resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Leaving Footprints on Capitol Hill: Tribute to Dr. Kenneth Luedtke (1930-2014)
It was with great sadness that I heard of the passing of Dr. Ken Luedtke.
Cell Health (Part 2)
Dr. Barsten, your book is about restoring "cell vitality." Can you briefly define the term? Cell vitality is more than the mere absence of symptoms or pathology, but optimum structural, physiological and energetic health.
Acupuncture and Homeopathy: Bioenergetic Brothers
Acupuncture and homeopathy share an important healing principle: bioenergetics. "Bio" means "life," so bioenergetics is literally "life energy."
Mind-Body in Motion
A central goal of low back pain treatment involves the correction of dysfunctional movement patterns believed to be responsible for spinal overload.
It's Time to Create a Strong Acupuncture Footprint
Footprints in the sand. Footprints in the snow. Where do these footprints go? Some are big, some are small, but footprints are made by all.
Are You Really a Healthy Eater?
I always giggle a little bit (to myself) when someone comes into my office and informs me that they are a healthy eater. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean they eat sugar in moderation? And what's that, exactly?
Finding Balance in the Clinic
This past December, I celebrated 11 years in practice. I seriously don't know where the time went. I feel beyond blessed and grateful to be practicing our profound and beautiful medicine and to be helping guide my patients restore a state of optimal health.
Unlevel Pelvis in the High-School Athlete: Exploring Causes and Effects
The unlevel pelvis is all too common in the high-school athlete and if not detected, will likely cause a lifetime of musculoskeletal issues. Any provider who doesn't look for this common finding is missing critical information.
Connecting the Dots
In 2002, I published a book on patient examination procedures that included information on the procedural coding of the recommended examinations. The book should have been published in 2000, but I had trouble finding a publisher. Why?
The Conscious Evolution of Healing, Part 2
The idea of transmission is very important in the Chinese medical classics. According to author Claude Larre, the ancient Chinese were highly interested in the connection between things. Nothing was looked at as an isolated entity.
Neuroscience: Where Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine Can Come Together
The recent advances in neuroscience are truly incredible. With this expansion of scientific knowledge, I would like to see even more research into the neuroscientific basic of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
Case Histories from Bali: Treating Balinese Chidren with TCB and Shonishin
When I moved to the island of Bali in 2005, I offered my services in Bumi Sehat, which means Healthy Mother Earth, a free birthing center for poor and disadvantaged local women located in Ubud.
Reflections: The Art of Teaching Asian Medicine
Over the past three decades, my global workshops have been translated into German, Swiss German, French, Romansch, Spanish, Lithuanian and Xhosa. Time to offer you new teachers a few tips!
Put the Social Back Into Social Media
Social media is more than a passing fad, it is definitely here to stay. Social media apps and channels of distribution may evolve, but the concept of social media is now big business and a part of all our lives.
Let's Speak With One Voice in 2015
For the longest time, the chiropractic profession has attempted to achieve some form of unity. On a political level, this was characterized by an ultimately unsuccessful two-year merger effort between ACA and ICA leadership from 1986-1988.
It might have been a miserable start to the day in the heart of downtown San Diego. A heavy rain had soaked the large homeless population congregating near the intersection of Third Avenue and Ash Street as they waited for a free breakfast to be served at the First Lutheran Church on the corner.
The Top Seven Website Mistakes Clinics Make
The majority of acupuncture clinics finally have a website for their business. Having a website is crucial for being found online through Google, Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
News in Brief
An Encouraging Sign at Palmer; NBCE Announces Retirement of Longtime Director of Testing.
Help Your Parents Stay Engaged
As much as parents may wish it were so, children do not come with an instruction manual. There's no "how to" that can be followed and no two children are alike, so what works with one generally won't work with the next.
Old TCM Sayings: Treat the Front to Treat the Back
Chinese medicine college was, and always will be, a memorable time. It was a time of massive personal and professional growth.
January, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 01
Medical Massage Therapy: The Search for Definition
By Gregory T. Lawton, DN, DC
Attempts to present and to define medical massage therapy vary from teacher to teacher and author to author. This article presents concepts related to medical massage therapy, a form of manual therapy routinely practiced by medical physicians and medical personnel during the 19th century.Medical massage therapy lost popularity in medical circles with the advent of the "drug era," along with many traditional forms of health care, such as midwifery and herbal medicine. State and national laws were developed which prohibited the legal practice of medical massage or natural health care for medical purposes. This government action resulted in the current condition of massage therapy as a lay practice based on esoteric principles and theory.
Currently, there is a movement within the massage profession to restore the historic medical applications of massage and manual therapy. Currently, most schools of massage therapy teach Swedish massage (also referred to as therapeutic massage) and/or variations of Swedish massage technique, or specialized systems of manual therapy such as shiatsu. Most of the western systems of conventional massage therapy, especially techniques taught in the United States, are based on the work of Per Henrik Ling, who formulated the general and relaxation techniques of Swedish massage (also referred to as therapeutic massage). In 1892, Emil Kleen, MD, PhD, author of Handbook of Massage commented on Ling and Swedish massage:
This "unfortunate defect" still plagues massage therapy, as there are very few studies that presently substantiate the medical claims of massage therapy. In addition, there are few massage therapists that have the doctoral or scientific credentials needed to study and present findings related to massage therapy research. In a research paper written by Justus J. Fiechtner, MD, MPH and Raymond R. Brocheur, DC, PhD ("Manual and manipulation techniques for rheumatic disease," published in Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America, Volume 26, Number 1, February 2000), the authors state:
Conclusions regarding the effectiveness of massage therapy in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders or disease are largely based on subjective and empirical evidence presented by massage therapists over hundreds of years. While this collection of empirical evidence is large and impressive, it does not address the more scientifically refined questions regarding specific modalities of treatment directly applied to particular disease states.
Conventional medicine likes to offer the supposition that its therapies are all scientifically validated. On the contrary, much of standard medical practice, including commonly performed invasive techniques and drug therapies, are not well studied, and/or the mechanisms of their activity, effectiveness and safety are unknown. We can all recall "routine" medical practices and procedures that, although practiced for many years, are now either no longer performed or discouraged. New drugs are brought to the market place with studies that involved small trial groups; when approved and utilized by larger groups, their side effects lead to death, disease and removal from the market.
While massage therapy as a profession lacks the kind of scientific studies called for by medicine, massage therapy technique and treatment enjoy a long history -- over 11,000 years worldwide -- which allows for another kind of scientific evidence, based on the collective clinical observation of thousands of massage therapy practitioners from many global cultures. Clinical observation with the systematic collection of clinical data has long been a tool of science; indeed, it resulted in Edison's invention of the light bulb. In addition, studies on massage therapy usually involve the general and superficial techniques of Swedish massage. For example, a study might indicate in its abstract that patients with back pain received a "back massage." Medicine remains in this new millennium largely ignorant of the various techniques, school of techniques, and variety of treatment protocols that exist in the many forms that massage therapy is practiced. Most massage therapy professionals employ several different techniques, exercises and modalities in a typical patient treatment session, making it difficult to quantify the effects of a single technique. Future studies need to identify the specific techniques of different manual therapy systems, and study the exact clinical effects of those techniques.
Medical massage therapy, by the adoption of the qualifying word, "medical," should be able to demonstrate clinical results when placed under scientific scrutiny. This supposition is as yet unproven by conventional research. While limited studies do exist, and the data continues to increase regarding the generalized effects of Swedish massage, there are almost no studies on medical massage technique and protocol. The medical massage therapist must borrow from research data that has been performed in other manual therapy disciplines, such as orthopedic medicine, physical therapy, chiropractic and acupuncture, and studies on the biochemistry, physiology and histology of soft tissue structures of the body.
Medical training and research in the United States is largely subsidized by the pharmaceutical industry. The awarding of research grants is heavily influenced by the drug industry and medical bias. This situation has resulted in money being directed at finding the most profitable therapies rather than the most effective ones.
Massage therapy is experiencing a slow and gradual movement within the profession toward higher levels of academic standards, longer periods of study, entry into the profession by allied medical personnel, and acceptance into colleges, hospitals and medical clinics. However, there are few training programs in massage therapy schools that meet the needs of students of higher capacity and allied medical credentials.
The highly generalized format and techniques of Swedish massage, fringe massage and relaxation massage therapy do not meet the clinical needs of a medical or rehabilitation therapy environment. Lengthening the period of study within a training program does not address the need for a higher level of technique, clinical protocol, knowledge of the pathophysiological processes of connective tissue disease and disorders, and the application, formulation and delivery of sophisticated rehabilitation programs.
Medical massage therapy is emerging as a manual medicine system of treatment that does address the needs of a rehabilitation therapy environment. Medical massage therapy achieves this clinical criteria because:
Swedish or therapeutic massage employs generalized manual techniques such as gliding, kneading, striking, shaking, and friction. Medical massage utilizes these same movements as soft tissue pre-treatment preparation for the primary deep tissue and joint complex protocols that follow this general preparation. Medical massage deep tissue technique employs a relaxed hand technique referred to as the "soft hand." This hand technique allows deep tissue penetration without patient discomfort and without exacerbating the patient's condition. In addition, medical massage therapy utilizes patient anatomical positioning and soft tissue folding in order to reduce postural soft tissue tension and muscle contraction. Medical massage techniques combine manual therapy techniques directed at all connective tissue structures with joint mobilization techniques that "exercise" the deep internal joint complex tissues. These mobilization techniques, based on the normal physics of joint motion, include torque, shearing, accommodation and traction. The techniques of Cassel (osteopath) and Smith (naprapath) are also employed. The Cassel techniques include extremity shaking and release techniques; the Smith techniques involve the use of a bony lever and hand contact that move the joint and gently exercise and stimulate the ligaments of the joint.
Medical massage therapy is a highly specialized system of connective tissue rehabilitation based on theories and research regarding connective tissue healing and remodeling. This system of massage therapy recognizes that the joint complex and its attendant soft tissue structures, especially ligaments, are the primary sites of chronic pain and dysfunction, and that treatment of these structures must be directed at the soft tissue findings that result from diagnostic palpation. Treatment must be provided for the purpose of soft tissue and joint rehabilitation. In addition, therapeutic exercise, physiotherapeutic modalities, and patient education are combined in a treatment plan that identifies the appropriate frequency and duration of a therapy program. Medical massage therapy recognizes that clinical treatment for the goal of connective tissue rehabilitation must identify the cause of a problem and utilize direct manual technique to correct the cause of the problem.
All systems of manual and massage therapy share a common historical heritage. They are more than the mere sum of their parts - not simply "technique," but a synthesis of education, training, experience, dedication, humility, and intuition, expressed through the miraculous instrument, the human hand. Medical massage therapy is not so much a "new" approach to massage therapy as it is a "renewal" of the manual medicine practiced by many of the early European and Western medical pioneers of massage therapy.
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