resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.).
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
March, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 03
Laughter: It Just Might Be the Best Medicine for You
By Sharon Puszko, PhD, LMT
We have all heard this saying before, and I am sure we have all experienced the "pick-me-up" a good chuckle provides when we are feeling down. However, did this adage become common simply due to parents trying to calm their children when sick or angry? Or, is there a more primal, subconscious reason that we associate laughter with feeling better? It was not until recently, when I ran into an acquaintance of mine who has always had a rather serious disposition, that I started thinking more deeply about laughter.
I am sure we all know someone like him, the kind of person of whom we say to ourselves, "He/she needs to laugh more." Therefore, I started to wonder what research, if any, has been done on laughter, and what can we learn from it. After all, when was the last time you read or saw a press release about the latest findings from a NSF or NIH sponsored grant on the benefits of laughing? Probably never, since most people are more interested in research pertaining to cancer, tobacco or AIDS, then on laughter.
As it turns out, the science of laughter is still in its infancy, however what we have recently learned about it is fascinating. In fact, just ten years ago, I would not have had much to say other than the following: We know laughter is an evolutionary vocalization passed down from our primate relatives in order to aid in social communication, and it also seems to be contagious. While we have proven the former to be true by studying the behavior and vocalizations of our primate relatives, thanks to modern science we have also proven the latter to be true. In 2006, researchers at University College London conducted a study to determine why observing laughter usually causes someone to laugh in return.
Using MRI images of the brain, they were able to prove the existence of auditory "mirror" neurons; neurons that cause our body to produce a reaction to something we hear. Just as we have visual "mirror" neurons that activate when we see certain things (when we watch traumatic events, our brain responds as if we are experiencing that event ourselves), our auditory mirror neurons trigger our facial muscles to smile in response to hearing laughter. In fact, the more laughter we hear the more signals our neurons fire, causing us to smile and laugh in return. So whomever first coined the phrase, "Laugh, and the world laughs with you," turned out to be absolutely correct!
What about the theory that laughter is the best medicine? While I cannot assure you that laughter can cure all ills, I can say that it does indeed make you feel better. This past fall, a new study was published addressing this very issue. A group of European scientists studied the pain threshold of people before, during and after watching funny programs, such as a stand-up comedian show and episodes of "The Simpsons" and "Friends." The results revealed that people who laughed during these programs (not just listened to them, but actually laughed) had a much higher tolerance for pain after laughing than before, because laughter triggered the release of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals which protect us from stress and make us feel good; as you well know, the biological reason massage feels so good is because it, too, releases endorphins. Therefore, while laughter may not be the best medicine, it really does make you feel better. Since it is also contagious and innate in primates, I can understand why laughter is considered one of the most primal methods of social bonding.
Now that we have proven that those serious people would indeed feel better if they laughed more, how can we, as massage therapists, incorporate more laughter into our days? I think the answer to that question will vary according to our own personal preferences. Some of us would rather reserve humor, jokes and irony for our personal lives only, and others will feel more comfortable incorporating laughter into both our professional and personal lives. Robert Provine authored a book on the science of laughter and in it suggests creating a "library" of humor. Start a collection of your favorite funny materials (books, comics, magazine, movies, TV shows, toys, etc), and make them easily accessible in your home or workplace. If you train yourself to reach for them when you start to feel angry or sad, you will notice those negative feelings diminish faster. This "library" is also a great conversation starter for parties and social gatherings, since everyone likes to laugh! Making some of these materials available to clients might help some of them relax more quickly before a session and feel more comfortable. If you choose to share this library with others, just make sure you have materials that represent a variety of humor, since we all find different things funny.
Fortunately, there is a plethora of information available on the internet and in magazines on how to incorporate laughter into your life; I have started listening to funny books and programs on CD while driving, and I can tell you that getting stuck in traffic no longer bothers me the way it used to! In closing, I’d like to remind the reader that just like massage, laughter does not require anything other than your own body in order to make yourself and someone else feel good, so try to do it as often as you can!
Sharon Puszko is the owner/director/educator for Day-Break Geriatric Massage Institute. She may be contacted at
or through her Web site: www.daybreak-massage.com.
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.