During the course of attending massage school at A New Beginning School of Massage, students are given a number of assignments that requiring research and writing. Some of these assignments result in very insightful and well thought out information and decision-making outcomes. I am happy to share some of their assignments for you to enjoy.
There are several types of research used in exploring the land of massage. They are categorized as basic and clinical research, quantitative and qualitative research, and analytical and descriptive research. Basic research is performed in a lab and involves the observation of massage on a cellular level. The knowledge obtained from basic research is then applied into clinical research, which is where experiements are carried out to determine how this knowledge may or may not be helpful in a practical setting. Quantitative research is the collection of data in the form of numbers, such as statistics and percentages. Qualitative research conducts interviews or analyzes pictures in order to understand human behavior. Analytical research looks at the why and how something has occurred and descriptive research is used to describe characteristics of an individual, group, or situation.
In my opinion, these are all valid types of research. Clinical research, or applied research, seems to be the most commonly used and, given that it is backed by scientific evidence, I can understand why. Clinical studies have helped us to understand the benefits of massage on a wide range of health ailments such as cystic fibrosis, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis.
One of the best ways to determine the validity of research is through reputable sources. The internet contains a cluster of information. Knowing how to locate reputable sources will help to eliminate sifting and sorting through the cluster. Some examples of credible search engines include Google Scholar, PubMed, and Medline Plus. A good example of a reputable source is a peer-reviewed journal. Check for a level of consistency in information, such as with case series. Are there several different sources concluding the same results? This is a good indication that the information may be valid.
Science is a constant process of discovery, and the best way to improve out understanding of facts vs. myths is through research. Massage has been a healing modality for over 5,000 years. Within the last decade, we have learned a great deal about massage and its affects on the bdoy, both physically and emotionally, through successful research. Aa a result, massage has become more and more accepted for its healing properties in western medicine. It is important that we, as therapists, continue to expand our knoweldge of both new and old ideas. Through performing diligent research on both new and old ideas, we can improve the credibility of massage thearpy as a profession.
My reseach topic will discuss the idea that water removes toxins from the body after massage. Although this may seem logical, there is no scientific evidence that can atually back this statement. For starters, which toxins are we talking about? A toxin is a poison of plant or animal origin that induces an immune response. Often times, a therapist is referring to lactic acid, which is not considered a toxin, and a different topic all together. The human body has the ability to naturally cleanse itself of "toxins" through the liver, kidneys, and even digestive system. You can certainly promote the healthy function of these organs by drinking enough water, as well as avoiding stressors such as coffee and alcohol, but you will not be helping to flush toxins. In order for massage to gain acceptance in the medical community, we need to change the language we are using. When talking about "toxin," perhaps a more accurate term would be metabolic waste. Even then, it seems that this waste may be too chemically attached to targeted tissues to be released by massage. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine offers several theories on the affects of massage, but none point to toxin release. So, although offering your client a glass of water after a massage demonstrates good customer service skills, unfortunately it will not help them to flush toxins from their bodies.
In doing the research for this assignment, I have discovered that it can be easy to surrender to ides that have been floating around over a period of time. There are "truths" that we have been exposed to that simply need to be corrected. As a therapist, I certainly do not want to contribute to any false ideas about the effects of massage. I aim to be vigilant and to ask questions when in doubt. I want to encourage my clients to do the same.
Chikly, Bruno, 2001: Silent Waves - Theory and Practice of Lymph Drainage Therapy. I.H.H. Publishing, Scottsdale, AZ, ISBN 0-970-05305-3.
Tarnopolsky, Mark. A., 2002: Metabolic myopathies and physical activity. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 30 (6). (http://www.physsportsmed.com/issues/2002/06_02/tarno.htm)
Vernon H, Humphreys K, Hagino C. Chronic mechanical neck pain in adults treated by manual therapy: a systematic review of change scores in randomized clinical trials. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2007;30(3);215-27.