Not all massage therapists are created equal

By Sonja A., South St. Paul, MN

neck pain

I’ve had a plethora of physical ailments since birth.

As an infant, my neck was so weak I couldn’t hold up my head. You should see the pictures. Not cute. My parents, in their infinite wisdom, immediately started taking me to a chiropractor for adjustments and massage therapy. It was the late 1970s so they were pretty cutting edge. I continued regular treatments until I was about 5 years old.

Over the years, I’ve periodically pulled muscles in my neck and back warranting trips back to the chiropractor. During the summer of 2014, I threw out my shoulder during a sneeze. Yes, a sneeze. I’m a mess, remember? It took several months of rehab to get me back to normal. Since then I’ve gone fairly regularly to prevent such a thing from happening again.

A major piece of my recovery from that 2014 injury involved massage. My chiropractic clinic employed three massage therapists. I had my favorite and was always happy when she was working because I knew I would leave relaxed and feeling better. My #2 wasn’t bad either so getting her wasn’t terrible. Then, the unthinkable happened, my #1 was hired away. I was slightly devastated, but if #2 was decent I figured #3 would also be fine. They all had the same training, right?

After making spectacular strides in my recovery over my first two months, Therapist #3 was assigned for my massage. At this point, I was moving well, the pain in my neck and shoulder was fairly nonexistent, and I was so looking forward to getting back to normal. Therapist #3 ruined my progress.

While Therapists #1 and #2 treated not only the problem muscles, but those surrounding them, Therapist #3 dug directly into my problem spot and did nothing else. During my first and only session with her, she dug her elbow so far into my shoulder that I nearly jumped off the table. I had to scream for her to stop. All of my previous progress was ruined and it took me three months to get back to where I’d been before seeing her. I complained to my chiropractor to which he responded that he’d “never gotten complaints about her.” When I asked if she was properly trained, he shrugged and replied, “I assume so.” Not long after this I had to switch clinics because of the daggers Therapist #3 threw at me every time she saw me.

Until that experience, it never occurred to me that a massage therapist wouldn’t know a basic massage technique. I, like many, assumed that each therapist has been vetted before being hired. That one experience has made me very leery of going to just any massage therapist. At my new clinic, I actually asked if their therapists were certified in some way. They are all certified by a national board.

Knowing what I know now as patient, registration for massage therapists is absolutely necessary. As a patient, it gives the peace of mind that your medical professional knows what they’re doing. And, let’s not forget, the bill currently on the table with the Minnesota Legislature is for voluntary registration. This is for the pros who want to elevate their careers and to make the profession more uniform across the state. That makes sense to me.

Capitol Update: Our bill is moving!

Capitol Update

The Minnesota State Legislative Session is in its second week and things are already moving at a fast and furious pace.

We already have some great news: Our bill, HF 644, passed unanimously by voice vote out of the House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee last week and, as of this morning, an amended version also passed out of the House Civil Law and Data Practices Committee! Its next stop is the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee. No hearing date has been set.

The Senate companion, HF 1310, currently sits in the Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Committee with a hearing date of March 21! 

We still have A LOT of work to do to get our bill passed into law. Here’s how  you can help:

If you haven’t contacted your legislator to explain to them why they should support us, NOW IS THE TIME. We need your help to really dig in and make the MN Massage Therapy and Bodywork Act pass into law this year!

If you have a story or opinion to share, please email us. Let’s pass this legislation together!
And don’t forget to share our posts on social media to get onto the radar of everyone working in and benefiting from massage therapy across the state. Click on the Facebook and Twitter icons above to follow us, interact with us, and share our daily posts!

Why massage registration will be handled by state’s nursing board

Since we started our social media campaign to reach out to all the massage therapists of Minnesota, we’ve been getting a lot of great feedback.  Most of you are excited to see some action taken to move our industry forward by simplifying legislation for massage therapists across the state.  It’s also brought up some great questions about the choices made to make this happen for us.

Our next few blog posts are going to answer some of the questions that are leading to a great discussion on why legislation for Massage and Bodywork Therapists is important to the State of Minnesota and our profession.

Question: Why can’t we have our own Board? Why Nursing?

When you have a bill that grants credentials, you need an oversight board to make sure things are happening like they’re supposed to. Complaints are brought to this board and practitioners credentials are granted or revoked.  All health care professions have oversight from a board.

It’s a lot of work and very expensive to develop a board from scratch. In fact, it can be cost-prohibitive to do so, delaying already much needed legislation for Massage and Bodywork. Even if there was a Massage Therapy Board in the past, it’s not a simple processes to “bring it back.”  It still requires finding board members and getting legislative approval to do so – something which legislators detest to do when there is a less expensive option. That less expensive option is to ask another professional board to oversee the credentialing of our industry.

However, this doesn’t mean these boards will agree to be part of overseeing our credentialing processes, and they don’t even have to consult any massage and bodyworkers if they agreed.  Before talking to the other professional boards, we surveyed massage therapists around the state and asked which board they would prefer; the number one choice was the Nursing Board.  After talking to the Nursing Board, not only did they agree to help out our  industry, they asked us to form an advisory panel made up of 3 Massage and Bodywork professionals and 2 public members to handle our credentialing and professional discipline – adopting a “hands off” approach, unless we needed their help.

Jason Erickson, President of the AMTA – Minnesota Chapter stated that if you think about it, the Nursing Board has little professional competition to influence their interactions with Massage and Bodywork Therapists, but they are a caring, nurturing profession that believes in the power of positive touch.  Sounds like a great match.

Jason Erickson

Why a new bill for massage therapy? Let’s look at current Minnesota law

By ALMT-MN Staff

ALMT Why This Bill (1)

Since we started our social media campaign to reach out to all of the Massage and Bodywork Therapists of Minnesota, we’ve been getting a lot of great feedback. Most of you are excited to see some action taken to move our industry forward by simplifying legislation for Massage and Bodywork Therapists across the state. It’s also brought up some great questions about how this legislation is written.

Our next few blog posts will answer some of the questions that are leading to such a great discussion on why legislation for Massage and Bodywork Therapy is important to the State of Minnesota and our profession.

Question: Why do we need a new bill? What about Statute 146A?

For those of you who don’t know Statute and Bill numbers by heart, Statute 146A refers to Complementary and Alternative Healthcare Practices (CAP) in the State of Minnesota. It does NOT License or Register Massage and Bodywork Therapists. It applies to ALL CAP providers listed in the statute, not only massage and bodywork therapists.

This statute DOES NOT:

  • address issues that occur with multiple municipal restrictions, fees, or requirements,
  • provide massage therapists with credentials to use for employment opportunities or billing purposes, or
  • protect the title of your profession from use by unqualified practitioners.

This statute informs clients only of your education, method of practice, fees, and provides an address for complaints. Since Massage and Bodywork Therapists do not need to register, this informed consent requirement is difficult to enforce.

Our bill, HF644 (Zerwas)/SF1310 (Eaton), is specific to Massage and Bodywork practitioners. This bill is for us!

This is important because our bill addresses our particular needs, without impacting other alternative healthcare practitioners covered under 146A.

While writing the current bill, we contacted and surveyed more than 800 massage therapists in the state of Minnesota and asked them what they wanted out of massage legislation.
Overwhelmingly, they told us they wanted Title Protection, Professional Recognition, and Credential Portability. They wanted to be able to treat clients in more than one community without cost-prohibitive fees and they wanted to have a credential Registered Massage and Bodywork Therapists (RMBT) that not just anybody could use. That, in turn, would help them communicate to other healthcare providers, insurance companies, and clients of their status as a legitimate practitioner of Massage and Bodywork Therapies.

HF644/SF1310 addresses these requests from Massage and Bodywork Therapists all around the state, not just in one region. Statute 146A doesn’t meet the needs of current Massage and Bodywork Therapists in the State of Minnesota. HF644/SF1310 was written by and for Massage and Bodywork Therapists.

For more information about the MN Massage and Bodywork Therapy Act, please visit our website:

Massage was essential for knee surgery recovery

By Lydia M., Minneapolis


In September of 2009, I had a total knee replacement. Five years later, I continued to have swelling, chronic pain, decreased flexibility, elevated warmth in the knee area, and lots of scar tissue. Over those five years, I  had seen several doctors, including one at the Mayo Clinic. No one could help with the problem.

In May 2014, I saw an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Minnesota. He gave me a cortisone shot and hoped that would take care of the problem – it didn’t. Luckily for me, Rachel Kneiff, a massage therapy student at Northwestern Health Sciences University, needed a project for a class in the fall of 2014. My chiropractor recommended me as a subject and thus our long-term relationship began.

For almost a year, Rachel and I met for twice a week, sometimes for two hours a session.  Rachel was determined to figure out what was going on as no doctor had been able to diagnose the cause of the chronic pain and other symptoms. Over the course of the year, Rachel was able to increase my flexibility and extension, decrease the swelling, level of pain, and the presence of scar tissue significantly. When I returned in 2015 to see the surgeon I had seen in 2014, his first comment was, “How did I miss that?” This meant he could now see what was going on with the knee. He referred me to another doctor at the University who specialized in “stiff knees.” Surgery was scheduled for September 2015, and recovery has been swift.

While I still have some pain, many of my symptoms have been relieved. I continue to see Rachel and continue to see progress in decreasing pain levels and maintaining flexibility. In short, massage therapy has changed my life. I think even the orthopedic doctors have recognized its effect on my symptoms. Without massage, I would not be where I am today.  
Lastly, I am in solidarity with those massage therapists who support state registration. I have seen Rachel’s struggle to get her practice started, and the complications involved with the many different city requirements. I think it would make a difference in ensuring all massage therapists are adequately trained and prepared. It would also provide some oversight into the quality of those therapists who are working in the field.

For more information about the MN Massage and Bodywork Therapy Act, please visit our website:

Video testimonials: Have something to say about the MN Massage Therapy & Bodywork Act?

Over the last few weeks we’ve been posting video testimonials about why the MN Massage & Bodywork Therapy Act is important not only to boost professionalism, but to also protect the public. They’ve gotten quite a response on Facebook.

Have something to add about why you think our voluntary registration bill should be passed this year? Email us:

State’s massage therapy legislation stuck in dark ages

By Amy Mattila, Wellness Educator, Health Coach, Author 

candle-807247_1920As a wellness coach, I see the world with a holistic mind set, and when working with clients, they often ask for ways to manage stress levels. My first recommendation is always the same, “Have you tried massage therapy?”

Massage is one of the most powerful tools to living a healthy lifestyle. Human touch is as essential to our spirit and emotional balance as nutrition is to our physical bodies. However, its benefits don’t stop there. It offers decreased anxiety, promoted sleep quality, greater energy, reduction in fatigue and increase in overall wellbeing, mindset and creativity.

Unfortunately, Minnesota’s legislation around massage therapy and bodywork is stuck in the dark ages.

As we know, massage therapists often work with doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists or in wellness or medical spas, or even in their own practice. Massage therapists are indeed allied health professionals that offer an important and powerful service of creative healing and should be treated as such, however, that is not the case.

People are often shocked when I tell them that our state’s legislation regarding registration practices of professional massage therapists and bodyworkers is in the same bill as prostitution in some cities in the state of Minnesota. The good news is we have the opportunity in Minnesota to make a huge impact on what self care looks like in our state.

Some wonder why we should change things. The problem in keeping things the way they are currently creates a detriment to the reputation of what massage therapy and bodywork truly is. Sadly, there are many businesses set up under the massage therapy umbrella but are actually running illegal businesses, like sex trafficking and prostitution. You can imagine how insulting this is for a professional massage therapist who has gone through the proper channels of education and credentials to have our state allowing such things to go on.

It also damages the reputation of massage therapy for those who are unfamiliar with it. For example, it creates a false stigma that massage therapy has a connection to touch in a way that is sexual in nature. Of course this is incorrect, but the law is perpetuating this incorrect belief. The practice of massage therapy or bodywork is one of the oldest healing art forms around and should be given the respect and honor it deserves.

5 reasons State Legislation for massage therapy is a MUST:

  1. Massage therapy is a legitimate professional career. When we pass statewide registration it allows for the practice of massage therapy to be seen as what it is: a professional allied health practice.
  2. Reduction of sex trafficking and sex crimes that hide using the term “massage” as their practice will be shut down and exposed.
  3. Visibility and easier access for the people of Minnesota to be able to find and locate a professional massage therapist gives us more choice, power and safety as consumers.
  4. Minnesota is one of the top states in the health care industry and we need to demonstrate an example for others to follow by being in compliance with safety laws to keep our practices up-to-date and current.
  5. Massage therapy being made a statewide registered practice promotes the acceptance and validity of the power of touch and need for it in our community as a tool in self-care, pain management, and disease and wellness.
For more information about the MN Massage and Bodywork Therapy Act, please visit our website: