resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
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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