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Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
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.
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.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
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.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
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.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
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.
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.)
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
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.
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.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
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.
December, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 12
Stay in Touch With ... Swe-thai: A magical massage for both client and therapist
By Margie Meshew
"Stay in Touch With" is a periodic column designed to provide an overview of a particular technique or modality. If you would like to contribute to this column, please email .
Hands on therapies are the wave of the future.Business is booming and Massage Therapists are busier than ever. Trying to keep up with the demand is a wonderful problem to have, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that massage therapists are in need of a massage as much or more than their clients.
Massage Therapist injuries are on the rise. Some might even say it's becoming an epidemic. Unfortunately, most practitioners will look for ways to alleviate pain and exhaustion after the fact instead of finding ways to prevent it from the beginning. We teach our clients this known fact and yet we as professionals don't necessarily adhere to it ourselves. In essence, we are athletes and just as preparation, form and style are crucial to an athlete's performance and longevity, the same applies to any hands-on practitioner. For that reason, it would only make sense for us to examine our performance the same way any professional athlete would. We need to do all we can to reduce the strain on our bodies enabling us to work longer and more effectively without sacrificing the client's treatment. Let's start by examining the same three principles and how they pertain to Massage Therapists: Preparation (Stretching, Center Ourselves, Breathe Control); Form (Posture, Alignment); and Style (Combining Forces, Using Slower Movements).
Although these crucial points might seem basic to most practitioners, what we know and what we do often are two entirely different things. Western practitioners can benefit tremendously by incorporating eastern philosophies into their daily routine. This is what inspired the creation of Swe-Thai Massage.
Swe-Thai is a unique style of massage that magically blends the ancient Eastern knowledge of a highly revered form of medical massage with specific, advanced soft tissue therapies. Swe-Thai is not just performing Thai massage on the table, but blending many of its techniques and theories with proven and highly effective Western treatments. The Swe-Thai routine was designed specifically to treat general neck and back conditions. When utilized properly, the biomechanically correct techniques allow the therapist to perform much more concentrated work without sacrificing their palpatory integrity. While other types of massage therapy might use similar techniques, the magic found in Swe-Thai massage is not just in the techniques but more so in the unique marriage of eastern and western hands-on therapies.
The ancient healing art of Traditional Thai Massage dates back over 2,500 years and was considered a spiritual practice connected directly to the teachings of Buddha. Its earliest roots lie not in Thailand, but in India. Thai Massage was traditionally performed with a mat on the floor in many of the temples of Thailand. The client would remain fully clothed except for the feet. Clothing needed to be loose enough to allow for flexible movement. Typically, no lubrication is used in this 2 to 2 1/2 hour routine. The techniques commonly used in Traditional Thai Massage consist of pressure being applied to energy lines, the treatment of acupressure points and passive yoga style stretching. The energy lines in Traditional Thai Massage are referred to as sen lines. It's within those lines that the acupressure points are found and treated. In theory, over 72,000 of these lines exist in a person's body, although only the 10 main lines typically are treated. Because Thai Massage works with the energy body, the sen lines are the basis for this form of medical massage.
Traditional Thai Massage often is referred to as Yoga Massage. There is a distinct connection between Hatha Yoga and Traditional Thai Massage. Many of the postures found in Thai Massage have an undeniable similarity to Hatha Yoga. This beneficial style of stretching is a large part of Thai Massage.
The giving of a Thai Massage is understood to be the physical application of loving kindness known as "Metta." It should be performed in a meditative state of mind, which eventually will enable the Thai Massage Practitioner to develop an innate intuition to better treat the specific needs of each individual person. The master teachers of Thailand continually reinforce this method of working slowly and in a meditative state of mind. Also, extremely important is the use of proper body mechanics which consist of working always with a straight spine, straight arms and using the weight of your body to press down.
Practitioners at work in Thailand make it quite apparent that size and strength have little to do with their ability to apply the correct pressure. At first glance, it might even appear as if they are performing an effortless meditative dance rather than a highly effective therapeutic massage.
With this in mind, let's look at how the marriage of Western and Eastern philosophies applies to the three principals mentioned earlier and how they are incorporated into the Swe-Thai Massage routine.
Preparation: At ITM (Institute of Thai Massage) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, it's customary for the Thai Practitioner to warm up for the day with an hour Yoga/ Tai Chi routine. Stretching and meditation is beneficial not just to warm up and prepare the body, but also the mind. Even as little as 15 minutes of stretching will help prepare you for your days work and minimize the chance of injury or strain to your body. Some Swe-Thai Massage techniques require a moderate amount of flexibility, so some type of warm up is essential.
To center and ground one's self, proper breathing is essential. It's believed that a deep controlled breath in through the nose and out through the nose is considered not only cleansing, but also creates power, endurance and relaxation for the practitioner. In order to perform the Swe-Thai Massage effectively and induce a meditative state of mind, the therapist needs to work slowly and methodically.
Form: By incorporating these new postural habits into your hands-on therapy, your body will experience an amazing supply of energy and resilience. 1. Always try to position your body over your working hand. 2. Maintain a stable and comfortable base for yourself by trying to keep your pelvis aligned with your shoulders and your spine straight. 3. Bracing your body against the table aids in the protection of your lower back.
Style: Combining two forces allows for optimal movement and strength. For example, taking a client into a stretch in and of itself could be strenuous on your body, depending on the client's flexibility and size. By applying a popular Thai Massage technique known as a forearm roll with that stretch, the client receives two techniques in one, flowing movement and the strain to your body has been diminished. This technique is just one example of many that make Swe-Thai Massage so unique. Slower movements require the therapist to focus on the area being treated and the client. This simple process is the core of Swe-Thai Massage.
In conclusion, regardless of what path you've chosen to walk as a Therapist, remember your body is your primary tool. If you treat it well and use it correctly, you will have a long and prosperous career.
Margie Meshew has been a licensed massage therapist since 1989, and has been teaching massage for more than 12 years. She is a Traditional Thai Massage instructor and received her teacher certification from the Institute of Thai Massage in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In 2001, she developed Swe-Thai Massage, which became the subject of her first top-rated video. In addition to massage, she is a certified Hatha Yoga instructor and is Reiki I & II certified. Her latest work, Table Thai, A Comprehensive Massage Routine now is available on video.
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