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

Suffering for Profit

By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB

Never has the direction of our profession been brought into focus more clearly than by the recent legislative activities of our major professional associations. With little, if any, understanding of the professional regulatory mechanism, our associations are working hard to pass massage licensing laws, state by state. They obviously only have themselves in mind, not the profession and certainly not the public.

At one time, the AMTA was the association working for regulation and the ABMP was the association working against it. Times have changed. The two have now teamed up against us. Most professions, through their associations, are constantly working to expand their scope of practice to better serve the public. Not our associations. They are working for themselves so they can say, "We passed a law." Never mind the laws they are passing are deeding away huge portions of our traditional scope of practice. Who cares about joint mobilization, stretching and exercise? We'll trade them for a new law. One new law defines what a massage parlor is relative to us. Great - we've just legally defined adult entertainment as a part of massage.

On pessimistic days, I see our profession merging into adult entertainment, with the boundary being very unclear and no one really caring. How many hours does it take to train a prostitute? What anatomy must they know?

Of course, there is no set amount of anatomy a massage therapist must know. One hundred hours sometimes is specified, but 100 hours of what? According to the recently passed law in Massachusetts, therapists are forbidden from doing exercise, period. Better not be seen in a health club if you are a therapist in that state. A new law being proposed in a major northeast state will forbid us from doing joint mobilization, among other things. This precedent will now be the standard demanded by the dark forces of allopathy for all future laws and, of course, they will now add even more demands to limit us. The physical therapists have been given the charge to negate us. We're letting them win.

Any muscle-head in a health club, with no qualifications whatsoever other than large biceps, can give the public stretches and exercise, but massage therapists can't. Thanks, AMTA and ABMP - great job. You've done a great job of selling us down the river.

If you like the laws being passed by your associations, you should let them know. However, if you don't, it's even more important to let them know. Call the AMTA at (877) 905-2700 or the ABMP at (800) 458-2267. No law is always better than a poorly written or bad law. Laws that restrict our traditional scope of practice are bad laws.

Who is the winner and who is the loser when bad laws are passed? The associations and the schools win. The schools get to keep grinding out minimally trained therapists and the associations keep signing them up. As usual, the public loses because they are denied the full potential of massage therapy care in the name of profit for schools and associations. It's amazing the human suffering we justify in the name of profit, isn't it? At one time, this profession offered an alternative to the profit-driven allopathic model. I fear that time is nearly gone. Only you, through your involvement, can save alternative health care. Do you care?

More Sauce, Please

Do you know what the massage lubricant you're using is made from? There is some very dangerous stuff being sold as massage oil, lotion and gels. As lotion gets cheaper and cheaper, do you really think it's getting better and better? You put it on your patient/client for an hour or so at a time, now and then. You put it on yourself every session. Many colleagues are developing skin reactions to massage products. Worse, some are developing liver problems. Even clients are reacting negatively to some of the products being put on them. Read the labels on your massage products. If you see terms such as Quaternium-15 (or any of the Quaterniums), which are harsh; skin-sensitizers; BHA/BHT, which are linked to cellular changes in lab experiments; or maybe glyceryl cocoate ethoxylate (a water dispersant that can cause skin irritation/sensitivity), you should seriously consider why you're exposing yourself and your patients to these chemicals, and maybe find a cleaner, more natural product.

By the way, just because something says it's natural or even organic on the front label doesn't mean it really is. For example, Splenda, the artificial sweetener, starts with pure sugar, but there is little resemblance to the natural substance once it is processed. It's buyer beware, as it should be. However, that places the responsibility on you, the buyer, to become educated and aware of exactly what you are buying or using.

Even More on RLS

Interesting information continues to come in on restless leg syndrome (RLS). The following comes from Valerie Whiting, MS, OTR/L, LMT, in Knoxville, Tenn. I find it quite insightful, as it correlates with some qigong information I have come across recently that says a lot of our problems come from lack of walking in a full and correct gait pattern. "The RLS folks have habitual short stride length, so the limit may be from hip, knee or even ankle injury, but the problem is that stretch doesn't occur as it does naturally in a long, easy walking stride. Personally, I find that with people sitting on the job, tight quads limit the stride length. That concept is the base of my assessment for RLS complaints." Send in any RLS information you would like to share and I will pass it along in a future issue.

As this is the July issue, Happy Birthday, America! Have a great 4th of July. See you in September.

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


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