My name is Anna and I founded Relax Therapies in 2015 because I am passionate about health and wellbeing. I wanted to make a difference to people and help them feel well and pain free.
I work with people with chronic health conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis. As a Sports Therapist and massage therapist I use massage and movement to help people understand the cause of their pain and learn to manage it. I use hands on massage techniques to help relieve pain and improve muscular function.
I also use massage as a tool to improve wellbeing and reduce stress. There are many studies that show massage can help with this.
After almost 6 years working as a full time massage therapist I can honestly say I love my work but have also been on the receiving end of unwelcome and harassing calls and messages.
If I had a penny for the number of times I have heard the “joke” – “so do you do happy endings?” I get that most people mean no harm and if you are one of the ones who has made the joke consider yourself forgiven. But for those of us in the massage industry, it’s not harmless and it’s not a joke. Here’s why.
I check my phone and see I have missed calls from the middle of the night and these are followed by texts such as……
- So what exactly does a full body include
- Can I wear see through men’s knickers for massage
- Can I have sexy naked massage
Most of the time it’s a minor annoyance but there have been occasions when my safety has been threatened or I have felt scared. I had a client try to kiss me at the end of a session, another client deliberately exposed himself and pictures of genitals have been sent to my phone on whatsapp.
I went into this business to help people and shouldn’t ever feel threatened or intimidated or be bombarded by calls in the middle of the night.
It devalues the work I do
I have spent thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours on my education as a massage therapist. I have learned about
- How muscles work
- Pain science
Massage therapy training requires commitment and hard work. As therapists we follow a strict code of ethics. Innuendo and seedy jokes devalue our work and undermine our professional image.
It puts off people who need the help
I have spoken to many men who put off coming to see me because they thought that massage was seedy and takes place in a dodgy “massage parlour”.
They have lived with pain for years when in reality they could have come for massage and sports therapy and benefited from it.
Anything that makes people feel uncomfortable about coming to see me makes me upset!
there is a sinister reality behind the joke
Every year many women are trafficked into the country and forced to work in “massage parlours” facing threats of violence. For example in October police rescued women who were being exploited in a “massage parlor”.
For those women the “happy ending” massage is a living hell. Joking about it makes it seem normal, even harmless when nothing could be further from the truth for trafficked women.
I know sex work is a choice for some women and not all are trafficked. I’m not here to make a moral judgement but those women are at risk of exploitation and as a society we really need to ensure they are protected. Using euphemisms like “massage parlour” instead of having an open discussion doesn’t help us help women and keep them safe.
regulation of massage therapy
One positive thing to come from the Covid pandemic is that when releasing the guidance about which industries were to close the government’s classification of us as “massage parlours” caused outrage and anger in the industry.
This led to lobbying and awareness campaigns from our professional bodies. So during one of the lockdowns the government recognised our skillset and we were allowed to open to treat people for severe pain.
This helped the NHS as it gave people an alternative to going to see a GP or walk in centre thus freeing up NHS capacity for others.
I would like Sports Therapists and massage therapists to continue to be recognised as skilled professionals.
In order for this to happen I support regulation so that there is a minimum standard of training for all therapists and mandatory continuing education to keep us up to date with our skills.
Finally I would love for the happy ending calls to stop. I have the right to go about my work without fear of sexual harassment and unwelcome proposals.
I have a strict no tolerance policy. If you behave inappropriately your session will end. I will permanently ban you and if neccessary inform the police.
Anna is a Sports Therapist with a special interest in Chronic pain. Her clinic is based in Birkenhead on the Wirral.
For more information please contact me
At time of publishing (February 2021) I am closed due to lockdown.
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