Hyperspecialization in Massage Therapy, Wellness, and Bodywork

Published: Nov 3, 2022
Edited by: Team TB

Hyper Specialization in Massage Therapy and Bodywork Practices

When I was still a child, you could only choose one type of shampoo in the supermarket, and you could watch only one television channel. Four decades later, you can find Strawberry Shampoo, Tea Tree Shampoo, Honey and Egg Shampoo, Coffee Shampoo, and whatnot. Meanwhile, I can choose from hundreds of different types of television channels.

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The list doesn’t stop there, of course. Excessive product and service specialization — hyper-specialization — is one of the most crazy phenomena of capitalist society. The same goes for specialization in the massage and bodywork industry — it has exploded.

For instance, in the past there was Yoga. Today, there’s Baby Yoga, Naked Yoga, Power Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Pregnancy Yoga, Wall Yoga, Flying Yoga, Postnatal Yoga, Sleep Yoga, Kids Yoga, and Goat Yoga, just to name a very few of a very long list of “Yogas.”

In massage therapy, you’ll now find Finger Massage, Earlobe Massage, Nose Massage, Knee Massage, Scar Tissue Massage, Prenatal Massage, Navel Massage, Elderly Massage, Hospice Massage, Sports Massage, and Nipple Massage, which are again just some examples to give you the idea of what goes on.

In any case, specialization can be a good thing if that what you need is very well defined to just one thing. But for massage and bodywork it’s often not the case. Resolving health conditions usually need a holistic approach that covers working with body, mind, relational, and other aspects.

For instance, a lower back problem may arise from a hamstring or knee issue (or something else), and by just giving a “Lower Back Massage” we will not be able to structurally cure lower back pains. At best it will give us some temporary relief.

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Moreover, specializations in massage therapy and bodywork practices often tend to exaggerate the health benefits, claiming that the benefits stretch beyond the specific aim of the modality. For instance, Facial Massage may be good for the face, but it’s then often also claimed that it’s good for much more, such as increased vitality and energy, good for the internal organs (because of reflex points found in the face), or even longevity.

For what it is, people generally seem to like it. People want something new and trendy, something different, something hip and exciting, something that promises to solve all their problems. That goes from the latest Cow Dung Shampoo to Peanut Butter with Seaweed, and from Toenail Massage to Breast Lifting Yoga. Well, the world is certainly crazy and I think we haven’t seen the end of this yet.

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