resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Finding Balance in the Clinic
This past December, I celebrated 11 years in practice. I seriously don't know where the time went. I feel beyond blessed and grateful to be practicing our profound and beautiful medicine and to be helping guide my patients restore a state of optimal health.
Cell Health (Part 2)
Dr. Barsten, your book is about restoring "cell vitality." Can you briefly define the term? Cell vitality is more than the mere absence of symptoms or pathology, but optimum structural, physiological and energetic health.
Mind-Body in Motion
A central goal of low back pain treatment involves the correction of dysfunctional movement patterns believed to be responsible for spinal overload.
Connecting the Dots
In 2002, I published a book on patient examination procedures that included information on the procedural coding of the recommended examinations. The book should have been published in 2000, but I had trouble finding a publisher. Why?
Reflections: The Art of Teaching Asian Medicine
Over the past three decades, my global workshops have been translated into German, Swiss German, French, Romansch, Spanish, Lithuanian and Xhosa. Time to offer you new teachers a few tips!
Are You Really a Healthy Eater?
I always giggle a little bit (to myself) when someone comes into my office and informs me that they are a healthy eater. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean they eat sugar in moderation? And what's that, exactly?
News in Brief
An Encouraging Sign at Palmer; NBCE Announces Retirement of Longtime Director of Testing.
Unlevel Pelvis in the High-School Athlete: Exploring Causes and Effects
The unlevel pelvis is all too common in the high-school athlete and if not detected, will likely cause a lifetime of musculoskeletal issues. Any provider who doesn't look for this common finding is missing critical information.
Help Your Parents Stay Engaged
As much as parents may wish it were so, children do not come with an instruction manual. There's no "how to" that can be followed and no two children are alike, so what works with one generally won't work with the next.
The Conscious Evolution of Healing, Part 2
The idea of transmission is very important in the Chinese medical classics. According to author Claude Larre, the ancient Chinese were highly interested in the connection between things. Nothing was looked at as an isolated entity.
It's Time to Create a Strong Acupuncture Footprint
Footprints in the sand. Footprints in the snow. Where do these footprints go? Some are big, some are small, but footprints are made by all.
Acupuncture and Homeopathy: Bioenergetic Brothers
Acupuncture and homeopathy share an important healing principle: bioenergetics. "Bio" means "life," so bioenergetics is literally "life energy."
It might have been a miserable start to the day in the heart of downtown San Diego. A heavy rain had soaked the large homeless population congregating near the intersection of Third Avenue and Ash Street as they waited for a free breakfast to be served at the First Lutheran Church on the corner.
Put the Social Back Into Social Media
Social media is more than a passing fad, it is definitely here to stay. Social media apps and channels of distribution may evolve, but the concept of social media is now big business and a part of all our lives.
Let's Speak With One Voice in 2015
For the longest time, the chiropractic profession has attempted to achieve some form of unity. On a political level, this was characterized by an ultimately unsuccessful two-year merger effort between ACA and ICA leadership from 1986-1988.
Case Histories from Bali: Treating Balinese Chidren with TCB and Shonishin
When I moved to the island of Bali in 2005, I offered my services in Bumi Sehat, which means Healthy Mother Earth, a free birthing center for poor and disadvantaged local women located in Ubud.
The Top Seven Website Mistakes Clinics Make
The majority of acupuncture clinics finally have a website for their business. Having a website is crucial for being found online through Google, Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
Neuroscience: Where Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine Can Come Together
The recent advances in neuroscience are truly incredible. With this expansion of scientific knowledge, I would like to see even more research into the neuroscientific basic of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
The CDC came out with a report in March 2013 that suggests 1 in 50 children will be diagnosed somewhere on the autism spectrum – significantly higher than the 1 in 86 figure that came out in 2007. What does this mean moving forward, particularly for children?
Old TCM Sayings: Treat the Front to Treat the Back
Chinese medicine college was, and always will be, a memorable time. It was a time of massive personal and professional growth.
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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