Massage therapy and Science Based Massage
Well after being so serious I just could not take it any more and this happened. At my clinic we are science based, we are all well educated massage professionals who believe in massage therapy as a science rather than as a fantasy of our own making. In some cases its easier to define what something is NOT than what it is….and this is one of them. Before we go on to what Science Based massage means to me (and yes this definition is what I believe, because it is my blog and my rant) lets take a look at what the meaning of B.S. is (Bull Shit).
I am pulling this definition from Wiki, which is not normally where I get my information, but considering the nature of it, I figured, why not?
Bullshit (also bullcrap) is a common English expletive which may be shortened to the euphemism bull or the initialism BS. In British English, “bollocks” is a comparable expletive, although “bullshit” is more common. It is a slang profanity term meaning “nonsense“, especially in a rebuking response to communication or actions viewed as deceiving, misleading, disingenuous, or false. As with many expletives, the term can be used as an interjection or as many other parts of speech, and can carry a wide variety of meanings.
It can be used either as a noun or as a verb as in the question “are you bullshitting me?”. While the word is generally used in a deprecating sense, it may imply a measure of respect for language skills, or frivolity, among various other benign usages. In philosophy, Harry Frankfurt, among others, analyzed the concept of bullshit as related to but distinct from lying.
Outside of the philosophical and discursive studies, the everyday phrase bullshit conveys a measure of dissatisfaction with something or someone, but often does not describe any role oftruth in the matter.
Pretty much all of the above definitions sum up the way I feel when I hear someone just make stuff up about how massage works. It of course is not always their fault, they may have been passed down bad information from someone else. I am also not talking about peoples spiritual views on connecting to someone, I would not consider that massage.
Lets look at some of the words they used in that quote “rebuking response to communications or actions viewed as deceiving, misleading, disingenuous, or false“. Yep that pretty much sums it up. No matter what the cause of the deception, it is dangerous and damaging. If you work in heath care it is your duty to seek out the truth, or as close as you can get to it, without ego, and keep pursuing it. As massage therapists we spend more one on one time with our clients than almost any provider, and so we can cause some serious problems if we are not careful.
You might ask, “ok so how does massage work then?”. Well, thats the thing, we are not sure exactly, science changes every day. And that is an honest answer. Every time we see a layer deeper into the information we discover new things, so there is a lot still open to explore. We think we know how some of it works, but what we do know for sure is how it DOES NOT work. We could get really specific about the nitty gritty, mico levels, but here I am talking about basic broad high school science concepts like diffusion, osmosis, physics, chemical reactions, electrical conduction etc….The basic rules of high school science apply to the body. Just because it is inside the body does not mean that those rules do not apply. Lets look at more things that it does not do.
It does not magically suck things, move things, push things through the body. Those ‘things’ are governed by the natural biological processes. See ‘osmosis, diffusion, active transport for more information’
It does not instantaneously ‘fix’ things
It cannot cure disease, no matter how much oregano oil you put on
It does not rid you of toxins aka save you from a horrible death by poison because someone who went to school for 500 hrs interviened and gave you a massage…finally
It cannot move bones that have been fused since child hood, like the bones of your head
It cannot make your blood flow rapidly like the river of the Grand Canyon
It is not going to re-align your x, y, z, put your disc back in, correct the spinal curve you have had since child hood
It is not going to make you run faster or clear your body of lactic acid
It does not unravel knots of any kind in the body
There is ALOT massage does not do (that list might get longer as more things come to mind) but the list of what it can potentially help you do is even longer. Your body and brain are in cahoots and they pretty much run the show on what you touch, see, feel, do and experience. Anytime you interact with someone you have the ability to facilitate change via your nervous system, and that is what happens every time you participate in activities like having a massage, going for a run, or even taking a nap. Each activity has a particular response that internally lets the body do what it does…and potentially do it better (or not). And that is enough for me. I don’t need any huge claims behind it. What being science based is for me is being honest about what I am doing, and pursuing that honesty with my patients daily.