Evolution of Massage Therapy
the olden days
I’ve been in practice since 1998 and I have to say I’m pretty excited at the elevated status massage has today. More and more, body work is gaining a national reputation as a legitimate therapeutic modality. Oklahoma has a way to go but we’re getting there. Back in the early days, I set up shop in Texas. Luckily for me, I started in a sports rehabilitation clinic, so my legitimacy as a bonafide therapist got an early boost. Even with that, it was a scary time for me because I wasn’t sure how I would be received. I doubted myself all the time. There were a ton of prejudices against body workers. Aside from the usual stereotypes surrounding masseurs, I had the added benefit of being a. . . black male. No pressure, right? My massage therapy instructor made a big deal of telling us to brand ourselves as massage therapists upon graduation and set out to find work. Back then our choices were limited to hair salons or spa-type places and some chiropractors.
you say potato, I say Massage Therapist
Boy-oh-boy, that was long time ago! Remembering where I came from keeps me focused on where I’m going. Here I am today and massage therapy has progressed to the point where I feel like an “‘Old Timer." I catch myself saying things like, “in my day we called that technique kneading.”
But it’s all good news because we are calling ourselves Massage Therapists and not masseurs. There really is a difference. The difference is all the techniques and modalities and protocols that are available today. It’s not just spa massage anymore. It’s myofascial release, craniosacral therapy, Rolfing, neuromuscular release, acupressure, acupuncture, and a plethora of others.
take the bad with the good
There is a down side to the all of the notoriety, however, and it came in the form of corporations. When I heard about franchise massage therapy salons, my first reaction was one of mixed emotions. On one hand, someone realized how to turn what I do into a profit-making machine (I didn’t feel good about that at all). But on the other hand, the profile of massage therapy grew rapidly. this permitted people who had not experienced body work before to consider it as a legitimate therapy option. Additionally, massage became more mainstream and less “back alley."
It’s interesting to me how easy it is for a corporation to franchise anything. But, am I worried? Forgive me as I roll on the floor laughing. Nope, not at all. I’ve had my patients tell me how difficult it is to get a quality massage at the-spa-which-shall-remain-nameless. Also, these franchises have a high turnover rate because they wear out their therapists. My clients complain that they get someone different every time they go in for body work.
every cloud has its. . .
Back to the silver lining. Body work is gaining momentum in the mainstream, which is a good thing because it means more people are increasingly conscious of their health. Small practices like mine are going to flourish because we are specialists in the healing arts. We are working with medical doctors, chiropractors and rehabilitation clinics. The word is out now. It’s all over the Internet and in cyberspace. Back in my day, we didn’t have anywhere near the Internet resources that you kids have now. Oops! I did it again, didn’t I? But it’s true anyway. I would be willing to bet that’s how many of my clients found me. Yes, I’ve been at this a while now and I don’t see me stopping anytime soon. I keep going to continuing education seminars, staying current on the new research into treatment therapies. I am going to ride this wave for as long as possible.
peace and love,