Christopher Moyer, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology who has done research on anxiety, depression, and massage therapy. He recently co-authored the book Massage Therapy: Integrating Research and Practice. Active in many online discussions, Moyer has been a voice for science literacy and research literacy in the field of massage therapy. Through his online comments, he has patiently and generously mentored many massage therapists who aspire to be more science-based and research literate. In a recent FaceBook discussion, Moyer raised the question: why is continuing education credit, required for some professional memberships and state licensing, granted for classes in Reiki?
This page was written as a reference for those who attended the Skeptical Society of St. Louis Skepticamp, Saturday, August 18, 2012. It includes websites mentioned during a presentation on the field of massage therapy from the point of view of a science-based massage therapist. The title of the presentation was "Woo, Sloppy Thinking, and Language."
Massage Therapy: Integrating Research and Practice, Edited by Trish Dryden & Christopher A. Moyer - A Review
This is a book many massage therapists have longed for. Massage Therapy; Integrating Research and Practice, edited by Trish Dryden and Christopher A. Moyer, fills an important gap in the field of massage therapy.
We massage therapists are taught a lot about muscles. We also study bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, fascia. We learn a little about physiology, about other systems of the body, and some lip service is paid to the role of the nervous system in the relaxation response and to how the brain mediates the changes brought about by massage. But mostly we pay attention to muscles. We talk about which muscles are tight, find “knots” in them, and “release” them by pushing into them and/or stretching them with our hands, fingers, forearms, and elbows.
Recently an older, somewhat frail woman came into my office. She has a serious condition that requires ongoing treatment and the primary condition creates numerous other serious health problems. In spite of this, she maintains a cheerful disposition and endures it all with acceptance.
A dear friend of hers thought that she might like a soothing massage and sent her to me, trusting that my experience and training would allow for both a pleasant and safe experience. The client consulted with her doctor about what would be permissible and what should be avoided and had his consent to have gentle massage.
Besides her complicated and generally frail condition, the client had osteoporosis and had suffered several broken bones as a result. Clearly, this was someone who needed to be handled very gently.
And she had neck pain.
I've been learning a lot about the role of the brain and the central nervous system in our experience of pain. One of the people who studies this and writes about it is Lorimer Moseley, co-author of Explain Pain. His TED Talk explains, in 15 minutes, some important discoveries in pain research.
If I could teach only one stroke to other massage therapists, it would be Russian circular heel of the hand friction.
Friction is seldom used in Swedish massage but used quite a bit in Russian massage. It's a great stroke and I consider it my "workhorse." I incorporate it liberally during full-body relaxation massage because it's relaxing and feels very good. It's great for muscles that are tight and sore. It's particularly useful with athletes. It's my favorite stroke.
Done properly, it's very comfortable for the client and very easy on the therapist. Remember not to do it too fast. It should be done at a moderate to slow pace. Too fast will take the sensation of depth out of it. Oil should be minimum, just enough to let you move along easily but not so much that you are sliding over the skin. There should still be a little friction.
About a month ago, I shared some of my thoughts about energy work from the point of view of an evidence-based massage therapist. To my surprise, that blog article got quite a bit of attention and sparked some fascinating conversations. The issue of energy work is one of the most divisive and yet, in my opinion, one of the most important issues in the field of massage therapy today. Unfortunately, when the subject comes up, the conversation usually gets pretty contentious quickly. I was pleased to see some discussion that was thoughtful and respectful.
Neuroscience, Russian Massage, and Remembering Zhenya Kurashova Wine: An Interview With Will Stewart
When Will Stewart, owner of 3-D Optimal Performance, asked to interview me, I was surprised and honored. Will recently began a series of webradio interviews with many of the "heavy hitters" in the field of manual and movement therapies and neuroscience. These are individuals who are bringing an understanding of what neuroscience knows about the brain and applying it to manual and movement therapies. Will has conducted some fascinating interviews with physical therapists, manual therapists, massage therapists, athletic trainers, occupational therapists, and even his piano instructor, all with an interest in understanding how the role of the brain and the central nervous systerm plays a part in their approach to their work.
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.