There is a big rift in the massage profession about what is evidence based or evidence informed practice. Since we have little to no evidence on how or why massage works or does not work, we are currently at a standoff.
Since about 1940’s when massage therapy started coming into it’s own in the US, massage schools have taught information in their courses that have been handed down throught tradition and anedots. We just did not know things back then. Currently schools are making the move toward creating and teaching a curriculum that calls for evidence informed theories and practice. The theories they had back then were based more on intuition —they saw that someone in pain came in for a massage and the pain was reduced…but
The main problem is the claims that are made about how/why massage therapy works or does not work.
If a method is evidence based, the assumption is that benefit has been confirmed. If a method is evidence informed, the validity of the claimed result is less reliable. Currently, not enough high-quality research is available for therapeutic massage practice to be considered completely evidence based; however, the research is improving. Fritz, Sandy; Fritz, Luke. Mosby’s Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage – E-Book (Kindle Locations 2901-2904). Elsevier Health Sciences. Kindle Edition.
Evidence informed curriculms will use these textbook:
Mosbys Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage by Sandy Fritz
Massage Therapy Principles of Practice by Susan Salvo
Clay & Pounds’ Basic Clinical Massage Therapy: Integrating Anatomy and Treatment – by James Clay and Laura Allen
A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology: Critical Thinking and Practical Application – by Ruth Werner
The Claims that are made
The problem really is the claims that are made about massage therapy. Massage therapists tend to believe more in magical thinking that make up for what we don’t know.
Pseudoscience speaks to powerful emotional needs that Science often leaves unfulfilled. It caters to fantasies about personal powers we lack and long for like those attributed to superheros and religious gods. ~Carl Sagan. The Demon Haunted World (Amazon affiliate link)