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.

1 comment:

  1. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Great work.

    Sean Haber is a member in good College of Massage Therapists of Ontario and the RMTAO