Why Position Statements Matter

Published: July 8, 2013

Does massage actually help low back pain? What about anxiety? Can it improve quality of life for cancer patients? If you feel strongly that massage does help, how do you know? Do you sometimes get frustrated with the seeming lack of credible studies done on massage?

We know it can be quite time consuming to find answers and studies to back up your feelings and experience. Anecdotal research – you telling your stories of success – can be powerful and help to prove the benefits of massage to your clients, your family and friends, and even to yourself. But what if there was more?

There is more.

Each year the National AMTA arranges for massage therapists from every state and Washington DC to meet at their National Convention. (This year in Fort Worth, TX) As part of the Convention, a “House of Delegates” (HOD) is created. The number of Delegates elected by Chapter members from each state is determined by the number of AMTA members in that state. At the HOD, the Delegates review Recommendations and Position Statements. If the HOD passes the Position Statements, those Statements become Statements of the AMTA and can therefore be used by members, for publicity, and for people going to the National AMTA website, www.amtamassage.org, looking for what massage does. You can see the 2013 Proposed Position Statements here.

AMTA members who want to write a Position Statement have to follow strict procedures in order to bring the Statement to the HOD. Once they are set up, they are emailed to the Delegates who review them and post them for their Chapter members.

Let’s get back to a question. For an example we'll use a proposed position statement in 2012. (Spoiler Alert: the statement passed)

Can massage be effective in reducing low back pain? In your experience, you may have found this to be true. Wouldn’t it be great to have a resource that shows a number of studies that have shown that massage does, indeed, help reduce low back pain? This statement does just that. It had a series of references clearly showing that many people have benefited from massage for their low back pain. The references are clearly cited and described. It was posted on the National website, discussed by delegates with their chapter members, then debated in the HOD.

When a position statement is passed and used by the AMTA, then you can use that information on your website. It can be more powerful than some of the common, and often, misguided so-called “benefits of massage” that are simply listed because you’ve seen them listed somewhere else and maybe your school said in a handbook somewhere that massage has such benefits. Doesn’t it feel great to know that you can post something like “Massage can be effective in reducing low back pain” then have a reference cited? I think that is so much stronger than a list of boring benefits that may or may not be accurate.

A list of previously accepted Statements can be found on the National website here.

Isn't it great to know that you can carry the weight of this research to other health professionals and referral partners?

You have a say in this process. We want to know what you think.

There are 3 positions statements for the 2013 HOD. In three (or maybe more!) separate blog posts, we'll tell you about each statement, discuss the research, and add our own thoughts, too. We welcome your comments and opinions.

Yes, your own stories are powerful. The testimonials you get from your successes are excellent. Your own word of mouth will get you clients. The Position Statements with their references add additional validity to your stories and to your testimonials. The Statements give you more information for your clients while giving you more confidence in massage therapy.

We look forward to your comments!