Massage & Bodywork

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2022

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Telling the Truth Ways to Stop Being a Purveyor of Misinformation By Cal Cates Disinformation is a big problem in our world today, but it doesn't happen by accident. It's a deliberate attempt to deceive a person or people for personal or political gain, and there are lots of big organizations working to address and correct the problem. Believe it or not, we may have a role, as health-care providers, in making the slope a little less slippery when it comes to supporting untruths. It's easier than you might think to be a purveyor of misinformation, which is distinct from disinformation because it is not necessarily a deliberate act meant to deceive. As massage therapists, we are often in the position of sharing what we might consider "common knowledge." The problem is that common knowledge is just that—common. It's something that enough people believe (spoiler alert: belief and knowledge are not the same) to have given it traction and unearned credence as factual. We don't check it because it "makes sense" to us and because we don't usually experience pushback when we share it. EXAMPLE #1: DRINK WATER POST-SESSION "Please help yourself to some water after the session," we say to our clients. "I sure will," they reply, armed with common knowledge. "I need to flush those toxins out." Here's the misinformation fork in the road. Do you: (A) Smile, agree, and send them on their way, or (B) kindly, but clearly, share with them that their body is quite skilled at detoxification if they have a working liver, then go on to explain that water is important to overall health and hydration, but you did not just spend the last hour squishing poison out of their muscles that now needs to be rinsed from their body in some mechanical, waterslide-esque sort of way? EXAMPLE #2: MUSCLES AS KNOTS "Oh man, I have some really big knots back there, don't I?" (If you say you haven't heard this one, you're just lying.) As massage therapists, we know that muscles are not actually capable of being "knotted" in the traditional sense. The fibers may not be gliding the way they should, or it may be that one or more muscles are not sliding over, around, or with each other as intended. You know this person does not have knots in their muscles. They have areas that could be encouraged to work more harmoniously (and yes, hydration could be helpful here), but when you let them go on thinking they have 86 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j a n u a r y/ fe b r u a r y 2 0 2 2 knots, you're missing a chance to give them good and accurate information about their body—and you are allowing misinformation to continue. CONSPIRITUALISM The massage profession overlaps and falls within the "wellness industry" in many ways. As a result, we often find ourselves engaging in what Australian author Sarah Wilson calls "conspiritualism," which is really just misinformation. Decades ago, a movement grew out of the well-intended desire to expose the less-than-benevolent motives and business practices of the food, pharmaceutical, health-care, and oil industries. More recently, this desire has become confused by disinformation, the potential for financial gain in an industry where it can be hard to make a living simply essential skills | MASSAGE THERAPY AS HEALTH CARE

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