resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
December, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 12
Flushing Out Myths
By Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB
There's a statement, seemingly pervasive throughout massage education and massage books, that unspecified toxins accumulate in the body, and that these toxins can be flushed out by massage.I believe this is yet another myth that continues to be passed on as misinformation to massage students. This is not to dispute that there are very real toxins that accumulate in the body, notably persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in fatty tissues and heavy metals in skeletal tissues. [7,8] However, these toxins are too chemically bound to their target tissues to be significantly liberated by the mechanical motions of massage.
A more significant issue is whether metabolic wastes and cellular debris can significantly accumulate and be flushed out by massage. To elucidate a negative response to this, I turn to consideration of the circulation of blood and lymph. If the tissue is to accumulate wastes in a static manner, i.e. not as an instantaneous balance between production and removal, the tissue must be isolated. If we assume that the tissue is isolated from blood circulation, then necrosis (cellular death) is the rapid consequence. Such gangrene is, for example, one of the results of the vascular pathology of diabetes. We have to conclude that non-gangrenous tissue must be receiving oxygen and nutrients via circulation and that, for this to continue, venous return flow must also be occurring. If the toxins are accumulating, they cannot be doing so within the reach of the circulatory system. Perhaps we should look instead in the interstitial spaces served by the lymphatic system.
As noted by Bruno Chikly, the lymphatic system is a second pathway back to the heart, parallel to the blood system [2, pg. 27]. Chikly further notes that "about 1.5 to 3.5 liters of lymph per day circulate through the thoracic duct, although the total volume of the flow of lymph has yet to be precisely measured" [2, pg. 51] and expands on the process of lymphatic circulation.
What arises is a picture of tissue far from being in static isolation. If neither necrosis nor severe edema is to result, the tissue environment must be continually bathed in the fluid circulations of blood and lymph, ruling out the accumulation of free toxins. Where there are restrictions, such as adhesions between fascial planes, they must be of a more macroscopic nature, still allowing for the microscopic flow of circulation, just as water can flow through cheesecloth.
Based on the above considerations, I can only conclude that the flushing of toxins is yet another persistent myth. However, this does not imply that massage is powerless to benefit the body. While massage does not appear to directly increase overall blood flow , it can be used to relax muscle hypertonicity. Lowering the level of muscle activity will locally reduce the need for energy and oxygen and the rate of production of metabolic wastes. It will also reduce the muscular pressure on surrounding tissues, effectively improving circulation and recovery from use. This, however, is not massage moving out toxins, but massage facilitating a better homeostasis. It is just this improvement in homeostasis by which, I believe, massage facilitates recovery from exercise and allows a higher level of training to occur.
In cases of excess lymphatic fluid production (overloading a normally functioning lymphatic system), or partial lymphatic system compromise, lymphatic drainage massage may be helpful in promoting the process of lymphatic filtering. The key sign here is the existence of edema. Normally, local muscle contractions promote sufficient lymph drainage. A notable exception exists with breast tissue. Since there is no contractile tissue within the breast to assist lymphatic drainage, overall tissue movement becomes important [3, pg. 101].
There remains a consideration that some clients respond to a massage with reactions of flu-like aches and malaise. Such symptoms have often been attributed to the toxins released. Dispelling with the concept of toxins means that we must seek other explanations for such post-massage malaise. Chaitow notes that fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are the distant end of spectrums of dysfunction that can include aches, malaise, and flu-like symptoms [1, pg. 6]. He believes that a great many people are somewhere on those spectrums. Some of the models of dysfunction that Chaitow presents include a sort of systemic allergic reaction characterized by a great deal of pain, either muscular and/or joint-related [1, pg. 33]. Chaitow also notes the hypothesis that the inability to produce an adequate cortisol response to a stress can result in symptoms: "Deficiency in cortisol is characterised by fatigue, weakness, muscle and joint pain, bowel symptoms, nausea, increased allergic reactions, mood disturbance" [1, pg. 68]. I tend to think of a body's neurochemical system on the edge of its ability to adapt being pushed temporarily beyond the edge by accommodating to the work being done. This reaction may be exacerbated by effects of athletic overtraining or by a genetic metabolic predisposition [5,6].
To explain the effects of massage, think not of flushing out toxins, but flushing out tensions - not just in the sense of emotional holding, but in the basic sense of muscles "idling" with the throttle open. As with good mechanics, we're simply readjusting the throttle to a reasonable idle rate. Underlying this way of looking at things, however, is a fundamental shift in orientation from mechanically moving something that accumulates to changing a dynamic balance within the living human body. It is, I believe, an important shift away from mythology and toward better understanding of our work.
Click here for previous articles by Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB.
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