Evidence Based Massage

The Best of Ask the Massage Therapist

Posted on: Sat, 09/21/2013 - 5:13pm By: Alice

Sometimes an individual who has read one of my articles or stumbled across this blog is interested in reading more. I'm listing here the entries that I think are the most useful or the most representative. They aren't always the ones that have gotten the most reads, which you can find under the category of "Most Popular." (Who knew that so many people google "swelling after massage"? Certainly not me!)

So, if you are looking for what I consider to be the "meat" of what's been written here, this is it. You won't have to scroll through announcements for classes and gift certificate specials. Bear in mind, over time I've learned new things and my understanding has changed. There are some things I'd express a little differently now. However, I think this is the best this blog has to offer so far. Feel free to scroll through everything else, too. You many find something not on this list that's of particular interest to you. 

Some articles were written primarily for clients, some for practitioners, and some were written for both. They are not in a particular order. 

"Deep Tissue" Massage: How much pressure is too much?

Posted on: Sat, 11/18/2017 - 10:43pm By: Alice

A 38 year old woman suffers permanent shoulder drop after a "deep tissue" massage caused damage to a spinal accessory nerve.

A 59 year old man suffers a deep hematoma, numbness, and swelling after being injured by a deep tissue massage to his hip.

A client tells a massage therapist that he wants more pressure. She complies. He again asks for more pressure. She complies. He again asks for more pressure. Unable to exert any more pressure with her hands, she resorts to using a hand-held tool to apply more pressure without hurting her joints. Shortly after, she receives an email from her employer that the client is suing their business, claiming that he was injured by the massage.

Massage, My Friend, and Cancer

Posted on: Thu, 02/02/2017 - 10:43pm By: Alice

My friend recently died of breast cancer. She was an amazing woman who lived fully until the end. Everyone who knew her loved her, she made everyone feel special. I hadn't known her all that long or even that well but she had an impact on my life out of proportion to our time spent together. When her cancer recurred, I wanted to do whatever I could to help. One of the things I was able to offer was massage.

Our first massage was a general full body relaxation massage. She loved it. She had been having trouble sleeping and it left her feeling so relaxed that she felt as if she could fall asleep. I told her I would come and give her massage whenever she wanted. She stayed pretty busy in spite of the illness and so several weeks passed before I gave her massage again.

Massage Therapy Research and Education blog, by Dr. Christopher Moyer, Interviews Us!

Posted on: Sun, 09/06/2015 - 7:36pm By: Alice

Christopher Moyer, Ph.D., is a psychologist who has done research in massage therapy and meditation. He recently began a blog on research and massage therapy and I was honored that he asked to interview me for his blog.

I first got to know Chris when I heard that he’d done a metaanalysis that overturned what a lot of us thought about massage lowering cortisol. Curious, I looked him up on the internet and sent an email asking about his paper. Shortly after, I encountered him again in online discussions and it led to a friendship that was both professional and personal as we discovered we had many common interests.

The first principle is not to fool yourself . . .

Posted on: Mon, 03/16/2015 - 9:45pm By: Alice

In 1974, Richard Feynman delivered the commencement address at Caltech. The speech has endured and is often referred to as the "Cargo Cult Science" speech.

I love this speech. It's about intellectual honesty and integrity. It's about how not to fool yourself.

I've referred to it many times and read it over and over. If I were fond of memorizing, which I am not, I would memorize sections of it. I've thought of having, "The first principle is not to fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool," painted on my wall so I'd see it every day.

At the end, he wishes for the students that they always have the freedom to maintain the kind of integrity he describes. I would also wish, for myself and my fellow massage therapists, that we always strive to maintain the high standards of integrity he describes.

2015 San Diego Pain Summit: or What I Did on my Winter Vacation

Posted on: Mon, 03/16/2015 - 1:45am By: Alice

In late February I went to the first San Diego Pain Summit: Clinical Applications of Pain Science for Manual Therapists conference. Professionally, it was as if I’d died and gone to heaven. It was off the scale amazing.

When Rajam Roose, who deserves the highest praise possible, first announced the event, I decided immediately to do whatever it would take to be there. First, there was the keynote speaker. I have been a fan of Lorimer Moseley, who I describe as a “pain science missionary,” for quite some time, and when I heard that he would be the keynote speaker, I could not pass up an opportunity to hear him in person. Brilliant, funny, personable, and an engaging storyteller, he makes learning pain science fun and painless. I've referred countless clients and massage therapists to his videos and no way would I miss him!

Massage & Fitness Magazine Raises Massage Therapy and Fitness Publication Standards to a New Level!

Posted on: Sun, 03/15/2015 - 5:14am By: Alice

Massage & Fitness Magazine, a science-based magazine focused on massage therapy and fitness, went public with its pilot issue yesterday. Within a few hours, we received our first review from Working Well Resources and it's a great one!

I say "we" because I'm one of the contributors. Managing editor Nick Ng, who has put a tremendous amount of work into this, asked me to write an article on prenatal massage [p. 15] and, in particular, to lay to rest a couple of myths that continue to circulate in the massage therapy community. I also covered some things we can say with confidence about prenatal massage.

Keeping It Real: Busting Massage Myths

Posted on: Fri, 10/31/2014 - 5:35pm By: Alice

Our commitment to excellence and to a client-centered practice means that we make every effort to make sure the information we give clients is accurate and reliable. We spend hours every week reading research and discussing it with other well-informed professionals. We read extensively to understand how pain works, how the body works, and what we, as manual therapists, can do to help our clients. When we discover that an idea we held to be true turns out to be wrong, we change our thinking to conform to the best available evidence. We work at keeping it real so that we can best serve the needs of our clients.

Our FaceBook friend Nick Ng recently quoted us at length in an article he wrote about Massage Myths That Need To Be Trashed. We really like his article and we're flattered he liked what we had to say about the need to support our claims with evidence and to welcome honest inquiry. 

How the Wonder of Science and the Use of Reductionism Deepens Our Practice of Massage

Posted on: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 2:50pm By: Alice

Many massage therapists are suspect of science. Some reject it outright, believing that somehow it will make massage therapy cold and take the sense of wonder and depth out of it. In fact, when I went to massage school in 1991, many massage therapists objected to learning anatomy and physiology because they thought it would ruin the therapist’s intuition. Today, even the most ardent proponent of energy modalities would probably admit to the need to study anatomy, physiology, pathology, and the science of massage. Still, many cling to the notion that “Western” science somehow debases massage and look to Eastern traditions, pseudoscience, and mysticism as being more “holistic.” To those who think that science robs one’s sense of wonder, I highly recommend the book The Sacred Depths of Nature by Ursula Goodenough.

Know Your Sources!

Posted on: Mon, 06/09/2014 - 11:06pm By: Alice

I’ve noticed a disturbing and recurring problem among some massage therapists, chiropractors, and other manual therapists: that of citing studies to support a claim which, in fact, do not support it, leaving the impression that either they did not read their citation or, if they did, clearly did not understand it. 

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