The purpose of this section of the Journal of Massage Science is to inform the practitioners about valuable articles that frequently go unnoticed, as well as to point to those authors and publications who present very questionable views in their writings. 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.

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.

Massage Today

Nurturing Touch for Pediatric Cerebral Palsy. Massage Today October, Vol. 11(10), 2011, by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT

A good article that describes a basic approach to massage therapy for very young children with Cerebral Palsy. It is completely correct to see massage therapy as a nurturing touch for very small children diagnosed with this debilitating disease. In older ages, other techniques and modalities should be added to the treatment of Cerebral Palsy.

Challenging the Traditional Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Massage Today October, Vol. 11(10), 2011, by James Waslaski

For years we have advocated the simple clinical fact that in patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as well as any other abnormality on the upper extremity, the practitioner must examine the anterior neck and anterior shoulder for the possible mild irritation of the brachial plexus by scalene or pectoralis minor muscles. In these cases, the patient will have a 100% accurate clinical picture of, for example, Carpal Tunnel, which in reality has nothing to do with compression of the median nerve in the wrist. These patients undergo unnecessary surgeries without receiving any relief. We regularly see these unfortunate patients and it is very distressing to see them suffer for so long while a simple solution is available from the very beginning. The author had similar experiences with his patients, and it is great that this issue is even mentioned in massage literature. Please keep it in mind while examining your clients.

Adaptation Perspectives and Low Back Pain. Massage Today November, Vol. 11, Issue 11, 2011, by Leon Chaitow, ND, DO

Excellent article! We highly recommend everyone read it. It is the first time we have noticed in any massage publication the issue of compensation, decompensation and adaptation in cases of chronic somatic pathology is described. Successful therapy is based on the understanding of these concepts by the practitioner. For readers in serious practice of medical massage, this article provides very important information.

Joint Capsular Patterns. Massage Today November, Vol. 11, Issue 11, 2011, by Whitney Lowe, LMT

A very informative article on the anatomy and biomechanics of joints surrounded by capsule. The article describes common capsular patterns, and it is helpful to the practitioners who have begun practicing the medical aspects of massage therapy.

Gastrocnemius: A Cramp in the Calf. Massage Today November, Vol. 11, Issue 11, 2011, by David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

Overall this is a great article. It provides anatomy, physiology as well as correct treatment options in cases when active trigger points and cramping form in the gastrocnemius muscle. However, this article, as in similar articles before, misses critically important points in understanding and treating muscular abnormalities. The author always concentrates on the local treatment option and completely disregards trigger points as a symptom of reflex zones formation. At the beginning of the article, there is no mentioned of the irritation of the sciatic nerve among the possible causes of trigger points formation in the gastrocnemius muscle. In real life, this is the most frequent reason for active trigger points formation in the gastrocnemius.

For example, the patient exhibits active trigger points in the gastrocnemius but never had lower back and gluteal pain. In such cases, according to the article, the practitioner should work on gastrocnemius muscle and try to eliminate the active trigger point. However, the practitioner must examine L5-S1 vertebral segment, sacroiliac joint and gluteal area on the same side first before even considering working on the gastrocnemius. He or she may use the local treatment suggested in the article only if all tests in those areas rule out irritation of the L5 spinal nerve of the sciatic nerve. If even slightly uncomfortable sensations are present, the local treatment suggested in the article is a useless waste of time because hypertonic muscle abnormalities in the gastrocnemius are the result of reflex zones formation. In these cases, the original cause is in the upper regions where spinal or peripheral nerves are slightly irritated, and this is where treatment must be concentrated. The local treatment is also part of the session but it plays a supportive role and only later, when signs of nerve irritation are gone, the practitioner should concentrate only on the local treatment.

Let us look at another scenario when muscle cramps or active trigger points are the result of muscle overload or metabolic changes (e.g. lower potassium level). In these cases, the local treatment plays a leading role but practitioners must address lower back and gluteal areas as well because intense massage application there helps make the local treatment more effective and longer lasting since the practitioner is now adding a healing component supported by the nervous system into the treatment protocol.


Haskell S.G., Fiebach N.H. Clinical epidemiology of nocturnal leg cramps in male veterans. Am J Med Sci., 1997 Apr.; 313(4):210-4, 1997.

The Infraspinatus. Massage Today November, Vol. 11, Issue 11, 2011, by Ben Benjamin, PhD 

The article answers questions about the best assessment test to examine tension in the infraspinatus muscle. The information provided in the article is completely correct and very helpful with accompanying illustrations that help the reader execute the recommended test efficiently.

Back Pain: Signs and Symptoms of the Iliopsoas Muscle. Massage TodayNovember, Vol. 11, Issue 11, 2011, by David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

A very good and informative article about anatomy, function and examination of the iliopsoas muscle.

Massage & Bodywork Magazine

Get Doctors Referrals. Massage & Bodywork Nov-Dec, pp. 43-49, 2011, by Irene Diamond

Simply an excellent and much-needed article on how to work with physicians and build up a referral base among local doctors. There is only one additionally thing we would like to emphasize: That a successful practice based on cooperation with physicians must be based on the ability of practitioners to obtain stable clinical results. To do so, the massage therapist must look beyond basic Swedish Massage application.

Bodyreading the Meridians. The Lateral Lines. Massage & Bodywork Nov-Dec, pp. 72-81, 2011, by Thomas Myers

The author continues his excellent series of articles on anatomical arrangement and function of soft tissue. There is nothing to add. This article is a must-read for practitioners.

Functional Anatomy. Brachioradialis. Massage & Bodywork Nov-Dec, pp. 72-81, 2011, by Christy Cael

A very good and informative article on anatomy, function and palpation of the brachioradialis muscle. Homework for clients is also provided.

Essential Skills. Pulled Hamstring. Part 2. Massage & Bodywork, Nov-Dec, pp. 94-81, 2011, by Ben E. Benjamin

A very good article on treatment options for the pulled hamstring. The author provides a detailed description of friction therapy as well as home stretching and exercise. We may only add a couple of details. Friction therapy is much more effective if drainage massage strokes and later detailed kneading are applied before friction therapy. Another fact worth mentioning is application of Muscle Energy Techniques after the friction therapy. Absence of this treatment option is to some degree surprising considering the author is a fan of Isolative Stretching.

Pathology Perspectives. The ABCs of Hepatitis. Massage & Bodywork Nov-Dec, pp. 100-105, 2011, by Ruth Werner

The author seems to be the only one who is trying to educate massage practitioners about abnormalities beyond somatic system. Her articles push the practitioner to consider visceral abnormalities as well. From this perspective this and previous articles slowly open doors for the future of massage therapy in cases of visceral disorders.

Myofascial Techniques. Working With Appendicular Sciatica. Massage & Bodywork Nov-Dec, pp. 110-105, 2011, by Til Luchau

The article addresses the treatment of so-called Appendicular Sciatica. First of all, there are some inconsistencies in the basic terminology of the article. The author mentions that in cases of Axial Sciatica, the nerve is entrapped by bony or fibrocartilaginous tissue in the area of the vertebral segment. This is not always the case. Very frequently, the scenario is irritation of the L5 spinal nerve by tensed lumbar erectors medially to the sacroiliac joint. It will produce a clinical picture of Sciatica but it has nothing to do with vertebral pathology, and the clinical picture is really a result of soft tissue tension. Another issue is the statement that treatment of Axial Sciatica must be conducted by a physical therapist, chiropractor or orthopedist. This is complete nonsense because properly trained medical massage practitioners are able to greatly contribute to the treatment of patients with Axial Sciatica by releasing pressure in the vertebral segment and unloading the intervertebral disk. The practitioner does that by working with soft tissue layer by layer.

Finally, the treatment techniques proposed by the author in the article have very limited clinical value because their application is not enough to release the sciatic nerve from the entrapment, let us say, by the piriformis muscle. Clinically effective MEDICAL MASSAGE PROTOCOL for the Piriformis Muscle Syndrome is much more involved than the Rotator Technique advocated in the article. We are assuming that the author declined to share the entire protocol with readers considering the limited length of the article. There is no explanation to such a restricted set of professional tools mentioned in the article.

Release of sciatic nerve from the irritation or compression by piriformis muscle requires an integrative combination of several techniques that are much more effective and valuable compared to those recommended in the article. The readers may find a step-by-step description of the application of Piriformis Muscle Syndrome protocol in the issue of JMS.

Massage Magazine

Massage Strategies for Upper Crossed Syndrome. Massage Magazine 186, Nov: 46-50 2011, by Nicole Nelson

Excellent article. The author deserves a lot of credit for discussing the work of Dr. V. Janda. Unfortunately, Dr. Janda’s name is barely mentioned in massage publications while his work has had tremendous influence on modern rehabilitation medicine in general and medical massage in particular. We highly recommend this article and especially the publication by Dr. Janda for practitioners.

Addressing Hiatal Hernia With Myofascial Release. Massage Magazine 186, Nov: 52-55 2011, by David B. Blum

A very well-written and informative article on Hiatal Hernia and possible treatment options using Myofascial Release. In the article, the author exhibited enough knowledge and personal clinical experience. We may only add that treatment of Hiatal Hernia is mostly effective when the hernia is relatively small. If manual treatment increases symptoms, the patient’s condition must be checked regularly by a gastroenterologist because if the hernia continues to grow, the only effective treatment option is endoscopic surgery. Larger Hiatal Hernias reduce the chance of a successful surgical outcome in the event of this re-occurrence. This is why if manual treatment is not effective, the patient must undergo more invasive treatment procedures.

Support the Future with Fertility Massage. Massage Magazine 186, Nov: 42-45 2011, by Claire Marie Miller

Pregnancy massage is a well-recognized part of the massage profession. The article touches equally on the important issue of female infertility and the role massage therapy plays for these women. Massage recommendations proposed in the article are very helpful and practitioners may well consider exploring this part of the massage therapy profession. However, we would like to add that the real clinical effectiveness of massage therapy in cases of infertility come from Gynecological Massage. Unfortunately, massage practitioners do not have the legal right to conduct Gynecological Massage independently. Recently, however, some infertility clinics have begun using it as a treatment option. In such cases, the practitioner works in the infertility clinic under the direct supervision of a physician.

Since 1891 when the basic principles of Gynecological Massage were developed in Sweden by T. Brandt, this method has proven itself as a very helpful clinical tool. In many European infertility clinics, it is used as a first treatment option.

How Standing Assessment Help Me Provide Better Massage Sessions.Massage Magazine 186, Nov: 38-39, 2011, response by John F.Barnes, P.T.

A short article that emphasizes the importance of standing assessment of clients before the massage session starts. However, this is only one part of the complete client assessment. The author is completely correct when he states that, “It is important to analyze the client’s total structure standing, laying down and moving.” Only with such a thorough approach recommended by the author, will the practitioner obtain a full picture of all structural abnormalities.

Communicate with Nurses for Medical Massage Success. Massage Magazine186, Nov: 34-37, 2011, by Christine Bailor, RN

There are two views on medical massage. One, which we consider erroneous but unfortunately is slowly spreading, sees medical massage as an application of basic therapeutic massage in the medical setting (e.g. hospitals, medical offices). In such cases, the location of the massage therapy session rather than its substance defines the name “medical massage.” If we continue the same analogy, practitioners who practices chair massage in a health-food store should call his or her method “Supermarket Massage.” This is a very unfortunate trend because the practitioner who works, for example, at Massage Envy without the need of any additional skills or training may just as easily work in a hospital under the umbrella of medical massage doing exactly the same type of work he or she did at the local spa.

Medical massage is a very powerful clinical tool that includes special modalities and techniques composed into MEDICAL MASSAGE PROTOCOLs. Those who miss this important distinction and practice Swedish Massage in a hospital setting have nothing to do with genuine medical massage. For example, the massage practitioner is asked to work on a patient with pneumonia. The practitioner may do what the article suggests, apply basic massage strokes to increase circulation and breathing. However, the massage practitioner who practices real medical massage will use Asymmetric Segment-Reflex Massage, which was originally designed for patients with pulmonary abnormalities. Unfortunately, the article takes the first approach to medical massage and restricts its clinical potential.

The author is a Registered Nurse and Licensed Massage Therapist, an excellent combination from which her clients can benefit. In the majority of cases, nurses as well as physicians lack the knowledge and expertise in medical massage treatment options for their patients, a very unfortunate reality. In the majority of cases, nurses, except those who have massage training, are little help for the massage practitioners. At the same time, teamwork advocated by the author is a critically important element in the successful treatment of patients. To be as effective as possible, the massage practitioner needs to inform and educate nurses in the clinical power of medical massage.

Massage Therapy Journal

Motion Palpation Assessment of the Sacroiliac Joint. Massage Therapy Journal V,50 (4):85-91, 2011, by Joseph E. Muscolino

A very helpful article on the assessment of the Sacroiliac Joint (SI). We would like to add one important piece of information. As it is commonly accepted, the SI joint fuses forming ankylosis in patients after age 50 and especially in those who are obese or were multiparous mothers (Faflia et al., 1998). For those patients, any attempt of SI joint assessment and later treatment are useless because the sacrum and iliac bone that compose the SI joint are completely fused.


Faflia C.P., Prassopoulos P.K., Daskalogiannaki M.E., Gourtsoviannis N.C.Variation in the appearance of the normal sacroiliac joint on pelvic CT. Clin Radiol., 53(10):742-746, 1998.

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