Ask the Massage Therapist

A colleague on a private forum asked the following questions in response to some thoughts I posted yesterday. In particular, he wondered about the description of an experience I had with a client. His question:

The past year has seen a mental growth spurt for this therapist. After years of feeling isolated as an evidence-based massage therapist, I found an online community of MTs and related professionals with similar interests.

Most people find massage to be a very pleasant and relaxing experience. When scientists began to study massage and documented that levels of stress hormones were lower after massage, both clients and massage therapists alike were happy to have physiological evidence of their experience.

[A simpler article, written for clients, can be found here.]

For a number of years I've followed the research of Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. They've been doing research on touch therapy since 1992 and have been pioneers in the field of massage therapy research in the United States. One of the markers they use in their studies is cortisol, a stress hormone that can be measured in blood, saliva, and urine.

The other day I wrote an article, directed at massage therapists, about massage and lactic acid.  However, for some clients it might be too much information, as they say, and may not answer the client's question, "What does this mean for me?"

[Please note: a simpler article on this topic, written for clients, can be found here.]

Lactic acid has been blamed for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) for decades. Physiologists once believed this to be true. However, it has been known at least since the 1960s that lactic acid is not responsible for DOMS.

“Monkeys, and other animals, groom each other often with a marked reduction in stress. Touch is good, and one doesn’t need to wrap it up in pseudoscientific nonsense for it to be beneficial.” - Mark Crislip discussing reflexology on ScienceBased Medicine blog

Yesterday I posted an article about my thoughts on energy work. I was surprised at the discussions it prompted among some manual therapists on forums off this site and was pleased with the thoughtful, respectful comments.

What is energy work? Practitioners of energy work claim there is a subtle human energy field which they can detect with their hands. By placing their hands on or over their subject, they are able to correct imbalances and unblock blocked energy. Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Chakra Balancing, and Polarity Therapy are all various forms of energy work.

I have just received notice that the Oct. 1 Massage for Couples class is now full. This class is getting quite popular! My apologies to those who are unable to get into the class.

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Ask the Massage Therapist

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