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Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
The Nectar of Plants: Essential Oils and Chinese Medicine
Essential oils are a very hot topic these days, especially with the likes of the Ebola virus and the resurgence of measles lurking in our awareness, but when I first became interested in Chinese medicine, essential oils weren't on the radar screen for acupuncturists.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 2
A talented young woman presented herself with emotional mood swings, which included being nervous, anxious and jittery.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
The Modern Acupuncturist
You studied ancient Chinese medicine, but I'll bet you don't practice it! Contrary to popular belief, our medicine has evolved A LOT over the years. Let's take a brief walk through history and discover the differences between ancient and modern acupuncturists.
Breath: The Movement of Oxygen and Energy
I remember with surprising clarity the first time a patient started crying during an acupuncture treatment I was giving. This is now quite a long time ago, back in 1999, when I was a student.
TMF 2015 Scholarships
The Trudy McAlister Foundation (TMF), a nonprofit organization established to support students who are on track to make contributions either to clinical practice and/or to the understanding of the role of Traditional Oriental Medicine, has announced the 2015 scholarship recipients.
Use Technology to Gain New Patients and Improve Efficiency
From the smartphone in your pocket to your microwave oven, advancements in technology have made almost every aspect of our lives easier.
What Does Success Mean to You?
Recently, I was asked to speak to young, budding businesswomen about running a successful business — and at first I thought, "Me? You want me to speak to others about success?!"
Acupuncture in the U.K. Today: A Personal View
When asked to write a short piece on the current state of the U.K. acupuncture profession, my first response was to say it has all been relatively quiet.
The Year to Make Things Happen
It is hard to believe that the Year of the Ram – 2015 is half over. Time seems to be moving especially fast. This is the year for things to happen for the acupuncture profession.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients, in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2 to 4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Acupuncture and the Pulse
In 1991, I attended a martial arts workshop hosted coincidentally by Sung Baek, a martial artist and the head of his lineage as a Korean trained acupuncturist. I was enamored by the details Sung could attain from the pulse, as told to me by some of his apprentices.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
Calculating Billable Units
I recently learned of an office that was audited based on the number of acupuncture sessions performed in one day. Is there a maximum number of sessions that can be performed in one day?
How One Little Symbol (#) Gets You More Patients
Are you struggling to get more fans or followers for your acupuncture practice? Or are looking for ways to simply connect with your patients? Or do you just want to know how to keep them engaged (comments, retweeting, liking and sharing)?
The Source-Luo Point Combination
The luo collaterals are part of the acupuncture channel system presented in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu (The Nei Jing). The function and clinical application of the luo mai are primarily presented in chapter 10 of the Ling Shu, however, they are also found in others chapters in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu.
June, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 06
Traditional Thai Massage Improves Bone Formation in Postmenopausal Women
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Contributed by April V Neufeld, BS, LMP, Jolie Haun, PhD, LMT, Derek Austin, MS, CMT, CSCS
When you were young, your parents may have told you drinking milk would give you healthy bones. As adults, we learn that activities such as exercise are also necessary in helping our body maintain bone density and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. This month, we will discuss a recent study showing how promoting healthy bones can be as easy as receiving Thai massage while lying relaxed on a floor mat.
A study performed at the Endocrine and Metabolism Unit of Ramathibodi Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, and subsequently published in BMC: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013), examined the effects of traditional Thai massage on bone formation in postmenopausal women. The researchers speculated that the pressure exerted by the massage therapist on the patient may, "induce strain in the skeleton and affect bone, similar to other means of applying mechanical load."
Forty-eight postmenopausal women participated; subjects diagnosed with any disorders affecting bone metabolism such as diabetes, cancer or rheumatoid arthritis, among others, were excluded. A randomized crossover design was used, meaning each participant was in the control and the treatment group. In describing the design, the authors wrote, "Subjects in the treatment group underwent a two-hour session of Thai traditional massage twice a week for four weeks, while no intervention was given to subjects in the control group. After a two-week washout period, subjects were switched to the other arm of intervention for four weeks." Additionally, the subjects were asked to avoid exercise for 24 hours and to fast for a minimum of 10 hours prior to the morning blood test. In order to track changes in biochemical markers of bone turnover, each subject had measurements taken of their body and bone composition, as well as the bone mineral density of their first four lumbar vertebrae, neck of the femur and hip as a whole.
The methods of the study described the traditional Thai massage in moderate detail. A single massage practitioner performed Thai massage for two-hour sessions that involved direct pressure by the heel of outstretched hands on the subject's body for about a one to two second duration. The researchers outlined the subject's position (lying on back, lying on side, lying on chest) and various positions of the practitioner with photos. However, inadequate detail was given describing the amount of pressure being applied by the massage therapist. And, while the researchers indicated that the massage therapists applied pressure using the heel of the hand, the photos clearly indicated that fingers and broad hand positions were also used.
In a previous study, the researchers measured that a single two-hour treatment of traditional Thai massage increased the markers for bone formation by 4.8%. This current study indicated that two treatments per week resulted in higher markers, with the biggest improvement noted in the older women with smaller body frames (14.8% ± 3.3%). This is exciting news for older women who are concerned about osteoporosis and are not actively involved in a strength training routine, as well as for massage therapists who frequently use compressive techniques during treatments. The researchers discussed several other studies related to this project. Previous research has indicated that massage will decrease bone pain, improve bone growth and promote lean mass and bone growth in the early postnatal period. Additionally, people who participate in physical activity in addition to massage during the peri-neonatal period have improved bone formation. However, there is little research on the effects of massage on bone metabolism in adults.
As many people already know, performing mechanical load exercises (i.e. weightlifting and load bearing exercises such as walking and running) put strain on our skeletal muscles that then induces bone growth. Active and passive exercises will improve bone mass and decrease bone loss. What research has not yet shown is whether a light load must be accompanied by a high frequency in order to be as effective as a heavy weight with low frequency. It may be possible that low-impact activities such as walking or receiving massage must be repeated more often to receive the same benefits in terms of bone formation of someone lifting heavy weights less often. When speaking with our patients, we should note that this study indicates that Thai massage should be performed two times per week to have an impact on bone markers.
Though these findings are intriguing, the researchers discussed several limitations to the study. Most notably, this study does not specifically indicate that increased bone markers will result in increased bone mass and reduced fractures. Additionally, this study had a fairly small subject pool (n=48). It is also unclear if the effects of this study could be generalized to all massage therapists since only a single massage therapist was used to provide the Thai massage. The researchers also failed to mention the qualifications or education training of the massage practitioner. Future studies with this team should provide more details about the massage itself, such as qualification standards and a massage protocol for consistency and replication. One additional limitation was noted, in that the researchers indicated that while they excluded subjects taking medications for osteoporosis, they did include seven subjects who had osteoporosis at the spine, femoral neck or hip. Including women with an existing history of osteoporosis would certainly impact the results.
Despite the limitations of this research, the findings still have important implications for research and practice. First, we often think of outcomes associated with massage related to stress and pain reduction, however this study demonstrated healing effects of Thai massage that might not have otherwise been considered by most. This research extends the body of knowledge in massage research outcomes and can be used to help practitioners explain the impact of their work in promoting healthy bones. As practitioners and researchers work together to explore the impacts of Thai massage and other touch modalities on diverse outcomes, we continue to expand the knowledge of this work and its application to the larger field of health and wellness.
If you would like to read more details about this study, you can find the link to the full article at Biomed Central or visit the Massage Therapy Foundation's archive of research review articles.
Click here for more information about Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor.
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