Massage News for Today’s MT

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

Rocked by Recent Challenges, the Massage Field Continues to Evolve

Ruth Werner
Ruth Werner

In a presentation titled “What Just Happened? What Comes Next? Massage Therapy on the Threshold,” at the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education conference, held virtually this year, educator and author Ruth Werner reported on the past 18 months’ challenges in larger society and the massage field, and offered a roadmap to the future.

“In this last 18 months, we’ve had a lot of changes forced on us,” said Werner. “Some of those changes have been great, and I hope we can use the good ones as we move forward—changes like remote learning, when its benefits outweigh its deficits, changes like being more conscientious about looking for who’s missing from our community and then creating spaces that celebrate diversity.”

Another challenge facing the massage field, she said, is the ongoing struggle to staff massage-school classrooms with educators who possess the skills needed to meet students’ needs; that despite the AFMTE having created educational training and standards, many schools don’t make use of those.

Among AMFTE’s offerings are its National Teacher Education Standards Project, educator certification, and resources for professional development and classroom enhancement.

Describing the advance of the coronavirus (COVID-19) as “a tragedy, an uncovering, a chance to reset, to reboot,” Werner noted that the pandemic is not yet over, and that society continues to face the possibility of new infectious diseases.

Social justice and creating greater diversity will also continue to be important in both the larger society and the massage field, as will fighting the dangers of misinformation and disinformation around public health, Werner said.

But most of all, she added, “and this is the good news”—the massage field is not done with evolving. What she was offering in her presentation, Werner said, is an invitation to evolve together in collaboration toward a future buttressed by greater diversity, improved teaching skills and advanced technology.

“Our evolution is inevitable,” she said. “It can be random and haphazard and the result of being buffeted around by forces that are bigger and more organized than we are—but, for me, successful evolution in massage therapy education looks like this:

“We set our standards for excellence. We build a critical mass of diverse teachers who are well prepared and excited to be in the classroom. We build curricula that reflect a solid foundation of skills and information with the benefits of cultural awareness, sensitivity and inclusivity. We have continuing education providers who deliver evidence-informed content that is effective and helpful to their attendees, and their work is valued.”

The net result, said Werner, will be a population of massage therapists who are confident and competent, and who offer effective, safe, evidence-informed massage that makes the world a better place.

You may still watch the 2021 Conference videos, through Oct. 15, by registering at afmte.org/ec2021/pricing. (Disclosure: Massage Magazine Insurance Plus was one of the conference’s sponsors.)

Archive of Healing Democratizes Knowledge

A searchable database of information gleaned from seven continents, six university archives, more than 3,000 published sources—and spanning data from more than 200 years—claims to be the largest digital archive focused on healing methods.

The archive is guided by such principles as: “The archive should highlight, rather than erase, indigenous contributions to knowledge about healing … [and] the archive should provide peoples and communities of need access to healing and wellness outside of often expensive allopathic and pharmaceutical approaches, and not as alternatives but as complementary modalities, among others.”

Click here for more information and to create a free account.

Bill Drafted to Legalize Cannabis on Federal Level

Draft legislation created in mid-July would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level and also remove it from the FDA’s controlled substance list.

Cannabis is related to hemp, the plant from which CBD is derived. CBD is used in massage lubricants to purportedly contribute to pain relief and relaxation.

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) would, among other things, create a legal pathway for CBD use in dietary supplements. Currently, 37 states have legalized medical cannabis and18 states have legalized recreational use of cannabis.

“As an industry, we are excited to see this CBD and hemp language added to the CAOA. The language is fairly similar to the language that we have proposed in S. 1698 and HR 841,” Chase Terwilliger, CEO OF Balanced Health Botanicals, a family of brands in the hemp-derived CBD market, told MASSAGE Magazine. “It’s great that we now have four avenues for CBD regulations—FDA, CAOA, S. 1968, and HR 841. Specifically, for the CAOA it would provide a path for CBD to be regulated as a dietary supplement.”

Additionally, said Terwilliger, if CBD becomes regulated, consumers will see these advancements:

• CBD oil will be available from retailers nationwide

• The industry “bad actors” who have not complied with GMP (Good Manufacturing Processes) and that don’t have full traceability of their products could cease to exist.

• More capital will go into use-case clinical studies. 

As of press time, the act’s authors, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), were taking comments from stakeholders. For more information, click here and search for cannabis.

Irene Smith Legacy Material Sought

Irene Smith
Irene Smith

Colleagues of educator Irene Smith (1946–2021) are seeking videos, photographs and other artifacts to celebrate her legacy. They also seek an archivist for the material and a permanent home for the archive.

Smith founded Everflowing in 2001, an organization dedicated to educational outreach and teaching skillful touching as an integral component to palliative care. She also ran Service Through Touch from 1982 until 1999, through which she created massage programs for people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.

“Irene’s greatest wish was to continue to spread her message about the importance of human connection, particularly through touch and, even more specifically, for people who are seriously ill or dying,” reads an email from the group of colleagues. “We are determined to honor her legacy and are seeking your help by assembling and organizing her books, videos, articles and other writings to disseminate for free or low cost.”

They would also like to archive personal memories about how Irene impacted people’s lives, such as from teachers, assistants, students and clients. To participate, contact everflowingsf@gmail.com.

Read “Irene Smith, Hospice Massage Educator: 1946-2021.”

Social Justice in Health Care Conference Scheduled

A conference taking place online Oct. 9–10 will focus on social justice in health care. The conference is organized by Healwell, an organization that offers massage education, works with hospitals, and partners with researchers, among other actions.

Conference presentations will include keynotes from Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at University of California, San Francisco, Chase Anderson, MD, on “The Impact of Identity” and Sirius Bonner, vice president of equity and inclusion at Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette on “Beyond Body Positive.”

Additional presentations will include “How Our Healthcare Has Made Us More Sick as People with Disabilities” and “Interventions for Healthy Aging Among Mature Black Lesbians,” as well as panel discussions on “Creative Solutions to Health Care Accessibility” and “Social Justice in Pediatric Health Care.”

Click here for more information and to register.

Read “This is What we Mean by Diversity, Equity & Inclusion—And Why We Need More of Them in the Massage Therapy Field.”

Massage Conference Live Scheduled: Branding and Business

Jeanette Falu-Bishop
Jeanette Falu-Bishop

The Massage Conference Live, to be held Oct. 12–15, is an opportunity for massage therapists and wellness providers to learn, network, and get the knowledge and skills help their business succeed. More than 30 industry experts will speak on marketing, branding, accounting, legal issues and more during the online conference.

The event is being coordinated by Jeanette Falu-Bishop, and speakers will include Darryl “DJ” Turner, Terrance Bonner, Jason Erickson, Lauren Allen, Gael Wood, Benny Vaughn, Scott Dartnell, Barry Florence, James Waslaski and many more.

Click here for more information and to register.

Touch Relieves Depression in Dementia

Massage therapy has, along with additional practices, been found be more effective than some drugs in addressing symptoms of depression and loneliness in people suffering from dementia.

Fifty million people worldwide have a diagnosis of dementia. About 16% of these people also have a diagnosed major depressive disorder, and 32% will experience symptoms of depression without a formal diagnosis, according to a press release from the British Medical Journal, which published the findings this year.

Researchers analyzed the results of existing trials to compare the effectiveness of drug and non-drug interventions with usual care or any other intervention targeting symptoms of depression in people with dementia.

After screening 22,138 records, they focused on and reviewed 256 studies involving 28,483 people with dementia, with or without a diagnosed major depressive disorder.

Drug approaches alone were no more effective than usual care, but researchers found 10 interventions associated with a greater reduction in symptoms of depression compared with usual care: cognitive stimulation; exercise; reminiscence therapy (a treatment to help people with dementia remember events, people and places from their lives); cognitive stimulation with a cholinesterase inhibitor (a drug used to treat dementia); massage and touch therapy; multidisciplinary care; psychotherapy combined with reminiscence therapy and environmental modification; occupational therapy; exercise combined with social interaction and cognitive stimulation; and animal therapy.

Three interventions—massage and touch therapy, cognitive stimulation with a cholinesterase inhibitor, and cognitive stimulation combined with exercise and social interaction—were found to be more effective than some drugs.

“The authors acknowledge some study limitations, such as being unable to explore severity of depression symptoms or effects on different types of dementia,” the release noted. “Nor did they look at the potential costs or harms of implementing drug and non-drug interventions … however, notable strengths included the large number of articles reviewed and use of a recognized clinical scale for capturing symptoms of depression.”

Click here to read the review.

About the Author:

Karen Menehan

Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief. Her recent articles include “A Timeline of Massage Events that Shaped the Field, 1985–2020” and “Olympic Track-And-Field Athlete Ronnie Baker: ‘Massage Allows Me to Perform at the Highest Level.”


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