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.
June, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 06
Traditional Thai Massage Improves Bone Formation in Postmenopausal Women
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Contributed by April V Neufeld, BS, LMP, Jolie Haun, PhD, LMT, Derek Austin, MS, CMT, CSCS
When you were young, your parents may have told you drinking milk would give you healthy bones. As adults, we learn that activities such as exercise are also necessary in helping our body maintain bone density and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. This month, we will discuss a recent study showing how promoting healthy bones can be as easy as receiving Thai massage while lying relaxed on a floor mat.
A study performed at the Endocrine and Metabolism Unit of Ramathibodi Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, and subsequently published in BMC: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013), examined the effects of traditional Thai massage on bone formation in postmenopausal women. The researchers speculated that the pressure exerted by the massage therapist on the patient may, "induce strain in the skeleton and affect bone, similar to other means of applying mechanical load."
Forty-eight postmenopausal women participated; subjects diagnosed with any disorders affecting bone metabolism such as diabetes, cancer or rheumatoid arthritis, among others, were excluded. A randomized crossover design was used, meaning each participant was in the control and the treatment group. In describing the design, the authors wrote, "Subjects in the treatment group underwent a two-hour session of Thai traditional massage twice a week for four weeks, while no intervention was given to subjects in the control group. After a two-week washout period, subjects were switched to the other arm of intervention for four weeks." Additionally, the subjects were asked to avoid exercise for 24 hours and to fast for a minimum of 10 hours prior to the morning blood test. In order to track changes in biochemical markers of bone turnover, each subject had measurements taken of their body and bone composition, as well as the bone mineral density of their first four lumbar vertebrae, neck of the femur and hip as a whole.
The methods of the study described the traditional Thai massage in moderate detail. A single massage practitioner performed Thai massage for two-hour sessions that involved direct pressure by the heel of outstretched hands on the subject's body for about a one to two second duration. The researchers outlined the subject's position (lying on back, lying on side, lying on chest) and various positions of the practitioner with photos. However, inadequate detail was given describing the amount of pressure being applied by the massage therapist. And, while the researchers indicated that the massage therapists applied pressure using the heel of the hand, the photos clearly indicated that fingers and broad hand positions were also used.
In a previous study, the researchers measured that a single two-hour treatment of traditional Thai massage increased the markers for bone formation by 4.8%. This current study indicated that two treatments per week resulted in higher markers, with the biggest improvement noted in the older women with smaller body frames (14.8% ± 3.3%). This is exciting news for older women who are concerned about osteoporosis and are not actively involved in a strength training routine, as well as for massage therapists who frequently use compressive techniques during treatments. The researchers discussed several other studies related to this project. Previous research has indicated that massage will decrease bone pain, improve bone growth and promote lean mass and bone growth in the early postnatal period. Additionally, people who participate in physical activity in addition to massage during the peri-neonatal period have improved bone formation. However, there is little research on the effects of massage on bone metabolism in adults.
As many people already know, performing mechanical load exercises (i.e. weightlifting and load bearing exercises such as walking and running) put strain on our skeletal muscles that then induces bone growth. Active and passive exercises will improve bone mass and decrease bone loss. What research has not yet shown is whether a light load must be accompanied by a high frequency in order to be as effective as a heavy weight with low frequency. It may be possible that low-impact activities such as walking or receiving massage must be repeated more often to receive the same benefits in terms of bone formation of someone lifting heavy weights less often. When speaking with our patients, we should note that this study indicates that Thai massage should be performed two times per week to have an impact on bone markers.
Though these findings are intriguing, the researchers discussed several limitations to the study. Most notably, this study does not specifically indicate that increased bone markers will result in increased bone mass and reduced fractures. Additionally, this study had a fairly small subject pool (n=48). It is also unclear if the effects of this study could be generalized to all massage therapists since only a single massage therapist was used to provide the Thai massage. The researchers also failed to mention the qualifications or education training of the massage practitioner. Future studies with this team should provide more details about the massage itself, such as qualification standards and a massage protocol for consistency and replication. One additional limitation was noted, in that the researchers indicated that while they excluded subjects taking medications for osteoporosis, they did include seven subjects who had osteoporosis at the spine, femoral neck or hip. Including women with an existing history of osteoporosis would certainly impact the results.
Despite the limitations of this research, the findings still have important implications for research and practice. First, we often think of outcomes associated with massage related to stress and pain reduction, however this study demonstrated healing effects of Thai massage that might not have otherwise been considered by most. This research extends the body of knowledge in massage research outcomes and can be used to help practitioners explain the impact of their work in promoting healthy bones. As practitioners and researchers work together to explore the impacts of Thai massage and other touch modalities on diverse outcomes, we continue to expand the knowledge of this work and its application to the larger field of health and wellness.
If you would like to read more details about this study, you can find the link to the full article at Biomed Central or visit the Massage Therapy Foundation's archive of research review articles.
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