resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
January, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 01
Introduction, With a Response to AMMA
By James "Doc" Clay, MMH, NCTMB
Clinical massage therapy has been around a comparatively long time.(Ben Benjamin has certainly been practicing it quite a while.) The various schools of myofascial release are clinical in intent. Bonnie Prudden, after being treated by Dr. Janet Travell, published a number of books and established her system of myotherapy. The Rolfers, Hellerworkers, and CORE myofascial therapists, with their approaches to structural alignment, practice what has to be considered a type of clinical bodywork.
Clinical massage therapy/bodywork is the product of a number of converging streams. The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, who began as a disciple of Freud, postulated the expression of character in body structure, and was certainly one of the first to develop an approach to treating mind and body together. Dr. Reich's system lives on in bioenergetics, an approach developed by his student, Alexander Lowen. Ida Rolf pioneered the manual treatment of the fascia to restructure the body. Traditional massage therapy began to expand to address specific pain problems. Travell and Simons explored myofascial trigger points and pain. Osteopaths such as Leon Chaitow contributed many procedures and techniques from the osteopathic tradition. We are heirs to all these ideas and practices that came before us, and are putting them together in a "bodywork synthesis"called clinical massage therapy.
But the perceptions of the public in general, and the medical profession in particular, have been limited largely to relaxation massage. I recently talked with Dr. Kathi Kemper, a pediatrician and the author of The Holistic Pediatrician, about massage therapy and pediatrics. She's quite interested in the topic, and thoroughly familiar with the work of Dr. Tiffany Field at the Touch Research Institute of the University of Miami Medical Center, but I found it nearly impossible to interest her in the effects of clinical massage therapy in the treatment of specific problems of myofascial pain and dysfunction (I haven't stopped trying!). Neonatologists know how effective massage is for helping premature babies gain weight, but pediatricians in general are utterly ignorant of the effectiveness of clinical massage therapy for treating headaches, earaches, and other childhood problems with myofascial components.
There are signs that the situation is changing. Recent articles have reported favorably on the effectiveness of clinical massage therapy for such problems as low back pain and neck pain, one even appearing in Reader's Digest. (I strongly recommend that anyone interested in keeping up with such studies subscribe to the newsletters from WebMD.com - they report such items on a regular basis.) Perhaps we needed some time for the public to become comfortable with massage therapy in general, before they were ready to accept clinical massage therapy as an option for pain treatment.
The purpose of this column is not to deal with clinical issues themselves - that's what we have Ben Benjamin for - but to address the variety of issues confronting clinical massage therapy as it develops and evolves. I want to do this in an interactive way, by soliciting your input. What do you think the issues are? What are your opinions about various aspects of the discipline we will have to deal with as therapists? How does clinical massage therapy differ from traditional relaxation massage in such areas as:
My decision to write a column on clinical massage therapy was well-timed, as it followed the publication of the American Medical/Manual Massage Association's (AMMA) guidelines for a medical massage curriculum in the September 2002 issue of Massage Today. This first column is an ideal place to reflect on that article. I find much in it to agree with, such as the recommendation for more thorough training in anatomy, physiology, and pathology, more intensive clinical exposure during training, internships in clinical settings, and a greater emphasis on problem-oriented therapy. However, I also found a number of points to take issue with.
1) I've heard the term "medical massage" used for several years, and have never been quite comfortable with it, for a variety of reasons. In Basic Clinical Massage Therapy: Integrating Anatomy and Treatment, I wrote:
Not only has our field rediscovered and revived a number of therapeutic techniques from the distant past and borrowed many techniques from other disciplines, we have taken advantage of our independence from traditional health care to explore and develop new techniques and new ways of understanding and applying old techniques. I can't help feeling that the use of the word "medical" in designating our profession betrays a desire to enhance our prestige by diving headlong into the medical field. We have seen what has happened to physical therapy as a result of just such a merger: the stifling of creativity and imagination. Although there are many outstanding and creative physical therapists in practice, the vast majority have been inexorably absorbed into the black hole of insurance and managed care, and have succumbed to the pressure to work "by the book." If we are to continue to explore and discover, and increase our effectiveness through creativity, we would do well to maintain our independence from more traditional disciplines.
2) AMMA may have already crossed that line. The article suggests that the training proceed from one body part to the next, learning the anatomy and typical pathology of each area before proceeding to the next area. The examples used are first the hand, then the elbow. Surely the authors are aware that most problems of the wrist and hand are traceable to muscles in the forearm, some of which cross the elbow - not to mention the common possibility of pain in the hand referred from the shoulder or chest! Yet we find the statement, "The medical massage treatment model is, however, neither a 'medical model,' nor is it 'allopathic.' Since it is massage therapy, the medical model is based on a natural and holistic philosophy of care." But the description we are given of a suggested curriculum is entirely reductionistic. Massage is not inherently holistic, and calling something holistic does not make it so. I see no reference anywhere in the article to posture as a causative or aggravating factor in myofascial pain, yet even the most authoritative physicians in the field of myofascial pain and dysfunction, Janet Travell, David Simons, and Robert Gerwin attribute a great deal of responsibility in this area to posture. I believe that most massage therapists are committed to a holistic view of health and the body, but such a view is not apparent in the AMMA statement.
3) The article says that, "Currently, massage education is fixated on 'hours in training,'" and later that "Time in training is not the central factor in developing good medical massage therapists; it is simply one factor." I certainly agree with that concept. However, a quick trip to AMMA's Web site (www.americanmedicalmassage.com), reveals that graduation from a 600-hour program is a requirement for membership in AMMA. Why 600 hours? Most programs I have come across span 500 to 600 hours, and I'm quite certain that most therapists practicing clinically are essentially self-taught, having gained the necessary knowledge and experience after massage school by attending workshops, reading books, watching videos, and working with clients. Among them are probably outstanding clinicians, but they would be ineligible for membership in AMMA.
4) AMMA tells us that, "It is important that the techniques and treatment protocols being taught conform to current and correct applications of medical massage therapy." What are those techniques and protocols? Is the jury already in? Am I to understand that all the research is done, all the exploration finished, our knowledge complete, and we now have a set of "techniques and treatment protocols" that are not only current, but even "correct?" Why wasn't I told? Since I'm just beginning work on my textbook on advanced clinical massage therapy, I hope someone will let me know about this. I'd hate to suggest incorrect approaches.
I find this statement from AMMA frightening. It suggests that we are in a great hurry to become frozen, petrified, closed-minded and institutionalized as a profession. And we should be duly warned that, if "correct" clinical techniques are established beyond question, we are not professionals, but technicians.
5) Finally, I can't overlook the article's reference to a "sore bicep [sic] muscle." Whether on the arm (biceps brachii) or the leg (biceps femoris), the singular of the word is "biceps" (the plural, in the unlikely event you should ever need it, is "bicipites") - there is no such word as "bicep." Perhaps that seems niggling and pedantic, but words are important, and for a group that emphasizes technical education, it's a point worth making.
It really isn't my intention to start a fight with AMMA. I encourage them, and I wish them well. But it is my intention to start (and maintain) an open conversation, because what we are doing is far too important to be left to a single individual or group to dominate or dictate. Having offered my criticisms this month, I will devote my next column to my own thoughts and ideas about clinical massage therapy education and standards, and welcome any feedback. Meanwhile, primum non nocere, and keep an open mind.
Click here for more information about James "Doc" Clay, MMH, NCTMB.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.