Best Practices


As the massage therapy profession matures, there is an increasing need for a process that synthesizes massage therapy knowledge from both clinical experience and research. Such a process would address some important collective challenges:

  • Practitioners, schools, and regulators lack a reliable common reference.
  • Research often does not reflect how massage therapy is practiced.
  • Integrative healthcare policies at both state & national levels could — but often do not — include massage therapists due to lack of best practices guidelines.
  • Massage guidelines do exist, but among hundreds, none have come from our profession.

For these obstacles to be meaningfully surmounted, we need to produce and refine ‘Best Practice’ guidelines that reflect both the current state of evidence and the real-world practice of massage therapy. The Massage Therapy Foundation’s Best Practices Committee will develop a process that is transparent, credible, useful, and replicable.

At the 2010 Massage Research Conference, the committee conducted the massage profession’s first-ever Best Practices Symposium, an in-depth meeting from a group of experts representing both research and practice in the massage field. The Symposium was a fascinating event that captured audio conversations and visual diagrams from attendees. This collected content is currently being transcribed and analyzed for the creation of draft guidelines.

Check back here for periodic updates to this important process. We will need the interest and engagement of working massage therapists in order to succeed.

Resources to help inform the process:

Meta-Analysis on Massage Therapy and Pain Database

The Massage Therapy Foundation, Samueli Institute, and the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) have partnered on a collaborative project for a meta-analysis of massage therapy for pain.  The results of this collaboration were published in a three-part series in a peer-reviewed journal and discussed at the International Massage Therapy Research Conference May 12-15 in Seattle, WA.

The state-of-the-art, comprehensive database houses data from the 99 randomized controlled trials included in a systematic review and meta-analysis that investigated the impact of massage therapy on function in three types of pain populations: 1) populations who would typically visit their general healthcare practitioner with complaints of pain; 2) patients undergoing or recovering from surgical/operative procedures and 3) cancer patients.

Access the database >>

Meta-Analysis in the News

Press Release: New Research Analysis Indicates Massage Therapy Strongly Recommended for Pain Management
Published May 10, 2016

Press Release: New Research Analysis Indicates Massage Therapy Shows Promise for Pain & Anxiety in Cancer Patients
Published August 17, 2016

Press Release: New Research Analysis Indicates Value of Massage Therapy for Surgical Pain
Published September 14, 2016