Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sustainable massage practice

Fundamentals, task 5. Sustainable Massage Practice.
Due date: May 25th 2009 Barbara Newton

Sustainability nowadays (post 1980’s) relates to the human integration with regard to economic, social and environmental principles. That is: "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” as defined by the 1987 World Commission on environmental development report.

Massage practice can relate in its own small way to all three areas in maintaining sustainability. Because we are dealing with people we need to look at this through the human aspect.

1) Human sustainability context
On the human side we can:
a) Support the health and well being of others by assisting in a number of ways;
· by managing client stress
· reduction of pain
· the improvement of circulation
· and in turn the cleansing of accumulated toxins.

In addition to the massage effects by;
b) Educating the client in
· body awareness – from physical & verbal assessment
· way to prevent and cope with stress as part of their stress management in conjunction with massage plan
· incorporation of exercises and stretching to compliment and maximize the massage therapeutic effect and plan.

c) As a practitioner &/or an employee ensure;
· that we continue up skill, and as an employer offer opportunity to up skill
· maintain manageable work loads
· routine self care
· work within a safe environment based around Health & safety guidelines.

As I see it this human factor has the biggest impact that massage practice can have on sustainability, by ensuring the social and economic viability of our clients through their development, productivity and social interaction.
That is: The ripple effect of them being fit and healthy and therefore able to contribute socially and economically (in an environmentally sustainable way of course) to the wider community as opposed to just solely a client/therapist benefit.

2) Social sustainability
This is all about our interaction with the people we are treating and those we associate with in a professional context.
a) Clients: How we relate to our clients and the resulting relationship ideally compounds to form a positive effect on both parties.
For example: the more comfortable the client (trust, professionalism etc) is with the therapist then the more likely a more positive outcome from the therapy.

b) If we show to our peers, other businesses and health professionals that we are competent, reliable and work well within, or above, our principles and ethics then we can strengthen our social networks and relationships.

3) Environmental sustainability.
Ideally we should use materials within our practice that are from renewable resources and not disposing of goods that cannot be reabsorbed back into the environment without ill effect.

4) Economic sustainability
At the end of the day we all wish to make a profit, in order to sustain our own living. In turn our profit helps sustain other businesses in general with regard to our living, and other health related businesses should we choose to sell health related products or equipment. Financial sustainability now encompasses the environment and social sustainability otherwise known as “triple bottom line”.

How can my massage practice be made more sustainable?
Looking at the practice there are many small ways in which I can contribute to sustainability. These include materials used such as stationery, lubricants, draping and table linens, and fuel in the form of electricity. Together they encompass two of the three areas of sustainability: environmental and economic.
I purchase all of the above and thereby contribute economically, but are they environmentally sustainable?
a) Stationery is manufactured from a renewable source (trees) and
as a waste product is easily assimilated without environmental degradation. To be more sustainable I could consider saving the use of this resource by concentrating printed material into less- by either using both sides of the paper or reducing the size of the print to use less.
The lubricant I use at present is grape seed oil imported from Italy so I am unable to say with out any surety whether or not it is environmentally sustainable. I do however occasionally use a totally natural locally sourced massage wax which I consider being environmentally sustainable, and perhaps I should be using more often.

With regard to both and in the small scale of my operation this would have very little impact on the nations and worlds sustainability.
Apart from my self there are limited recycling opportunities in the practice.

b)Draping and table linens are however another matter. Much against my personal principles of using natural fibres I have made one small concession in setting up my clinic by using artificially man made material for table covers. These materials are made from recycled materials from a non renewable resource.
My justification for initially using them was that they are affordable, are easily washed and take little time to dry, and hence less fuel resources.
At present I am using large cotton towels for draping, which do attract a considerable cost if artificial drying is required, thereby making an economical and environmental impact, some of which is more sustainable than the other. To address this my intention in the long term is to replace these drapes with something that does not use so many resources – sheets of some description that are less bulky (less water required etc) are faster to dry and require less heat to keep them warm.

c) Fuel usage is a large factor relating to economical and
environmental sustainability and the one that I feel I can make a valuable contribution to. By nature of our climate heating is a necessity. It is required to keep the clinic at an optimum temperature for my own and client comfort, and to warm draping materials. This incurs a cost, which contributes in one area while taking away in the other so in effect I believe it balances out economic sustainability. To ensure this is turned around to my advantage I have recently incorporated a more energy efficient heating system, in the form of an electric heat pump, to compliment existing heating so as to reduce “cold heating”. This has the added advantage of being able to be used as a drying mechanism for the laundry.

By actively being sustainable in my practice, socially, environmentally and economically, I am making not only a valuable contribution our clients wellbeing but to that of “our planet”

Personal thoughts
Class notes


McQuillan, D., (2009)). Retrieved May 22, 2009 from

Wikipedia, Retrieved May 20, 2009, from, and

No comments:

Post a Comment