(Evanston, IL. November 19, 2020). The Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) has completed an 18-month ergonomics study to create a best practices model for workplace safety and techniques for massage therapists. MTF’s inquiry, investigation, data collection, and research garnered from this study will make a significant contribution to the health and longevity of massage therapy professionals and benefit practitioners, practice settings, and schools.
The project was spearheaded by Robin B. Anderson, MEd, LMT, BCTMB, CEAS, MTF President Elect, who led a Massage Therapy Foundation project workgroup supported by MTF Board of Trustees and staff that worked with Briotix Health, a contracted ergonomics firm from Centennial, Colo.
Initial surveys collected real-time, specific information from more than 700 active massage therapists about their day-to-day work. Project sites included Community College of Baltimore County, Baltimore, Md., and East West College of the Healing Arts, Portland, Ore. More than 600 data points were collected through the use of video capture, professional ergonomics analysis tools, qualitative analysis, and measurement of various factors such as application of force, stroke delivery, technique usage, and body position. MTF analyzed a cross section of typical work environments with respect to franchise location, practice ownership, and number of individuals per practice.
General concepts from this Phase 1 report of discovery include:
- Massage therapy work has a moderate risk for developing repetitive stress injuries if no self-care or intervention is employed.
- Massage therapists have long duty cycles and the time spent at work is very long in relation to other professions in comparison. This poses more opportunity for potential injury and risk.
- Due to the physical nature of massage therapy work, physical conditioning and maintaining specific health levels are key factors in career longevity.
- Improvements can be made in some of the preparation and setup of the massage work environment to promote the health and safety of massage therapists.
- Entry-level training and education can help mold future massage therapists and their workplaces to be proactive in implementing these best practices as standards for the profession in the future.
MTF is creating a strategic plan to disseminate throughout the next year the full body of Phase 1 information in a white paper, best practices documents, and instruction and training for active practitioners and massage schools.
“This ergonomic initiative has the potential to have an important impact on the massage therapy profession by improving massage therapy working environments and defining ergonomic strategies that may lead to higher productivity, greater comfort, and career longevity of massage therapists. We are proud of MTF’s structured approach and steering group responsible for the guidance and appreciative of the supportive participants,” said MTF President Douglas Nelson, LMT, BCTMB.
A Phase 2 study is planned to elucidate more information about application, exertion, exposures, and variations that come with working on different body types. Briotix recommends the use of wearable sensor technology to help MTF answer these important questions for the massage therapy community.
About the Massage Therapy Foundation
The Massage Therapy Foundation is a 501(c)3 public charity supporting scientific research, education, and community service for the massage therapy profession. The Foundation founded and publishes an open-access, peer-reviewed scientific journal and provides many educational resources for massage therapists, educators, and students. MTF is an independent organization that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration through grants, resources, training, and services.
For more information contact;
Gini Ohlson, Executive Director, 847.905.1520
Marla Gamze, Communications and Development Manager, 847.905.1635