Bodywork, Traumassage and Somatic and Psychophysical Therapies
Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It’s increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.
Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.
While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for:
- Digestive disorders
- Insomnia related to stress
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Soft tissue strains or injuries
- Sports injuries
- Temporomandibular joint pain
Theories behind what massage might do include blocking nociception (gate control theory), activating the parasympathetic nervous system which may stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin, preventing fibrosis or scar tissue, increasing the flow of lymph and improving sleep (1) but such effects are yet to be proven by well designed clinical studies.
Single dose effects
Pain Relief: Relief from pain due to musculoskeletal injuries and other causes is cited as a major benefit of massage. (1) In one study, cancer patients self-reported symptomatic relief of pain (3) (4) Massage can also relieve tension headaches, Shiatsu, Acupressure or pressure point massage may be more beneficial than classic Swedish massage in relieving back pain. (8)
State Anxiety: Massage has been shown to reduce state anxiety, a transient measure of anxiety in a given situations. (20
Blood Pressure & Heart Rate: Massage has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate as temporary effects. (20
Attention: After massage, EEgG patterns indicate enhanced performance and alertness on mathmatical computations, with the effects perhaps being mediated by decreased stress hormones.
Other: Massage also stimulates the immune system (9) by increasing peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs).
Multiple Dose Effects:
Pain Relief: When combined with education and exercises, massage might help sub-acute, chronic, non specific low back pain. (6) Furthermore, massage has been shown to reduce pain experienced in the days or weeks after treatment. (2)
Trait Anxiety: Massage has been shown to reduce trait anxiety; a persons’ general susceptibility to anxiety. (2)
Depression: Massage has been shown to reduce subclinical depression (2)
Diseases: Massage, involving stretching, has been shown to help with spastic displagia resulting from Cerebral palsy in a a small pilot study (7).
1. “Massage Therapy as CAM”. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) (2006-09-01)). Retrieved on 2007-09-6.
2. “A Meta-Analysis if Massage Therapy Research.” (PDF). Psychological Bulletin (2004). Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
3. “Massage therapy for symptom control: outcome study at a major cancer center.”. NcBI PubMed (2004-09-12). Retrieved on 2007-09-111.
4. Grealish L, Lomasney A, Whitman B. (2000). “Foot massage. A nursing intervention modify the distressing symptoms of pain and nausea in patients hospitalized with cancer (abstract)”. PubMed NCBO. Retrieved on 2006-03-07.
5. Furlan, A, Brosseau L, Imamura M, Irvin E (2002). “Massage for low back pain.” Chochrane Database Syst Rev: CD0039. doi:10.1002/14611818.CD0039. PMID 1207/6429
6. Kuriyama, H. (2001). “Immunological and Psychological Benefits of Aromatherapy Massage (abstract)”. Evidence based Complementary and Alternative Medice 2 (2): 179-184.doi: 10.1093/ecam/neh087. PMID 147118
7. Macgregor R, Cambell R, Gladden MH, Tennant N, Young D (2007). “Effects of massage on the mechanical behavior of muscles in adolescents with spastic diplegia: a pilot study”. Developmental medicine and child neurology 49 (3): 187-9. MID 1731174
8. “Massage for low back pain.” NCBI PubMed (2002). Retrieved on 2007-09-28
9. Muscolino, J (2004). “Anatomy of a Research Article” (PDF). Massage Therapy Foundation. Retrieved on 2007-12-06.
- What is it? Therapeutic massage is a term used to describe a type of massage that is focused on a specific goal. For example, while a full body massage may feel great and relax you, it may not provide dpecific relief from the chronic muscular stress that you feel in your neck, shoulders or lower back. Or perhaps your are recovering from an injury and would like targeted attention a particular area of your body.
Therapeutic massage sessions are customized to your particular needs and presentation, drawing on various modalities and techniques such as Swedish, Deep Tissue, Trigger Point therapy, Precision Neuromuscular Therapy, positional release, Myofascial release, etc.
- What to expect. Client is undressed and covered or ‘draped’ for the duration of the massage, uncovering areas only as they are to be worked. Depending on the techniques being used, lotion or oil may or may not be used. Based on unique symptoms and complaints of the client, the acute or chronic nature of the issue and the type of session work, more than one session may be necessary.
- Optimal Care: Follow up after session care guidelines and suggested “homework” may be given in order to potentiate the session work and expedite therapeutic goals. The body is a complex system and we must give it the opportunity and time to process and release at its own pace.
Integrated Therapeutic Bodywork
What we do.
Integrated Therapeutic Bodywork does not not just work on the individual muscles or muscle groups, but on the body as a whole, working on the underlying fascia and connective tissue that surrounds the muscles and organs, holding and binding them. Of course, it also will work on an individual muscle or area if a problem presents itself there, but more often we will work on the whole body, the meridians and, sometimes, acupuncture points, integrating the musculature and the organs systems with the nervous system that supports to affect a whole and lasting change.
What to expect.
Therapeutic Bodywork is done with a minimum of draping, thus allowing the therapist to access the meridians, muscles and entire fascial planes in a fluid way without the constant movement and repositioning of sheets and covers. This aids effectiveness and client comfort as well as increases the actual time “on” massage.
Of course, you may be dressed or covered to your comfort level and we want you to be comfortable physically and emotionally, but I also want to be as effective for you as possible. As with any healthcare or medical work, there is often a balance between physical comfort, emotional comfort, the work and the results. I will, of course, work within your comfort level, but I do request the client, if necessary for his or her own benefit, stretch outside his or her comfort level in order to increase effectiveness and results.
Is it effective?
Can I help you change? Can I fix your problem? In many, if not most cases, the answer is yes. If we, you and I, cannot restore complete health and mobility, certainly we increase health, mobility, range of motion and comfort. How much? That is a good question.
First of all, this is a team effort. ‘We’ includes you as well. Therapeutic Bodywork is cooperative, done with you, not on you. It is up to you to be an aware participant, letting me know if a pressure is too much or two little, telling us if a pain has developed or a stretch is too much or not enough.
On the table, you are an active participant, breathing into the process on the table, letting go and allowing us to bear the weight when we need to. Off the table, you are an active participant as well. I may ask you to do stretches at home or make small changes toward changing a posture or increasing a range of motion. This supports the work we do in the office and moves you forward. This bring us to our second point.
How long does it take?
You have had this problem for a while now; months, years, or in some cases, decades. Will it get better? As we have said, probably so. How much and how fast depends on many things. How long have you had the problem? A massage lasts an hour and won’t fix in one session a problem you have had for a year, let alone many years.
It may take several sessions of you receiving massage, going out and supporting the work by making postural changes, increasing your range of motion, moving more and then coming back to us so we can support the changes you have made, further increasing your range of motion, ease of movement, and flexibility. Back and forth as the changes become greater and last longer. Imagine, if you have had a problem for ten years, can you expect two or three massages, a total of three hours, to fix one you have had for 87,660 hours?
So work with me while I work with you, and you will see results – lasting, positive results you can live with.
Based on the latest research in neuro-architecture and Traditional Chinese medicical principles, Traumassage® allows the practitioner to release emotions embedded in tissue and support those suffering with PTSD and other emotional traumas. This may be used for those wishing to address their trauma as well as those who exhibit pain, stiffness and other physical manifestations of trauma even if they do not know trauma exists.
In short, Traumassage® is a somatic therapy that assists the brain in processing trauma and clears the body of stored complexes (knots or areas of pain manifesting due to long-held intense thoughts or emotions). Traumassage® was developed over years from work in massage therapy and bodywork, psychology, neurology and Chinese Medicine and had it’s ancient roots augmented by Freud in what he called his “tapping technique,” and is supported in the latest research in somatic therapy and FMRI research looking at the role of neural feedback and the hippocampus in memory and trauma.
I have spent years working with veterans and police who have lived with emotional trauma due to experiences on duty as well as victims of violent crimes and sexual abuse, to reduce pain, restore full breathing, better and deeper sleep, full emotional range, increase intimacy, and decrease the effects of PTSD. This is possible through Traumassage®.
If you don’t feel well, if you need to get your blood flowing and muscles moving, take a walk. If you need medical care, if you THINK you need medical care, see an Oriental Medical Doctor, an Acupuncturist or Herbalist, see a massage therapist or even a good, decent MD, if you can find one who still remembers how to treat a patient and not a just a condition, but, for goodness’ sake, see a real person who will put their hands on you, listen to you, look at you and actually take the time to see what is wrong, see you as an individual, treat you as an individual.
Don’t see a table.
I received a coupon as part of a drawing at a health fair. The prize I had won was a free month of massage, once a week, at a place which shall remain nameless here. I thought this strange because it was the same coupon/gift certificate I had seen lying in piles at a chiropractor’s office a week before. “Some prize,” I thought. Giving as a prize what one normally offers for free doesn’t exactly boost ones’ karmic brownie points.
Thinking I would give it a try anyway, I called to make an appointment. None needed? How many therapists do they have there that one doesn’t even need an appointment? Fine. It seemed strange but I thought I’d try it anyway. I jumped on my bike on a Saturday afternoon and headed into Melbourne.
A storefront in a plaza. Wide open view to the inside. People milling about. A row of six angled massage tables, or so they seemed, to the left side of the store. Each had a person on it, fully clothed, no draping, no therapist. At the front counter, a short line and, across from that, seating for six with four chairs filled.
An old woman is at the counter asking about her next appointment. She will be seeing her MD between now and then about her diabetes.
She is told not to worry about it. The massage bed, yes, they called it a bed, will take care of it. The magic jade fingers will provide acupressure that will alleviate the diabetes.
The table provides, they say, the equivalent of moxa, acupressure, reflexology and massage as well as energy therapy. Further, I was told, using the Migun table means no need to exercise. as it will bring all the muscle movement and blood flow a body needs. Really?
A roller with, I am told, heated jade knobs, runs up and down the back shu points. Simply, up and down next to the spine. This is not acupressure. It is not acu-anything. It is not accurate in any way at all, as a matter of fact. And, of course, no diagnosis is done what-so-ever and certainly nothing that applies to any specific patient.
This, I think, standing there, is worse even than the Western medicine, one size fits all, treat the symptom not the person method. The most they do here is adjust the spacing of the knobs, those magic jade fingers, for the general size of the person.
She asks about her weight.
Don’t worry about that. Enough treatments and the weight will start to fall off.
I keep my mouth closed which is quite difficult for me even under the best of circumstances.
She hands them a check for six more sessions.
My turn at the counter. I hand them the certificate. It is unsigned. They don’t know where it came from, despite my giving them the location, time and circumstances, and don’t know how to assign the credit for the certificate. Somehow it becomes my problem and I must wait while they figure it out. I do wait a few moments and ask questions of the attendant left at the counter.
“Oh, it’s a wonderful massage.”
How do you all know what parts to massage or how much pressure to use?
“The table has variable pressure. We can turn it up or down.”
Just in general for all over or does the pressure vary by part?
“No, just in general. And it works on the back only. And the back of the legs and neck.”
What if I don’t fit on it, just in the right place. My legs tend to fall to the side.
“We can strap you in to keep your legs straight. That problem can be fixed with enough sessions.”
Since moxa is used for tonifying in a person who had a deficiency, what would you do if you had a patient who had excess?
I was told I could have my turn in about a half hour and I could have a seat and wait.
I opted for my bike.
A month later I was assisting at a table at a Palm Bay city health fair held at out local community center. We had a booth there and we were one spot away from the Migun table. Again, I am leaving out the name of the outfit that was purveying the massage-esq, non-acu-anything table of ultimate promise.
As our practice is concerned with Oriental Medicine, Acupucnture and Massage, the fella at the table felt sure we’d be interested in purchasing a Migun table in our office, for the benefit of our patients. I almost never try the cure of the month club’s newest entry. But, as this one was offered, it was ten feet away, and I wanted to sit down, I thought it a sterling opportunity to give it a whirl.
I laid down and it hurt. Hard, knobby, pokey.
“I’ll adjust it.”
Knobs turned and the magic jade fingers moved closer together toward the space between the outer and inner urinary bladder channel about four fingers away from each side of the spine.
He turned it on. Was it badly adjusted? He said no. It hurt. Magic jade fingers rolled up and down the back of my legs and backside. Just hitting the wrong places nearly every chance they got. My legs turned to the side and the fingers hit bone. A separate set of magic jade fingers rolled up and down my back. They hit my scapulae, against my skull. A timer was set for five minutes and I was set to endure it for a fair trial.
About three minutes in I gave it up. Yes, he agreed, it often hurt. The pain would go away with many treatments as my tissues softened. Softened? Pulverised? Ok. Would the magic jade fingers also learn where the correct anatomical points were and stop ‘massaging’ bone?
How about acupressure? Oh, he said, everyone gets the same points done. The same meridian (inner urinary bladder channel).
“That fixes all the problems.”
Since moxa is used for tonifying in a person who had a deficiency, what would you do if you had a patient who had excess?
I went back to my table.
Healing happens when a person, learned and skilled, finds the way you became ill and works to correct it. It is not done by a machine.
Sure, a machine may help. Electrosimulation is something we use with acupuncture. We might use a heatlamp. We find MRIs helpful from time to time. Precision lasers are amazing tools in the hands of one who is learned and skilled.
But don’t look to a table to heal you. Magic Jade fingers or not.