As our readers know we regularly review articles in all major national massage publications in the Good Apples/Bad Apples Section of the Journal of Massage Science. We also promised to publish the author’s response for any review. In Issue #2 of 2011 we published reviews of two articles by Mrs. S. Auth on Auth’s Method and review of Dr. Muscolino article on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Here are authors’ responses as well as our response.
LETTER OF S. AUTH:
Review of a review for:
1. Auth Method. A Guide to Forearm Massage. Massage & Bodywork, March/April: 73-77, 2010, by S. Auth
In your review you state that I the author claims, “she uses and teaches others to use only forearm massage techniques during entire session”. This is not true. I state quite clearly in the opening paragraph that I use the forearms to perform the vast majority of my massage. Vast majority does not mean only. In my massage workshops I teach students how to use the forearms to massage the entire body, reserving the hands for light circulatory strokes, massaging the face, feet and hands and deep work on areas that are too narrow or small for the forearms (such as the neck). The Auth Method forearm massage techniques are designed to integrate easily into existing routines, it is inclusive.
2. Auth Method. Forearms for Feet. Massage & Bodywork, July/Aug. 2010, pp. 62, by Shari Auth
In your review of my article entitled Auth Method: Forearms for the Feet you commented, “As usual, the author recommends conducting massage treatments or reflexology using forearms and elbows only, in this case on the legs and feet.” This is not true, in my article I state very clearly that the forearms are used to release the bulk of tension with the client lying in prone position and the hands, fingers and thumbs are used to complete the foot massage in supine position. The entire last paragraph of the article was devoted to this concept. The Auth Method is promoting the use of forearm in massage with the belief that the hands are overused in many massage practices and the forearms are much better suited for tackling deep tissue massage. The Auth Method does not, and has not, in anyway advocated the use of only the forearms. Here is the first half of the last paragraph of the Auth Method article on forearm massage for the feet, case in point. “RESERVING YOUR HANDS FOR THE FINER THINGS
Now that the bulk of the tension from the plantar surface has been released, you can integrate your usual foot routine, knowing the deep work is done and you have reserved your hands for doing your fine-tuning work on the feet. Use your hands to polish off the toes and work the top and sides of the foot, stimulate points, or do soothing strokes.”
Mrs. S. Auth,
We completely understand your frustration with the reviews but I hope that you understand our point of view as well. We followed your articles and we consider that your ideas are misleading the profession, especially during the time in which the medical aspects of massage therapy are gaining more and more attention.
In your previous articles it seemed that you promoted Auth’s method for the means of stress reduction massage, yet we recently noticed that your publication started to address the medical aspects as well. In both scenarios we are sure that this method is incorrect because it deprives the practitioner and the client of a vast majority of critical massage techniques for the sake of resting hands and fingers. You pursue a noble cause but the direction you choose is incorrect. From my own personal experience as a teacher and clinical practitioner I am sure that this important goal can be easily achieved with educating the practitioners in the correct understanding of body mechanics, positioning and rehabilitative exercise.
You write that “…forearms are much better suited for tackling deep tissue massage”. This statement is a great illustration of a common mistake regarding deep tissue massage. Deep tissue massage does not require a senseless application of deep pressure. The expertise of the practitioner is not based on how deep he or she is able to press into the tissue but rather how he or she is able to reach the deep layer of soft tissue with the smallest degree of pressure. This is what constitutes deep tissue massage and Auth’s Method is not the way to achieve this. For example, a practitioner who regularly applies Auth’s method in the area of the active trigger point will excessively damage the affected muscle tissue and will be directly responsible for the future formation of myogelosis in the area of the trigger point despite the temporary pain relief after the session.
In your response you wrote about the “…bulk of the tension from the plantar surface has been released”. What do you mean by the ‘bulk of the tension’? Tension in the soft tissue builds on a layer by layer basis and it must be released the same way to obtain stable clinical results. How can a practitioner who uses their elbow or forearm be able to separately address each soft tissue on a layer by layer basis? He or she will never be able to do so because these contact areas are anatomically and physiologically unable to achieve that.
This brings us to another issue which you repeat in every one of your articles about Auth’s method – the myth that the elbow and the forearm are as sensitive and as agile as a hand. In one of our previous reviews of your article published inMay/June 2010 issue of JMS we explained using scientific data to our readers how misleading and unscientific this confusing statement is. The motor cortex of the human brain uses its largest region for processing information from the hand and controlling its function. That is what on the evolutionary scale separates us from the animal kingdom. However, your misleading concept regarding the equality between the elbow and the hand denies this obvious fact.
You pointed out that: “Vast majority does not mean only. In my massage workshops I teach students how to use the forearms to massage the entire body, reserving the hands for light circulatory strokes, massaging the face, feet and hands and deep work on areas that are too narrow or small for the forearms (such as the neck).”
Of course we are aware that you use some hand and finger applications as you mentioned, for example, on the face just because it is impossible to use the elbow-forearm there. However, the usage of fingers for ‘light circulatory strokes’ does not eliminate the confusion your method creates. If in one sentence you combined ‘vast majority’ and ‘massage entire body’ it means only one thing, that you are promoting the use of both the elbow and forearm as the main therapeutic tools.
As I pointed out above, such a one sided approach to massage therapy (i.e., “…use the forearms to massage the entire body…”) impoverishes the practitioner’s technical potential and wipes out centuries of massage therapy technical achievements. For example, there are 12 major kneading techniques in the arsenal of modern massage therapy. They were developed one after another between the 16th and 20th centuries. There is a saying: “If one would like to test the massage therapist’s professional expertise ask him or her to perform kneading techniques only”.
Your method deprives the practitioners of this critical knowledge and abilities by artificially narrowing their technical potential. This is why we see Auth’s method as a dead end for the future of the massage therapy profession we care so much about. We are perfectly aware that you will have students for your seminar and followers who will practice Auth’s method. However, we feel obligated to inform the practitioners who are looking for new approaches and techniques to build up their practice about other points of view on Auth’s method that is advertised in massage trade magazines. I think you will agree that we have the right to express our opinion the same way as you publish your articles.
A couple of final thoughts. I think that the usage of the elbow and the forearm is an expected part of a massage therapy session. If you consider yourself an expert in this particular technique you have all the right to educate others who don’t have such expertise. However, we think that instead of spreading confusion you should teach and present your information correctly and base it on a scientific system instead of one consisting of personal beliefs.
LETTER OF DR. J. MUSCOLINO:
Your review seemed to imply that because there was little or no coverage of treatment for CTS, that it was a negative. I believe that there are plenty of sources of treatment that can be accessed for MTs. My focus in this column article is usually to explain the underlying mechanisms of a condition, allowing the MTs to better be able to critically think and reason out what assessment and treatment techniques would be most appropriate. Further, your review found fault with my statement that “hands-on treatment can be challenging” for CTS. I do believe that my statement is true. This does not mean that massage would not help to some degree, and in some cases be the critical factor in alleviating a client’s CTS. And this statement does not mean that massage should not be tried. Conservative hands-on care should always be tried before more invasive procedures are resorted to. It simply means that among the vast number of conditions toward which massage can be applied, CTS can be challenging, compared to others that are direct myofascial conditions. I feel it is fair to state this and that your review misconstrued this.
Thank you for printing my remarks.
Thank you for your letter. I would like to state at the beginning that I think the article about Carpal Tunnel we reviewed and you refer to is a very good educational source. I don’t think that the review carried any negative sentiment and it is unfortunate if you or readers may see it that way. We saw the absence of the treatment as an unfortunately missing part which will be a logical conclusion to the very good piece on pathology and evaluation of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. We thought that it was suitable for the practitioners to discuss treatment options at least in outline format.
The issue about treatment itself didn’t doubt your abilities as a physician and educator to deliver quality information. It was more a proposition for the future to increase practical value of the articles. In some issues of Massage Therapy Journalyour column is the only source which keeps MTJ scientifically afloat.
Category: Letter From The Editor