HB 185: Protecting our Scope of Practice

Published: July 10, 2014

In 2006 the Massachusetts Legislature enacted Chapter 135 of the Acts of 2006, which established licensure of massage therapists.

Since that time, the Board of Registration of Massage Therapy has been faced with several issues that were not anticipated. House Bill 185 would amend the statute governing licensure of massage therapists to further protect the public and raise professional standards. 

Two of the four issues included in the bill pertain to Stretching and Kinesiology Taping, and our scope of practice surrounding these techniques.

Right now the law defines massage as “the systematic treatment of the soft tissues of the body by use of pressure, friction, stroking, percussion, kneading, vibration by manual or mechanical means, range of motion for purposes of demonstrating muscle excursion or muscle flexibility and nonspecific stretching.” (emphasis is mine, there is more to the definition, you can read that here.)

This creates some confusion. We don’t know exactly what ‘nonspecific stretching’ is or what it isn’t. For example, Active Isolated Stretching is a distinctive technique that isolates one muscle at a time. That could be construed as ‘specific stretching’ which could mean it’s out of our scope of practice.

If it’s not in our scope of practice and I do it, I’m breaking the law. Moreover, If I hurt someone and they sue me, it’s likely my liability insurance won’t cover the claim. Buh-bye massage license. And everything I own.

HB 185 removes the word ‘nonspecific’ and resolves this ambiguity.

Kinesiology Taping
Kinesiology tape is an elastic therapeutic tape that is applied to the skin usually following massage therapy. It acts to facilitate the body’s natural healing process by lifting the tissue and supporting and stabilizing the affected muscles prolonging the benefits of massage therapy.

Right now, there is no language in our law that refers to this technique in any way. Again, it could be construed that this technique is out of our scope of practice.

HB 185 adds ‘kinesiology taping’ to the list of techniques within our scope.

Now that you know how important it is to get HB 185 passed, I’m sure you’ll want to take action! Below you’ll find the steps you can take to encourage your representative’s support of HB 185. It will only take a few minutes, but it could make your whole career better.

Action Steps & Talking Points for massage therapists

HB 185 Fact Sheet

ACTION #1. Find out who your State Representative is. Go to: www.wheredoivotema.com.

ACTION #2. Contact Your State Representative at (617) 722-2000 or the number from the above website and ask them to contact the Chairman Brian Dempsey and the House Committee on Ways and Means in support of House Bill 185, An Act relative to licensing massage therapists.

Sample Dialogue:

My name is: ______________________ and I am a voter in your district.

I am calling in strong support of House Bill 185, which would make technical corrections to the massage therapy enabling act and close a key public safety loophole.

In particular, current law does not penalize unlicensed people for advertising “massage” services online.

House Bill 185 would close this loophole and help protect the public by giving the Board the power to further prevent the unlicensed practice of massage therapy.

The legislation does not cost the Commonwealth any money, but will help prevent illegal activity.

I respectfully ask that the Representative support House Bill 185 and contact the House Ways and Means Committee about this matter. Will she/he do so?

Again, my name is ­____________________ and I can be reached at _________________ (provide telephone #) if the Representative has any questions.

Thank you for supporting our efforts to protect Massachusetts’ residents against threats to public safety.

Action #3. E-Mail Your State Representative To Follow-Up on Your Call. You may copy & paste the script above to use in your email, (just be sure to fill in the blanks with your information!) ASK THEM TO E-MAIL YOU BACK WITH ANY FEEDBACK FROM CHAIRMAN DEMPSEY’S OFFICE.

Action #4. Let the AMTA-MA Chapter know the results of your calls and emails. Email us at info@massamta.org and let us know the results of your call.