IMTRC Break-Out Sessions: The Future of Massage
Putting yourself in another’s shoes is much easier said than done. However, when it is genuinely and successfully attempted it can provide us with some of the most powerful and insightful learning tools. The 2013 IMTRC provided such an opportunity to attendees in break-out sessions held during the final day’s push towards ascertaining a new massage therapy research agenda for the coming years. Each break-out session was designed to “see” massage therapy from a different vantage point as well as to assess strengths and challenges that developed from their new viewpoint regarding the legitimacy and acceptance of massage.
As a massage therapist in a family of doctors and more traditional practitioners, I am consistently reminded of many overarching issues that arise when practitioners from holistic and western philosophies attempt to collaborate. Sitting in on the discussion of massage therapy from the perspective of physicians, the conversation I absorbed was very familiar to me. In general, there is a need for massage to be redefined, protocoled, and for dosage studies to get underway in order for the efficacy of massage to accurately be measured. With such studies, syntax and documentation for massage therapy will also need to be addressed and streamlined. For weeks after this conversation I had the ringing of a physician’s voice in my ear with “what is massage? what is massage? we need to DEFINE MASSAGE!,” I then began to ask myself this. I have been doing this for 4 years now and here I am at my clinic, working with my clients and all of a sudden I cannot manifest a singular definition for massage. As a result, I asked my clients.
To many of my clients, massage is...
...an opportunity for them, after surgery, to get range of motion and soft tissue screening between appointments with their surgeons.
...a process in which they can begin to accept their body again after facing any of a spectrum of body image alignments.
...a time during which they can be educated about how work and deconditioning are present in their body; a starting point for setting goals.
Truly quantifiable feedback from my clients only came when exact measurements had been taken: range of motion and strength-based assessments specifically.
My observations at the conference as well as direct feedback from my clients, led me to strongly encourage the enforcement of education reform in massage schools. For studies of massage efficacy to occur successfully, the measurable components of massage and bodywork need to be isolated. Therapists need to know how to use a goniometer, how to take blood pressure, how to assess gait and limb discrepancies. I see massage therapists as important teachers to clients. We spend more time with our clients than nearly any other practitioner has the luxury of doing. Understanding functional movement screening and quantifiable outcomes is invaluable to our practice. This knowledge will give us a solid starting point from which we can BEGIN to understand the effects of massage on our clients in a much more specific light.
I hear massage therapists talking about how massage cannot be measured; “it’s too subjective.” The important thing to remember, I believe, is that patients are always, first and foremost – human – nebulous and subjective. There are always aspects of patients that are perhaps not measurable or easily captured. This, consequently, often relates to how therapists feel about the entire field of massage. Many clients choose their therapists based on a “certain something,” something special and perhaps not easily expressed or found in another therapist. Many massage therapists talk about this, concerned that if we start to take the holistic nature out of massage by throwing it into the science realm, clients will lose that relationship. Regardless of how “scientific” or measurable a modality is, our clients will always be able to see that side of us. Now it is our responsibility to find a way to meld what will become a more protocol-oriented treatment regimen WITH that certain something, and create a new type of massage that is both intuitive and organized around proven outcome-based techniques. I truly believe that this is our future and I truly believe that it will be powerful and meaningful for the entire medical field.
Sarah J. Rogers, LMT Licensed Massage Therapist
Sarah J. Rogers is a licensed massage therapist and an internationally certified personal trainer. She received her training at The Cortiva Institute in Watertown, MA and The American Academy of Personal Training in Boston, MA. She is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association and of IDEA fit. Having received her BA in Anthropology and History of Science at Smith College, she shares a deep intellectual and philosophical connection to her clients and work.
Sarah works with each client to develop a comprehensive treatment to suit each client’s goals. She incorporates neuromuscular therapy, advanced osteopathic stretching, myofascial release, stretching, and personal training. She also integrates relaxation, meditation and motivation techniques. Sarah understands and appreciates the various ways in which people use their bodies to get through their every day lives, and enjoys the process of tracing the source of discomfort and injury.
A life-long athlete, Sarah enjoys yoga, running, swimming and biking among other things. Sarah has coached swimming, participates in special education wellness programs (Cantor Youth & Special Olympics). Sarah believes that holistic and traditional health should be equally accessible to every individual. She participates in the Collaborative Health For All initiative by Jill’s List in collaboration with Boston Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
Swedish / Deep Tissue / Myofascial Release / Pre-Natal / Active Isolated Stretching / Body-Awareness / Personal Training
"Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul is the work of the soul and good for either is the work of the other." -Henry David Thoreau.