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Why do we have more problems arriving at terminology in "massage" than Chiropractic

A big difference between massage and chiropractic is that chiropractic began as a developed system by one man, Daniel David Palmer. "I am not the first person to replace subluxated vertebrae, but I do claim to be the first person to replace displaced vertebrae by using the spinous and transverse processes as levers...and to develop the philosophy and science of chiropractic adjustments." D.D. Palmer,

Actually this was performed throughout Asia for thousands of years as part of the martial arts and still regarded in Asia as part of massage/bodywork. But in North America the system developed from a single root.

This is not the case with massage which has many origins from over the world. By the time license was needed in the USA to perform massage it was already very diverse sd immigrant populations continued their traditional "massage" systems. So rather than branching out from one source, massage attempts to encompass diverse traditions independently developed. I believe that no other form of healthcare springs from so many diverse sources. It is natural that there is confusion trying to make terminology to fit all forms of manual hands on healing into one over all descriptive name. One problem is that what one understands as massage is dependent on the form of massage one has been exposed to.

Now if we regard Classic Massage as the only form of massage to be licensed, the whole matter becomes simple.

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Comment by Robin Byler Thomas on May 18, 2012 at 10:15am

Yes, I've wrestled with terminology for years (what to call my own work) and have finally settled on massage therapy. For a while I called it therapeutic massage, but who's work isn't? Often, it feels like we are rehashing the same old things those before us settled on. So, I've accepted massage therapy.

Having said that, I agree, covering other forms of manual therapies, like rolfing and Asian Bodywork (as you mentioned) under the massage therapy umbrella in the US has caused problems in terminology, standardization in basic education, industry unification, and public perception.

Comment by Daniel Cohen on May 18, 2012 at 9:52am

Robin, Classic Massage is the term used in most countries for what we Americans refer to as Swedish Massage. If massage was still regarded as only "Swedish" terminology, agreeing on what is massage, how to describe it would be simple. But because it is not from a common root, like most other health care professions, we are attempting to group hands on therapy into one category that encompasses all the forms cultures and languages that do hands on therapy. Or it can be simplified like Massachusetts did in defining massage as excluding Asian Bodywork and some other practices often covered by the blanket term "massage". We can simply forget the origin of the term and define massage as any practice that brings comfort by touching the body (covered or uncovered). Although that may require that charity fair kissing or hugging booths might need a massage event license.

In the meantime we should reach some agreement of what is what without simply adding more terms that add to confusion.

Comment by Robin Byler Thomas on May 18, 2012 at 9:34am

Can you say more about your last statement Daniel?

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