Saturday, January 28, 2012


I have been participating on a great discussion the status of massage education and practice. Check it out.

We are so close and yet so far.

 I am just putting final polish on the revision for Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage and Essential Sciences for Therapeutic Massage. So much hard work by so many people. On to the next revision-no complaints.  Revisions keep me current. 

I have been sick with the norovirus for the last three days. What a great intestinal cleanse. Those that know me well can imagine the metaphors I am able to come up with based on these last three days.  I shall only share one with great value-

Beware of sneeze---- Use your imagination. 

Started a new class at Health Enrichment on Thursday and they seen like a great group.  They are young and that is good too.  Fits with my vision of preparing the next generation of leaders in the massage profession.

Have had to make difficult decisions that last few weeks- any of you reading this have experienced decision making as well.   I teach the following process:

Identify the problem
Gather the facts
Generate possible solutions
Analyze each solution based on logical pros and cons and the feelings of people involved
Choose the solution which has the best potential for a successful outcome
Implement the decision plan
Monitor and adjust as necessary
Reevaluate and make adjustments

Back to the discussion going on at the link above-- The leaders in the massage community need to make some difficult decisions.   I hope we can do this pretty soon. 

Back to the norovirus--pesky little pathogen that can really spread.  This is the little microbe that can make a whole school close down with the "stomach flu".  What if the massage community were to get infected with a pesky little group of change agents that could move the profession through this need for change? I know when this virus completes the cycle I will feel much better even though the last few days have been unpleasant. The metaphor is not perfect since it is actually my immune system working hard to get rid of the critters that is causing all my symptoms- and I am sure there is a great metaphor in that statement as well- however, I need to focus on the rumble occurring in my belly right now.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Massage Advice

What would be your one piece of advice to a new Massage Therapist?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Touch, Energy, Massage Therapy, and Physics

When my assistant was telling me about her son learning about friction, energy, chemical energy, and gravity it reminded me how much energy in a "Physics" sense takes place during massage.  During appropriate therapeutic interactions there is a connection that occurs between therapist and client. Many words are used to describe this intangible experience of oneness. Terms from the study of physics are often used to describe this sensation of connectedness. While the use of physic principles can be considered metaphoric (this is like that), research is revealing that the relationship is scientifically valid. Physics is the scientific study of matter, energy, force, and motion and how they interact with each other.  Understanding basic physics terminology and principles will help you to better understand massage application and outcomes and how it relates to physics.

Of course, there are basic terms from physics that are used to describe occurrences during massage:
·         entrainment
·         resonance 
·         attunement

For instance, what is really going on when your body feels vibration? Imagine the last time you heard some really loud music. Do you remember the vibration you felt? The idea behind it is that by using these tools, the cells of the body will begin to vibrate at the same frequency as the tool being used through the process of resonance. This in turn stimulates our body’s energy through vibration.

Resonance frequencies are the frequencies at which a resonator oscillates and can be either electromagnetic or mechanical. Resonators are used to either generate waves of specific frequencies or to select specific frequencies from a signal. One example is musical instruments, which use acoustic (mechanical) resonators that produce sound waves of specific tones. Music is often used in combination with massage to create physiologic outcomes. We even say that a certain type of music resonates with us. Did you know that the pedulum was the first harmonic oscilator?

So are you left wondering what this has to do with massage? Oscillation can be easy to see, such as the motion of a swing on a playground, or impossible to see with the naked eye, such as electrons in an electrical circuit oscillating on a molecular level. At a cellular level all components oscillate. This means that all cells have resonance. The question is, can we feel the oscillation frequencies in the body? Is this body energy? In massage theory, resonance may be what we feel during subtle forms of palpation. Is it the frequency shared between massage therapist and client that produces entrainment? In resonance the oscillation occurs at a specific frequency. An object (including people) can have more than one natural frequency. These interacting frequencies are called harmonics. Harmonics are frequencies that are a multiple of the fundamental frequency.

Scientists have discovered cells in the brain called mirror neurons that support human connection. Mirror neurons play a major role in the imitation necessary for learning and the ability to empathize with others. An important aspect of the professional relationship is to understand the condition of another person non-judgmentally. If these mirror cells help us “feel” like the other person, we actually can understand what another individual is experiencing.  That is, given the stimuli, we process the information the same.  What happens when those mirror neurons are not formed correctly as a baby or young child? Were the mirror neurons firing when someone was feeling empathetic to them or others and they were there to experience that interaction, or were they lacking the importance of empathy?

All these require some form of energy. What type of energy are you displaying, conveying, distributing at this time, or at the time of a massage? Sometimes we need to get grounded and remember - what type of energy will I be giving to my client, family, or friends? Maybe we need to do some earthing. Get outside and put our feet on the grass or sand and let the earth get us back into attunement.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Massage Tips

  • The best gift a massage therapist can give is to give a massage that feels good and nurtures the person because no other professional can provide this for a person that is hurting. 
  • Body Mechanics - always check your body mechanics. If it feels awkward, or you feel like you're straining, you probably are.
  • Contraindications should always be considered and not overlooked.

  • Leverage = increased pressure levels not pushing harder.

  • Learn to limit the use of the fingers and thumbs while giving a massage. Especially avoid using your thumbs.

  • Use indirect functional techniques to normalize tissue and joint movement  and  trigger points.

  • A valuable goal when working with people with chronic conditions is to help the patient rediscover that each person is in charge of her or his own life, and the illness or injury is not. The health condition may have been allowed to take over the person's life and personal power but the person is still in charge.

Sunday, January 1, 2012



Here are some definitions:

A fad is any form of behavior that develops among a large population and is collectively followed with enthusiasm for some period, generally as a result of the behavior's being perceived as novel in some way.[1] A fad is said to "catch on" when the number of people adopting it begins to increase rapidly. The behavior will normally fade quickly once the perception of novelty is gone.[1]


1. tendency: a general tendency, movement, or direction 2. prevailing style: a current fashion or mode


In marketing language, a gimmick is a unique or quirky special feature that makes something "stand out" from its contemporaries. However, the special feature is typically thought to be of little relevance or use. Thus, a gimmick is a special feature for the sake of having a special feature

Using these meanings I find myself wondering on this first day of 2012.  Last week I spent time bringing myself up to date exploring what others in the massage and bodywork field are targeting.  The trend certainly seems to be that fascia is the explanation for just about every soft tissue issue and the target for bodywork methods.   I believe there is validity in this trend and am excited about the Fascia Conference in Vancouver.  However, in my explorations I also noticed that the idea of fascia and massage/ bodywork is leading to fads and even worse- gimmicks.  Oh no— Please no! Why oh why do we do this?  Just when some evidence based on research is beginning to explain some of the underlying mechanisms that massage may influence it gets mucked up with gimmicks and feels like a fad.  Because many of my massage clients are athletes I find myself watching ESPN a lot.  There is a segment on one of the shows called “COME ON MAN”.  To get the meaning you have to say the phrase just right but I hope  you get the idea. 

The concepts of massage affecting connective tissues is not new

Taylor described connective tissue methods in his book in 1887. Check it out.

Dr. Oakley Smith, founded the science of Naprapathy in 1907 after developing a systematic treatment method of evaluating and healing damaged connective tissues.

In 1920, James B. Mennell  described how manual methods stretched connective tissue, which affected tendons and scar tissue.

Elizabeth Dicke in Germany in 1929  described Connective Tissue Therapy (CTT) or Connective Tissue Massage (CTM), also known as Bindegewebs massage.

Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D. formalized structural Integration methods that  work  on the connective tissue (fascia) to release, realign and balance the whole body

Dr.. Chaitow has been discussing connective tissue and massage implications with me for over 20 years.  Tom Myers has been teaching about myofascial based work for years.

It is not going to do the massage profession to get any more faddy (wonder if that is a word) or gimmicky.   The human body has not changed very much is thousands of years and massage has been around since someone rubbed a hurt and it felt better.  Massage helps people feel better and we are just beginning to unravel some of the reasons that it works.  Massage creates mechanical forces that change the shape and pliability of soft tissue, squish fluids around and stimulate the nervous system and likely the endocrine system.  You need to really understand anatomy and physiology to be a good massage therapist and you have to do a lot of massage sessions learning from each one to be a great massage therapist.  An experienced teacher can help you learn efficiently and possibility bypass some of the trial and error learning by sharing what they know.  Massage is not  fancy, faddy, trendy or gimmicky .  It is like good nutritious food-  good selection of simple, minimally processes,  nutritious, clean food with just a little sweet and a little salt and a little butter to top it off. You spoil it if you mess with it too much. 


Oh-and hang in there- I believe 2012 is going to be a great new year!