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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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.).
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.
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?
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.
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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