It is said to really know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been.
Flash back to 1985 and a far different health care climate than we know today. Traditional medicine reigned supreme. Those who supported the health benefits of alternative approaches, such as massage or nutrition, were often labeled quacks.
Still, in that year, three visionaries in the field of complementary health care opened their doors for business: Robert and Judi Calvert launched MASSAGE Magazine and John E. Upledger, D.O., my father, established The Upledger Institute.
An osteopathic physician and surgeon, my father truly believed the human body had far more capabilities to self-heal than the medical community gave it credit for. He saw firsthand the power of gentle, intentioned touch on the body—and he determinedly set out to teach that philosophy and approach to practitioners of all disciplines. In fact, he always believed massage therapists were among the best candidates to practice complementary techniques, because their sense of touch was already so attuned.
Much has changed since 1985. MASSAGE Magazine is publishing its 200th issue. You are more likely to hear the word complementary than alternative used in conjunction with manual therapies. Complementary therapies are found in such world-renowned medical facilities as the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. The National Institutes of Health now recognizes and studies the benefits of complementary and alternative medicine. And TIME magazine named my father an innovator to watch in the new millennium based on his work with manual therapies.
Within the Upledger Institute, now called Upledger Institute International, we have trained more than 100,000 health care professionals residing in more than 100 countries. Of these, by far the largest contingent represented is massage therapists—just as my father envisioned.
Beyond massage therapists, the diversity of practitioners using and supporting manual therapies is tremendous—from medical doctors who use them as noninvasive treatments for numerous ailments, to pediatric nurses who apply the gentle techniques on fragile infants and children, to psychologists and social workers who use specific applications to enhance results in talk therapy.
In many cases, clinical practices now regularly employ massage therapists to enhance their health care options—something extremely rare in 1985.
By knowing the past, we can see how far we have come as a profession in a short period of time. This knowledge should fuel our passion for the work we do.