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Mar 16 2010

Help for Overworked Hands

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Written by the Save Your Hands! author, Lauriann Green, the progression of massage therapists’ self care is chronicled. In addition to practical injury prevention tips, you will gain insight into the nature of this profession’s repetitive stress injuries.

Injury Prevention for Massage Therapists

10- Year Retrospective

By Lauriann Greene
February/March 2005

December 2005 marks the 10th anniversary of Save Your Hands!, my book on injury prevention for massage therapists. This anniversary would normally have no particular significance other than for me personally, if it were not for the fact that Save Your Hands! was one of the first comprehensive books about the risk and prevalence of occupation-related injury among massage therapy students and professionals and how to effectively deal with it. The large-scale release of the book throughout North America and its extensive promotion to massage schools, along with the self-care workshops I gave across the United States and Canada, gave this topic national attention for the first time. This was also a time when public awareness of repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) was increasing, due in part to the much-publicized lawsuits brought by injured computer operators against their employers in the early 1990s.

The problem of injury among massage therapists certainly existed long before 1995, and I was not the first to mention it. In the 1980s, Frances M. Tappen, in her book Healing Massage Techniques, wrote four brief, but important paragraphs about the incidence of work-related pain, arthritis of the fingers and wrists, and carpal tunnel syndrome among massage therapists.1 Maja Evans, in her 1992 release, The Ultimate Hand Book , wrote about burnout and injury among massage therapists. She claimed that “80 percent of the people who start out in bodywork drop out after the first two years,” due, among other factors, to their hands giving out and not possessing the physical stamina to do their work.2 It was evident that massage therapists were getting injured, but the cause and nature of those injuries had yet to be revealed.

How far have we come in these 10 years? How has the profession responded to the challenges of a changing massage industry? Do we know more about massage-related injury now than we did a decade ago? And, most importantly, have practitioners routinely incorporated self-care and injury prevention into their lives?

The Growth of an Industry
One of our major challenges has been the evolution of massage into a major industry. Once considered the domain of athletes or New-Age enthusiasts, massage has become mainstream and widely accepted, both for relaxation and for the treatment of musculoskeletal complaints. As a result, there is an increasing demand from the public for qualified massage therapists and a new opportunity within the medical community to integrate massage into standard allopathic treatment plans. Licensure requirements have been instituted in most states for massage practitioners, and an increasing number of insurance plans have agreed to reimburse for massage treatment. This period of time has seen massage change from a marginal activity to a mainstream profession, many of whose members can make a full-time living practicing massage. Thousands of new massage and bodywork schools have opened in North America and around the world, and the number of working massage therapists worldwide is now in the millions. While this evolution certainly represents a big step forward for massage therapists and bodyworkers, it also brings with it an increasing pressure on the practitioner to perform and produce at a high level. That expectation, in and of itself, greatly increases the risk of injury.

Even the massage techniques we use have changed. Insurance companies want to see measurable results before they will reimburse us for massage, and practitioners have to be able to justify their techniques. Broad, light techniques that emphasized circulation or relaxation have been, in many cases, largely replaced by techniques that work on specific areas of pain or discomfort with small, repetitive movements and pressure. Massage, which was historically a holistic discipline sought to bring a sense of well-being, increased circulation, and general relaxation to the body (rather than treat specific complaints), has become much more allopathic in its approach. Western consumers, who have always been more comfortable with an allopathic approach than a holistic one, also project those expectations to the massage practitioner and expect “treatment” and deep pressure during their massages. Unfortunately, it is those small, repetitive movements with deep pressure that put the practitioner at the highest risk for injury.

Massage in the 21st century is big business, estimated at more than $4 billion per year.3 The financial interests involved create an overall climate in the therapeutic workplace that is often hostile to the concept of self-care. Too often, there is a tendency to be more interested in the financial bottom line than in the health of the people who are doing the work. This was the case with large corporations that, in the 1980s and ’90s, chose to disregard the pain and dysfunction that was plaguing their employees who typed all day at poorly-designed workstations. Employees had to bring lawsuits against those corporations to convince them to start taking computer-related RSI seriously, upgrade workstations, and provide on-site education and consultation on workplace injury prevention.

A search for “carpal tunnel syndrome” on now brings up 3,288 books, and new ones come out every month. A more educated and informed workforce has been successful in putting pressure on corporations to install ergonomic workstations to enable their employees to work comfortably. These corporations have ultimately understood that it is in their own best interest to help their workers prevent injuries that could lead to workman’s compensation claims and work absences.

In the last 10 years, some massage clinics, spas, and even schools have chosen to pay more attention to their own financial interests than to protecting their students and practitioners from injury. Hundreds of massage therapy practitioners and students have written to me about their experiences. I have been disheartened to hear from many bodyworkers, even quite recently, who have been required to do a large number of massages each day with no more than five minutes break between them, often in cramped quarters unsuited to working in an ergonomic manner. I have also heard from a number of massage students and professionals that they learned little or nothing in school about injury physiology or injury prevention.

It is particularly worrisome to see there are still schools that do not deal openly with the risk of injury, even though there are many students who will experience pain and injury during their massage school training. Perhaps school owners feel including injury prevention in their curricula will alert potential students to the risk of injury in the profession and dissuade them from becoming massage therapists in the first place. It also appears some schools do not teach their instructors and administrators to take their students’ pain and other injury symptoms seriously and refer them out for appropriate treatment.

One student told me she was accepted into a massage school after revealing to the admissions officer that she was suffering from chronic elbow tendonitis and was told she shouldn’t worry about it because she would learn prevention techniques later on in school. She contacted me to ask my opinion before signing her enrollment papers. One can only wonder about a school that accepts a student who is already injured, without requiring she see a doctor and treat the injury before starting the program. The school officials seem more concerned about getting students to commit to their programs and pay their tuition than about protecting their health.

Looking Within
The massage and bodywork profession has played an important role in raising awareness of this issue within its own ranks. In the last 10 years, the major massage magazines have published many articles on injury prevention, written by myself and by other prominent people in the field. Workshops and seminars on the subject have been sponsored by the major massage associations at their annual conferences and independently. In the time since Save Your Hands! was published, several other books on injury prevention and self-care have come out, each bringing an additional point of view and helpful ideas to the discussion. While I don’t always agree with the thrust of these books or the specific advice offered in them, I am happy to see that other members of the profession feel injury prevention is an important enough subject to devote their time and effort to writing and publishing a book on the subject. These books help increase the visibility of this issue within the massage community.

While some of their counterparts have not, many massage schools have done their part to inform students of the risk of work-related injury by including injury prevention information in their curricula. Recommending a book on injury prevention sends a clear message that this is a key subject.

Schools that have instituted injury prevention curricula demonstrate a real concern for their students’ health on a human level. They also realize it is in their own best interest to keep their students healthy and to turn out graduates who are capable of sustaining viable, long-term careers in massage. This emphasis can only increase the stature of massage as a desirable profession and legitimize the school’s claim of offering potential students a meaningful and profitable career. If Maja Evans was right, and 80 percent of last year’s graduates will last no more than two years in their careers, then the future of the massage profession and the massage school business is not bright. In the future, schools will play a major role in determining whether the massage industry continues to grow or whether so many practitioners get injured that massage gets a bad rap as a “tissue” industry: Use them up, and throw them out.

While the increasing number of massage schools offering injury prevention curricula is a positive thing for the profession, I have concerns about a growing trend in schools (and in independent workshops) toward teaching “body mechanics” and touting it as the principal method of preventing massage-related injury. No one disputes the fact that it’s very important to learn how to effectively use your body as you perform massage and bodywork techniques. But learning body mechanics is not the same thing as learning injury prevention and self-care. It is the modern tendency to look for the “magic bullet,” the pill, treatment, or technique that will turn a complex problem into a simple one that can be dealt with quickly and easily.

Injury prevention is a complex subject with many facets: To effectively prevent injury, we must adjust technique, become aware of our own physical advantages and disadvantages, exercise, stretch, improve posture, understand the physiology and warning signs of injury, adjust our expectations and attitudes toward massage, be smart about managing our workplace and schedule, and practice good body mechanics (among other things). Poor body mechanics are not the only causes of injury, and good body mechanics are not the only elements needed to prevent injury. If using proper body mechanics prevented injury by itself, no top-level athlete would ever get injured, since those athletes perform their sports with nearly perfect body mechanics. And yet, nearly all athletes, even the best ones, get injured at one time or another. A massage therapist who never works out, has hypermobile wrists, suddenly increases the number of massages she does per week, and uses her thumbs 95 percent of the time she massages is likely to get injured, no matter how solid her body mechanics.

So indeed, this past decade has seen many positive changes in the injury prevention landscape. These changes have brought increased awareness of the risks of occupation-related injury to the public in general and massage and bodywork practitioners in particular, and a growing number of massage schools are including injury prevention information in their curricula. Certainly, then, massage therapists must be aware at this point that any hand-intensive activity can lead to repetitive stress injury, and the message has assuredly been passed within the profession that injury is a concern. And yet, many massage therapists continue to voluntarily do seven massages in a day with just enough time between them to change the sheets and continue to massage even though their hands are throbbing with pain.

What’s Going on Here?
I recently had an opportunity to reflect on this question when I taught an injury prevention workshop for a group of students and graduates of a massage school in upstate New York. I hadn’t given a workshop for about four years, and I was curious to see if massage therapists had become more savvy about injury prevention since my last contact with them. I always begin the workshop by asking if anyone in the group is experiencing pain as a result of their massage work. Usually, most of the participants raise their hands. Then I ask how many of those who raised their hands considered themselves to be injured. Before, I would invariably see most of the hands lower quickly, showing that participants were not anxious to admit they were injured, or that they didn’t associate their symptoms with injury. Four years later, the result was the same.

This experience shows me two things: First, there is still a good deal of shame and reluctance about admitting to injury as a massage therapist; and second, there is still a lack of understanding of injury physiology among massage therapists, evidence of a lack of education on the subject.

The Emotion of Injury
Shame and lack of education are linked. Shame is the reaction of those who don’t realize what they are suffering is common and widespread and who have been hounded by others who have no more understanding than they do. And yet, at this stage, how can therapists still remain in the dark on this subject? There has been considerable talk in the profession and elsewhere about this subject. All the anecdotal and empirical evidence, plus the data available on RSIs and occupation-related injury, lead us to conclude that massage-related injury is quite common among massage therapists, both students and professionals. I have seen hundreds of injured massage therapists in my workshops and heard from hundreds more. Their stories could easily be the same as thousands of other massage therapists: too little attention to their own bodies (an attitude that is epidemic in our society as a whole), too much demand to perform the most massages possible so they can make a living, too much pressure in the workplace and in school, and on and on.

The school administrators, instructors, and massage association leaders with whom I have spoken about this subject confirm these observations. A statistical study on the incidence of occupation-related injury among physical therapists4 recently showed that a significant percentage of those practitioners who use their hands less intensively and for shorter lengths of time in each session than massage therapists who do, experience upper extremity injury as a result of their work. In a world where anyone who works intensively with their hands is at high risk for upper extremity injury (computer operators, seamstresses, musicians, cashiers, etc.), why would massage therapists be exempt? And yet, many massage therapists still have a difficult time admitting the pain they’ve had in their hands for the past month is truly an injury and not “something that will go away if I just work through it.”

If massage therapists are ashamed to have symptoms of injury, that shame is going to keep them from getting the information they need to avoid injury and the treatment they need to be able to heal. There’s an inordinate amount of denial and intolerance among massage therapists and bodyworkers on this subject. I have been surprised to receive comments, even recently, from a number of professionals who illustrate this point. Like the one who has been working for 20 years with never an ache or a pain (in my opinion, a small minority) and found it ridiculous that anyone would be concerned enough about injury prevention to buy a book on the subject. Or the one who said he was well-informed about injury physiology and has never had an injury and, therefore, couldn’t understand why anyone would need “rudimentary” and “common sense” information about pain symptoms, inflammation, and injury.

After all this time, many massage therapists are still threatened by the idea of spreading information and education about injury and injury prevention within the profession. I continue to receive e-mails and letters from massage therapists who tell me they have been chastised or ridiculed by their coworkers or fellow students when they admitted to pain and injury. My personal experience with a massage-related injury that cut short my own massage career right out of massage school is understandably threatening and engenders hostility among those who prefer to believe this type of injury could never happen to them.

Some of the fear of admitting to injury comes from an understandable fear of losing work and income in a profession that is increasingly competitive and makes unrealistic demands on its therapists. This attitude was evident in one of my workshop participants who insisted she couldn’t stop doing a certain technique she found painful because “my clients come to me because I do that technique for them.” What a shame to so totally discount what you have to offer as a human being and reduce your value as a massage therapist to the sum of the techniques you do. Some of the apprehension comes from misplaced priorities. A massage school instructor recently told me she regularly encourages students to spread their clinic time out over several months, but many still cram it in right away to get finished faster so they can get licensed and begin making money.

One thing is certain: Massage therapists can be their own worst enemies. Although we’ve made great strides in the past 10 years, resistance to change of attitude, while very human, is one of the major factors holding us back from making further progress in preventing injury in our profession.

Prevention in the Next Decade
Even though we’ve seen positive changes regarding injury prevention, we still are left asking what the next 10 years might bring. Ideally, massage schools will train their instructors and administrators to recognize injury symptoms and institute systems to make sure students get proper treatment for those injuries, even if it means taking some time off from hands-on massage. They will teach injury physiology early in their programs, so students can understand that degenerative and irreversible changes in their tissues can occur if they continue “massaging through the pain.” They will teach a comprehensive curriculum that includes good body mechanics, but also the many other adaptations and adjustments needed to stay healthy throughout a long massage career.

I hope we’ll also see a return to holistic treatment, rather than the current emphasis on spot treatment. Such a change in attitude would be better for our bodies and for the client who needs to be educated that pressure doesn’t always equal relief or appropriate treatment.

Perhaps other members of the profession will come forward and recount their personal experiences with massage-related injury and how they overcame it. We’ve seen the influence that stars of sports (like Lance Armstrong) or film (like Michael J. Fox) can have in changing attitudes and creating awareness when they speak of their own struggles with illness. The more we can speak openly about this issue, the more we will combat the shame and denial that holds us back.

There are many questions yet to be answered about massage-related injury. We still do not have reliable statistics to indicate what percentage of practitioners become injured, what symptoms they most frequently encounter, etc. I hope to find some of the answers to these questions in a research study, I’m preparing on the prevalence of occupational musculoskeletal injury among massage therapy and bodywork students and professionals.

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals is my partner and sponsor for this study and you will find the results in a subsequent issue of Massage & Bodywork . Armed with these statistics, we’ll be able to more fully understand the scope of the problem and more effectively institute programs to combat it. I will continue to speak out about injury prevention, and I am working on the second edition of Save Your Hands!, which will contain more extensive documentation and updated information on the many aspects of repetitive stress injury among massage therapists, how to prevent it, and how to treat it when it happens. I look forward to continuing to develop constructive partnerships within the massage community in the next decade and beyond, to enable us to reach our common goal: reducing the risk of career-threatening injury among massage and bodywork professionals and students. This is the only way we can continue the advancement of the fascinating field of massage, which enriches our human experience.

Tips for Practitioners

Modifying your lifestyle and work habits is an essential factor in preventing injury. Once you are injured, the road to recovery can be long. These techniques can help you save your hands and your investment in your bodywork career:

• Get in shape. Plan on working out at least three times a week like any good athlete, including strengthening, stretching, and aerobics. Maintaining good circulation will help you heal any incipient injuries and keep them from developing into more serious ones.

• Avoid other hand-intensive activities. One body can only take so much hand-intensive work. Playing an instrument professionally or working as a typist, in addition to your massage work, will likely get you injured.

• Take care of your hands every day. They are the tools of your trade; treat them with care. Avoid opening stuck jars, lifting heavy objects, hammering nails — anything that can cause trauma or stress your hands.

• Develop good body mechanics. Using your body efficiently to produce the most effective movement with the least effort will reduce the strain of your massage work on your body. Remain upright as much as possible while you work; keep your joints aligned in your hand and arm; use the larger muscles of the back and shoulder to create movement and your body weight (not your arm muscles) to create pressure.

• Vary your massage technique. Use different parts of your hand and arms to do massage to avoid repetitive motion to any one part. For example, use your elbow sometimes to create pressure rather than always using your thumbs.

• Avoid massage techniques that cause you pain. There are thousands
of techniques to choose from, so do only those that you can do comfortably.

• Monitor your work schedule. Try to maintain a regular schedule of massages, so you don’t suddenly increase the number of massages you do or decrease the amount of time you have between massages.

• Warm your hands before working. If your hands are cold, you do not have enough blood flow in your upper extremities to keep tissues pliable and remove waste products caused by micro-tearing. Warm up with stretching and light aerobic exercise before you start massaging.

• Get an electric table. They are standard for physical therapists; why should massage therapists use anything less? An electric table allows you to adjust the height of the table at any moment to enable you to remain upright and maintain good body mechanics.

• Take time between massages. If you don’t have enough time between massages to relax, stretch, breath, and change the sheets, you are putting yourself at risk for injury.

• Use other modalities in your massages. Hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, energy balancing, spa treatments, and more can attract new clients and add to the value of your massages. They will also cut down on the amount of intensive hands-on work you do in each massage, which will allow your hands to rest.

• Develop a realistic attitude toward your work. There are limits to what you can do for your clients. Respecting your own limits is healthy and will help you keep your upper extremities healthy.

• Treat injuries immediately and effectively. If you have pain or dysfunction intermittently or constantly for more than four days, see a physician. You are probably already injured, and letting it go will only allow the injury to worsen.

• Stay in touch with the signals your body is sending you. Don’t get so lost in treating your clients that you no longer can hear the signals of pain and discomfort that you need to heed in order to stay healthy.

• Lighten up. Don’t exhaust yourself with every client. Pace yourself throughout your day and your week so you don’t end up physically drained.

Lauriann Greene , L.M.P., is the author of Save Your Hands! Injury Prevention for Massage Therapists ( ). A graduate of Seattle Massage School, she has done extensive research, writing, and speaking on the subject of occupation-related injury among hands-on health practitioners.

1 Tappan, Frances M. Healing Massage Techniques (2nd Edition). Appleton and Lange; 1988.

2 Evans, Maja. The Ultimate Hand Book . San Francisco, CA: Laughing Duck Press; 1992.

3 Massage & Bodywork . Media kit 2004.

4 Holder, Nicole L., et al. Cause, prevalence, and response to occupational musculoskeletal injuries reported by physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. Physical Therapy Magazine 1999 July; 79(7).

Posted by Nicole at 12:13 PM
© 2009 Institute for Integrative HealthCare Studies. This work is reproduced with the permission of the Institute.

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Nov 26 2009

Geriatric Massage – Part II: Modalities for Frail Elders

Discover six techniques that can safely be used on those who are experiencing the discomforts of aging, and find out five special precautions and contraindications to be aware of regarding this growing population.

by Linda Fehrs, LMT

Studies have shown that the lack of touch can lead to severe psychiatric or physical problems, and even death in infants. Among the elder population it can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and lethargy. Lack of caring touch can result in a diminishing quality of life for anyone. Babies cry out to us for touch, but the touch-deprived senior often remains silent. It is important for those in the bodyworking professions to reach out to those who perhaps need them the most.

A frail elder would be defined as someone requiring assistance in taking care of every day needs such as dressing, bathing and eating. They may not be able to move around freely on their own, perhaps needing a walker or wheelchair to assist in mobility. Often they are living with family members or reside in some kind of assisted living facility.

For the very frail client, any vigorous or deep massage is generally contraindicated. But there are also many modalities with a lighter touch that provide similar health benefits, as well as offer comfort and compassion to the recipient. For many frail elders a typical Swedish massage may be too stimulating, and care needs to be taken regarding the use of techniques that might influence the effects of medication. They may be taking medication for blood pressure, a blood thinner, insulin for diabetes or undergoing a regimen of chemotherapy. A thorough intake and evaluation is important in determining what techniques will be most beneficial to your client.

Less Invasive, Yet Effective Techniques
1. Cranial Sacral Therapy – is a gentle, non-invasive technique that uses a light touch to encourage the healthy movement of cerebrospinal fluid. This method of bodywork is used to reduce the negative effects of stress, enhance overall health and improve resistance to disease. It has also been shown to reduce problems associated with pain as well as some neurological dysfunctions, because of its affect on the brain and spinal cord.

2. Lymphatic Drainage – is used to stimulate the movement of lymph, which in turn helps to rid the body of inflammatory and toxic material. This technique uses a rhythmic, light touch to enhance the body’s own gentle pumping action within the lymphatic system. Lymphatic drainage massage helps to enhance the immune system as well as to reduce pain.

3. Polarity Therapy – is a bodywork technique that is based on basic principles of energy. The body is gently manipulated to rebalance the negative and positive energies within the body. Polarity therapy also encourages living in harmony with nature and includes recommendations of improving ones diet and exercise.

4. Reflexology – is a modality originally based on an ancient Chinese therapy. It involves the application of pressure to specific areas in the foot, hands and ears, which correspond to various parts of the body. The applied pressure to these reflex zones in turn stimulates body organs and relieves areas of energetic congestion. Reflexology is used to reduce pain, increase relaxation and stimulate circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids, and has been found to be useful in stress related illness and emotional disorders. Reflexology can also be used in circumstances where areas of the body are traumatized or diseased to the extent that direct touch is contraindicated.

5. Shiatsu – a light compression technique, similar to acupressure, was developed in Japan and uses traditional acupuncture points which help to encourage the healthy flow of life energy as well as restore balance in the body. Shiatsu uses traditional five-element Chinese medicine, which shows a relationship between the earth’s natural rhythms and the human body. The technique produces a sense of relaxation while stimulating blood and lymphatic flow. In turn, this helps with pain relief and the strengthening of the body’s resistance to disease and discomfort.

6. Therapeutic Touch – is a non-invasive form of energy work based on ancient energy healing methods. Used mostly by nurses, it is also used by other bodywork professionals who are trained to feel or sense energy imbalances in the client. The therapist uses a light touch or holds the hand above the body, with the client generally seated. Therapeutic Touch has been used in a variety of medical situations, including the care of premature infants. It is known to induce a state of relaxation within minutes.

Five Precautions
1. Hot Stone Massage – it might seem gentle enough, but for those who are on certain pain medications, or who suffer from the effects of diabetes, they are less sensitive to heat and pain and may not be able to respond appropriately. Make sure you are well trained in this modality before using it on a frail or elderly client.

2. Accommodating Special Needs – whether the massage is conducted in your office, a client’s home, an assisted living facility, a hospital or hospice, care needs to be taken to accommodate the special needs of the individual. Preparation in the way of extra bolsters or pillows, a blanket for added warmth or lubricants for dry or fragile skin is very important.

3. Slower Mobility – depending on the modality or techniques used, you may want to limit the massage session to no more than a half hour, and allow extra time before and after the session to allow for slower mobility. Intake may take longer, your client may need more time to get undressed or there may be problems with mobility, getting on and off the table or in and out of the office.

4. Special Contraindications – would be to never work in an area that has received radiation therapy or that has a tumor.

5. The Usual Precautions Are Also Advices – such as avoiding black and blue areas, varicose or other distended veins, areas of recent surgery, rashes, etc. And if your client has a pacemaker or other implanted device, make sure you get an okay from his/her physician.

At any age massage therapy can be a benefit, but for the frail elderly it ameliorates some of the inevitable physical discomfort and pain that accompanies growing older. It helps us improve their mobility as well. Getting a regular massage helps in the emotional aspects of their lives as well. It has been shown to reduce the feelings of isolation, fear, anxiety and depression perhaps because it offers a gentle, nurturing touch to those who may live a life alone without close family or friends.

Consider providing your services as a massage therapist to nursing homes, assisted care facilities, hospitals and hospice programs. You will find it is rewarding in more ways than words can express.

Recommended Study:
Cranial Sacral Fundamentals
Healing Energy and Touch
Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Polarity Therapy
Shiatsu Anma Therapy


Catlin, LMT, Ann. “Serving Older Adults.” MJT Summer 2008: 111-121.

Finch, Mary Ann. Care Through Touch. New York: Continuum, 1999.

Nelson, MFA, CMT, Dawn. Compassionate Touch: Hands-On Caregiving for the Elderly, the Ill and the Dying. Barrytown, New York: Station Hill Press, Inc., 1994.

Nelson, Dawn. From the Heart Through the Hands: The Power of Touch in Caregiving. Forres, Scotland: Findhorn Press, 2001.

Rose, Mary Kathleen. “Comfort Touch: Nurturing Acupressure Massage for the Elderly and Ill.” December/January 2004. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. 14 Oct 2008 .

Posted by Editors at 02:06 PM
© 2009 Institute for Integrative HealthCare Studies. This work is reproduced with the permission of the Institute.

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Aug 03 2009

2 minute exercise

This page contains 2 minute exercise routines. These can be done at your desk. Including a regular mini break revives your body and enables you to be more productive. Press the start button on the timer below when you are ready. Drink more water little and often.

These Exercises are ideal when you have corporate massages, as this keeps you focused at all times.

1.Breathe in and hold your breath. Rotate your shoulders backwards 5 times. Breathe out while you rotate your shoulders forwards 5 times. Repeat twice.
2.Breathing normally. Gently pull each finger and thumb in turn. Then shake and flick your hands. Repeat twice.

3.Breathe normally. Gently lean backwards and then forwards five times each way.
4.Lay on a couch or bench. Breathe normally. Keep your feet flat and in contact with the surface. Slowly slide your feet towards your buttocks until your knees are raised Then gently slide them back down the bed and point your toes. Repeat 4 times. (If you have a problem with your back or your hips keep your feet in contact with the bed at all times). If you wish to extend this exercise you can do so by raising your knees to your chest.
5.Breathing normally. Face forwards. Lean your right ear to your right shoulder, pushing your left hand towards the floor.Hold for the count of 5. Then lean your left ear to your left shoulder,pushing your right hand towards the floor.Hold for the count of 5. Repeat twice.

Seated chair Massage is the best way to relax at your office

By Jocye Hardy

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May 23 2009

The Far Reaching Benefits of Workplace Massage in New York City

16th September 2008Author: Brandon Thomas
Views: 20
New York is a fast growing, rapidly changing metropolis with a population of more than 8 million people. The city has long been an important center for shipping, finance, media and culture and the New York metropolitan area serves as the headquarters for many of the world’s largest corporations. The job opportunities are as varied as the population and all hope to attract the best and brightest professionals. There is stiff competition among companies to lure well-qualified candidates and retain them once they are hired.

Once hired, many employees find themselves over stressed and fatigued do to the competitive and fast paced nature of New York’s corporate culture. Increased levels of stress can have an adverse effect on job performance and health if left unaddressed. Excess stress has been shown to cause insomnia, chronic headaches, overeating, an inability to focus and can contribute to more serious problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Employers see an increase in absenteeism, lowered productivity and poor office morale, which translate into lost revenue.

A growing number of corporations are implementing employee wellness programs to keep their staff healthy and to reduce the frequency of sick days. Chair massage is an excellent addition to a corporate wellness program because of its convenience and lasting benefits. Therapeutic massage has been proven effective in calming anxiety, reducing stress and improving mental clarity. Physical benefits include relief from muscle aches, lowered blood pressure, improved circulation and improved immune system function.

Chair massage is ideal for a workplace setting because it requires only a small amount of space and is performed in short but thorough sessions. Sessions normally last between 5 and 15 minutes, which is within the span of a typical coffee break. Chair massage therapists do not use oils or lotions, which allows professionals to maintain their appearance and remain completely dressed. Positive results can be felt immediately and are long lasting. Work related injuries, resulting from poor ergonomics or repetitive stress and strain are escalating among office workers. New York massage services can alleviate pain caused by muscle strain and reduce tenderness and swelling of areas affected by repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The improved circulation that New York chair massage provides helps to rid tissues of excess fluids and toxins, while facilitating the flow of important nutrients to the area. Harried professionals often consume high levels of refined sugar and caffeine, which contributes to a nutrient-poor diet. A poor diet coupled with increased stress can take a toll on the immune system’s ability to ward off illness by hindering the production of white blood cells. A short New York City massage releases toxins and heightens the production and effectiveness of the body’s natural germ fighters.

Morale and job satisfaction are also major concerns for employers. A low office morale can greatly reduce productivity by fostering feelings of apathy and an individual’s inability to effect change. Workers within such environments report feeling burned out, unmotivated and overly anxious. The negative effects of stress are multiplied and can cause a marked increase in absenteeism and employee turnover. Companies that offer regular employee massage have found it to be a cost effective way to improve workplace morale, attract top performers and view it as an opportunity to show their commitment to their employees’ physical and emotional health.

Tags: high blood pressure, mental clarity, reducing stress, immune system function, therapeutic massage, coffee break, chronic headaches, levels of stress, chair massage, massage therapists
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May 19 2009

ADD Signs and Symptoms

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a chronic neurobehavioral disorder, characterized by hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Read on to know more about ADD signs and symptoms.
You might have seen some kids who are not able to pay attention, who cannot concentrate or who are not able to follow the instructions even after explained clearly. Such kids may be the victims of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD). ADD is a neurological disorder, which typically affects children and may persist in adulthood. Children with ADD show inability to concentrate, hyperactivity and forgetfulness. Such children have poor performance in school, troubled relationships and low self-esteem.

Causes of ADD

There are a number of factors that can contribute to develop ADD in children. Certain modifications in brain anatomy and function are considered one of the main causes of ADD. The neurotransmitter dopamine (brain chemicals) is mainly responsible for such behavioral changes. Some other causes of ADHD are heredity, exposure to environmental toxins, drug abuse and maternal smoking.

Signs and Symptoms of ADD

ADD is also referred to as minimal brain dysfunction. ADD/ADHD affects about 8-10% of school-age children. Boys are more likely to develop this disorder than girls. Children and adults affected by ADD are not able to control their spontaneous responses involving movement, attentiveness and speech, leading to hyperactivity, inattentiveness and impulsive behavior. Signs and symptoms of ADD are categorized as inattentiveness symptoms and hyperactivity-impulsive behavior symptoms.

Inattentiveness symptoms: Some of the common inattentiveness symptoms are as follows:
Children with ADD often fail to give close attention to details. Hence, they make several mistakes in schoolwork. They are not able to sustain attention in any kind of tasks or at play.
They usually tend to lose things such as toys, tools, books, etc.
These children are unable to follow the instructions properly and complete the assigned task.
Children with ADD are not able to organize tasks or activities. They are distracted easily.
They are frequently forgetful about daily activities.
You may notice that children with ADD don’t listen to you carefully, even if spoken directly.
They tend to avoid any task that involves mental efforts.
Hyperactivity-impulsive behavior symptoms: Excessive activity is one of the common symptoms associated with ADD. Certain symptoms related to hyperactivity are as follows:
Children with ADD often move their hands or feet restlessly. They have a tendency to squirm or fidget frequently.
They tend to leave their seats, when expected to remain seated.
Excessive scaling or running at appropriate timings is another important sign of hyperactivity. Hyperactivity symptoms are seen in the form of constant restlessness in adolescents.
Children with ADD are not able to play or do leisurely things peacefully. Incessant talking without a sense when to stop is common with these children.
Acting without thinking is the major sign of impulsiveness. Children with ADD have often a tendency to blurt out answers, before the questions are being finished. They have a tendency to interrupt with others’ conversations or games. They are too impatient to wait for their turn during a game. They tend to interrupt during social events and demand too much attention.

Inattentiveness symptoms are observed in children of 8-9 years of age. These symptoms usually persist lifelong. Hyperactivity symptoms start by 5 years of age and become extremely severe between 7 and 8 years of age. Children with ADD have low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and aggressive or violent behavior.

The treatment of ADD emphasizes on controlling signs and symptoms of ADD and improving child’s mental abilities. The treatment constitutes a combination of medications and various therapies. ADHD medications such as dextroamphetamine or methylphenidate can help in increasing attention and concentration and reducing hyperactivity and impulsivity. Children with ADD benefit from different therapies such as behavioral therapy, psychotherapy and family therapy. A structured classroom management and parent education also play a significant role while dealing with ADD.

By Reshma Jirage
Published: 1/12/2009

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Apr 26 2009

Dark Chocolate for the Love of Life

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Are you looking for additional reasons to gift or consume chocolate this Valentine’s Day? Read about the scientific proof and corresponding guidelines to improving health with chocolate.

Nothing says I love you like chocolate – dark chocolate, that is. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, why not buy your special someone something that not only promotes love but longevity as well. There are now more reasons than ever to give the gift of chocolate. Sure, it tastes good, and is great for a quick boost of energy during the mid-afternoon slump, but recent studies have shown that eating dark chocolate can have valuable health benefits. Believe it or not, that heart-shaped box of chocolates may actually be good for the very organ it resembles. That’s news everyone will love.

Dark chocolate contains a high amount of flavonoids, antioxidant rich compounds commonly found in fruits, vegetables and plants. The primary sources of flavonoids are teas, wine, berries and chocolate. These flavonoids play a vital role in cardiovascular health, and may even help fight heart disease and lower blood pressure. Keep in mind that these flavonoids are specific to dark chocolate, as milk chocolate does not contain nearly the same levels of antioxidants, while white chocolate has none at all. According to Mauro Serafini, PhD, of Italy’s National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research, the reason dark chocolate has proven healthier than milk chocolate is because the milk in milk chocolate may actually interfere with the absorption of antioxidants, canceling out its positive benefits.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a study was done where participants were given 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, then went seven days without consuming any chocolate, followed by another two weeks of eating 3.2 ounces of white chocolate each day. The results showed that after the two-week period of consuming dark chocolate, blood sugar metabolism and insulin resistance were significantly improved. None of the same results were evident following the white chocolate period, demonstrating that flavonoids specific to dark chocolate provide a considerable benefit to fighting heart disease and diabetes.

Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, a senior scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, conducted another chocolate study reported on by the American Heart Association. Results of this study proved that eating dark chocolate helps to substantially lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. In fact, Blumberg claims “three ounces of dark chocolate per day over several weeks reduced blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension and also seemed to provide a benefit on their insulin sensitivity.” While these results may indicate chocolate as being healthy, Blumberg says, “The findings do not suggest that people with high blood pressure should eat lots of chocolate in lieu of other important blood pressure-reduction methods, such as medication and exercise.” Even though dark chocolate appears to be cardiovascular-friendly, it should not be considered a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet.

While the findings of these studies are exciting, they are not a prescription for over-indulging in your favorite chocolatey snack. Chocolate is widely known to be high in calories and fat, and as with most sweets, should be consumed in moderation. A small piece of dark chocolate each day seems appropriate.

Now that you know about chocolate’s potential health bonuses, you can enjoy your chocolate fix without guilt. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, show those you care about how much you really love them by giving them a tasty treat that’s also advantageous to their health. Or, if you find yourself on the receiving end of this wonderful dark-chocolatey snack, say thank you – from the very bottom of your heart.

References, Reinberg, Steven, HealthDay News, Dark Chocolate May Sweeten the Way to Health, July 18, 2005., DeNoon, Daniel, WedMD Medical News, Dark Chocolate Has Health Benefits Not Seen in Other Varieties, August 27, 2003., Warner, Jennifer, WedMD Medical News, Eating Dark Chocolate May Also Fight Heart Disease and Diabetes, March 11, 2005.

Posted by Nicole at 09:32 AM

© 2009 Institute for Integrative HealthCare Studies. This work is reproduced with the permission of the Institute.

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Apr 26 2009

When to Splurge on Organic Food

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In addition to the health sustaining fiber, vitamins and antioxidants provided by produce, you are likely ingesting pesticides as well. Learn which popular fruits and veggies are relatively chemical-free, and which warrant splurging in your market’s organic section.

From a pesticide perspective, all conventionally grown produce is not created equal. This inequality stems from bugs’ own food preferences. Problems occur when bugs and humans have a penchant for the same fruit or vegetable. In order for crops to grow to maturity before being ravaged by pests, agribusiness uses a wide variety of pesticides.

While the health impact of ongoing pesticide ingestion is unclear, lab studies have demonstrated a connection between pesticides and birth defects, developmental delays, nerve damage and cancer. The effects relate to the toxicity of the individual pesticide as well as the amount consumed. Since it’s unrealistic to insulate yourself from exposure entirely, the ideal solution is to minimize pesticide consumption.

Organic produce is the saving grace of those wishing to consume mutually-desired (by bugs and humans), yet chemical-free food. The greatest caveat of filling our kitchens with organically grown fare is the considerable expense that accompanies this decision. Growers who don’t use pesticides yield smaller crops compared to their pesticide-using counterparts. It’s no wonder the increased cost of growing organic produce makes it dramatically more expensive.

The February 2006 edition of Consumer Reports helps those aware of the dangers of significant pesticide consumption to prioritize which fruits and veggies warrant paying the price for organic status. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed that even after washing, certain fruits and vegetables consistently carry varying levels of pesticide residue. As listed below, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a research and advocacy organization, reports the 12 most contaminated foods:

Fruit/Veggie % of samples tested with detectable pesticide residues Average amount in parts per million of all pesticides found
1 Nectarines 97.3% 0.576
2 Celery 94.5% 0.330
3 Pears 94.4% 0.719
4 Peaches 93.7% 1.137
5 Cherries 91.4% 0.290
6 Strawberries 90.4% 1.138
7 Apples 90.9% 1.022
8 Imported Grapes 86.2% 0.280
9 Spinach 83.4% 1.182
10 Potatoes 79.3% 1.260
11 Bell Peppers 68.2% 0.171
12 Raspberries 58.9% 0.788

According to, an EWG website, washing a fruit or vegetable does not change the rank of the preceding 12 most contaminated foods. This is because the pesticide testing was performed after the produce was washed and prepared for consumption. While washing will help reduce residue, it does not eliminate pesticide presence. Unfortunately, pesticides are not only on the surface of the produce, but can also wind up inside the plant’s matrix, rendering it permanent.

To further help decision-making in your local grocery store’s produce aisle, EWG also reports on the 12 least contaminated items:

Fruit/Veggie % of samples tested with detectable pesticide residues Average amount in parts per million of all pesticides found
1 Sweet Corn* 0.2% 0.000
2 Avocado 2.4% 0.002
3 Onion 5.9% 0.289
4 Pineapple 6.7% 0.001
5 Mango 7.4% 0.008
6 Cauliflower 7.6% 0.033
7 Asparagus 10.1% 0.187
8 Papaya 21.7% 0.227
9 Kiwi 23.6% 0.133
10 Broccoli 26.6% 0.004
11 Sweet Pea 27.0% 0.009
12 Banana 53.1% 0.047

*Sweet Corn is not laden by pesticide residues because 75-90 percent of domestically grown corn has been genetically modified to resist pests.

Because fruit and veggies are crucial to a healthy diet, eliminating them based solely on finances is not an ideal solution. Instead, use the above rankings to help determine where your extra dough should go. If you can only afford to splurge on the organic variety of one fruit and one vegetable, choose organic strawberries and spinach. On the other hand, you can save your pennies by purchasing conventionally grown pineapples and sweet peas.

As with any health-related advice, moderation reigns. The health benefits of a varied diet rich in fruit and veggies, should overshadow pesticide concerns. Choosing the least pesticide-laden produce is even more important for those who are pregnant, have young children or liver health concerns (the liver processes all of the toxins we ingest). Regardless of your situation, consider these lists as a tool to help you make the best produce choices.

Consumer Reports, February 2006; vol 71: pp 12-17., Report Card: Pesticides in Produce, Environmental Working Group, 2005., Organic Musts! 17 Most Important Foods to Eat Organic, Modified from: The Green Guide.

Posted by Nicole at 04:17 PM

© 2009 Institute for Integrative HealthCare Studies. This work is reproduced with the permission of the Institute.

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Apr 25 2009

ADHD Symptoms

ADHD or ADD is a neurological disorder that usually affects a person during their childhood, and persists into their adulthood. Here are some of the main ADHD symptoms.
You’ve probably come across them, the kids who simply cannot seem able to sit still, the ones that can’t seem to be able to pay attention, who can’t seem to stop themselves from blurting out inappropriate things at unsuitable times, who seem willfully not to follow instructions even though they have been explained clearly. Well, these are some of the classic ADHD symptoms that these children are displaying.

So, What Exactly is ADHD?

Well, ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also referred to as just ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder, is a chronic type of neurological disorder. The children and adults affected with this condition find it difficult to control their spontaneous responses, particularly those involving attentiveness, speech, and movement, which result in their inattentiveness, impulsive behavior, and hyperactivity. According to estimates, it is thought millions of children display the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder, and the condition usually continues into adulthood. Those affected with ADD symptoms usually also suffer from performance problems in school or at work, experience trouble with their personal relationships, and have low self-confidence and self esteem.

Exactly what treatment should be followed in order to control the symptoms of ADD is still under debate by the medical community. Presently, doctors are prescribing psychostimulant drugs in order to treat ADHD. However, even though many of the ADHD symptoms may be controlled by these drugs, they do not cure the condition. Plus, the side effects of these drugs can be a troubling factor. Special classroom modifications, support by the family as well as the community, and counseling are some of the supportive parts of the treatment.

Symptoms of ADD/ADHD

Most physicians are of the opinion that a child should not be diagnosed with ADHD unless the principal ADHD symptoms occur early in life and result in creating significant problems at school as well as at home in a continuous manner. Most children diagnosed with this condition display the signs of ADHD before they are seven years old, sometimes even earlier. The symptoms and signs of ADHD can be broadly categorized into two types: Inattentiveness; and Impulsive Behavior-Hyperactivity.

ADHD Symptom – Inattentiveness

Some of the symptoms of inattentiveness of ADHD are:
Careless mistakes made in schoolwork and the inability to pay attention closely to details
Difficulty in maintaining attention while doing tasks or even at play
Appears not to be listening even when directly spoken to
Finds it difficult to follow the instructions given and is not able to complete schoolwork, tasks, and chores
Usually has difficulty in organizing activities or tasks
Has the tendency to dislike or avoid any work that involves mental effort for a length of time, like when doing homework or schoolwork
Tends to be distracted easily
Frequently forgetful
Loses needful things like pencils, books, tools, or toys
ADHD Symptom – Impulsive Behavior-Hyperactivity

Some of the symptoms of the impulsive behavior-hyperactivity of ADHD are:
Has a tendency of squirming or fidgeting often
When it is expected for the child to remain seated, has the tendency of leaving his/her seat often
Excessive running or climbing when it is not appropriate, in adolescents it is displayed in constant restlessness
Excessive talkativeness
Has the tendency of blurting out answers before the questions have been asked fully
Has the tendency of intruding on or interrupting the games or conversation of others
Is too impatient to wait for his/her turn
Does not seem to have the ability to play quietly
Generally, children are diagnosed as having ADHD if they display six or more of the above symptoms in each of the categories, for a period of six months or so. Plus, these ADHD symptoms should affect at least two areas of the child’s life, namely at school and at home. This helps in ensuring that it is not because of a teacher or his/her parents that the child is displaying anomalous behavior. For example, children are not diagnosed as having ADHD if they seem to be having behavioral problems only at school while getting along quite well with their family at home or with their friends. Likewise with children who are inattentive or hyperactive at home, but are quite well adjusted at school and with their friends.

By Rita Putatunda
Published: 4/12/2008

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Apr 25 2009

Massage for Anterior Shin Splints

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Spring is fast approaching, meaning many sports enthusiasts will emerge from their winter den to begin physical activity. Shin splints can result from training too hard, too fast, sidelining any athlete. When performed appropriately, massage therapy can prevent anterior shin splints from recurring all season long.

Athletes and those who treat their injuries are all too familiar with the surge of strains, sprains and tears associated with the first few weeks of athletic training. Common among runners, anterior shin splints are one of the most prominent early season injuries. Anterior shin splints can develop gradually over a period of weeks to months, or may occur after a single, excessive bout of exercise.

Often occurring bilaterally, anterior shin splints typically involve inflammation and/or small tears in the tibialis anterior muscle where it is attached to the tibia. The pain is usually noticeable when exercise begins, then decreases as exercise continues. Often experienced as a burning sensation, the pain worsens after exercise or the following morning.

Due to the tearing of muscle fibers away from the periosteal attachment, anterior shin splints manifest as bumps and tender areas on the anterior leg. As these fibers heal, they become fibrotic, making it difficult for the muscle to lengthen normally. The fibrotic patches weaken the muscle by restricting movement, perpetuating the probability of future shin splints. Additionally, untreated shin splints place the individual at a greater risk for developing stress fractures.

Since the tibialis anterior muscle controls the lowering of the foot upon heel strike, stressing this movement can increase chances of injury. Activities leaving individuals susceptible to anterior shin splints include:

• Beginning a running program
• Excessive downhill running
• Sports requiring rapid starts and stops

Additional conditions which can increase the chances for shin splints are:

• Running on hard surfaces, or wearing shoes without adequate shock absorption
• Over-pronated (flat) feet, which increase stress on the lower leg muscles
• High arched feet due to their inability to absorb shock
• Excessive jumping, which places disproportionate stress on the toes

According to James Mally, ND, instructor of the Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies’ Sports Massage continuing education program, “The best ways to avoid shin splints are to warm-up well; stretch; run on soft surfaces as much as possible; avoid major changes in training, and ice at the first sign of discomfort. Orthotics may be necessary if there is inadequate arch support.”

Special considerations
Bodyworkers may note an imbalance between the weaker anterior leg muscle group and the larger and stronger posterior group. Tightness of the posterior muscle group can further aggravate anterior shin splints.

Prior to working with sharp anterior leg pain, the bodyworker should rule out a tibial stress fracture. A positive test for a stress fracture is eliciting pain at the fracture site when placing a vibrating tuning fork directly on the tibia. Refrain from local massage and refer to a physician if a stress fracture is suspected.

Another condition that may mask itself as shin splints is compartment syndrome of the lower leg. Also induced by exercise, compartment syndrome involves swelling, pain, parathesia, and can ultimately decrease leg motor function. Also requiring a referral, compartment syndrome demands medical evaluation.

Orthopedic specialists agree that the most important treatment for shin splints is rest. If the activity aggravating the tibialis anterior continues prior to the tissue healing, damage to the muscle will ensue. Additionally, directly icing the shin after activity will minimize tissue damage.

Massage is a valuable tool when recuperating from anterior shin splints. Bodywork can drastically reduce the tightened and fibrotic muscle tissue typical of this injury.

In the Institute’s Sports Massage continuing education course, Dr. Mally teaches two methods to decrease shin splint pain:

1. In the supine position, slightly rotate the leg medially to provide better access to the tibialis anterior. Work your way up the tibialis anterior with the heel of your hand or with your proximal forearm.

2. In the prone position, increase the tension on the tibialis anterior by bending the client’s knee and grasping their toes to plantar flex the client’s ankle. In this position, the therapist can maximize the depth of work on the tibialis anterior muscle.

In the August/September 2000 edition of Massage and Bodywork, Zhenya Kurashova Wine imparts information on Russian sports massage for running injuries. Wine clarifies the reasoning for the upward stroke direction when addressing anterior shin splints, “To reiterate, it is very important not to apply any downward pressure since this will increase the chance of edema, hemorrhage and possibly more tissue damage.”

Additionally, Wine suggests a conservative approach for anterior shin splints, by beginning massage on the posterior leg before progressing to the anterior leg. By massaging the muscle antagonist first, the injured area is flooded with circulation to prepare for direct manipulation.

Acupressure practitioners work two important points near the tibia to increase circulation for enhanced tibialis anterior healing:

• Stomach 36: Located four finger breadths below the eye of the knee, one finger breadth lateral to the anterior crest of the tibia, in the tibialis anterior.
• Spleen 9: On the lower border of the medial condyle of the tibia, in the depression on the medial border of the tibia.

Once the tibialis anterior muscle has healed, another step is necessary before engaging in the original offending activity. No different than any other sports related injury, the anterior leg muscles must be progressively stretched and strengthened to prevent re-injury. The key to successful rehabilitation is a gradual increase in its intensity.

A certified athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist, Benny Vaughn, LMT, suggests resistance exercises using rubber tubing or bands. Performing resistance exercises consisting of ankle dorsiflexion, plantar flexion, eversion and inversion can lengthen and strengthen the lower leg muscles, providing added insurance against future shin splints.

Anterior shin splints are a common injury, with every sports training facility seeing its fair share of painful tibialis anterior muscles. The massage techniques discussed here will maximize a bodyworker’s role in reducing anterior shin splint pain and damage.

The number one reason for recurring shin splints is an athlete’s impatience with the healing process and the premature return to activity. Educating these clients about the how, what and why of their anterior shin splints will facilitate prevention, healing and rehabilitation, paving the way for their full recovery.

Recommended Study:

Sports Massage

Lowe, Whitney, LMT, NCTMB, Shin Splints or Compartment Syndrome?, Massage Today, December 5, 2005.

Mally, Dr. James. Sports Massage, Abundant Health Resources, 2002.

Wine, Zhenya Kurashova, Running Injuries, Massage and Bodywork, August/September 2000., Vaughn, Benny, LMT, CAT, CSCS, Massage Therapy Makes the Difference in Sports and Exercise Benefits, 2006.

Posted by Nicole at 03:55 PM

© 2009 Institute for Integrative HealthCare Studies. This work is reproduced with the permission of the Institute.

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Mar 18 2009

Chromotherapy: A Fascinating Similarity to Polarity

Published by under reflexology,tai chi,Uncategorized

Polarity therapy has established itself as an effective system of alternative healthcare. Founded on similar physical concepts, adding chromotherapy to polarity-based bodywork is likely to enhance client results. What is chromotherapy?

by Nicole Cutler, L.Ac.

For centuries, a select group of alternative healthcare practitioners have known that colors can dramatically affect health, inner harmony and emotions. Although those trained within the conventional medical model may doubt the efficacy of color therapy, or chromotherapy, a surprising number of success stories have surfaced touting the ability of color to impact human health. As the science behind chromotherapy is uncovered, it is easy to recognize it’s parallel with polarity therapy. Since polarity therapy and chromotherapy are both deeply routed in the basic laws of vibrational physics, these two modalities make a logical union.

Based on the premise that different bands of the light spectrum produce different effects in the human body, chromotherapy is known as a vibrational healing modality. When color and light strike an individual, they influence that same vibration present in the body.

The set of frequencies related to musical notes demonstrates how the vibration of color can influence the human body. If two properly tuned guitars are in the same room and the G string is plucked on one guitar, the G string on the second guitar will also ring. This phenomenon occurs because the sound frequency of the G note travels across the room causing the resonant frequency of the G string on the second guitar to sound. Likewise, the body’s organs have their own resonant frequencies associated with each chakra and meridian. Well known to physicists, the electrically charged molecules composing living tissue is always vibrating. Thus, chromotherapy practitioners can tune their clients for optimal wellness by exposing chakras and meridians to the color needed.

Some of the properties of color that render it a potential healing tool include:

· A property of light, color is electromagnetic energy.

· Different colors of light have different wavelengths.

· The shorter the wavelength, like violet, the faster it vibrates; the longer the wavelength, like red, the slower it vibrates.

Creating resonance between the body’s vibrating electromagnetic particles and the desired color’s vibration helps chromotherapy recipients achieve a more healthful state.

Chromotherapy in Practice
Applying the principles of chromotherapy, a therapist can utilize light and color in various forms. Some of its more common applications include projecting colored light onto certain areas of the body, suggesting colored visualizations and incorporating various colored materials into a session. Each basic color used in chromotherapy is associated with a different chakra and relates to different physical and emotional issues:

· Red – Red stimulates brain wave activity, increases heart rate, respiration and blood pressure and excites the sexual glands. It energizes the first chakra located at the coccyx. Warming and energizing, red is appropriate for someone who is tired, cold and has poor circulation.

· Orange – The color of joy and wisdom, orange energizes the second chakra located at the sacrum. Regarded to stimulate the appetite, orange is beneficial for illnesses of the colon and digestion.

· Yellow – Related to the solar plexus chakra, yellow energizes, lifts the mood, improves memory and can improve digestion.

· Green – Affecting the heart chakra, green is calming to the central nervous system. A good color for cardiac conditions, high blood pressure and ulcers, green also benefits those suffering from depression and anxiety.

· Blue – The color of the throat chakra, blue is a good color choice to influence respiratory or throat difficulties. Calming and cooling, blue may help counteract hypertension.

· Indigo – Related to the brow chakra, indigo can improve problems with the sinuses and face. It has also been used to help heal burns and reduce pain.

· Violet – Associated with the crown chakra, violet is cleansing, strengthening and peaceful. Affecting the skeletal system, it is often used therapeutically to improve immunity, arthritis and relieve headaches.

Polarity Therapy
Polarity therapy is a natural health care system that is also based on the human energy field. Relying on the constant motion of molecules, polarity therapy is aimed at balancing the constant pulsation of energy between positive and negative poles. These poles create fields and energetic lines of force throughout the body. Dr. Randolph Stone, the founder of polarity therapy, explains that a disturbance in this energetic system causes a departure from good health.

By incorporating energy mapping of the five natural elements (Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth) and the seven primary energy centers or chakras, polarity therapy encourages each energetic field to achieve unrestricted, optimal vibration levels. A polarity practitioner adds their own energy to a disordered field, to create vibration in unison. Known in physics as a Bose-Einstein Condensate, creating vibratory unison allows a dysfunctional organ to work more effectively. Similar to understanding entropy in quantum physics, proponents of polarity therapy acknowledge that healing occurs as energetic order is restored to systems that had previously been disordered.

Polarity in Practice
Mostly using very gentle types of bipolar contact, polarity bodywork involves many techniques. Characteristic of polarity, bipolar contact is when a practitioner uses the fingers of both hands to energetically and functionally link related areas of the body for energy movement. Methods used include cranial holds, rocking movements, techniques similar to reflexology and some osteopathic and chiropractic influenced moves. However, polarity therapy always emphasizes energetic work over manipulation. Since forceful manipulations are not part of polarity therapy, it is suitable for elderly and frail clients.

Whether practicing polarity therapy or chromotherapy, bodyworkers have the opportunity to put their physics knowledge to good use. For a Western science trained, analytical mind, both modalities are logical ways to influence well-being. If proficient in both chromotherapy and polarity, practitioners can combine the two to increase the therapeutic effectiveness of their sessions.

Recommended Study:
Polarity Therapy

References:, Color Therapy – Chromotherapy, Phylameana lila Desy,, Inc., 2008.

Rowen, Robert Jay, MD, 9 Alternative Health Scams, Second Opinion Publishing Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, 2002., Color Therapy, Association Alternative Medicine, 2008., Polarity Therapy: An Introduction, Will Wilson, American Polarity Therapy Association, 2008.

Posted by Editors at 12:36 PM

© 2009 Institute for Integrative HealthCare Studies. This work is reproduced with the permission of the Institute.

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