resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
May, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 05
Research Provides Evidence of Physiological Mechanism For Stress Reduction Resulting From Touch Massage
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
As massage therapy gains popularity as one of the most commonly, used modalities among those offered in complementary and alternative medicine, more research is addressing the physiological effects and mechanisms of massage.This month's Massage Therapy Foundation research synopsis reviews an intriguing study out of Umea University, in Sweden, that evaluated the physiological effects of touch massage and was published in the journal, Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical.
Like other massage modalities, touch massage is provided to decrease stress, anxiety and pain. Often massage therapists observe decreases in blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. These observations suggest massage modalities influence the autonomic nervous system and alter an individual's stress response. The autonomic nervous system is comprised of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity. It controls involuntary bodily functions, such as breathing and the heartbeat. Simply put these two synergistic components act as internal stress (sympathetic) and relaxation (parasympathetic) response systems, which work to maintain autonomic balance. The autonomic nervous system and stress response mechanisms have received considerable attention for explaining a physiological mechanism of massage. Lindgren and colleagues tackled the arduous task of evaluating the physiological effects of touch massage on stress responses in 22 healthy volunteers using a battery of bio-markers to identify autonomic nervous system responses.
Lindgren and colleagues used a crossover design method to conduct this study. In a crossover design, each participant is in both groups (treatment and control). At two separate occasions, each individual either receives the treatment of touch massage or rests in the supine position as a control. Using this method, participants can function as their own comparison with and without the treatment. Though crossover design has many advantages, like requiring smaller sample sizes, the disadvantage of crossover design methods is the carryover effect, where the treatment has lingering effects. If there were a strong carryover effect, we would expect to see the participants who receive treatment first having a different baseline when they return for the control session. However, there were no significant differences between massage first and rest first in the baseline measures taken immediately before the second session, so carryover effects should not influence these results.
Participants received touch massage on their hands and feet, which "consisted of stroking movements on the ventral and dorsal side of hands and feet along with circular movements on each finger and toe. Touch massage was performed for 80 min in the following order: 20 min each on the left hand, the right hand, the right foot, and the left foot." Participants in the control group rested in the same setting. Outcomes measures included heart rate and heart rate variability (the variation in time between heart beats), cortisol stress hormone levels from saliva, blood glucose, and serum insulin. Data were collected before, during, and after touch massage or rest session.
The main finding in this study for Lindgren and colleagues was, "After 5 minutes of touch massage there was a significant decrease in heart rate lasting for 65 min, indicating reduced stress response." Though findings suggested significant changes across several measures, "the only significant differences between the groups were the decreases in heart rate after 45 minutes and in the HF component [high frequency domain of heart rate variability] after 5 minutes." Group differences between treatment and control groups are typically the focus of studies such as this one, because these differences measure the effect resulting from the treatment. Though there were no significant differences between groups in levels of cortisol, glucose, and insulin, "Saliva cortisol and insulin levels decreased significantly after intervention, while the serum glucose level remained stable. A similar pattern, although less prominent was observed in the control group." The findings from this study suggest, "Touch massage reduces the heart rate by decreasing sympathetic nervous activity and evoking a compensatory decreased parasympathetic nervous activity in order to maintain autonomic balance." These findings suggest that after receiving touch massage the participants experienced a biological relaxation response - producing the experience of stress reduction.
As with all research, this study identified limitations to interpreting the findings of this study. First, "calm music" was played during the sessions, which could have had an effect; however, music was used in both groups, therefore touch massage served as the single outcome. Second, as with most massage studies the interpersonal interaction between the therapist and recipient could have affected the treatment. We cannot eliminate the effects of this interaction especially since there was no "sham massage" or "therapeutic touch" group included as a level in between treatment and control. One other potential limitation of the study is that the authors reported that five participants' heart rate and heart rate variability data were excluded due to arrhythmias. Given the already small sample size of less than two dozen individuals, decreasing the sample size by almost 25% for these data points could impact the ability to interpret and generalize these data findings. Further, it is possible that the trend observed of a greater decrease in cortisol following touch massage than following quiet rest and insulin level in this study could prove to be significant with larger sample sizes in future studies. Larger randomized clinical trials will provide evidence for generalizable findings to inform consumers about the effects and physiological mechanisms of touch massage.
This study provides evidence that supports one of the most popular theories for explaining the relaxing effects of massage therapy. Specifically, Lindgren and colleagues found that touch massage significantly reduces cortisol, although not significantly more so than quiet rest, and that massage significantly lowers heart rate. The findings of this study warrant future research to evaluate these physiological mechanisms in larger controlled clinical trials and with more diverse populations. But what does this mean for providers and touch massage recipients? Whether in a non-clinical or clinical setting touch massage can reduce stress for clients and patients. Though this is not likely new information to many providers, as observations of stress reduction are commonplace in the massage setting, Lindgren and colleagues have provided evidence to substantiate these observations, which support incorporating touch massage in individuals' wellness and healthcare plans to facilitate stress reduction and promote personal health.
Source: Lindgren L, Rundgren S, Winsö O, Lehtipalo S, Wiklund U, Karlsson M, Stenlund H, Jacobsson C, Brulin C. Physiological responses to touch massage in healthy volunteers. Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical. 2010; 158: 105-110.
For more information about the Massage Therapy Foundation, visit www.massagetherapyfoundation.org.
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