resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
The Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
Specialized Pro-Resolving Mediators: 21st Century Inflammation Fighters
Specialized pro-resolving mediators, or SPMs, are a portion of the omega-3 fatty-acid spectrum that have been shown to have a powerful effect on reducing inflammation.
Day in the Life of an Advanced-Practice DC
Can you tell us a little about your background in the profession? Why did you want to become a DC? I studied at Boston University from 1968-1972 as a pre-med student majoring in biology.
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
Health and Wellness Partnership
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Wellness Center at the LAC + USC Historic General Hospital recently joined forces to extend care to the residents of Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
News in Brief
Northwestern Student Honored for Addressing Concussions Head-On; Northwestern Announces New CFO; Life U. to Provide Unique Opportunity.
F4CP Launches New Social Media Campaign
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress has launched a new service to help member doctors: a social media campaign called "Accelerator."
Transparency is Key at ASA First Annual Meeting
On March 4th and 5th the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) held a successful first annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
Let's Streamline Your Front Desk
Your front office can be your greatest source of efficiency or a constant bottleneck. Increasing the productivity of this area without sacrificing the quality of patient interaction can be a little tricky.
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
Misconceptions & Opportunities With Medicare
As I speak around the country on how to properly document Medicare patient encounters, I get questions regarding opting out of Medicare. There are many misconceptions about opting out of Medicare, including just what it means to opt out.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
How Many of Your Patients Have Sarcopenia?
Figure 1 demonstrates the typical appearance of sarcopenia in the paravertebral muscles. Have you considered evaluating your patients for this problem? Sarcopenia is the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and function that affects the older population.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
Designing a Fitness Plan (Part 4): Blending Pain Relief With Healthy Aging
Pain relief is still the No. 1 reason patients come to my office. However, most of my patients have other goals as well, such as: "I want to lose 10 to 20 pounds"; "I feel old and want to slow down the aging process"; "My doctor says I am becoming a diabetic and need to exercise"; or "I'm tired and want more energy."
Identify & Adjust the Apex Posterior Sacrum
Low back pain involving an apex posterior sacrum (+θX-axis misalignment) typically presents with signs of lumbosacral joint impingement or facet syndrome.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
An Alarming Lack of Accountability
Accountability seems to be a lost quality today. The simple act of taking responsibility and doing the right thing just doesn't happen as often as it should. Maybe it is the litigious nature of our society.
Energy: For Life and For Death
Energy is a deep topic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is understood to underlie all of existence, animated or not, and the qi of the living is studied with special attention.
Excited to Share the Science of Chiropractic: An Interview With Dr. Heidi Haavik
Dr. Heidi Haavik has become known in the circle of chiropractic researchers as not only a rising star, but also one willing to do research that can have a major impact in the scientific world and how chiropractic is perceived.
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
August, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 08
Investigating the Physiology of Massage
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
In this month's Massage Therapy Foundation Research Column, we are exploring how massage works on a physiological level. While massage has been shown to be effective in various settings - little is known about the mechanism of how massage produces its benefits.It is commonly thought that at least some of the effects of massage come from alleviating muscle tension. However, it has yet to be conclusively shown to reduce the underlying neural activity (tone) in the muscle. Who hasn't asked or been asked, "Where are you experiencing tension today?" as Langdon Roberts asks in his article published in the March 2011 issue of the open access International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.
Langdon Roberts, MA, CMT, of the Center for Transformational Neurophysiology in Soquel, Calif., investigated this issue in a study entitled "Pressure Application and Resting EMG." Using surface electromyography (EMG) to measure muscle activity, Roberts hoped to quantify the exact change in muscle activity during two types of massage - light, medium and deep massage applied in the order of increasing pressure (IP) or decreasing pressure (DP). In this study, the electrical activity generated was measured in the m. rectus femoris of the left legs of twenty-five individuals. Roberts hypothesized that muscle activity would be lower after either massage, with IP resulting in significantly lower EMG activity than DP.
Roberts writes, "[When] Goldberg et al. compared light and deep petrissage to the triceps surae [...] deep massage produced a greater reduction in the H-reflex, an electrical analog of the stretch reflex." The H-reflex (Hoffman reflex) is a measure of spinal cord excitability. Roberts cites other research that appears to link a reduction in H-reflex and massage, although he notes H-reflex hasn't been linked to pain reduction or any other known benefits of massage.
Roberts used a clinical crossover design in this study, meaning all 25 individuals received both IP and DP massage, with at least four weeks in between. The ethics of Roberts' study protocol were approved by an internal review board at the Muscular Therapy Institute in Cambridge, Mass. The massage setup was simple, with electromyography electrodes placed proximally and distally to the left rectus femoris, at its musculotendinous junctions. Each massage session was composed of three strokes for each level of pressure to each leg's rectus femoris, beginning with the left leg.
Roberts solicited the three levels of pressure as: "light, but not insubstantial," "moderate" and "as deep as possible without causing pain or a sensation of increased muscle tension." Each slow stroke was performed in a toward-proximal direction and lasted for 15 seconds. Two minutes elapsed between each pressure level. The massage therapist wore thumbtip pressure sensors and applied the strokes using adjacent thumbs. These gloved sensors showed that people in the IP and DP group preferred different objective vs. subjective pressure levels as indicated in a repeated-measures ANOVA [p<0.02]. Further study may show that subjects who receive deep pressure first require a deeper objective pressure to get to a pressure subjectively on the border of pain. In other words, clients may be able to withstand deeper pressure when it is used first. Unfortunately, equipment malfunctions prevented a test of this hypothesis in this study; only 14 subjects had "reliable" data available for statistical analysis.
The EMG results, while surprising, confirm many massage therapists' intuition. Using repeated-measures ANOVA on a group with all DP data, Roberts found, "EMG varied significantly across the four time points [p < 0.03]." In the DP data the application of deep pressure without previous massage caused a sudden increase in muscle activity, which diminished when lighter pressure was later used. This was not the case with the IP group, where "IP data indicates that EMG did not vary significantly across the four times points [p = 0.71]." These results did not differ between the IP-first and DP-first groups [p = 0.30 & p = 0.38].
Although the individuals studied were mostly (>80%) women, this is typically true about the population that seeks massage therapy as well. Another limitation of the study is that different muscles may show different EMG results, since Roberts cites studies that show "a reduction of EMG activity after massage [...] consistently found only in the frontalis muscle." Notably, the massage in this study was applied only to the rectus femoris muscles that were already relaxed, not in pain or otherwise uncomfortable.
This study validates the use of EMG as a tool for investigating the physiological basis of massage. One potential subject for further study includes a comparison of the EMG methods used here - a MEDAC Sys/3 physiological monitor. Roberts recommends a system of "counting repeated minima during each collection period," which he suggests as superior to "counting mean values" because of the commonplace nature of EMG artifacts or false readings.
How can you apply the results of this study to your own practice? If your treatment goal is to reduce or minimize EMG activity, then you should begin with light pressure and gradually increase your pressure during effleurage strokes, especially on the large muscles of the quadriceps. Unfortunately, these results are limited to asymptomatic rectus femoris muscles studied in a small group of people by a single therapist. Further research may show that a DP style of massage consistently causes a sudden spike in EMG activity, and could relate that to patient outcomes. Research has not shown a link between EMG activity and subjective tension. According to Roberts, "Carlson et al. [found] no relationship between perceived tension and EMG activity in clients with muscle pain or in pain-free subjects." Roberts suggests it is likely that "multiple modulating factors" could be at play in the EMG results seen here.
The research reported here was funded by the Massage Therapy Foundation, the same foundation that supports this column. We hope Roberts' and others' research will elucidate to what extent endorphins, reflex pathways, and/or the "freeing of nociceptive or mechanoreceptive nerve endings" contribute to the physiological benefits of massage. For more information on the MTF, visit our website at www.massagetherapyfoundation.org/.
Source: Roberts, L. (2011). Effects of Patterns of Pressure Application on Resting Electromyography During Massage. International Journal Of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork: Research, Education, & Practice, 4(1). Retrieved from www.ijtmb.org/index.php/ijtmb/article/view/25/154
Click here for more information about Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor.
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.