Beware of the Backlash

By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB

Beware of the Backlash

By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB

The backlash against our profession has finally begun. I was asked by a resort spa to do special medical massage training for its staff. In the conversation, the spa manager confided that it is getting harder to sell massages to guests. The reason he gave was that guests have received too many lousy massages at resorts and spas. They have either been injured or received a less-than-relaxing rubdown that did not help them at all, so they have written off massage. Therefore, these affluent guests, who can afford our services out-of-pocket, are writing off our profession as worthless, or worse, dangerous. This is the beginning of the backlash against the massage profession. I am surprised it has taken so long.

All the research that has been done validating massage becomes worthless if the typical therapist cannot reproduce the results. When the typical massage school student does not really know the difference between deep friction and effleurage, much less anatomy, how can they read a research protocol and duplicate the treatment? I have been told, "Silly boy, it is not necessary to know anatomy, all that is needed is a good intent. Just feel the energy and let it guide you." All I can say to this ignorance is that even if you are going to be a psychic surgeon, you need to know the difference between a tumor on the liver and the gallbladder before you begin the removal.

As we frantically beg for acceptance by the allopathic medical establishment (that is, MDs), do we believe we can garner much respect given the average competency of our profession?

A fellow instructor told me of a spa owner who said they would rather risk the chance of a lawsuit than put money into educating their staff on techniques and hygiene for stone massage. Some spas only change the stone water once a day. (How green of them.) How can this happen in a profession that is theoretically about health and healing? It happens as the heart of the profession is replaced by bottom-line mentality. Professionalism and professional ethics are more difficult and expensive for schools to demonstrate and teach, and for operators to maintain. Investors and investment groups are only interested in massage for the return on their investment (the bottom line). This mentality abuses both the therapists and the clientele. Both are beginning to figure this out. The number of people entering the profession is leveling off and now the public is walking away.

Debra Brooks, PhD, said, "When you lose the heart of a profession, you lose the art of a profession." It has been the art of our profession that attracted people to massage. The art provides the caring, healing and true health care. We are losing the art at an ever-increasing rate, and as we do, consumers will walk away in greater numbers. They get all the science and routines they can stand from the allopathic providers for "free" via insurance. The public came to us because we were an alternative. We had the science with a heart that gave the art, which finally provided the individualized attention people needed to heal.

Now we seem to have either one or the other. Some therapists learn the science, but not the art of touching from the heart. Others learn lots of new age/artsy stuff (which is different from the art of professional practice,), but not enough science to be safe and effective at the physical level. As we have become branded, integrated (look what has happened to osteopathy since it became integrated - if you are old enough to remember) and educated by investors, we have lost more and more of the heart. Our profession has disintegrated into first a trade and then down to just a job. Sometimes success, as measured in numbers, is a hollow victory.

What will our profession do about this? Probably nothing in the near future. It's hard to stand in front of the cash-flow train of the schools and large spa/clinic operators at this time. The marketplace will eventually force corrections. The marketplace is ruthless and it won't be pretty.

Unfinished Business

In my January column, I mentioned a possible correlation between trigger points in the Achilles tendon and restless leg syndrome (RLS). I received two very interesting e-mails on the subject. The first suggested that RLS is the body discharging the excess energy from overconsumption, especially eating too much meat and sugar. The second suggested a correlation with nerve entrapment in the psoas muscle. If you have experience with RLS and would like to share, please e-mail me.

Your Government and Mine

As the presidential circus moves across the country, notice there is only one candidate who has come out publicly for freedom of choice in health care and who supports unfettered access to alternative therapies. All the rest propose completely allopathic systems. One candidate wants to force everyone to get annual tests and vaccinations, calling this wellness care.

Meanwhile, over at the FDA, political appointees accept and approve bogus studies from approval-seeking companies, often against the recommendations of FDA staff. Thus, we are being force-fed GMO foods while the rest of the world is trying to ban them. We use our economic leverage to try to force it down their throats, too. Most recently, the FDA approved milk and meat from clones. How can this be? There haven't been enough clones producing meat and milk to feed a significant test group of people to determine its safety. Politicians, not objective scientists, have ruled it as safe. Whenever there is a political or corporate gain to "scientific research," follow the money trail and you will find the truth. The truth is seldom what you are being told by the mainstream media.

We are endangering our own food chain with GMO foods and "terminator" seeds. Without quality food, there can be no health, and health is the most important thing there is. Massage should be about health: maintaining it, enhancing it and, if necessary, restoring it through healing touch and advocating a healthy lifestyle. We are selling ourselves short when all we do is push oil around. More in May.