resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
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.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
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.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
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.
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.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
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.
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.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
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 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.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
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.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
December, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 12
By Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB
In a previous column, I touched on medical applications of massage that appeared in the indexed medical literature from 1997 to the present. Of 213 instances of medical goals addressed by massage, 155 (73%) were systemic rather than tissue-specific (clinical/orthopedic) interventions. Systemic treatment goals included increased well-being, stress and pain management, and improvements in self-image. These "systemic" effects of massage also are well-represented in the research reported by Tiffany Fields and the Touch Research Institutes (TRI).5 The TRI home page highlights observations that massage therapy: facilitates weight gain in preterm infants, reduces stress hormones, alleviates depressive symptoms, reduces pain, improves immune function and alters EEG in the direction of heightened awareness.5 With the above observations in hand, it seems time to consider mechanisms for the effectiveness of massage.
Tissue specific interventions (TSIs), while requiring understanding in anatomy and movement to implement effectively, are simpler conceptually. TSIs largely can be understood by reduction to specifics. The practitioner needs to be able to listen to client history, assess active and passive range of motion limitations, look-up and implement special orthopedic tests as needed, and thus gain a working hypothesis of the location, extent and nature of injured tissue i.e. the "lesion" resulting in pain or limitation. I differentiate active and passive range of motion limitations because they differentiate between pain felt in a musculotendinous unit when it's actively contracting and pain produced in ligaments, joint capsules and antagonist muscles when they are passively stretched. I note "looking up" special tests because I am a believer in having and knowing how to use information resources rather than in memorizing everything in sight (or reach). Procedures frequently used will be memorized. I define the result of assessment as a "working hypothesis" to clarify that it's not a medical diagnosis.
With TSIs, the techniques follow from assessment and isolation of the lesion(s). Tendinosis on tendinous attachments benefits from the stimulation of inflammation by local friction.1,2 Adhesions between fascial layers release under slow separating pressure. Trigger points succumb to ischemic pressure combined with various methods to lengthen the affected tissue. Muscle hypertension can be lowered by methods of positional release and post-isometric relaxation. The assessments and treatment might be intricate, but they are not inherently complex in the sense that we can conceptually connect the treatment goals and the intervention.
Understanding how non-tissue-specific touch affects the state of our human systems has not been so easy. We are able to record the effects, as has the Touch Research Institutes, but we haven't had a sound mechanism to explain them. My opening quote from Ashley Montagu motivates why touch would be expected to have profound effects on us, but it, too, stops short of mechanism. The answer, however, is starting to take shape in diverse venues of science and mathematics.
Over the last two decades or so, a new area of research has evolved. There are systems in which important properties lie, not in the individual parts alone, but in the interaction and communication between the parts. These properties have become known as "emergent properties," be cause they literally emerge from the complexity of interactions.6 In 1984, the Santa Fe Institute was founded specifically to study such complex systems.4 The April 2, 1999 issue of the journal Science was devoted to interdisciplinary viewpoints on research in complexity. These included papers on "Complexity and the Nervous System," and "Complexity in Biological Signaling Systems." Numerous papers and books have come out of studies of things describable as "information networks," including studies on organization spontaneously emerging in the structure of the Internet. We slowly are gaining the tools and the understanding that seemingly simple appearances can arise out of the complexity of interactions. We also are finding understanding that such systems can have multiple stable states and flip between them depending on input from outside.
Thus, we come to the human body as a system of systems a system with neurological, chemical, immune, emotional and sensory interactions all communicating. Sensory input includes touch in a big way. We come back to the observations of TRI and Ashley Montagu, with the understanding of massage and touch as a major input to a complex system. We don't understand the details, but we understand the basis for touch to create profound changes in the homeostasis of the human system. There are important structures of the human body that are not physical; they exist only in the fluid interchange of information within the living system.
In the end, it's not the complexity of the touch being done, but the complexity of the human system being touched that is most profound. Someday, we might be able to model the complexity of neurological-chemical-emotional-sensory interactions to determine patterns of sensory input that are most effective at inducing positive change. We still are far away in the infancy of such concepts. The best tool we have to bring to bear today is the equal complexity of the observational instrument known as the human practitioner. The human ability to learn from practice and observation and then to react in real-time to sensory input remains unmatched. We are slow at consciously processing input, but rapid at "unconsciously" matching patterns. There is great value in being able to initiate a simple touch, judge the response and adjust our input toward assisting the client's system toward a better place. We've known this intuitively for a good while. We are just beginning to develop the scientific finesse to explain it.
Click here for previous articles by Keith Eric Grant, PhD, 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.