To complement the article “Research Literacy: Help Shape the Future of Massage” in the August 2014 issue of MASSAGE Magazine. Summary: Resources are presented that will enable massage therapists to increase their level of research literacy, a critical skill that helps them stay current on the latest in massage research so they can better serve clients.

Today, the vast majority of massage school curricula are missing a key component that has the power to shape the future of this profession: research literacy. Research literacy—the ability to find, read, evaluate and apply relevant research—is a critical skill most massage therapists in the U.S. need to develop in order to keep pace with the very latest happening in this field.

Continuing education classes on research literacy are in demand, largely thanks to the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork research requirements for renewal of board certification. This is great, and I am hopeful that thousands of currently practicing massage therapists will be introduced to a field that will greatly enrich their lives.

Here are a few of my favorite research resources:

Massage Therapy Foundation, www.massagetherapyfoundation.org. Click on the education tab for research literacy resources.

Basics of Research Literacy is an online, self-paced, eight-hour National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved class, offered as a fundraiser for the Massage Therapy Foundation. (Thanks to Education and Training Solutions for making this possible.)

A free, five-part webinar on writing case reports is also available. This is a series of one-hour pieces, each dedicated to a key part of creating a good case report.

International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is the world’s only open-source, peer-reviewed research journal dedicated to massage therapy. Subscribe to this free journal, and have quarterly issues delivered to your inbox.

Research Perch: This is a 20-minute podcast featuring Niki Munk, Ph.D., L.M.T., who is editor at the IJTMB; me; and our friend Michael Reynolds as the moderator. Every two weeks we take an article from the IJTMB and dissect it, talking about its strengths, weaknesses and how it might be applied in the session room. Subscribe to Research Perch on iTunes or Stitcher, and have it delivered to your mobile device.

Blogs: The Massage Therapy Foundation publishes a blog every week. Sometimes they’re on practice building or good marketing ideas, but they always refer back to how research can inform our profession and make us better therapists. Recent blog posts have addressed research ethical concerns, how a new massage therapist used research in her first year of practice, and an MTF grant award winner discussing her National Institutes of Health grant on body awareness and health.

Massage Therapy: Integrating Research and Practice, edited by Trish Dryden and Christopher Moyer, published by Human Kinetics. This is a great collection of friendly introductions to research concepts, and chapters dedicated to research findings for a variety of situations (such as cancer, working with elders, and fibromyalgia), with great suggestions for how those findings can be applied to your practice.

Making Sense of Research, 2nd edition, the seminal textbook on this topic, by Martha Menard, published by Curties-Overzet. This is an essential resource for anyone interested in learning more about the nuts and bolts of research. 


Ruth Werner is immediate past president of the Massage Therapy Foundation (www.massagetherapyfoundation.org). She is a retired massage therapist, writer and educator with a passionate interest in massage research and the role of bodywork for people who struggle with health. The fifth edition of her textbook, A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology, was released in 2012.

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