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Massage Today
September, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 09

Help Grow a Pearl

By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB

Despite several dark clouds hanging over the profession of massage therapy/bodywork, there is reason to be quite optimistic. The public demand for soft-tissue therapy continues to increase.

The public patronage of venues providing relaxation massage also continues to increase. If a critical mass is reached before universal health care is forced upon us, it will be difficult for the politicians to take massage away. Relaxation massage will probably be unaffected.

Massage therapists, as first-door health care providers, will survive if our professional associations stand up for us. If our associations do not, and they seldom have, therapeutic massage will be put under the gatekeeping control of allopaths, where it will exist in some form. Not to despair, if you don't want to work under the thumbs of the allopaths. You can do a lot under the guise of relaxation if you are careful about the words you use. Just never treat a condition. This is simple. Only specifically address the tissue in spasm, reduce tender and trigger points, restore circulation and range of motion, and if the condition goes away it's not your fault, right? Of course not. Posture analysis and alignment are strictly for cosmetic purposes, right? So those who learn "how to rub" as Hippocrates called it, instead of just learning how to push lubricant around, will still be able to make a good living helping a lot of people. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Everything is an opportunity, and ours to make the best (or worst) of.

Hostile Takeover

The organic food industry has become the target of a hostile take-over by the agribusiness/government cartel. People want clean, safe food that tastes better and that makes them feel better after they eat it. They are willing to pay a premium for it. The people who started many of the brands you have come to know and trust are reaching retirement age. One of the large agribusiness conglomerates makes them an offer they can't refuse, so they sell out and retire as millionaires. You can't blame them really. It's scary how one of the large food conglomerates now owns almost every major health food brand. Have they come to their senses and decided to provide better products? Hardly; they have bought up the organic food industry and are now using their millions and their lobbyists to corrupt and dilute the organic standards. Why? For profit, of course. They can get more money for chemically laced crap if they call it organic. It is called "greenwashing." This is having a negative impact on small, sincere organic farmers and companies who can only compete if organic standards actually mean something. The FDA and the USDA are doing everything they can get away with to destroy organic standards for the benefit of the large agrichemical and food companies. Are you concerned about the quality of the food you eat, the environment and organic standards? Does the survival of natural alternatives in health care and access to quality supplements, herbs, homeopathy, even massage, mean anything to you? If so, you need to get involved. A phone call and one letter a month would make a huge difference; even better, one a week. A good source of information is

A more radical group - not in a bad way - that really lays it on the line is Believe that you, as one person, can make a difference, because you can. The letters and e-mails to these bureaucrats are making a difference. Several dastardly initiatives and power grabs have been turned back. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Become an irritant - help grow a pearl!

It's fascinating how the microcosm of the massage profession reflects the macrocosm of American society at large. In this case, large career colleges bought up the largest and most successful massage schools whose owners were at or near retirement age, and now are using their millions and their lobbyists to dilute our professions education standards.

Along these lines, what's left of Iowa's massage law is now under attack by the "cosmo schools," among others, who want no standards for instructors or a required curriculum. No standards or accountability means more profit, but a poorer product be it food or therapists.

As our organic food standards are lost, it will become best to shop at farmer's markets for food from local growers who still care. As our massage education standards are lost, it will be best to go to locally owned schools operated by therapists who have successfully made a living at massage. If you can't, or haven't, made a good living at it, you shouldn't be teaching it. This is a huge problem with education in America in general. The motto, "Those who can't do, teach" is a major reason why our education system turns out so many illiterates and incompetents.

Try This

The muscular system of the body is not a bunch of separate parts (muscles). It's really one huge muscle, "The Muscle." Inseparable from fascia, "The Muscle," or the myofascial system, is such that tension anywhere in the system is tension everywhere in the system. Look for "chaining" patterns of muscles in the body. For example, the abdominal obliques interdigitate into the anterior serratus, which continues into the rhomboids and levator scapula, creating a spiral connection from pubis to C-1. How about the rectus abdominis merging into sternalis, continuing on to sternocleidomastoid? When one muscle in a "chain" won't relax, maybe it can't because of the tension placed on it from the rest of the chain. Examine the other muscles in the chain, treat (relax) them and see if the problem muscle then responds better to your treatment.

Out of ink, so I have to stop. See you in November.

Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB.


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