When clarification is needed, seek input

Published 7:29 pm Friday, May 4, 2018

For many people, aches and pains are just a part of growing older. Aches and pains, however, aren’t limited to those in their golden years; they can come from a variety of different sources, as most know. Sleeping in an awkward position, straining muscles while exercising, degenerative back problems or injuries from past car accidents — none are limited to older people, alone.

Most people who have these types of aches and pains don’t seek out medical attention, hoping the issues will resolve themselves. However, some might seek out another type of alternative therapy to ease discomfort and/or pain. Therapeutic massage is proven to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, manage low-back pain, help fibromyalgia pain, relieve tension headaches, reduce osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis pain, help chronic back pain, increase range of motion, decrease symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, in addition to reducing muscle tension and the pain associated with it.

The people who perform these types of massages are licensed by the state, and they pay a lot of money to get the education needed to be an effective therapist. There is no comparison between the services they provide and the services offered by those employed by what was once referred to as “massage parlors.” One is a legitimate therapy; the other is a sex business that skirts legality.

Currently, the Washington City Council and planning board have been debating zoning for licensed massage therapists as part of a proactive effort to prevent the other type of “massage” business from opening up in certain areas of town. It’s good the city is being proactive, but at the same time, the council and others have floated ideas that a therapeutic massage business should be licensed by the city, in addition to the stringent licensing by the state, and should limit their clientele to those 21 years of age and over unless that client comes for a massage with a doctor’s recommendation in hand.

Singling out therapeutic massage businesses as needing additional licensing, as well as trying to regulate who does and does not partake in such therapy, would hurt the owners of these businesses — several of which have populated and renovated empty downtown storefronts that for a long time have been a blight on downtown. Their clientele is made up of young and old alike, and their businesses are an asset to the area.

It is understandable that the city council and others want to clarify zoning; it’s less understandable when that clarification could hinder legitimate businesses.

Perhaps it’s time for the City Council, planning board members and others involved in this particular decision-making to get input from the people who would be most affected: the owners of therapeutic massage businesses. Bring them in on the discussion, find out how they’re licensed, what services they provide and who they serve, then make a more informed decision.