All About the MTF Ergonomics Project

Posted:Friday, December 6, 2019

A Short Introduction

Learn more about the MTF Ergonomics Project which is now underway in this short video with MTF President Douglas Nelson, LMT, BCTMB, and Vice President Robin B. Anderson, MEd, LMT, BCTMB, CEAS


Project Overview

Ergonomics Project: Phase One
2019 MTF Project: $15,000
Robin Anderson, MEd, LMT, BCTMB, CEAS

MTF is conducting data collection about the work of massage therapy professionals to create a structured job task analysis.  With this information, our goal is to provide safety parameters for massage therapy work which may include identifying risk factors, examining practice environments, and analyzing the essence of how typical massage therapy work tasks are performed.

This study aims to provide the profession with information which improves workplace safety and efficiency for therapists and inspires researchers to take the initial results and explore them more fully.

  • Phase one: Will look at physical demands on the therapist and environmental contexts such as room size.
  • Phase two: Will employ the use of micro sensors measuring force output.

This innovative project has the potential to make a significant contribution to the health and career longevity of MT professionals.

A special thank you to the 755 massage therapists who contributed to this project by submitting survey responses. We appreciate your help!


Why Ergonomics Research is Important for MTs

Robin B. Anderson, MEd, LMT, BCTMB, CEAS

One of the most common reasons why massage therapists leave the industry is because of injury. When you consider the time and knowledge invested into entering this profession, it is disheartening that so many have short-lived careers.

Massage therapy research provides good answers to questions that affect a client’s well-being. Might we also use research to make the practice safer for therapists? There have been few studies conducted in the last 10 years that focused on the use of proper body mechanics and avoiding musculoskeletal injuries while performing massage work. Two studies suggested that there is a correlation between using proper body mechanics, client workload, and long-term fatigue and injury. Both studies stated that further research is needed.

One way to approach this research is by looking at massage therapy work through the lens of ergonomics. Ergonomics is the science and art of adapting work tasks to the worker. It factors in the health and safety of the worker – both physical and emotional— and also evaluates work tasks in terms of industry productivity. A study encompassing an ergonomics job task analysis would benefit business owners as well as therapists, because they incur a significant cost when therapists are out of work frequently or their turnover rates are high.

Therapist injury is a multifaceted problem for our industry that we could potentially improve. Our mission at the Foundation is to advance the knowledge and practice of massage therapy by supporting scientific research, education, and community service. Massage therapy research helps us apply scientific knowledge in the work we do for others. This knowledge also has the potential to help us advance the way we care for ourselves.