resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Fibromyalgia: Put the Pain in Its Place
While some fibromyalgia patients respond favorably to regular chiropractic care, others experience minimal relief. Unfortunately, many of these patients must rely on pharmacological management to relieve their constant pain.
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
By the Numbers: 3 Common Financial Mistakes With Major Consequences
Warren Buffett is on record for sharing the hidden art of becoming wealthy and making it simple enough for anyone to grasp.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Immunizations by Colorado DCs: Really?
You probably didn't hear about it, but back on Nov. 21, 2013, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA) adopted "immunization authority" for Colorado DCs as its No. 2 legislative goal.
The Science of Stretching
In 1986, Rob DeCastella set a course record by running the Boston Marathon in 2:07:51, just 39 seconds off the world record.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
Vaccines and Chiropractic: Evidence-Based Medicine or Medical Dogma?
Right or wrong, the chiropractic profession has historically been against vaccinations. However, a growing trend within the profession is seeking to reverse this position.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
Coding for the Subluxation: ICD-9 vs. ICD-10
When I attended chiropractic school, I was taught that chiropractors approach health care differently than the traditional medical establishment.
Curbing Label Overwhelm
For the average consumer, reading a food package can be overwhelming: natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, free range ... you get the picture.
Remembering Clarence Gonstead and 50 Years of the Gonstead Clinic
Dr. Clarence Selmer Gonstead (1898-1978) took chiropractic practice from back-alley bone setting to an understandable biomechanical science. His life was dedicated to clinical competency.
Physical Exam 101: The Hands
I am sure you are familiar with the old adage: "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."
Knee Pain From the Kinetic Chain
As practitioners of manual medicine, chiropractors often treat patients suffering from knee pain.
Are You a Bad Chiropractic Patient?
My father was a great DC. In fact, as you might expect, he was the doctor of chiropractic I measured all other doctors against. Sadly, he died at age 61 when I was in my early 30s.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Why You Should Include the Single-Leg Stance Test in Every Patient Assessment
The single-leg stance (SLS) test, also known as the single-limb stance test, unipedal stance test or one-legged stance / balance test, is often used in the geriatric population to assess static postural and balance control.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
March, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 03
Massage Therapy and Joint Mobilization
By Joseph E. Muscolino, DC
Massage therapy involves a number of treatment tools that can be employed for a variety of purposes. Massage can be done to decrease stress, improve local fluid circulation, create energetic balancing or simply provide touch.Perhaps the greatest advance for massage therapy, though, has been the acceptance of clinical orthopedic massage in the world of complementary/integrative health.
Clinical orthopedic massage is done with the intent toward healing a specific musculoskeletal condition. Toward this end, massage therapy education includes science education, the major focus of which is learning muscles. Indeed, massage therapists often know their muscles better than many physicians. In the absence of true muscle doctors in Western medicine, massage therapists have filled this void and become muscle therapists; and usually excellent ones at that.
Muscles and Fascia
If you ask most orthopedic massage therapists what their intent and goal is when working on a client, they will usually describe a muscle or group of muscles that they want to manipulate and loosen. Certainly, tight musculature is likely one of the most common, if not the most common, presenting complaint of clients. However, with the increased awareness of fascial tissues (both the understanding of fascial adhesions and the concept of fascial contraction, as well as the understanding of the fascial links between muscles of a myofascial meridian), some of the focus of massage therapy is being shifted away from the muscles themselves toward fascia. Although the pendulum should not swing too far away from musculature, it is important that a greater understanding and focus on fascia occurs so that we can have a more balanced approach to treating all soft tissues. By encompassing the fascial tissues into the treatment paradigm, massage therapists can broaden their domain to define themselves not only as muscle therapists but rather as myofascial therapists.
Defining the scope of massage therapy in this way is crucially important. It is not just inflexible muscles that can decrease mobility, limit a client's function, and cause discomfort and pain. All inflexible taut soft tissues can do this, whether they are muscles, tendons, broad fascial planes between and around musculature, ligaments or even joint capsules. In this context, the role of massage therapy can be understood to manipulate all soft tissues.
Joint Capsules and Joint Manipulation
Massage therapists can and should pay attention to the flexibility/tautness of all soft tissues, including joint capsules and other deeply seated intrinsic ligaments. These deeper fascial structures connect and provide stability to the bones of a joint. However, if joint capsules become taut, often due to the accumulation of fascial adhesions over time, the joint will lose its mobility. The province of loosening joint capsules is usually left to chiropractic and osteopathic joint manipulation. With the use of high velocity, short lever arm manipulation (a fast thrust that is implemented over a short range of motion), called an adjustment, chiropractors and osteopaths stretch joint capsules, thereby increasing the joint's range of motion, and therefore the client's mobility.
Muscles and Joints - Chicken and Egg
Given that a major goal of clinical orthopedic work is to increase the client's mobility, it is important that both tight musculature and taut joint capsules are treated. Indeed, tight muscles and taut joint capsules can be looked at as the proverbial chicken and egg. If tight muscles are loosened with massage, the remaining taut joint capsules will still decrease joint motion; and this decreased motion will eventually cause the muscles to tighten again. If, on the other hand, the client has a chiropractic adjustment to loosen the joint capsule, but the muscles are not loosened, these tight muscles will decrease the joint's range of motion, ultimately leading to the joint capsule becoming taut again. For this reason, it is critically important that muscles and joints are both addressed. This is why chiropractors and massage therapists so often work together. Marrying joint adjustments with massage soft tissue manipulation ideally complement each other, addressing both the chicken and the egg.
Chiropractic and Massage
When chiropractors and massage therapists practice together, the order in which their work is performed can matter. Many chiropractors choose to have the massage therapist work on the patient/client after the adjustment is done. However, this decision is often motivated more by ease of schedule and patient flow than by optimal treatment protocol. Given that an adjustment takes only a couple of minutes, but massage is performed for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, it is often easier for the chiropractor to adjust all of his/her patients and then leave them for the massage therapists to work on.
However, for most clients, it is more beneficial to have the massage done first. An adjustment can be performed more gently when the client's musculature and other fascial tissues have already been loosened. This is important because, if an adjustment is performed too forcefully, not only might it be uncomfortable for the patient, but also there is an increased chance that it will trigger a muscle spindle (stretch) reflex that could then result in increased muscle spasming. The more gentle the adjustment, the less likely spasming will occur and the more comfortable it will be. Further, if the muscles and other fascial tissues are loosened first, the joint will release more fully, resulting in a more successful adjustment. For this reason, it is usually preferable to have the adjustment follow the massage, not precede it. When partnering with a chiropractor, it is valuable to discuss these ideas and determine how to best work for the benefit of your patients/clients.
Massage Therapy Joint Mobilization
Massage therapists who do not partner with a chiropractor can still do valuable work to address taut joint capsules through joint mobilization. Joint mobilization is performed by bringing a joint slowly through a small and precise range of motion. Joint mobilization is similar to chiropractic manipulation in that it is performed through a short range of motion and focuses on loosening deeper intrinsic ligaments and joint capsules. However, the crucial difference between a chiropractic joint manipulation/adjustment and joint mobilization is that joint mobilization is performed slowly and never involves a fast thrust.
Joint Mobilization of the Neck
In Figure 1, we see that the therapist uses one hand to contact the lower vertebra (C6). Three contact options are shown: the thumb, finger pads, and the radial side of the index finger. In each case, the contact is made on the facet (articular process) of the vertebra, approximately halfway between the spinous process and the transverse process (Figure 2). The facets form a broad smooth surface that is a comfortable contact for the client (contacting the transverse processes would be extremely uncomfortable for the client). The therapist's other hand must hold and move the client's head. As a rule, this hand is placed on the other side of the head from the hand that is contacting the vertebra. It must be placed under the center of weight of the client's head so that the head is easily balanced in the hand. Care must be taken not to cup over the client's ear or press on their mandible. Now, securely pinning the vertebra below (C6), bring the client's head and upper cervical spine (C1-C5) around the pinned vertebra until the end of passive range of motion is reached and tension is felt at the C5-6 joint (Figure 3).
Now the actual joint mobilization can be performed in one of three ways:
The position of joint mobilization is held for less than one second and then released. This procedure is usually repeated a few times at that level and then performed at the other joint levels of the neck. After mobilizing into right lateral flexion, left lateral flexion is done, as well as other ranges of motion bilaterally. The result is that the entire neck is mobilized in all ranges of motion.
Effective and thorough clinical orthopedic work requires increasing flexibility of not only muscles and superficial/intermediate fascial tissues, but also the deeper intrinsic ligaments and capsules of joints. Massage strokes are ideal for remedying tightness in the superficial and intermediate tissues. Supplementing this, stretching can be invaluable in increasing flexibility of most soft tissues. However, to truly address tautness/adhesions in the deepest fascial structures of the joints, intrinsic ligaments and joint capsules, joints manipulation is necessary. Although joint mobilization technique can take time and practice to learn well, the benefit to your clients and to your practice makes the effort well worthwhile.
Joseph E. Muscolino, DC, has been a massage therapy educator for 24 years, teaching both core curriculum and continuing education classes. He currently teaches anatomy and physiology at Purchase College, SUNY. He is the owner of The Art and Science of Kinesiology in Stamford, Conn., and is the author of The Muscle and Bone Palpation Manual, with Trigger Points, Referral Zones, and Stretching; The Muscular System Manual, 3rd edition; and Kinesiology, The Skeletal System and Muscle Function, 2nd edition (Elsevier, 2009, 2010, 2010), as well as other publications. For more information or to contact Joseph, visit www.learnmuscles.com.
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