Brandon Raynor is everything that is wrong with massage therapy.
At a base level of quackery, he hits the mark by providing a closed loop of bullshit - a diagnoses of "bad chi" and/or "deep stuff" that needs to be fixed (watch the videos in the above link to see that I'm not making that up), he then provides the fix, then declares the "problem" cured but with the requirement of "maintenance" treatments.
Raynor is one of those Newage (rhymes with "sewage", if you were wondering) people who want massage therapy to be deregulated
so any whackjob who spouts unproven and ridiculous crap about "energy lines" can foist his or her dangerous non-treatment on the public. I love his quote from that last article where he says:
Thai massage, as taught at the Wat Po temple in Bangkok, where Thai massage has its origins, is taught in the traditional Thai manner focusing on learning the Sen or energy lines and also on practical application, rather than on Western anatomy.
Can I clear up a bit of a possible misconception here? There's no such thing as "Western anatomy". It's just fucking anatomy. We're all the same and guess what? There's not "Sen" lines or energy lines, or meridians or anything. Get the hell over it. Prove it to me that what you say are "energy lines" exist in the first place, then maybe
we can talk.
Also prevalent in Raynor's (and the letters on his blog
) writing and attitude is the "it's in you or it's not"
feeling that oozes anti-intellectualism. "You don't need to know those big words or scary Latin, you just have to feeeeeel where the 'tension' is and how to move the chi around to heal people".
Complete bullshit. The reason we know anatomy, physiology, and pathology is so we can (a)treat a problem by properly identifying what's wrong and (b)refer to the proper professional when the problem lies outside of our scope of practice. My guess is that Raynor has never felt the need to not treat someone. He'll even throw in a neck-crack for good measure! (watch the first video of the first link)
I have to get into some of the more crazy and what I consider controversial quotes from the first link article. About his course:
We spare no expense to make it so that the massage techniques as well as our overall massage style is the most cutting edge, effective and sought after massage therapy treatment that is available anywhere in the world today.
Anywhere in the world, eh? Cutting edge? And all this can be yours in just ten days!
We don't believe that reciting Latin names for muscles or knowing the names of the every bump in every bone is what it takes to be an outstanding massage therapist.
No, to be fair to Raynor, that doesn't make an outstanding massage therapist. It does, however, make for a knowledgeable health professional who can answer his/her client's questions in a manner befitting someone treating the general public, often after an injury. It has been my experience that when someone asks, "Listen, my shoulder was injured when I fell off a horse and now my pinkie and ring finger are tingly. Can you tell me what's wrong with me and are you able to help me get better?"
, the answer they don't want to hear is: "Oh yes, of course I can help you. See, what happened is that you disrupted your chi and now I have to massage your arm-y thing to make the baddies go away."
Just saying. You might
want to mention their ulnar nerve and have some information about nerve tension tests.
A wonderfully shitty analogy:
...we keep the focus of our training on teaching you to be an excellent massage practitioner without getting you sidetracked into unnecessary details that can actually make you lose your focus...Just like a good cook knows more about the look, feel, smell and taste of food than he/she does about the chemical composition of the food...(my emphasis)
Good chefs know about the composition of food. When you cook, you know that it's the sugars in it that brown. Ever watched Good Eats
? That Alton Brown mofo knows his shit. What's that you say? You want condescension and more anti-intellectualism? You got it!
Would you like to learn massage in a way that respects massage as an ancient art form and doesn't bore you by making a massage course into just a scientific jargon filled class that teaches you so many things that you really don't need to know
Yes, all that boring
scientific jargon that you don't need to know like, I don't know, thoracic outlet syndrome
, compartment syndrome
, or perhaps lateral epicondylitis
. If someone came into the clinic with one of these very common ailments, would any of your five or ten day "graduates" know what the fuck was happening or would they just babble on about "chi" and "bumps" and "tension"? I thought so.
A little more? Sure:
We will teach you only what it takes to make you into an outstanding world class massage professional.
No, you don't want to weigh them down with all those scaaarrrry muscle names
. "What in the hell is a quadricep??? Howzabout laying off the technobabble there, Poindexter."
You know, it's this do-nothing-yet-still-get-credit attitude that annoys the living shit out of me more than anything. There are some things in this world that you can't learn in a fucking week-long seminar and health care is one of them. I'm a massage therapist - am I as knowledgeable as an M.D? Of course not, but I'm a hell of a lot more educated in anatomy and physiology than a layperson and that includes anyone who has completed a 5-day "advanced diploma" course.
...incorporates the best of massage techniques from all over the world, plus incorporates many powerful techniques developed by Brandon Raynor, a Naturopath who has trained extensively in Eastern forms of natural therapies such as Ayurveda and Chinese and Japanese Medicine.
Gee, how'd I know he was going to be flaky? On a bit of a technical side note, if you watch the three videos from the first link, you'll notice that Raynor uses his thumbs to work on both the client's back and leg. This is a no-no as using a small body part on a large one, over time, is asking for a repetitive strain injury
or RSI to the thumb. I guess that's one of those boring, scientific jargony things that you don't really need to know.
I really can't get over this...a five day or ten day course?! As a comparison, to get certification as a registered massage therapist in Ontario, Canada, where I work, you need to take a 2200 hour course - so two years - then pass provincial board exams including both practical and written elements. Is it a lot? Certainly. Too much? Not at all. To effectively treat a client, you have to know what's wrong - specifically
. Otherwise you're just a backrubber and no one needs a five-day course to be one of those.
Oh I'm sorry, you wanted more condescension...
We show you not just how to massage the common areas of the body that most massage therapists do such as the back, legs and arms but we also show you the importance of feet and hand massage, face and scalp massage and most important of all - abdominal massage.
Yes, I know that my training completely ignored the feet and hands as well as the scalp and abdomen. Oh, wait, no it didn't. But there was precious little newage blathering about reflexology or chi and when it was brought up it was questioned and critically evaluated (i.e. made to look silly) by people like me. A foot massage feels nice, but your feet have nothing to do with your goddamn chest.
After completing our massage course in any location within Canada, you will be qualified as a massage professional and you will be able to get professional indemnity and malpractice insurance.
To be clear again, in Ontario and other Canadian provinces with massage legislation, the title of massage therapist
is a restricted title
, which is likely why Raynor uses the term "massage professional"
. It's a loophole that he probably exploits to lure students into his woo-woo course.
I have to include this quote from the last video of the first link. It's from the first minute when Raynor is massaging the neck of the volunteer:
...the chi has come up to the head and they get a bit jumpy
I know I get jumpy when my chi bunches up in my head. What the fuck does that even mean? Chi is not real, sir. You are full of...um...what's that word...? Dammit... Oh, right. "Shit". You're full of shit.
Ok, last one. I can't resist. This is too stupid not to include. Here it is:
...it'll (the massage) start to break it (the chi) up so then a person can get, we can get this flow happening between the belly and the head where the chi will start to move really well between the two areas....some people get tingling in their bodies usually the start of the chi starting to move...you can feel a lot of little bumps and things on his head which is all signs of, um, too much chi in the head.
Yep. Too much chi in the head. I think I saw that on a chart once in Cedars Sinai Hospital.