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Massage Today
March, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 03

The Future of the Profession and the Evolution of Massage

By Velvete Womack, PhD, LMT, CE, MI

As with any career growth, is inevitable to maintain success, massage therapy included. Just as the medical profession continues its growth with research and new technology, massage therapy strives to do the same, or at least it should.

At best, many therapists will continue to read articles about stone massage, trigger point therapy or aromatherapy to help inspire them to continue in their practice rather than striving to "add" to massage therapy in a brand new way.

By taking a look at and emulating professions around us, we can better understand how they have evolved and what it will take for massage therapy to evolve to that next level as well. Oh, I know I hear it all the time that massage therapy is as good as it gets. Even though this may be true on some levels, it's not true on all levels.

Each year, we have thousands of students graduating massage school, but leaving very few to make it past the 7 year mark. If massage is as good as it gets, then why are we only practicing for 7 years and then leaving the field? It doesn't have to be this way.

Massage therapy has so much to offer clients if we are willing to take the time that it so well deserves. Many times, we are the first introduction to wellness and stress reduction, and many times while clients are in our office it's the only time they'll even think about taking care of "them." This is one way we can evolve massage to that next level of professionalism and realism.

Massage - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark We will never evolve as long as we think we are better than another profession or that we feel our clients should avoid other healthcare providers. In order to evolve, we must be willing to blend the two worlds of holistic and medical together with harmony and grace in order to continue growth, awareness, safety and most of all enlightenment. Enlightenment simply means we have come into the knowing of something. Enlightenment can only occur if we are willing to open ourselves to the world around us showing us how to become better people, better therapists and better at understanding unity.

In my practice, I call myself a "hybrid," a hybrid of blended services and information to better meet the individual needs of each and every client. Each client is an individual and to enhance their experience, we must be willing to make those little adjustments in each session that is unique to them. Just because one technique worked for one client, doesn't mean it will have the same affect on another. The same is true about the information we share.

In the beginning of any new practice, we all have new clients coming in and we begin our educational material on "the importance of drinking more water after a session." And then we continue to educate them further on bath salts, aromatherapy, etc. But then, one day, we wake up and we realize we've been doing this for 7 years and we're bored. We're tired of handing out the water sheets, or worse, we have no new clients to hand these sheets out to. However, this is where it gets really interesting!

If I'm going to be a gallbladder specialist, of course I'm going to want to know everything I can about the gallbladder. Now, if I only take the information at hand and not think about it, and I just apply the information into my practice, I might do pretty well for myself. But what if I took that information, applied it to some other knowledge, and then what if I developed a combination of holistic approaches and medical approaches and came up with a hot new way to clear the gallbladder of gall stones without surgery? It's physicians like this that have allowed the medical world to scratch its head to say, "We need to do something different." And different is what we are getting with what is being coined as "functional medicine." The medical community is evolving.

If the medical community is evolving, we will be left behind if we don't open our eyes and see what is happening outside our little dark rooms. It's by asking that we grow. As I stated earlier, many times we are the first introduction in self care and self appreciation. Many times, we are the first source of holistic/medical treatment folks will seek because someone else shared a success story with them. That being said, can you imagine how important it is to know something about supplementation, stretching, other physicians in the area, and most important other holistic healthcare providers that can meet the client's needs that might be outside of your scope of practice? You would become a lifesaver to many!

So, what am I talking about here when it comes to the "Evolution of Massage?" Well, here are some great starters:

  1. Take a class in vitamins and supplements. Or, better yet, be able to provide your clients with tools that will allow them now to educate themselves on the safety of supplement and drug interactions.
  2. Take a yoga instruction class to better understand energy and to offer this as an additional class for your clients.
  3. Meet and greet the physicians and other therapists in your area. One of the things that can kill a massage practice is by sticking your head in the sand, or thinking that you are better than everyone else. This will leave you lonely and without referrals.
  4. Understand your own limits. This is the most important part for a therapist! Evolution takes partnerships. We can't evolve alone. We need each other in order to grow.

Dr. Velvete H. Womack, PhD, LMT, CE, MI, is a published author, inventor, licensed massage therapist and wellness coach. With more than 35 years in corporate American, and in the medical and holistic field of health and wellness, Dr. Womack strives to provide individuals tools that will aid in balance and stress reduction. For more information, visit


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