How to study Medical Massage
The current collection of massage DVDs covers the entire “Medical Massage” scope of practice (around 60 topics). This article offers a set of guidelines to aid the viewer in learning this variety of presented topics to the maximum extent.
1. We must accept the fundamental notion that massage therapy is not about “feeling good” but about results.
2. We must remember that, while performing massage techniques, massage therapist not only produces mechanical movements, but also is involved in energy/information exchange with a client. Therefore your touch has to have meaning – you have to see with your mind what goes on under your fingers. To understand this more in depth please read this article Science of massage and energy work The meaning of your touch serves the therapeutic goals. Well served goals lead to results such as less pain, greater range of motion, and less suffering from the side effects of stress. Simultaneous with hands-on demonstration in my DVDs, I give detailed explanation of abnormalities and the goals of each technique. Please pay careful attention to the details. This is the case when you cannot separate them from the entire picture.
3. This mix of information and understanding also enables us to adjust our energy status to the condition that will help us to reach better results. Every one of my DVDs as well as my articles that can be found on websites of distributors, contains detailed explanation of the physiological effect of massage, the inhibitory regime and other details. I recommend studying the material until you gain a clear understanding. Please carefully view DVD volume 10, where I explain the mechanism of medical massage in detail, and how the science of massage helps us to understand the energy work that must be part of the physical treatment. Additionally, the understanding of energy (Chi) manipulation helps to protect your personal energy status from being interrupted or disturbed by your clients. On each DVD, in fine details, I talk about of causes of abnormalities, goals of the treatment, etc. Please pay attention to these details.For example: your goal of a 10-15 minute chair massage is to reduce the side effects of stress to the maximum extent given the allotted time. Consequently you first take into consideration the fact that most people carry stress in the form of elevated resting muscular tone in the neck and upper back. Therefore the goal of the treatment is to stimulate muscles to induce reflexive relaxation, followed by vascular dilation, decrease in cardiac work and decrease of stress hormone production. You must keep in mind the physiological effect of the step by step, hands on protocol for stress management chair massage in the inhibitory regime. Every time you come to the treatment table to perform massage whether it be orthopedic, full body stress management, sports or chair massage, the purposes and goals of the treatment must be 100% clear.
4. Focusing on details extraneous to my explanation is also not productive. For example, often the area where massage protocol is applied is rather topographical than anatomical. If a person focuses on identifying every muscle, tendon or other anatomical structure in a region, the mind gets distracted and the big picture is lost. But if this person’s mindset is adjusted to trust medical massage protocols he/she be able to adapt to the details, copy the movements and rhythms, and be able to study and learn to the maximum extent. For example, if while watching me performing the techniques, and hearing me giving an explanation, a person focuses on how difficult the protocols are, it will make learning very difficult. Your mindset is crucial to learning and understanding. Therefore, when studying these DVDs, try to direct your mind toward discovering the simplicity of medical massage and its power. Setting your mind in such a way helps learning the proposed material easier and to a greater degree. In order to become better practitioners we have to adopt the idea that massage therapy is a simple but very powerful method of treatment, and in order to advance we must understand more than simply memorize the material. Please read my article “Keep it Simple.“Focusing on details extraneous to my explanation is also not productive. For example, often the area where massage protocol is applied is rather topographical than anatomical. If a person focuses on identifying every muscle, tendon or other anatomical structure in a region, the mind gets distracted and he the big picture is lost. But if this person’s mindset is adjusted to trust medical massage protocols he/she be able to adopt to the details, copy the movements and rhythms, and be able to study and learn to the maximum extent. For example, if while watching me performing the techniques, and hearing me giving an explanation, a person focuses on how difficult the protocols are, it will make learning very difficult. Your mindset is crucial to learning and understanding. Therefore, when studying these DVDs, try to direct your mind toward discovering the simplicity of medical massage and its power. Setting your mind in such a way helps learning the proposed material easier and to a greater degree.
5. If we are to establish the criteria for a “better” practitioner, it would be deliverance of faster and sustained results. Once can seriously argue that a higher level of sense of touch is one of the factors setting apart the good massage therapists from the less good. Sense of touch is our capability to see with our hands what eyes cannot see. In other words the understanding of physiology, structural anatomy, physiological effect and more, must be adopted to the level of the imagination. It is for this reason that I highly recommend carefully studying DVD volume 10 as well as the related articles. I strongly believe that this will help you to understand the simplicity, power and extensive usefulness of medical massage. As I stated before, it is the understanding that makes the crucial difference in delivering results. On many of my DVDs topics within one volume are not related and have to be studied separately. I recommend viewing each topic separately numerous times, paying attention to my explanation at the time of hands-on performance, as well as taking notes. When it comes time for you to perform the first few initial hands-on applications on real clients, I recommend using these notes and /or my typed material.
6. It is very important to follow the protocol in the manner as I proposed on my DVDs. Reading my article “Does Sport Massage Contribute to Athlete’s Recovery?” will help you to understand the importance of protocol guidelines. Please keep in mind that all protocols that I proposed to you on my DVDs were developed by scientists using true double blind studies, which means that these protocols where tested against placebo. Application of medical statistic at the time of the studies insuring us that method not only effective but also safe.
7. It is important for a practitioner to understand in detail the importance of repeated treatments, as well to inform clients on the importance of it. In order to reach sustained results “series of treatments” approach must be adopted by each massage therapist. More than this, I believe that each of us must, as a part of treatment plan, introduce the clients to the theory that will explain and support the importance of repeated treatment. In my opinion the theoretical aspects of abnormalities that our clients suffer from, as well as the goals and therapeutic aspects of massage therapy must be introduced to the clients in a simple, concise and uncomplicated way. For example: a client who is suffering from fibromyalgia has to be informed that all abnormalities that initiated their symptoms such as pain all over the body, clinical depression, headaches etc, began on the level of muscles and have to be treated on the level of muscles. Clients have to be briefed that due to hormone imbalance, physical and/or psychological trauma, allergic reaction to toxins, etc., muscles all over the body started to accumulate tension to the point that microcirculation was disturbed and as a result, the pain analyzing system was activated resulting in a pain sensation. It is very important to inform your clients that prolonged disturbances of blood supply (disturbances of local metabolisms) can cause calcium deposits in soft tissue. These calcium deposits have a consistency like an egg shell, and contained heavy polymolecular structure which prevents this metabolic waste product from being removed from the body. Repeated massage treatments allows us to mechanically break down these pathological accumulations, to stimulate breakdown of monomolecular structure and further to be removed from the body. Elimination of soft tissue calcifications contributes to restoration of elasticity within muscles and connective tissues which in turn will allow normal blood supply, increased range of motion etc. Normalization of blood supply will decrease significant pain sensation. It is also very important to inform our clients that constant irritation (bombarding) of the central nervous system by constant low grade pain causes a decrease of the amount and activities of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for our waking status. Decreased quantities of serotonin result in clinical depression. With decreased bombarding of central nervous system by low-grade pain, the level and activities of serotonin can be restored and experiences of depression symptoms can be significantly decreased. If fibromyalgia is a result of hormone imbalance our clients must be informed that in most cases massage therapy and special exercise program (exercise has to be performed in slow motion manner and in no case should be done in a “no pain no gain” approach) must be a constant for controlling the symptoms. Clients have to be informed that in most cases hormone imbalance, when once present, will in many cases cause gradual accumulation of higher tone in muscles. For this reason, receiving massage therapy on a weekly basis is not only to stimulate normalization of metabolism within soft tissue, but also to break down the vicious cycle of re-accumulation of muscular tonus that causes micro-circulation disturbances, resulting in pain, and if left to become chronic, possibly leading to development of depression etc. On each of my DVDs, in extended format, I explain the etiology, morphology of the pathologies as well as the importance of repeated treatment. I highly recommend extracting information on each topic in a similar way as I introduced in the case of fibromyalgia. By providing this written material to your clients, you make them a full partner in stimulation of healing processes in their body. Additionally, I believe that the formation of a handout of short information will further contribute to your understanding of the topics.
As I stated in the beginning, understanding and not memorization of the material will lead you to becoming the therapist that delivers results. Remember, massage therapy is about results. If you will have additional questions or suggestions, please feel free to write to me.
Boris Prilutsky, MA