What is Massage?

In many jurisdictions, including the City of San Diego in California, “massage shall mean any method of pressure on or friction against, or stroking, kneading, rubbing, tapping, pounding, vibrating, or stimulating of the external parts of the body with the hands or other parts of the body with or without the aid of any mechanical or electrical apparatus or appliances with or without such supplementary aids as rubbing alcohol, liniments, antiseptics, oils, powder, creams, lotions, ointments, or other similar preparations commonly used in this practice” (ORDINANCE NO. 10102 (N.S.), 2010).

Breast Massage Laws, Ordinances and Standard of Practice

We will be learning about breast massage as a part of postoperative care after medical procedures, with prescription / referral from a physician. Please be sure that you meet state licensing board requirements for practicing breast massage in your state. Taking this online class does not automatically mean you can perform breast massage in your state. 

Many massage therapists are prohibited from touching “Specified Anatomical Areas,” including the “area of the female breast that includes the areola and the nipple” (ORDINANCE NO. 10102 (N.S.), 2010). We will be learning about manipulation of the soft tissue structure of the upper torso, shoulders and breast (not including the areola). Massage therapists can incorporate these techniques into a full body or upper body focused massage session.

If you are Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, according to Standard VI(h), you must “only provide therapeutic breast massage: (i) as indicated in the plan of care; (ii) after receiving informed voluntary written consent; and (iii) only if the Certificant is permitted to do so under state law” (Standards of Practice, 2017). 

In the State of California, for example, “providing massage of female breasts without the written consent of the person receiving the massage and a referral from a licensed California health care provider” is a violation of the Massage Therapy Act 2023 (Massage Therapy Act 2023, 2023). You can find a copy of the written consent form I use in my office along with the template I use to share my Massage Therapy Care Plan with the referring physician in the Paperwork section of this class. 

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