Massage & Bodywork


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F r e e m u s i c d o w n l o a d s f o r C e r t i f i e d m e m b e r s : w w w. a b m p . c o m / g o / c e r t i f i e d c e n t r a l 83 more hours. Many excellent smaller schools without a large population base to draw from have had to close. Already, many potentially excellent therapists are prevented from entry to our profession by massive hour requirements and expense. Much of the skill of any therapist is not quantifi able or measured simply by hours of study. Several famous teachers admit that they would probably not have entered the fi eld 30 years ago with such daunting requirements. Many argue that real skill can best be achieved by getting out and working with fewer initial hours; that practice on the public combined with continuing education workshops are a better answer, both for getting experience and to fi nd passion for areas to specialize in. Great progress has been made since the accreditation chaos of 30 years ago, and it is hoped that Garbowski's and others' work with ELAP will solve many of these issues and make life easier for both therapists and clients. The great news is that massage and bodywork has had phenomenal success in the last few decades and will continue to grow. As some problems are solved, new ones will undoubtedly spring up. For instance, will massage begin to be covered by health insurance? Myers feels this would expand the availability to a wide range of clientele. This plan works well in Canada, where all citizens are granted a certain number of massages per year with a minimum of red tape, simply having to submit a receipt from the sessions. With his interest in evolution, Myers has noticed changes in the structure of clients over the years just from the environmental changes in posture as we spend more time hunched over computers and commuting. I fi nd an increasing need for bodywork for the fi t generation who spend large amounts of time exercising in many forms, sometimes causing injuries from over- exercise—especially in the burgeoning market of extreme exercise classes with minimal supervision. For success in whatever venue we work, in the future, we need to adapt to the changing environment of new technology, business models, and evolving needs of our clientele, including an aging population. The Tangibles Having the benefi t of our longtime experts' advice, I asked them what suggestions they would have for therapists. For his suggestions, I see a connection in Myers's comments about the early confusion defi ning massage and his desire for clarity in present-day therapists' self- perception and self-defi nition. One needs to decide just where one's niche lies in the continuum of an art, a craft, a science, or a skill. Myers feels the divisiveness between different modalities is counterproductive. As a profession with so many different approaches, we need to make allies, not competitive separations. Walton emphasizes good body mechanics and to keep moving, relaxed, and breathing, and to explore different forms of movement training including dance and sports to shake things up and keep the body from resting on habit. Garbowski is in agreement, suggesting getting into the habit of stretching, strengthening, and continually perfecting your mechanics: "I have yet to meet a healthy massage therapist who does not enjoy what they do for a living." Most importantly, he says, "Listen intently to your clients. Massage therapy is a customer service industry driven by repeat business and referrals from existing clients." I would agree with all of our experts, particularly the suggestions to stay healthy in our physically demanding work with fl exibility, strength, and using gravity and core energy rather than muscling. However, I would emphasize the mental and emotional aspects of our work to stay focused, interested, and passionate. Rather than resting on my laurels, I fi nd I am learning and improving at bodywork as much now as in my early years. Make each client an experiment in learning and giving. Whether your stay in the bodywork profession is a transitory chapter or a lifelong profession, I urge you to make your work a creative art form. Be curious and continue to aspire to improve, and the work will always be exciting, fun, and rewarding. Art Riggs is a Certifi ed Advanced Rolfer and massage therapist who's been practicing bodywork since 1988. He sells myofascial release videos and manuals, and teaches continuing education courses worldwide. Riggs is the recipient of the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Massage Conference. For more information about his work, visit Much of the skill of any therapist is not quantifi able or measured simply by hours of study. WHERE ARE WE NOW?

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