In time of panic or duress, take a moment to rationalize.

Hi there,

Michael here, Boris’ partner…

A couple of days ago while talking to my son over Skype he told me that the father of his friend has passed away. Death never leaves me completely indifferent, but in this case I didn’t feel too much grief. I’ve met this guy a couple of times, but never his father. So it seemed that I forgot all about the incident.
However, an hour or so after that I started feeling pressure in my chest, i.e. my usual symptom of anxiety. I thought to myself – “Not again…”

I should note here that since several years ago I had a history of anxiety and even panic attacks. Back then, Boris helped me keep my anxiety under control, first with a series of massages and then with the course of self-massage that I follow based on his system.

Nevertheless, anxiety still decides to pay me a visit every now and then; especially after unexpected stress. Every time it happens, it feels like I am having a heart attack. Surely I took an extensive test in the hospital that proved that I didn’t have a heart condition and Boris has told me the same thing many times. Still, whenever I experience tightness and the sensation of nasty warmth in my chest,

I think “oh…here it comes…”

During moments like this, I usually call Boris and he spends roughly 30 to 45 minutes turning me around on the table, straightening the fascia and relaxing the muscles on my back and left Latissimus Dorsi.
This time around, I told myself “Stop panicking. This isn’t heart attack. You’ve been through this so many times before. Just stop. You are fine. It’s psychosomatic, psychosomatic, psychosomatic…”
As repeating these affirmations, within the next couple of hours, I noticed that the pain and tightness in my chest has dissipated to the lesser degree. After waking up in the morning, I was back to full health.

I didn’t think that I acknowledged the death of the boy’s father consciously. However, my subconscious mind must have taken a toll from hearing the news. The resulting panic caused my blood vessels to constrict, and the vicious cycle that lead to my anxiety had started.

To sum up, I think that acknowledging and verbally affirming that I was “ok,” result the incident. Doing so led me to the root of the problem. Perhaps some of you can relate. Please share.

Michael Gaft


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My great five days at WMF Part 4.

My great five days at WMF Part 3.

It turned out that many of WMF participants followed my FB battles, and approached me to discuss them in person.  I was hoping I wouldn’t get pulled into needless confrontations and become a target of  unprofessional actions.  To my pleasant surprise, this discussion was a great experience.  Real professional discussions: respectful, without animosity, and a great exchange of opinions. To me it felt like it was the light at the end of a tunnel. 
I’ve mentioned before, that at the time of presenting medical massage term more than 20 years ago, I also proposed scientifically established explanation of physiological effect of massage on the human body.  In my view, this made a crucial difference for the entire massage community; now we are able to explain scientifically how massage works.
Scientifically established physiological effect of massage is the number one condition of evidence-based practice. Below is the link to the info, I have presented on my instructional VHS and lately on DVDs, as well as in my articles.
Continuing the same line of reasoning, 17 years ago, Dr.Ross Turchaninov published one of the greatest textbooks available in English in the United States and, maybe, abroad: Medical Massage Vol 1, and Medical massage Vol 2.  In these books he have presented not just  general biomedical data, but science of massage, as well as more than 50 hands on medical massage protocols.  In my view, these texts made a huge contribution to the US massage therapeutic society.  Medical and sports massage have deep scientific and clinical roots.  It is well-documented data, supported by many decades of great clinical outcomes.
I think it’s obvious from the fact that  for 43 years I am practicing scientifically developed methodology of treatment, that, in no way, shape, or form, I can be against science, scientific approach or evidence-based massage therapy practice.
What I am against are slogans, that purposelessly excite crowd, and motivate to pretend practicing evidence-based massage, while at the same time denying treatment outcome as an evidence.
 What I am against is when practitioners pretending to be scientists, claiming “superiority” over
·       hard work
·       delivered results
·       good massage therapists
while at the same time spreading ignorance.
One lady told me something like this: ”Boris, I am practicing massage for more than 20 years. Practically everyone who claims developing and or practicing clinically oriented massage, learned foundation from you and Dr.Ross. They just repackaging and re-introducing it as their own developments.
Indeed 20 years ago practically no one used the term medical massage and utilized medical massage methodology.  I am, of course,  aware of repackaging, and believed this was a terrible trend, damaging to potential outcomes of treatment.  In my opinion, we can improvise with techniques, but strictly in the frame of proposed protocols.  Instead, these guys make up their own techniques.  Those new techniques, will be much less effective or maybe not effective at all and therefore damaging. 
I think this because those original protocols were developed by scientists, underwent rigorous testing in scientific institutions and then many years of clinical trials.  People who repackage protocols have neither scientific expertise and aptitude, nor ability to undertake sufficient clinical testing.
Also, this is an extremely unethical practice.  Neither I nor Dr. Ross ever claimed that the protocols of Medical Massage were developed by us.  All we did was to pass along the knowledge, developed by many outstanding scientists throughout the course of 19 and 20th centuries.
The lady also stated, that it was a mistake to get in arguments with the revolutionary gang. This “gang” openly declares new neuro-scientific revolution, stating that “the modern science” is the only way to go, thus denying any scientific data that was developed in previous centuries. Details we have explained in this blog Russian Medical Massage: Is it necessary to cross the line?
“Because you were alone against 50 to 60 people” the lady continued, “and their English was much better than yours.”
I smiled inside. If we were discussing specifics of English language, her argument would have held water.  But we were discussing massage, the subject independent of a particular language.  I would certainly love to have in my possession the capability of native English speaking.  Yet, under the circumstances, its absence was only the pretext to shut me down if not on the essence, than on technicality.   
When asked on why she didn’t express her opinion then, she responded that it was a waste of time and something that would create enemies, enemies that can harm.  “All these people connected to trade associations and other boards and”, ominously she added, ”you’ll see they will get you.”
BTW, She talked on front of approximately 15 people. I was impressed that they all agree with her.  Fear is a contagious.
Dear friends, it’s not the first-time that I saw people afraid to speak their professional mind. This is horrible, in general, but even more horrible in the country where free speech is guaranteed by the constitution.  
I got a bit excited, and declaimed to the entire group: ”My friends, go to YouTube and search for medical massage. There are more than 300 educational videos devoted to it.  At my website I also posted many related articles. If I am disseminating the wrong information, “they” are welcome to get me and if they do, then I am a threat.  If so, then who is speaking the truth?  and if they get me LOL you’ll know not to believe to this revolutionary gang.
For no merit of my own, the lady made me feel at least like Giordano Bruno.
In any case this Californian practitioner and other participants that took part in the discussion, told me, that they all were at the convention because of the absence of policies, and because they craved good professional educational environment.  In the end criteria, this was a good discussion, which encouraged me. It was great to know that out there, there were many real hard working honest clinicians.
Monday, July 21, 2004.
It was inspiring to see Judi Calvert presenting the seminar on the history of massage. It is important to know and remember that massage has 1000s year history and that we can learn a lot from various past experiences.
The main establishments of the Western medical massage happened in the end of the 19th and during the 20th century;  being this the connective tissue massage/fascia mobilization proposed in 1929, or many more clinically proven  methodologies and approaches, proven working today.
Soon I will come back, with “ My great five days at WMF part 4

My great five days at WMF. Part 2

Before continuing to share my experiences at WMF, I would like to thank Cindy and Mike Hinkle, Mike Hinkle Junior, Darcy Neibaur and many volunteers for the great organization of this event. The volunteers worked like a real team, contributing to amiable atmosphere: friendly, kind, embracing, helping etc. Thank you all. One can rightfully say that World Massage Festival is an educational convention that also unite.

On July 20th keynote evening, I sat along with hundreds of my colleagues, each of whom practiced different types of massage; endless variety. The overall energy at the convention was very positive, allowing exchange opinions, share knowledge and, if disagree, then respectfully. This is how I felt sitting among my colleagues.

The keynote speaker was Laura Allen. Those of us, who are following her blogs, and listening to her talks, know Laura as intelligent, very articulate, and witty person.
She talked about us having disagreements in terminology, then she continued to say: for example “medical massage, what is it?” I felt like standing up and saying: “Laura, I can answer this question.”

Laura, you are 100% right stating that our community is very divided. According to the trade associations, we are teaching and using 1000s alternative names to massage. People possessing massage licenses, using massage therapy professional liability insurances, and, as a matter of fact, performing soft tissue mobilization by means of massage, are opting not to label their occupation as “massage therapy.”

This practice is very confusing for both: general public and health care professionals. For a long time I argued that as massage therapy field professionals we have to stop using 1000s alternative names for massage.
Of course, I couldn’t interrupt Laura at the time of her presentation. Luckily I had an opportunity to converse with her in private, after her keynote presentation was over and it seemed that we could get understanding. I would say very good understanding. In any case, in an educational spirit of WMF, I am taking the opportunity to explain what Medical Massage is, and why I use this terminology to describe the methodology that I practice.
BTW, I already explained why I’m calling the massage methodology I practice Medical Massage many times. However, it seems that it is important to explain it again. Good professional discussion on this subject can help us communicate better, to share knowledge, to advance each other.

I am using the term Medical Massage, because this was the umbrella term used to designate methodology and practice of massage protocols for different disorders that I was trained to perform. Practically didn’t know other term/name. From very first moment in school was introduced to medical massage.
It is called Medical Massage because the founders and researchers who developed this method called it Medical Massage. In 1955 Dr. Glaser and Dr. Delixo, based on Prof. Sherback data, published first edition of medical/segment-reflex massage. Third edition title was shortened to medical massage. Also, I think it is important to understand that Massage Therapy as an a professional field, encompassing different disciplines, specializations and expertise. For example, Full Body Medical Stress Management Massage includes important methods in managing side effects of stress, including high blood pressure, anxiety, tension headaches, sleep disorders, clinical depression as well as prevention of aforementioned pathologies. Orthopedic Massage is also a Medical/Therapeutic Massage deals with procedures designed to treat back and limb disorders that could be results of sports related injuries, industrial injuries, car accidents, degenerative diseases, etc…

Another area of expertise is the sports massage including pre and post event sports massage procedures. Pre-event sports massage helps us prepare athletes to perform better as well as prevent sports related injuries. Post-event sports massage is series of methods that focuses on rehabilitating professional athletes and gym enthusiasts from the side effects of vigorous exercise and over-training.

Having said this, I believe that there are many different types of massage therapy that actually help people. Therefore in my today’s view Medical Massage, massage therapy, Therapeutic Massage means the same thing, i.e. providing therapies/health benefits by means of massage. And no matter, if we are talking on Western conventional massage, oriental massage, or other old and great methodologies of treatments such as lomi Lomi etc.
Surely, I believe that scientifically designed step-by-step protocols are much easier to study, provide faster and sustained results as well as prevent practitioners from aggravating their client’s conditions. Yet, it is not important whether to call our methods medical massage, therapeutic massage or just massage therapy. What is important is to realize that massage therapy is a simple, powerful and effective methodology, leading to positive outcomes.
During her keynote speech Laura talked about spread of unethical use of so-called “energy work” and other charlatan’s phenomena.

Although I agree with Laura on the existence of unethical use of “energy work,“ in general, I wouldn’t go as far as denying energy work altogether. More so, unethical types and charlatans represent a very small percentage of the entire massage community. Certainly, any unethical conduct should be addressed. However, we should be careful in denying the entire concept. One can tell me, that energy work triggers placebo mechanism, and this is the only explanation why people feeling better. My answer in this cases, let’s focus on “feeling better.”

Please take a look at the following video.
Approximately 5 years ago I was subjected to a gang like attack because, I have expressed an opinion, that this video absolutely evidently supports energy work. We shouldn’t suspect placebo in this case. It is very difficult to make a big difference in this kind of neurological disorder. Obviously, no massage was performed. Not all theoretical explanation given in this video sounds acceptable to me (like pulling back energy?) But healing happened in front of our eyes. Shall I deny energy work? And because “pulling back energy” do not sounds to me?

Thanks to Laura’s keynote speech, mentioning medical massage and energy work, I got a lot of attentions from participants and following days at WMF got involved into very interesting professional discussions.
I was pleasantly surprised that many massage therapists, are familiar with my work and follow my social media discussions. They asked me many questions such as: whether I am against science, against evidence-based massage practice, against reading research literature, and more. I certainly am not. In the next post will extend on this subject and will offer you my perspective on these issues.

After keynote presentation, many of our colleagues received industry awards. I was happy for each of them, but especially for Ryan Hoyme – Massagenerd. I know his work and know he deserved it. Congratulation Ryan. Evening of Hall of Fame induction started from opening prayer by Indian woman traditional healer (sorry forgot her name )it was just extremely powerful, united spirit of good will and light. Impossible to describe it in words. In the end of this prayer I just find myself in deep trance, and only could hear myself saying AMEN.

My great five days at WMF. Part 1

Recently I come back from 2014 WMF. It was my second time. The first time it was at 2013 Long Beach California, where I was honored by being inducted to the Hall of Fame. Still I got the feeling of open and friendly atmosphere; free of politics of a professional convention.

This time I contributed by presenting two short seminars. Also I talked to many of my colleagues, learned a lot and hopefully contributed by sharing my knowledge and views.

During this five days a lot of things happen and in order to accommodate all the impressions I would have to write an extensive blog. One incident, however, stands out in my mind and I decided to share it with you immediately. Maybe reading it now, will help many of us to understand even better that excessive pressure has nothing to do with deep tissue massage.

On Saturday, July 19th in the morning, my wife and I were waiting for the elevator. In the hallway I spotted a young woman who limped, using a huge tree branch as a crutch. Actually, she had to use both hands to hold this branch, and moved forward practically using one leg. Of course, I held the elevator door allowing her to step in.

I asked what happened. She explained that the day before she have arrived to the conference from Chicago. Walking out of airplane had experience some pain in the knee. When arrived to hotel, one of our colleagues, offered her deep bodywork for painful knee. After this procedure was completed, whatever it was, she couldn’t walk at all, experiencing terrible sharp pain and not being able to flex it at all.

A huge size of lymphedema surrounded knee. It was, obviously, physically traumatized. I asked her if applied pressure was significant. She concurred.
I felt sorry for the lady, and also became quite angry. What an irony? To come to a massage convention – a place personifying health – and become crippled by traumatizing pressure. Indeed, massage therapy may not always help, but it should never harm.
I offered my help, guaranteeing that, in the very least, my treatment won’t make it worse. After few moments of hesitation she agreed.

I treated her knee as if it was an case of fresh inflicted injury. I spend considerable time for techniques to reduce lymphedema size, then worked to accelerate venous blood drainage, to promote increase of local arterial blood supply, spend time for petrissage techniques to reduce tension within quadriceps and hamstring muscles, as well as a did released fascia by using silicone jars.

Incidentally, this fascia release methodology I have developed by myself. To view the sample of my hands on presentation please click this link
Thank God, my treatment was successful. She could walk, and a few days later, having noticed me, she started running towards me, exclaiming that can even run. You can imagine, I was very happy for her, and was feeling privileged to be able to contribute to her well-being. Of course, I advised and recommended to refrain from running for some time and allow body to recuperate from this significant trauma.
Summarizing this incident… knee region doesn’t have large quantity of muscles, and other soft tissue. So this remains unclear why this ill-timed therapist decided to provide ”deep tissue bodywork?” I call it dangerous ignorance.

Twenty years ago I wrote this article where I discussed deep tissue massage in great details.
I figured this therapist missed it, or disagree with my presentation. In any case, it is unfair that the victim turned out to be a client. Please take the time to read it.
Not always we can help, but in no case we should harm. In most cases therapies by means of massage is safe and effective.
I will continue to write sharing my WMF experiences and Impressions . I hope you’ll like it.
Best wishes,

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