Massage has been a part of our human existence since the beginning of time in many forms, often in combination with other healing methods. However, only some 50 years ago massage became recognized as a stand-alone modality that was practiced as an end in itself. Today, it is practiced in more and more contexts and venues. How can we as massage therapists or bodyworkers leverage this growth?
Massage: From A Luxury Item To A Regulated Practice
In the beginning of the 20th century massage began to receive recognition as a stand-alone therapy. It was, however, almost exclusively used for treating injured soldiers during the World Wars or applied as relaxing and pampering treatments for the wealthy.
In the 1950´s and 1960´s the interest in alternative and complementary therapies increased the appeal of massage and it became more widely practiced and accepted. New as well as rediscovered modalities were practiced and states began to regulate the massage profession and education. Despite of this positive development of the profession, in some populations, massage was not taken seriously.
What Massage Stands For Today
In the last 20 years or so, especially in the Western world, professional associations as well as government institutions have worked hard for consolidating the massage profession and giving it the recognition it deserved. This has been done for example through conducting research on the many benefits of massage and its healing impact on various types of injuries and diseases.
In my opinion this quest for improving the “image” of massage has succeeded in many aspects; it is associated with prostutition to a smaller extent than before, it is a regulated profession in more and more countries, it is used in an increasing number of contexts and for a larger variety of conditions, etc. Today massage is practiced and offered in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, alternative medicine clinics, Spas, hotels, health clubs, fitness centers, offices, sports arenas, airports, shopping malls, beauty centers, etc. This shift is also visible in consumer behavior, as more and more people turn to massage for medical reasons, and not merely for relaxing purposes, as the American Massage Therapy Association Consumer Survey Fact Sheet reveals.
What Does This Mean For Massage Therapists?
This means that we are presented with a huge opportunity to expand our horizons, to learn new modalities, to offer a larger number of treatments, to practice in an increased variety of venues and contexts. This means that we can approach a wide variety of professionals to offer our services and this way diversify our practice and grow professionally. Or that we have the chance to set up our own massage practice in a setting that before would have been unthinkable. I urge all massage professionals out there to think about ways in which you can grow, learn, develop, and reach out to see how and where you could be of use for patients and clients that need you!
I would love to hear your comments on where you practice massage today, how you got there, what works and what doesn´t, etc. Your experiences can be of help to others massage therapists and bodyworkers!
Wishing you a creative day ahead,
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