Festival.

Grassi was chosen by producer Chandler Toffa to reveal a personal story behind massage. “In the film, viewers witness the power of touch as an antidote to individual pain and a balm for worldwide isolation,” Toffa said, according to a statement on Grassi’s website. “From his childhood in Queens, New York, to claiming his title at the World Championship in Massage, Jonathan’s story shows us the importance of community and expands our cultural awareness and appreciation for the beauty of human connection worldwide.”

In the beginning of his career, Grassi had a hard time making it financially, sleeping on a friend’s couch because he couldn’t afford a home. The $700 massage table he bought was the most expensive thing he owned for a decade. “To me, massage therapists often do provide this foundational service, and yet they need two or even three jobs, often,” said Grassi in the film, adding that part of his journey has been to continue to believe in “the medicine of touch” even in the face of such hardships.

Today, Grassi is the successful creator of a form of bodywork he practices from a clinic in Lafayette, Colorado. Grassi named his approach Bodywork for Liberation because, as he said in the film, “The work that I’m exploring is how can we support your sense of psycho-emotional well-being through touch and to be a guide so that we have more language around something that can be, you know, a little bit hard to describe.” He says his work helps the client’s whole body unfold.

About the move, Grassi told MASSAGE Magazine, “There hasn’t been a documentary like this before that shines a light on our profession and its healing potential. It shows therapists from around the world and their modalities, and my journey from Queens, New York, to the World Championship in Massage. It’s a powerful look at our profession.”

Watch the trailer for “Touched: A Massage Story” at, or learn more at or

People Feel Differently About Their Bodies Now

A recent survey of 2,000 American consumers, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Massage Envy, examined the evolution of respondents’ relationships with their bodies since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

According to the survey, 51% of respondents revealed that the pandemic has negatively affected how they feel about their bodies. Also among the results: 42% confessed to not feeling “at home” in their bodies anymore; 50% admitted to feeling physically drained on a daily basis; and 40% feel they’re going to need professional help to get their body feeling like its pre-pandemic self.

“It goes without saying that the last 15 months have been extraordinarily stressful for everyone, so it wasn’t really a surprise to learn that over half of Americans believe the pandemic has negatively affected how they feel about their bodies,” Massage Envy CEO Beth Stiller told MASSAGE Magazine. “The survey also highlighted that people are noticing an impact on their physical appearances. The impact of video conferences and too much screen time in general has left many people feeling drained or like they don’t recognize themselves.”

Respondents said their energy was drained by general stress from the pandemic; lack of in-person interactions; the general sameness of passing days; having to practice safety precautions; homeschooling; remote work; lack of alone time; and too much screen time, including an increase in video calls.

The activities respondents said they need to regain pre-pandemic confidence include a vacation, a massage, a night out, a haircut, a mani/pedi, a date night or mental health therapy.

According to Stiller, demand for massage at franchise locations is so high now, Massage Envy franchisees ( nationwide are looking to add thousands of professional massage therapists and estheticians to their teams.

COVID-19 is Airborne—Farther than Six Feet

In mid-May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the results of research into how the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread and announced the virus can be spread farther than six feet—the amount of distance promoted as needed to avoid contact with droplets and aerosols since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

Factors that are now understood to increase the risk of infection, according to the CDC, include:

• Enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation or air handling within which the concentration of exhaled respiratory fluids, especially very fine droplets and aerosol particles, can build up in the air space.

• Increased exhalation of respiratory fluids when an infectious person exercises, shouts or sings, or is engaged in physical exertion.

• Prolonged exposure to these conditions, typically more than 15 minutes.

Visit for information and articles on best practices related to COVID-19, on such topics as air quality, asymptomatic transmission, sanitation and marketing.

Reciprocity for Massage Therapists Takes a Step Forward

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) announced March 17 that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has selected the massage therapy profession to receive technical assistance from The Council of State Governments to develop an interstate compact for occupational licensing portability.

What this means for massage therapists is one could practice in more than one state with just one state license.

The scope of the assistance includes the drafting of model interstate compact legislation, developing a legislative resource kit, and convening a national meeting of state policymakers to introduce the compact.

Interstate occupational licensure compacts allow professionals in licensed occupations to transcend state boundaries by creating uniform licensure requirements, FSMTB Executive Director Debra Persinger, PhD, told MASSAGE Magazine.

Although the DOD couched this in language related to spouses of military personnel, “The compact will create streamlined pathways for interstate practice for all members of the profession, not just those with a military affiliation,” Persinger said.

In addition to massage therapists, the DOD stated, the professions of teaching, social work, cosmetology and dentistry/dental hygiene were also selected to work with the Council of State Governments to develop model interstate occupational licenser compact legislation.

Student Wins Myoskeletal Massage Scholarship

Taylor Gephart is the winner of the 2021 Erik Dalton Scholarship Award.
Taylor Gephart

The 2021 student winner of the Erik Dalton Scholarship Award is Taylor Gephart, a senior at Indiana State University who is majoring in Applied Medicine with a minor in Massage Therapy. Gephart intends to become a doctor of physical therapy.

Erik Dalton, PhD, creator of Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques, partnered in 2012 with the university to create the Advanced Myoskeletal Massage Therapy program, the only minor degree in massage therapy program offered by a major U.S. university.

To provide assistance to students and encourage other universities to follow suit, Dalton established an endowment to fund scholarships.

Massage Keeps Fighter Pilots Flying High

The U.S. Air Force is taking a preventive approach with its pilots in order to counteract the extreme amount of pressure put on pilots’ bodies while flying.

That approach includes contracting with athletic trainers, strength coaches and massage therapists to address some of the symptoms pilots present with.

Fighter pilots experience anywhere up to 9 Gs of force while executing aerial maneuvers, according to a press release from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, which added, “at 9 Gs, a 200-pound pilot, with gear that typically weighs 30 pounds, experiences over 2,000 pounds of force on their body.” According to Scientific American, at 9 Gs, “Your body feels nine times heavier than usual, blood rushes to the feet, and the heart can’t pump hard enough to bring this heavier blood to the brain.”

Maj. Clayton “Red Beard” Cruichshank, an F-15C pilot assigned to the 433rd Weapons School, said, “The idea behind the program is the preventive maintenance, rather than waiting until someone has a back or neck problem, we’re already training to be stronger before problems occur, so we’re better able to handle the stresses.”

Fighter pilots leave the Air Force due to physical issues related to G-forces, the press release noted.

“This program can help pilots fly the missions they’re supposed to for longer periods of time during their career without being injured or grounded,” said Cruichshank. “We love flying and we want to do it for as long as possible.”

Franchise Advances into Canada

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, a franchise company, announced it acquired Massage Experts, a Canadian massage services franchise organization, in May. By acquiring all 24 of Massage Experts’ existing locations, Hand & Stone expanded its footprint in Canada and also made the brand’s North American presence 500+ locations strong.

“Now more than ever, stress and uncertainty have had a negative effect on our physical, emotional and mental well-being,” Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa Canada General Manager and Director of Marketing Anita Wells told MASSAGE Magazine. “The lack of touch and physical contact has also contributed to this.”

Massage therapy and therapeutic touch can directly and indirectly help clients manage some of the symptoms associated with physical and mental health, Wells added. “Expanding our company to join forces with the Massage Experts brand affords us the opportunity to bring the many health benefits of massage therapy to more Canadians with the goal of helping them improve and maintain their health and wellness.”

Hand & Stone was founded in 2004 and entered the Canadian market in 2009.

About the Author

This selection of massage news articles will help you keep on top of what’s happening in your industry.

Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief.