Massage.  What is it?  In the United States, most people look at massage as a therapeutic treatment or as a luxury relaxation treatment.    Massage therapy can be dated back to 2330BC at the Tomb of Akmanthor, also known as “The Tomb of the Physician”.  In the tomb, there are pictures of two men having work done on their hands and feet.  Massage is also referred to in 30 different chapters in the Nei Jing, also known as the “The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon”, where it describes the different massage techniques and how they should be applied for different ailments and injuries.  Hippocrates wrote in 460 BC, “The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing.”

There are many books written about massage and the different techniques that can be used in the BC era to this present day. So, we can all agree that massage has many healing benefits from pain relief to relaxation.  There is also very long list of different kinds of massages, but the most popular ones are Swedish and Deep Tissue.  These are just 2 kinds of massages that are performed across the world.

In the United States, massage became popular around the 19th century when two physicians introduced the techniques based on Per Henrik Ling’s techniques, “The Father of Massage.”  Per Henrik Ling created the terms of the Swedish Massage; effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, friction and vibration.  In the 1930’s and 40’s massage’s influences started to decrease for many reasons. The medical field was advancing and putting pressure on the massage field for regulations for the practitioners of massage.  There was also a rise in masseur parlors that were using the front of massage for illegal practices.  This hurt the massage field exponentially.  In the 1970’s massage started to make a comeback because of the athletic world.

Around that time masseurs were rallying and setting regulations and laws into place.  It was decided that dropping the title of masseur, which had a bad rep attached to it, was the first step. The field started to refer to themselves as massage therapists.  There were schools for massage therapy popping up with certification programs and eventually states started creating licensing exams.  Massage Therapists were now Licensed Massage Therapists and they started once again earning the respect of the population and the medical field.  Now in 2017, the medical field is pushing for insurances to cover massage therapy, which is a huge step for the massage field.

You would think that would be the end of the story, but it isn’t.  There is an ugly side of massage that Licensed Massage Therapists must deal with every day.  There are still those masseur parlors floating around.  Rochester has quite a few of them.  Every now and then you turn on the news and you hear such and such a place has been shut down for illegal prostitution.  That the girls were arrested for eliciting sexual acts. What is truly sad is most of the time the workers are forced to perform these sexual acts.  We may scuff our nose at it or pretend that it isn’t real, but it is.

Licensed massage therapists deal with this issue more then we really talk about.  I have been in the field for over 8 years and yes, I have been approached, asked and grabbed in my own room.  I don’t like telling men what I do for a living because there is always going to be that one person who has to ask if you give “Happy Endings”.  My answer is, “it’ll be a very unhappy ending when you meet my elbow.”

I am strictly a treatment therapist and that is what I tell people.  I do not even promote that I give relaxing massages because that is usually when you run into issues.  Even when you come off as a very strict and business like person there are still those who try to push the boundaries.  Each time a place is shut down for illegal acts I find an influx in the boldness.  It’s like the news personifies people’s actions. Whenever a masseur parlor is shut down I celebrate but also cringe, because I know with in the following days I am going to get a phone call or someone trying to push the boundaries.    When The Client List was released in 2012, was the worse time in my career with men thinking that I would give a “Happy Ending” because I was a Licensed Massage Therapist.

I remember one phone conversation where a gentleman asked to speak to the massage therapist, I was working in a spa at the time, and I answered.  He boldly asked if I would give him a “happy ending” if he gave me 300 dollars.  It was a very heated conversation where he got very angry with me for telling him no.  I have had men get angry and ask me why I didn’t massage the “front of their legs”.  I have had one bold man grab me by the arm and moan my name.

I have worked with many Licensed Massage Therapists and each one of them has at least one time, if not more, where a client has overstepped the boundaries.  This isn’t just an issue for female therapists.  I have spoken with some male therapists who have been grabbed by female clients.  I would have to say male therapists have a more difficult time then females.  The male therapist has to be more careful, because most of the time the female is the one that is looked at as telling the truth.

I have owned Healing Massage Retreat for two years and I can honestly say we haven’t had any issues up until two weeks ago.  I had heard that two places had been raided and shut down in the last month and I once again went on high alert.  We had to have one guy leave in the middle of a session and a day later we got a phone call asking if we massaged in between the hips and the front of the legs.  It feels at times it’s a losing battle.  I want the sex trafficking ring in Rochester to be shut down completely, but I also want to be able to do my work without feeling threatened.

Licensed Massage Therapists have to go through a rigorous training that is 1000 hours of school.   They have to take anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, myology, neurology, pathology and many hours of massage classes learning the different techniques and different treatments for different ailments.  And then sit down for a licensing exam and every three years they have to do 36 hours of continuing education classes.  They get into this field because they genuinely want to help people get better.  It’s a very physical job that ends up hurting the hands, arms, back and neck.  You have love this work to do it for a living.