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Massage Today
July, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 07

Colorado Becomes 39th State to Regulate Massage

Pennsylvania legislature also poised to vote on massage regulation.

By Kathryn Feather, Senior Associate Editor

Colorado became the 39th state to regulate the massage therapy profession when Gov. Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 08-219 into law on June 2, 2008. The law takes effect July 1, 2008, and requires registration starting April 1, 2009.

S.B.08-219, the Massage Therapy Practice Act, defines "massage" or "massage therapy" as "a system of structured touch, palpation, or movement of the soft tissue of another person's body in order to enhance or restore the general health and well-being of the recipient. Such system includes, but is not limited to, techniques such as effleurage, commonly called stroking or gliding; petrissage, commonly called kneading; tapotement or percussion; friction; vibration; compression; passive and active stretching within the normal anatomical range of movement; hydromassage; and thermal massage. Such techniques may be applied with or without the aid of lubricants, salt or herbal preparations, water, heat or a massage device that mimics or enhances the actions possible by human hands. 'Massage' or 'Massage Therapy' does not include therapeutic exercise, intentional joint mobilization or manipulation, or any of the methods described in section 12-35.5-110(1)(e)."

The bill sets the following requirements for massage registration. Every applicant will:

  • Attain a degree, diploma or otherwise successfully complete a massage therapy program that consists of at least 500 total hours of coursework and clinical work from an approved massage school.
  • Pass one of the following examinations: the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, the National Certification Examination offered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, or an examination approved by the director of the Division of Registrations in the Department of Regulatory Agencies.
  • Submit an application in the form and manner specified by the director.
  • Pay a fee in an amount determined by the director.
  • Submit to a criminal history record check.

 - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark The law stipulates that only a person registered by the state of Colorado as a massage therapist can use the title "massage therapist," "registered massage therapist," "massage practitioner," masseuse," "the letters MT" or "RMT" or any other generally accepted terms or letters indicating a person is a massage therapist. S.B.08-219 also preempts local ordinances currently in effect.

To view a copy of the legislation, visit

Pennsylvania Could Be Next

House Bill 2499 recently made its way through the Pennsylvania legislature and now awaits a vote out of the Committee on Professional Licensure. As of press time, Rep. Stanley Saylor of York raised some concerns and requested some additional information from the American Massage Therapy Association. The committee planned to spend a week reviewing the additional information before voting the bill out of committee and sending it to the state House of Representatives for a final vote.

H.B.2499 defines massage therapy as "the application of a system of structured touch, pressure, movement, holding and treatment of the soft tissue manifestations of the human body in which the primary intent is to enhance health and well-being of the client without limitation, except as provided in this act. The term includes the external application of water, heat, cold, lubricants or other topical preparations, lymphatic techniques, myofascial release techniques and the use of electro-mechanical devices which mimic or enhance the action of the massage technique. The term does not include the diagnosis or treatment of impairment, illness, disease or disability, a medical procedure, a chiropractic manipulation/adjustment, physical therapy mobilization/manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, electrical stimulation, ultrasound or prescription of medicines for which a license to practice medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, occupational therapy, podiatry or other practice of the healing arts is required."

Somatic practitioners and reflexologists elected not to be represented under the Massage Therapy Board that would be created as a result of this bill and were given exclusionary paragraphs. The requirements for registration are similar to those listed under the Colorado massage bill, although much will be left up to the newly created board to implement. One difference is that the Pennsylvania bill requires 600 education hours as compared to Colorado's 500.

State Representative Keith McCall introduced the bill and, according to the Pennsylvania chapter of the AMTA, has the support of more than 30 House members who have co-sponsored the legislation. In a legislative update posted on the AMTA-PA Web site, chapter president Nancy Porambo said, "Many Senators have expressed support and are waiting for the bill to arrive in the Senate Committee. The physical therapists and chiropractors are in agreement with this language and will not oppose the language. The bill is anticipated to easily pass the House and Senate."

To view H.B.2499, visit


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