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.

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.



That Which Wires Together Fires Together. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, May/June, 30-31, 2017

By Doug Nelson

A very good article which illustrates the author’s clinical thinking.

 Alzheimer’s and Other Dementing Diseases. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, May/June, 40-43, 2017

By Ruth Werner

The article gives a basic review of the problem with a list of recommended resources. It is a good read for therapists who are considering working with demented patients.

Facial Muscles. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, May/June, 40-43, 2017

By Christi Cael

This article is dedicated to facial muscles, but the author mixes things up. When discussing this topic from a functioning and treatment point of view, the muscles of face expressions (i.e., mimic muscles) and masticatory muscles should be clearly separated, despite that both groups are facial muscles. The author fails to understand this very important clinical fact. Here is a quote:

“In addition to the direct actions generated by the facial muscles, there is a well-established functional connection between the temporomandibular and craniocervical regions of the body. This means that because facial muscles create movement and direct the positioning of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), they also influence posture and movements in the head and neck.”

No, mimic muscles do not affect TMJ and subsequently postural changes while masticatory muscles do. It is completely incorrect to mix them together because they have completely different functions unusual anatomy (e.g. masticatory muscles insert into the bones while mimic muscles into the soft tissues), different innervation (fascial and trigeminal nerves) etc. Even references the author uses to support her claim emphasize correlations between masticatory muscles and TMJ dysfunction without any mention of mimic muscles: H. Zafar, “Integrated Jaw and Neck Function in Man. Studies of Mandibular and Head-Neck Movements During Jaw Opening-Closing Tasks,” Swedish Dental Journal 143 (Supplement) (2000): 1–41.

The author is correct when she mentions the benefits of work on the scalp and face during full body massage and it is also an important supplement therapy for cases of TMJ dysfunction. However, the therapists must clearly see the priorities, which in cases of TMJ dysfunction are masticatory muscles.

Work-Related Musculoskeletal Exposures and Injuries. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, May/June, 48-49, 2017

By Jerrilyn Cambron, DC, PhD

A rare article that discusses possible professional injuries of PT and MT using clinical data. It supports the necessity of correct body mechanics. 

Shouldering the Challenge of Suprascapular Neuropathy. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, May/June, 86-89, 2017

By Whitney Lowe

A very good and informative article. We might add more to the treatment options as PIR for example and to the possible cause of supraclavicular nerve irritation as chronic tension in the paravertebral neck muscles as well as scalene muscles, but overall the article exhibits very good clinical reasoning.

Why We Get Shorter. The Secret Life of Spinal Discs. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, May/June, 90-91, 2017 

By Erik Dalton, PhD

A very good and informative article.

Uncoupling the Neck and Jaw. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, May/June, 92-93, 2017  

By Til Luchau

The author is completely correct about the presence of so called trigeminal-occipital convergence as a factor in the formation of headaches, cervical tension and TMJ dysfunction. The article is also correct in establishing correlations between jaw opening and secondary contraction of the posterior cervical muscles.

The goal of the article is to show clinical correlations between jaw movements and posterior cervical tension and there is no doubt that this is a reasonable view. However, in the majority of clinical cases it is actually the opposite since tension in the posterior cervical muscles which developed secondary to our stressful lives irritates the minor occipital nerve and that fact triggers tension in the masticatory muscles which control tension within TMJ. This scenario wasn’t even mentioned while it is very common.

Chronic Pain and Sense of Self “This is Not Who I Am …” Massage&Bodywork Magazine, July/August, 32-33, 2017  

By Douglas Nelson

The goal of this article is to explain to therapists a clinical example of how chronic pain affects the human body and mental state. Indeed, this is a very complex and important subject. Chronic pain is especially devastating for women since they have a much higher resistance to acute pain, compared to men, (because of childbirth) who have a much lesser psychological resistance to chronic pain. This is why bombardment of the brain by chronic nociception eventually exhausts mental functions, triggering depressions, mood swings, anxieties etc. associated with chronic pain.

Accessory Motions. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, July/August, 47-48, 2017   

By Christy Cael

A good article which discusses types of joints and ROM.

Massage Therapy for the Treatment of Complex Neck Pain. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, July/August, 50-51, 2017   

By Jerrilyn Cambron, DC, PhD

This article reviews two studies on the effect of MT on Cervical Radiculopathy. Despite the stated positive impact of MT, the article doesn’t deliver any practical essence. For example, the article widely cites a Chinese study on using tui na massage on patients with Cervical Radiculopathy. However, there are no reasonable explanations to what was actually done to the patients besides mentioning that tui na was defined as “the finger, hand, elbow, knee, or foot applied to muscle or soft tissue surrounding the neck.”

This is the vaguest description we’ve seen so far when describing the clinical application of MT.

The main topic of the July/August issue of Massage&Bodywork Magazine is HIV/AIDS and MT. The publication offers a great series of articles on this important subject:

HIV and AIDS: What You Need to Know

By Ruth Werner

HIV/AIDS. Today’s Truths for MTs

By Ruth Werner

“Is there any real reason HIV/AIDS disclosure should be on the intake form?” One MT reacts to a Facebook post

By Jeremy King

BIG HEARTS. What the Heart Touch Project is Teaching Us About Cambodia’s Youngest HIV/AIDS Patients.

By Karrie Osborn

Multiplane Stretching Technique. THE Shortest ROPE. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, July/August, 72-81, 2017   

By Joseph E. Muscolino, DC

A great article with very good illustrations and analogies. Highly suggested read.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Assessment Tests Suggested Variations on Standard Protocols. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, July/August, 86-89, 2017   

By Whitney Lowe

The article delivers what it promises in the title.

Pain Exposure Therapy – All Pain is Not Created Equally. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, July/August, 90-91, 2017    

By Erik Dalton, PhD

This article discusses the subject of pain and its activation during MT, especially stretching. At the beginning the author states: “I’m aware this may be an unpopular statement, but I don’t completely agree with the idea of pain-free bodywork.” The author deserves credit to acknowledge that these are his personal views. I think this is great ground for discussion.

First of all, what we agree with. Yes, the stretch and other techniques may go over the pain threshold, gradually pushing it higher to restore restricted function. For example, clinical symptoms of adhesive capsulitis can’t be relieved otherwise. However, this approach cannot be universal and reading the article leaves this impression. That brings us to the issues we categorically disagree with.

1. Pain is not a pathology or disease. It is consequence of something and chasing the pain itself is similar to chasing a ghost. Thus, identifying the pain trigger becomes the priority. From this perspective stretching of the soft tissues with or without pain activation is not supposed to be the main goal of the therapy. Yes, what the article suggests will help with muscle fatigue or strain, soft tissue contracture etc., but it is completely contraindicated if the patient has, let’s say, radial nerve neuralgia or very active periostal trigger points around the knee joint. In these cases, even an approach to the pain threshold will trigger a protective reaction which will ruin or delay the therapist’s treatment.

2. In many (a majority in our opinion) clinical cases where the patient feels pain is not where the actual problem is. Stretching of plantar fascia to target Plantar Fasciitis is a waste of time if symptoms the patient exhibits are the result of mild irritation of the tibial nerve in the soleus canal. 100% of patients with mild irritation of the tibial nerve in the soleus canal don’t complain about symptoms on the posterior leg since the degree of irritation is insignificant for the posterior leg, but symptoms show themselves at the end of nerve innervation. Thus, symptoms appear on the bottom of the foot first and what the therapist does on the bottom of the foot within or above the pain threshold is irrelevant.

To conclude, the information in this article doesn’t have universal clinical meaning and should be used carefully after the initial trigger of somatic abnormalities is identified and isolated.

Mindfulness, Myofascia, and Manual Therapy Fad Versus Function. Massage&Bodywork Magazine, July/August, 96-99, 2017    

By Til Luchau

A very interesting article and a highly suggested read. The author deserves credit for shining a light on rarely mentioned material.


An Exploration of Tendon Sheath and Retinaculum. Massage Today, Vol 17(4)

By Whitney Lowe, LMT

This article covers the very important subject of anatomy and physiology of tendons, synovial sheaths and retinaculum. The article correctly presents these issues until it gets to the treatment part. There are several mistakes which will affect the therapist’s work if they are followed. Here are a couple of examples:

1. Application of cross fiber friction is mentioned as the only treatment option. This is a completely incorrect view since despite that cross fiber friction is an important treatment option, it has very limited effect when used alone. Tissue and inflamed tendon MUST be drained, tension in the fascia which covers muscle with inflamed tendon MUST be reduced, anatomical length of the same muscle MUST be restored, tension in the periosteum MUST be eliminated (if present). All of this MUST be combined with cross fiber frictions.

2. Here are two very bizarre quotes from the article which address the treatment of a compressed nerve under the retinaculum:

“Retinacular tissue is not contractile tissue and it does not “let go.”

Of course, retinacular tissue in not contractile tissue but as any connective tissue structure it will “let go” since it is mostly composed from collagen fibers and they respond greatly when the therapist works and stretches them.

In cases of tension in the retinaculum associated with underlying nerve irritation the article completely denies local treatment and suggests that therapy:

“Usually means an emphasis on biomechanical changes, reduction of offending activities or both. There is usually not a benefit in trying to work directly.”

This is complete nonsense since local treatment in these cases is a critical clinical tool. Such misunderstanding happened because the author doesn’t offer therapists any other tools except cross fiber frictions. However, even in this case cross fiber friction MUST be used at the insertions of the retinaculum into the periosteum.

Long Thoracic Nerve Injuries in Sports Part I. Massage Today, Vol 17(4)

By Debbie Roberts

A very informative article with case study.

Lupus. The Wolf Disease. Massage Today, Vol 17(5)

By Ruth Werner, LMT, BCTMB

A very helpful article especially for those therapists who are not familiar with Lupus.

A New Human Organ. Massage Today, Vol 17(5)

By Dale Alexander

This article informs the readers about the role mesentery plays in the human body and new views which consider that from now on the mesentery should be considered as a new organ.

Long Thoracic Nerve Injuries in Sports Part I. Massage Today, Vol 17(5)

By Debbie Roberts

The author shows very good clinical reasoning and the ability to cooperate with other health practitioners for the patient’s benefit.

 Pronator Teres Injuries. Massage Today, Vol 17(5)

By Ben Benjamin, PhD

Again, we witness the same problem. This article is very good until it gets to the treatment options. It is simply puzzling why from article to article the author as well as some others offers cross fiber friction as the only option in the treatment of various somatic abnormalities.

It seems that other equally effective techniques and approaches are not familiar to the authors of clinically oriented articles. The stable clinical results are not coming from the application of one technique or modality, but from their combination which must be adjusted to each new patient with the same pathology.

Unlock Their Athletic Potential. Massage Today, Vol 17(6)

By Don MacCan

Frequently articles by Mr. MacCan contain a lot of unscientific claims. However, in this piece the author is completely correct. Indeed, modalities based on kinesiology help the healthy athlete to unlock maximum potential.

WTFascia… Is there pain in the release? Massage Today, Vol 17(6)

Stacey Thomas, FMS, SFMA, NKT, CF-L2

This is an excellent article which challenges the widely used concept of “No Pain, No Gain” approach and the necessity of understanding how important the correct application of pressure is during a treatment session. Thank you for raising this important subject!


Breaking Through. MTJ, Spring 2017, 20-30

By Donna Shryer

This article covers the subject of autism and the role MT plays in helping children with this disease. We think the effect of MT on an autistic child is not fully appreciated by parents or the medical community.   This article does a good job to fill the void.


Arthritis. Massage Magazine, May, Issue 252: 36-41

By Julie Goodwin, LMT

This article covers arthritis and its treatment by regular massage therapy. The article separately describes the pathophysiology of Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, but when it discusses treatment options the author doesn’t make any separation and thus is a great mistake since what you can do to a patient with Osteoarthritis you can’t use on a patient with Rheumatoid Arthritis and vice versa. Overall the therapy briefly discussed in the article more suits patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis, but in cases of Osteoarthritis it is often not enough. With these recommendations, it is simply impossible to achieve any stable clinical results for patients with Osteoarthritis.

The 7-Step Trigger Point Protocol. Massage Magazine, May, Issue 253: 44-48

By Mary Biacalana, LMT, M. Ed., CMTPT

This article covers TPT but from a much wider clinical perspective. The 7 steps advocated by the author start from client assessment and end with the client’s self-education. Thus, instead of concentrating on TPT itself the author promotes a wider range clinical skills.

Category: Good Apples, Bad Apples