The purpose of this section of the Journal of Massage Science to inform the practitioners about valuable articles that frequently go unnoticed, as well as to point to those authors and publications who exhibit low educational standards. We do not play politics and we are not associated with any publishing company or professional association. We are a completely independent voice and we promise you direct unbiased reviews based strictly on the science.

If the author of the reviewed article does not agree with our opinion, we will be more than happy to publish his or her response and have a productive discussion over the article’s subject. Please contact us by sending e-mail.

At the end of the year we will recognize and reward the author of the most important publication(s) and point to the authors of the most unscientific publication(s). We hope this will help to raise the bar of published materials in massage journals for the benefit of the entire profession.


Body Mechanics. Working From the Core Massage, June:.72-77, 2010, by Dr. Joe Muscolino

The correct body mechanics for practitioners is key to a long and productive carrier. At the same time, it seems that this is a controversial issue, because body mechanics are very frequently taught completely wrong in the massage schools or during various continued education seminars. The article correctly addresses this issue and provides a lot of helpful practical information for the practitioners.

We have a couple of disagreements which we think weren’t addressed or require clarification. First of all, and most important is the height of the table. The article recommends keeping the table height on the level of the bottom of the patella. The reasoning is to give the practitioner more leverage using body weight as an additional tool during the application of the strokes.

The author is a chiropractor and in many publications he exhibited a deep understanding of the concept of somatic rehabilitation. The recommended table height is correct for chiropractic manipulations and adjustments. However, it is extremely low for the massage session, especially in cases when the practitioner works on 5 or sometimes 10 clients per day.

The massage practitioner must use body weight as an integrative part of the session, but he or she needs much less leverage when compared to the chiropractor who tries to adjust the spine or major joints. In other words, the chiropractor keeps the table so low in order to have greater leverage during the short impact of adjustment while the massage practitioners needs to use a longer but lower degree of leverage during the lengthier therapy session.

Another factor which is not mentioned is the necessity of maintaining contact with the table using the practitioner’s hip, thigh or leg as a third point of support. Again, it is completely unnecessary while adjustment is being performed by the chiropractor, but it is critical factor to unload the practitioner’s lower back during hours of application of various massage strokes.

The rest of the information in the article is very important and needs to be employed by massage practitioners.

Massage Today

Is it a Muscle or Joint Problem? Is It Local or Referred? Massage Today, 10(5):10. 2010, by Leon Chaitow, ND, DO

As always a great article by Dr. Chaitow. A well reasoned and scientifically grounded theoretical and clinical piece. The author is completely correct when he emphasizes the importance of finding the source of the pain instead of treating pain itself which is a frequently misleading clinical criteria.

Flexor Pulleys of the Fingers. Massage Today, 10(5):12; 21. 2010, by Whitney Lowe, LMT

An excellent article which explains the anatomy and physiology of the human hand especially fingers from the practitioner’s point of view.

Effective Stretching Techniques. Massage Today, 10(6):5. 2010, by Ben Benjamin, PhD

The author answers the question about the duration necessary to achieve therapeutic effect. The article correctly argues that stretching during 60 seconds or so called static stretching is both a theoretically and clinically incorrect approach to passive stretching. The shorter stretch with several applications must be used instead.

There are some variations with duration of each stretch and author recommends stretching during 2 seconds while the majority of authors who use passive stretching as an integrative part of Muscle Energy Techniques recommend fitting each passive stretching during a single prolonged exhalation which usually 4-5 seconds (depending on the patient’s lung capacity). However, this is a minor issue, and the article advocates the correct approach.

The 42-Pound Head. Massage Today, 10(6):8; 19. 2010, by Erik Dalton, PhD

A very helpful and well written article. The subjects of this article are posture, head position and their biomechanical relationship. The article describes the modern view on this problem and what pathological conditions arise from the forward head posture.


Feel The Stretch. Make Stretching a Part of Your Self-Care Program. MTJ, 49(2):27-39, by Joe Muscolino, DC

Regular stretching for the massage practitioners before and after a session is a critical factor maintaining a long and productive carrier. The article explains the physiological impact of stretching as well as providing great illustrations of a very simple and effective set of self-stretchings for the large muscle groups. The practitioners may use it for themselves or make copies of the charts from the article to recommend to their clients to do homework between sessions.

Cervical Traction. MTJ, 49(2):91-95, by Joe Muscolino, DC

This is a good article, but there is one very significant issue associated with this article which isn’t addressed at all. The article gives a great description of cervical traction using the towel. The illustrations in the article are very informative. The cervical traction using a towel is more intense when compared to the manual traction, because the practitioner has lesser control during the towel approach especially if he or she doesn’t have enough training in it.

The cervical traction using a towel is frequently used by chiropractors before adjustments and this is great clinical tool. However, the chiropractor has an advantage to see and read the patient’s cervical X-rays before traction. The massage practitioners don’t have such a luxury or even the skills to analyze X-rays pictures.

There are a significant number of patients to whom such traction is completely contraindicated. For example, the patients with cervical spondylolisthesis which is a frequent condition when one vertebra slips forward in regard to the lower vertebra. These tractions are also contraindicated in cases of disk herniation if the practitioner doesn’t have the extensive training in conducting them.

Ironically enough, we currently have a patient in our clinic in similar situation. The patient is 32 years old with very mild, one arch, upper thoracic scoliosis directed to the left which he had since thoracic surgery at the age of 7. He has never had cervical pain before and two months ago he started to have left side cervical pain with radiation to the head and secondary headaches.

He went to a chiropractor who considering his age and moderate intensity of the clinical symptoms didn’t make an initial X-ray and started to treat him with a combination of heat-ultrasound-cervical traction using a towel as a step in the preparation for the cervical adjustment.

The patient started to feel worse after the first therapy, and after the second session severe pain started to radiate down his left arm, forearm and hand along the distribution of the radial nerve. He got scared and went to his family physician who sent him to do a basic X-ray. The X-ray showed 3mm anterior spondylolisthesis between C4-C5 vertebrae. He is now in almost the second week of therapy in our clinic and the progress is very slow.

So, our point is as follows: Never ever perform cervical traction using towel if you didn’t have hands-on training with instructor and if you don’t have a complete green light from the patient’s MD, DO or DC. Only they can decide if the patient’s condition must be treated this way. In all other cases use gentle manual traction.

Massage Therapy & Multiple Sclerosis. MTJ, 49(2):97-100, by Martha Brown Menard, PhD, CMT

A very well written and needed article! In these difficult economic times the massage practitioners must find new markets for their services. The most untouched market is medical offices which must use the massage practitioners services, but in many cases the therapists don’t have enough scientific information which may support their claims of helping the patients with various somatic and visceral abnormalities.

The article gives the practitioners an important tool – the knowledge and scientific information to talk with family physicians and neurologists who have patients with multiple sclerosis. For these patients the regular sessions of somatic therapy are very important component of the integrative approach to the treatment of this serious pathology. The article reviews recent studies which examined the impact of reflexology and massage therapy on patients with multiple sclerosis.

Category: Good Apples, Bad Apples