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 weakest publication(s). We hope this will help to raise the bar of published materials in massage publications for the benefit of the entire profession.

Massage Today

Calcific Tendinitis. Massage Today, 10(9):12;22, 2010, by Whitney Lowe, LMT

Overall it is a very good article which correctly identifies and describes tendinitis caused by calcification. However, it is a pity that the author didn’t recommend massage therapy as an important treatment tool for the patients with calcific tendinitis. In fact massage is a very helpful therapy which, in many cases, plays a critical role in the entire rehabilitation.

As correctly stated by the author “The relationship between calcium deposits and pain is unpredictable, as there are people who have deposits yet no symptoms of pain or limitation in movement”. From this perspective the statement that ‘…applying direct massage on tendon with calcification is not recommended” sounds very strange. It simply deprives the patient of an important treatment tool. There is a legitimate question, ‘who exactly doesn’t recommend the application of massage on the calcified tendon?’ There is no reference about that, and it looks like that this is the author’s personal opinion, which is unfortunate.

Another issue is the complete absence of the subject of subacromial bursitis as a major source of pain in cases of calcific tendinitis. If the patient has calcific tendinitis his or her pain is very frequently caused by subacromial bursitis and treatment of this condition with correct MEDICAL MASSAGE PROTOCOL usually extremely helpful for these patients.

Overall the treatment should consists of three equally important parts: release tension in entire shoulder joint, work on the supraspinatus muscle directly and finally work on the area of calcified tendon and subacromial bursa (avoid deep tissue work and intense friction) if there is symptoms of subacromial bursitis.

Advanced Stretching: Using Neural Inhibition to Enhance the Stretch. Part I. Massage Today, 10(9):14-15, 2010, by Joseph E. Masculino, DC

This is a very good article which illustrates the correct scientific approach to stretching. It helps practitioners understand how much science is behind such seemingly simple treatment. As always the author tries to inject scientifically based information into mainstream massage publications and his efforts are greatly appreciated.

Chasing the Pain. Massage Today, 10(10):5;18, 2010, by Rita Woods, LMT

Excellent article! The author shared with the practitioners very important information which they must consider in their practice. A great number of Americans (over 20 million according to the article) are prescribed cholesterol lowering medications which belong to the family of statins. Very common side effects of these medications are: muscle, joint pain, tingling, numbness etc.

The practitioner may consider these symptoms as a signs of abnormalities in the function of musculo-skeletal or peripheral nervous system and treat the client respectively. In these cases massage therapy will be a useless waste of time and money, and it will undermine the credibility of the practitioner.

Thus, be sure to ask your client about Lipitor, Crestor, Vytorin etc medications before examination. However, the practitioner must remember that many patients with musculo-skeletal or peripheral nervous system abnormalities do take statins. In such a case don’t go to the opposite extreme by dismissing symptoms as side effects of statins. Evaluate the clinical picture first. In regard to this article, we greatly appreciate that the author has raised this important subject.

Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Massage Today, 10(10):6;10 18 2010, by Leon Chaitow, ND, DO

As usually Dr. Chaitow wrote a short but very informative piece. In this short article he provided a lot of information on Irritable Bowel Syndrome management.

Mambo Golfing. Massage Today, 10(10):1;14-15, 2010, by Erik Dalton, PhD

In difficult economic times like we are experienced today, the practitioners are looking to extend their practice in any new direction. Such a popular game as golf with its complicated biomechanics and the fact that so many golfers are of senor age create a unique opportunity for practitioners to extend their practice in this direction. The article explains the biomechanics of the golf game from the practitioners’ point of view and guides the reader to correctly formulate the protocol of massage session.

Massage Magazine

Massage and Menopause. Massage, September, 172, 66-73, 2010, by Jennifer Whalen

The subject of the article is very important. Indeed the regular massage therapy sessions helps women who are going through the menopausal period of their life. The article is fragmented pieces of interviews with various practitioners. Reading of this article will get the reader information that massage is good for the women with menopause and different modalities are used by the practitioners in the different parts of the country. There is no solid scientifically basis as well as clinical recommendations in this article.

The MyoKinesthetic System. Massage, September, 172, 56-61, 2010, by Michael Uriarte, DC

A very good article which addresses several very important issues. First of all it advocates the greater cooperation between chiropractors and massage practitioners. It seems as an obvious fact that these two equally important branches of somatic rehabilitation should go together. However in many instances this is not the case.

Very frequently practitioners work in the chiropractor office instead of working with the chiropractor. This unfortunate situation is the fault of the chiropractors, who frequently doesn’t have enough expertise in massage therapy and the practitioner who isn’t able to communicate his or her skills or is just using stress reduction massages in the medical offices.

The author’s view is correct when he guides the practitioner to the particular area of the body where his or her expertise is needed to reinforce the chiropractors’ treatment.

The author recommends the MyoKinesthetic System of somatic rehabilitation which directs the massage practitioner along the major nervous pathways and addresses soft tissues and origins of their innervation. We can’t agree more with such a comprehensive approach.

Thermal Connective-Tissue Release With Pillossage. Massage, October, 173, 68-71, 2010, by Karen Kowal, RN, LMT, NCTMB

New massage therapy modalities constantly emerge. Some of them are old, well known techniques and approaches which are simply renamed and recycled in order to make money, some are really helpful. It seems that pillossage which is introduced in this article belongs in the second category. We don’t think that an entire session should be conducted using pillossage, but it can be a great additional tool for the practitioners who work in the stress reduction field. We also agree with the article that pillossage can be a great addition for the chair massage session.

Maternity Massage Therapy. Massage, October, 173, 58-65, 2010, by Carole Osborne

The article gives a general overview of maternity massage and its application. We think that the article should contain more practical information but fact that maternity massage is cover story of the magazine definitely will draw attention to this part of massage profession. To branch in this direction will help practitioners build up a successful practice.

Expert Advice. Massage, October, 173, 46-49, 2010, by Michael McGillicuddy, LMT, NCTMB

This is response to the question, ‘what exactly is sports massage?’ The author correctly describes all major aspects of and types of sports massage and its differences with regular stress reduction or therapeutic massage sessions. This piece will help those who are looking for well grounded answer to a very frequently incorrectly practiced and taught issue of sports massage.

Massage Therapy Journal

Orthopedic Assessment of the Sacroiliac Joint. MTJ, 49(3):91-95, 2010, by Joe Muscolino, DC

An excellent article on the assessment of the SI joint with very helpful illustrations. We highly recommend it to the readers.

Massage & Bodywork Magazine

Fascia. The Body’s Richest Sense Organ. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, Nov-Dec, 48-57, 2010, by Thomas Myers

An excellent article! In a very simple and even entreating way the author was able to present to the readers very complex information. We highly recommend this article.

Skin Conditions. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, Nov-Dec, 78-81, 2010, by Rebecca Jones

A very good and informative article which addresses truth and myths about most common skin conditions the practitioner may encounter in everyday practice.

Functional Anatomy. Pronator Teres Muscle. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, Nov-Dec, 85-86, 2010, by Christy Cael

Correctly presented anatomy, physiology and palpation of the pronator teres muscle. The practitioner should examine this muscle in all patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because mild irritation of the median nerve by the pronator teres muscle may trigger clinical picture of the Carpal Tunnel (see Case of the Month in this issue). Sometimes these patients undergo surgery for Carpal Tunnel instead of the simple application of MEDICAL MASSAGE PROTOCOL.

Gastrocnemius Muscle Strain. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, Nov-Dec, 90-95, 2010, by Ben Benjamin

A great article which addresses a very common injury of the gastrocnemius muscle. The article provides all needed information from anatomy and function to the necessary tests and treatment protocol.

Working With Headaches. Techniques for Migraines. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, Nov-Dec, 108-115, 2010, by Til Lichiau

The treatment options for headaches discussed in the article are correctly described by the author as his “…personal empirical approach”.

First of all, major treatment for migraine sufferers which is supposed to target irritation of the greater occipital and/or minor occipital nerves isn’t even mentioned. These two neuralgias are the most common triggers of persistent migraines. Instead the article concentrate on two techniques which address consequences rather than original problems. Yes, they may temporarily(sometimes only for 5-10 minutes) reduce the intensity of migraines, but they are very unreliable tools of headache control.

In the first part, the article proclaims that the authors’s Palate Technique which requires work inside the client’s mouth (applying compressions) on the hard palate is able to “…decompress cranium from the inside out” and help with migraines. The author based this assumption on two facts: first (according to the article) “…the hard palate is the “keystone of the cranium’s interlocking bony structure” and second “…compression of the palate by braces or orthodontics seems to have at least an anecdotical relationship with migraines and commingled headaches (Inter J Osteop Med, 2005)”.

The author’s explanation on how the hard palate is the keystone of the entire cranium interlocking system is completely incorrect. As any anatomy textbook will tell the hard palate may be considered as a binding place for the facial skeleton but not the entire cranium, and the application of the pressure on the hard palate decompresses the maxillary sinus rather than the “…cranium from the inside out”.

Let’s open the medical anatomy textbook (April, 1990) which is used to teach anatomy in medical schools. We can find there following passages in regard to the base of the skull: “The basilar (i.e., base) part of the neurocranium is formed by occipital bone…” and there is “…juncture of the neurocranium (including occipital by by JMS) and the facial cranium…” or in other words there are two anatomical structures (facial cranium and neurocranium) which are fused together to form the skull and hard palate and aren’t directly associated to the base of the skull because each has its own base: occipital bone for the neurocranium and hard palate for the facial skeleton.

Such statements are the work of the author’s imagination in an attempt to bring some justification to Palate Technique he advocates as a treatment tool for headaches. The compression of the hard palate doesn’t do a thing to the intracranial cavity.

However, the real issue we have with the second justification of Palate Technique is the author’s unscientific manipulations with references as he tries to support his assumptions. The author relied on an article published in 2005 inInternational Journal of Osteopathic Medicine which, according to Mr. T. Lichiau, established correlations between compression of the hard palate by braces or orthodontics and migraines.

Even the title of the cited article didn’t seem to support the author’s statement. This is why we went to the International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine and for $31.50 bought access to the 2005 archives and analyzed the cited article. First of all, the cited article examined if the braces are responsible for the migraine triggered by tension in the temporomandibular joint but not by the compression of the hard palate. In such a case, even topics of the cited article and Mr. T. Lichiau’ publication are different and the author simply didn’t have the right to use this reference in the context of his article because they are completely unrelated.

However, the major surprise waited for us at the end of the article in its discussion part because K. Hannan (author of the article in International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine) stated the results of her study are completely opposite to what Mr. T. Lichiau attributed to her publication. She stated that:

“This study was unable (bold by JMS) to support the hypothesis that there is an increased prevalence in migraine headache in female adolescents aged 12-18 years who currently have or have had orthodontic braces.”

At this point it was obvious that Mr. T. Lichiau didn’t even bother to read the article he relied on. He just cited it to support his views and intentionally misled the readers of Massage&Bodywork Magazine by using scientific sources incorrectly for the purpose of justification his “…personal empirical approach”. At this point we were speechless.

There is another interesting passage in the article in regard to Palate Technique which the author continues to justify as an important treatment tool for migraines.

“…some people whose cleft palate have been repaired surgically report an increase in migraines, almost as if the closing of the palate was accomplished too tightly”

This statement is completely outrageous. In all developed countries 100% of children with cleft palate are operated before age 3. These patients are of such a young and tender age that they are simply unable to report increase in the intensity of migraines after the surgery.

Unfortunately, there are people in poor countries who haven’t had their cleft palate repaired. However, where the author found data that these patients were operated on later in life to close cleft palate (let say somewhere in rural Sudan) and after that they reported an increase in intensity of headaches. Of course, the author didn’t find the appropriate reference to support this statement he invented in order to justify hard palate compressions to reduce headaches.

The second technique to relieve headache mentioned in the article is called by the author the External Acoustic Meatus Technique. This technique consists of posteriolateral traction of both ears or simply to say the practitioner pulls the patient’s ears laterally and backward. Yes, indeed, such techniques exists, but the article offers an incredibly unusual explanation as to why it helps patients with headaches. According to the article the external parts of the ear have “…firm fascial attachments to the surface of the temporal bone” and by pulling ears laterally the practitioners will be able to decompress cranial bones by “…applying traction directly to the temporal bones”. We don’t think the author fully comprehended what he actually wrote.

Grab you own ear and pull it in any direction, you will see how much mobility the ear has in regard to the skull and the temporal bone in particular. As the reader is able personally experience the “…firm fascial attachment” of the ear to the temporal bone is pure myth originated in the article. The great example of the “…firm fascial attachment” is skin on the bottom of the foot. Try to move the skin there and observe the difference.

Finally if by pulling ears, one is able to adjust the cranial bones we, as a humans, would have been extinct long ago. There is no way the cranial bones will be able to protect the brain with such a loose arrangement. This is purely misleading.

As mentioned above, this technique is used to temporally reduce the intensity of headache and can be used by the patients themselves. From the scientific point of view it has a much less exotic explanation: by pulling ears the practitioner temporally reduces tension in the cranial aponeurosis which is one of the contributing factors in headache development. This why this technique is useful, but it does not in any degree address the origin of the, let’s say, cluster headaches mentioned in the article.

If massage practitioners would like to be respected in the medical field we need to change the way this wonderful profession develops. Unfortunately there is no unified views of the treatment options between educators and this fact greatly affects the practitioners’ professional ability. Never ending competition for the students between educators requires constant “inventions” of new techniques or modalities. ‘New’ is great and absolutely necessary for the future development of the profession. However, when the medical aspect of the massage therapy is discussed these ‘new’ approaches must be based on science, or at least on the common sense. And please, let’s stop confusing manipulations with the scientific sources, it will not get us anywhere.

April, E.W. Anatomy. Williams & Willkins, 1990
Hannan K. Orthodontic Braces and Migraine Headache: Prevalence of Migraine Headache in Females Aged 12-18 Years With and Without Orthodontic Braces.Inter J Osteop Med, V8(4), 146-151, 2005. 

The Stretching Debate. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, Nov-Dec, 116-121, 2010, by Diana Thompson

An excellent article which reviews modern scientific data about physiology and clinical outcomes of various types of stretching.

Category: Good Apples, Bad Apples