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Opinion: Is the title of “Sport Massage Therapist” illegal in Canada?


January 15, 2020
By Aurel Hamran, Dip. SIM, RMT, SMT(C) and previous CSMTA President (for more than two occasions) 

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The issue is the words of “Sport Massage Therapists.”

First, the College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia (CMTBC), then, the Ontario College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) objected the use of this title. They pointed out that Massage Therapy, Massage Therapist, Registered Massage Therapist, MT, RMT, Massotherapeute, Massotherapeute Inscrit(e), Massotherapie, Massage Therapeutique as well as any variation or abbreviations are all protected titles and trademarked by the regulatory bodies. Therefore, their perception is that the title of “Sport Massage Therapist” and designations of SMT(C) and SMT (cc), after the therapist’s name cannot be used by their members for it is violating the Ontario Regulated Health Professions Act.

According to the above terms, the CSMTA members cannot call themselves a specialist in Sport Massage. In order to be recognized as a specialist in the regulated provinces, the regulatory body must authorize the designation in that province.

The present Executive Board of CSMTA, in a surprisingly bold move, sent out a survey to the membership without any room for discussion or debate, urging them to select meaningless alternative titles by today (January 15th). The suggested timeline is not sufficient enough to make a conscious decision of this magnitude. It seems the CSMTA Board is ready to give up their identity of 30 years as the National Sport Massage Therapists Association, after having used the present term and designations for over 20 years. It must be noted that certified members and candidates are not only from the four regulated provinces, but also Canada’s other provinces and regions. They are all professional Registered Massage Therapists with similar basic education, providing therapy for the sport population.

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In my opinion, the CSMTA Board should start diligently lobby the provincial regulators and the Federation of Massage Therapy Regulatory Authorities (FOMTRAC) for acceptance and inclusion of Sport Massage Therapy as a specialty of Massage Therapy and CSMTA Sport Massage Therapists with their present designations in provincial regulations. That would be the sensible thing to do! It is the CSMTA’s best interest to retain and protect its 30-year identity, as expected by the members.

For public information

The Canadian Sport Massage Therapists Association is an independent, nationally incorporated non-profit organization since 1987. Sport Massage courses are not taught in all massage schools. That is why the CSMTA, as a self-regulating association, started its specialized education and certification program for their members, based upon its National curriculum offering a unified sport massage educational program to best service the athletic population.

The CSMTA Education Program is offering special, sport related theory courses leading to national certification in the subjects of Sport Physiology, Sport Psychology, Sport Injuries and Sport Massage (with practical workshops) and a comprehensive Certification Examination for interested RMTs, who want to work with the physically active population in the field of sport at the elite to grass-roots levels. (This is a similar route that the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association took to certify their members.)

CSMTA members in the non-regulated provinces are under the direction of their own provincial Massage Therapists Associations. The CSMTA is only certifying its members in the specialized area of sport massage therapy that no other authorities currently offer.

What “specialization” means

Specialization means additional studies in a specific area.  According to Webster’s Super New School and Office Dictionary 1974 edition:

SPECIAL means:

  1. Of or pertaining to a kind distinct and different
  2. Designed for a particular purpose, occasion, etc.
  3. Uncommon, extraordinary
  4. Limited in range, specific: special person or thing

A SPECIALIST is a person, who devotes himself to a particular branch of a field of study, profession, etc.

SPECIALIZE,- IZED,- IZING:

To devote one’s efforts to a certain branch of study, activity, etc., – SPECIALIZATION

SPECIALTY is:

  1. A special or distinctive quality, mark, etc.
  2. A special study, interest, etc.
  3. A product with special features, particular excellence, etc.

The Merriam-Webster On-line Thesaurus states that specialty is
1. A region of activity, knowledge, or influence “a doctor with a specialty in internal medicine”;

2.  Something for which a person shows a special talent “singing is my specialty.”

It is safe to conclude that Sport Massage is a specialty that requires special studies of interest. A. Sport Massage Therapist has a special quality manifesting itself with an excellence in the field of Sport. Therefore, a Sport Massage Therapist is a specialist by devoting himself to study the branch of the field of sport massage therapy, which is specially versed, with a thorough comprehensive certification process forspecialization in a certain activity.

The Canadian Olympic Committee and other Major Franchise Holders (PanAm and Commonwealth Games, FISU Games are recognizing the CSMTA as the certifying body for sport massage therapists .They require certified members from the five member Expert Groups of different disciplines – Sport physicians, Sport physiotherapists, Athletic Therapists, sport massage therapists, sport chiropractors, sport psychologists, sport nutritionists and biomechanists – for the Canadian Health and Science Teams for Major Games.

As Sports Medicine is a specialization within medicine, Sport Massage Therapy is also a specialty within the massage therapy discipline as an integrated part of Sports Medicine.

In the United States, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is the leading provider of Sport Massage Certification: offers and promotes its Sports Massage Specialty Certificate Program.

Moreover:

  1. The Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine (CASEM) lists CSMTA on its website under Sport Medicine Associations.
    2. The Physician and Sportsmedicine Groups Lists CSMTA under Sports Medicine Groups.
    3. CSMTA and its Chapters are recognized by the provincial Sports Medicine Councils in Canada.

It remains to be seen whether the CSMTA membership will choose a sudden political suicide or stay alive at their Fall National Conference. Also, whether regulators will have the wisdom to realize the needs and benefits of having specialized RMTs amongst their members, a sign of positive progression and support of further education of their members.