Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

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ukgal99
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Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by ukgal99 » Sat May 30, 2009 9:25 am

There always seems to be some scientific boffin trying to put massage down. I came across this article in The Times newspaper after a hard day of massaging clients. I live in England but I'm sure this article will be found somewhere in the USA.

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life ... 387962.ece

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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by waker » Sat May 30, 2009 1:48 pm

I think any well-researched article about the effects or benefits of massage should be welcome by this community. The truth is, there is a deficit of good data regarding the therapeutic application of massage. Unfortunately, this article is ill-researched and does not contribute to our knowledge of massage effects, nor does it help in any way its intended audience. The Times only obfuscates the truth and erodes its reputation by publishing choss like this. BTW, we don't purport that massage removes lactic acid from tissues, right?

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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by JaeMarie » Sat May 30, 2009 3:16 pm

BTW, we don't purport that massage removes lactic acid from tissues, right?
I haven't time to read the article yet... but I hear it on occasion from therapists, personal trainers, and the occasional client.

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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by JasonE » Sun May 31, 2009 12:07 am

The primary thrust of the article is that massage can be beneficial, but not for certain reasons that are still commonly believed.

Personally, I don't have a problem with the article even though it could be interpreted as negative towards massage. I think this sort of thing is good for us, as it will spark some interest in better understanding the work we do. It's refreshing to see some credible research investigating old ideas to see if they are valid or not.
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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by kathryn » Sun May 31, 2009 6:55 pm

It's already been shown that lactic acid breaks down in the body within an hour or so after a workout and isn't attributed to post-workout soreness. There haven't been any findings on what exactly causes post-workout soreness. And the idea that massage gets lactic acid out of the body is another myth. It's important to stay abreast of the happenings in our field so we can share useful information with our clients and adjust our work accordingly. It's surprising how much dated information is still being tossed around by therapists to their clients. In my possession, I had a really great study that was published about lactic acid and the post-workout soreness, but can't find it. But, if you use the google search, you will find a lot of articles on it.

Tiffany Field, director of the Massage Research Institute has published a book (2006) that lists all the studies they (the Research Institute) have done on massage. One study shows that massage "was not an effective treatment modality for enhancing long-term restoration of post-exercise muscle strength and its use for this purpose isn athletic settings should be questioned." (Massage Therapy Research,p.254)

Another study they funded shows that massage does not increase blood flow, either. So the article in the Times wasn't incorrect.

If you are interested in studies that have been done in the massage field, the Massage Therapy Research book and The Journal of Bodywork and Movement are great sources.

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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by swingingdelirium » Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:26 am

Thanks for posting about the study compilation, kathryn, that is something I will be looking out for at my Library.
I had the audacity to reply to that article, I really wish I knew what modalities or special techniques the therapists in this whopping 12 person study used, bringing up how vital the techniques and training are. I saw that one other person also said "just get good therapists".
I have known for a while about the lactic acid myth, but many of my clients and coworkers will not let go of it! I keep reiterating the facts, but most people really cling to what they think they know. :undecided: Oh well. Most of the articles I read suggest that there is just some extra protein in there, probably protecting the hypertensive tissue. Here is a general one, but most of them are like this. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-exactly-ar ... -knots.htm
I hope that link goes through...Anywho, I read another article in either Massage magazine or MTJ suggesting that the really 'crunchy' muscle knots are surrounded by calcium deposits, because if the muscle doesn't get better after a long period the body will want to protect the sensitive fibers. I can't seem to find that one though.
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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by StephenCMT » Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:15 pm

Thank you for the post, Kathryn. It's something I whole-heartedly agree with.
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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by Ella Menneau » Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:46 am

Gotlin suggests that thin people avoid deeptissue techniques such as shiatsu and Swedish massage.
Last time I checked, Swedish was not considered deep tissue work, but rather a gentle modality. Have I been taught myths? And shiatsu can be as deep or superficial as the practitioner wishes...Again, should I question my training?

Something that has bothered me since I was in massage school is the need in our western culture to scientifically document concrete benefits of massage. I agree that if we are to claim that we can help dissipate lactic acid from the muscles, it should be backed up with evidence, but the fact is massage is helpful and beneficial in myriad ways, as individual as the clients on our tables. Why is it not enough that it feels good? Why is the goal of feeling good not a good enough reason to get massage? Why must we rationalize and legitimize the need to feel good? Has feeling good become a luxury? That's whack.
/rant
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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by JaeMarie » Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:31 pm

While I agree that "because it feels good" is often good enough for me and my clients, I'm one that WANTS to see research back up claims about benefits. I'm not comfortable saying "massage can do X,Y or Z for you" unless I have something to back it up with.

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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by kathryn » Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:53 pm

This response is based on my personal goals in my work as a massage therapist.

Sure, massage can feel good, but if a client comes to me with low back pain and I spend most of the time on the psoas, hip muscles and quads (of course, this all depends on the circumstance and the clients situation and muscle testing and postural eval's, so this is just an example) -- working in this manner, they won't have any more pain and I usually refer them out to a movement based therapist.
Now, if the same client goes to another therapist to help with the low back pain and the therapist rubs on their back muscles, sure it feels good, but the pain will just return the next day or even the next week.

Okay, a better example would be that research it has been shown that what is usually diagnosed as elbow tendonitis is actually a breakdown of the collagen in the tendon and not an inflammation of the tendon. It has been shown through research that transverse friction massage helps rebuild collagen in the tendon. So, research has shown that when a client comes in with elbow tendonosis, I can use massage to help them by using dtf. If I wasn't aware of the research, I would just rub on their arm and the client would feel good maybe during the session but again, the pain is still there and may even feel worse. So then, how have I really used massage to help the initial complaint? Instead, I have addressed secondary stresses only.

In my work, I prefer to use evidence based research to help provide the best types of treatment for my client. But there is still a lot of ancedotal stuff I use just because there isn't a lot of research done out there on massage. But, I do also read up on research done on movement, so that helps to formulate a therapy plan for my client. However, what there is can be used to our advantage to provide better service to help the client, particularly if the client is looking for help with pain and dysfunction.

So, what I'm really trying to say is that I don't need the research to validate my work and prove that massage can be helpful, but I can use research to improve my work and make it even more effective for the client.

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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by Ella Menneau » Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:45 am

PLEASE don't misconstrue my comments to mean that I don't support evidence based claims--I wholeheartedly do, and I said so in my first post. I guess my point is that I have stopped parroting a lot of the unsubstantiated claims that I was fed in school, and I stick to what can be/has been documented.

I expressed poorly (or not at all, now that I re-read my comment) that when my clients come to me with an issue, and we work together to resolve the issue, the proof is in the pudding. I see therapists who claim to be able to relieve asthma and allergies and I cringe. It may be the case that this is possible, but until there are peer-reviewed studies supporting this, I'm not going to jump on that bandwagon.

I continue, however, to promote massage as part of a continuum of wellness care, emphasizing that feeling good is essential to our well-being.
Pain is a natural occurrence. Suffering is a choice.

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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by pueppi » Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:17 am

kathryn wrote:It's already been shown that lactic acid breaks down in the body within an hour or so after a workout and isn't attributed to post-workout soreness. There haven't been any findings on what exactly causes post-workout soreness. And the idea that massage gets lactic acid out of the body is another myth.
For those who are interested:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/02 ... ut-muscles
The men exercised hard, riding a stationary bike until they could ride no more. After that, one leg got a 10-minute massage. The researchers compared muscle cells from the two legs at a very deep level.

They found that the massaged muscles produced fewer cytokines, proteins that can cause swelling and soreness. Those lucky muscles also made more new mitochondria, which produce energy in the body's cells. The findings published online in Science Translational Medicine.

That last part really interests Melov, who studies diseases that damage mitochondria. With more mitochondria, he says, the massaged muscles would be able to work harder in the future.

They could probably recover faster from the damage caused by strenuous exercise, too. "It raises the intriguing possibility that massage could be used as an adjunct therapy where there's muscle damage as part of the disease process," Melov says.

But for now, it's probably enough to know that we weekend athletes can help stave off soreness with the pleasure of a massage. Interestingly, the researchers found that massage had no effect at all on the amount of lactic acid in muscles. Lactic acid is a byproduct of exertion, and is widely thought by us civilians to cause muscle soreness.

"I've often had massages, and the therapist says, 'let's get this let me get this lactic acid out of you,'" Melov says. "I don't know what the genesis of that is."
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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by MarionFM » Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:06 am

Researchers at a local university have just announced a study that shows that massage can be as effective as painkillers in many situations. I heard it on the radio but if I can find a link, I will.

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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by athletica » Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:01 pm

Here is the news story you might have heard about on the radio? They have been doing some amazing stuff out of McMaster University with there accupunture program and back pain studies.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/201 ... epair.html

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Addison_X
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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by Addison_X » Sat Feb 04, 2012 8:57 am

I found this interesting article recently as well.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80bea ... lammation/

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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by MarionFM » Sat Feb 04, 2012 2:11 pm

Another good article. Thanks!

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Re: Why benefits of massage may be a myth?

Post by JasonE » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:22 pm

Ella Menneau wrote:
Gotlin suggests that thin people avoid deeptissue techniques such as shiatsu and Swedish massage.
Last time I checked, Swedish was not considered deep tissue work, but rather a gentle modality. Have I been taught myths? And shiatsu can be as deep or superficial as the practitioner wishes...Again, should I question my training?

Something that has bothered me since I was in massage school is the need in our western culture to scientifically document concrete benefits of massage. I agree that if we are to claim that we can help dissipate lactic acid from the muscles, it should be backed up with evidence, but the fact is massage is helpful and beneficial in myriad ways, as individual as the clients on our tables. Why is it not enough that it feels good? Why is the goal of feeling good not a good enough reason to get massage? Why must we rationalize and legitimize the need to feel good? Has feeling good become a luxury? That's whack.
/rant
The answer to the two questions bolded above are:

(1) Yes, though probably not intentionally. Many myths were once thought to be true. Massage training is not exempt from this.
and
(2) YES YES YES YES YES!!! Innovation, understanding, and progress are only achieved when we question old knowledge, study, and explore new ideas.
Jason Erickson, NCTMB, ACE-CPT, AIS-TA
Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer
http://www.CSTMinnesota.com

Internet forums are like going to the zoo; if you get enough monkeys together, sooner or later someone will start throwing their poo.

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