Articles Of The Week February 25, 2018


It can be a bit stressful when we think about treating patients with chronic pain as there is a lack of understanding and tools for treating this population. However, the biopsychosocial approach is a framework that can be effective, and this post shows why.

“A Plea To Providers: This Is Why Biopsychosocial Treatment Of Pain Works” – Devra Sheldon

I know there is some research being done at our local university on this exact topic, but can a blood test actually diagnose a concussion? Well, not yet, and this post shows four reasons why.

“Can A Blood Test Diagnose A Concussion?” – Complete Concussion Management

I hate paying taxes, but unfortunately, it’s that time of year again. Maybe next year I will have to use some of the advice from this post to make sure I’m ready at tax time.

“Tis The Season For Taxes (Again)” – Cath Cox

It seems as though the real learning in our industry happens after college and in continuing education courses. However, we need to be careful when choosing which courses to take because they can actually reduce our credibility.

“Fantasy Physiology And The Post Hoc Fallacy” – Whitney Lowe

Have you ever looked at the cost difference between getting a new client, or retaining the ones you have? Over the long term, you’re better off to build solid relationships with your current patients, and since they love your treatments and trust you, they’re more likely to refer their friends to you. While this post is directed at personal trainers, there’s some solid advice in there for therapists too.

“The Importance Of Client Retention” – Michael Anderson

Articles Of The Week February 18, 2018

I may be partial, but I gotta say I love this post. It might be because I think this has happened to all of us. We have a patient come in who has been told by another practitioner that they will never get better, or they’ve been given some false information. Well, this is an open letter to everyone in our industry to do better.

“An Open Letter To My Patients Previous Therapists” – Sarah Haag

We all treat patients with low back pain. But, what are the appropriate guidelines for treatment? Well, some pretty reliable practitioners teamed up to look at the evidence, and explain the difference in guidelines, implementation, and controversies.

“Low Back Pain, A Ride Through The Guidelines” – Body In Mind

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE sleep. But how much do we really need? Well, that may vary, but it’s important to pay attention to our own individual needs, as well as looking at how to make sleep a priority.

“How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” – National Sleep Foundation

One of the great things about massage therapy is the many ways we can focus on certain conditions or populations. If you’d like to focus on cancer treatment, this site has some good info. They present different recommendations as far as altering your treatment when someone is going through chemotherapy, and their reasoning seems pretty sound.

“Cold Caps, Frozen Feet, And Massage During Chemotherapy” – Tracy Walton & Associates

Our communication with patients is so important. So how do you present new ideas or research to them when you learn it? How about when it comes to your pain education? It doesn’t have to be complicated (in fact it’s probably a lot better if it isn’t), just explaining that certain areas of their body may be a bit more sensitive, is probably a lot better than a complicated description.

“Pain Science Education” – Lynita White


6 Ways To Develop Leadership As A Massage Therapist


As I observe the current status of our industry, I find myself wanting more for us. I want massage therapy to be viewed with higher esteem, receive greater respect, and as an integral part of our society’s wellness.

The next thought, logically, is how does this happen? What do we need to do to grow our field?

We need to become leaders; all of us, in our own special ways, need to lead. There’s a quote that has been attributed to many, in fact, it’s even a book title…” you don’t need a title to be a leader.”

I fell into the trap of believing a title was required to lead. I cannot say I ever had aspirations of positioning myself as a leader in the industry, but when you’re gently volun-told by a highly respected colleague, it is, sometimes, difficult to say no. I become involved, first at a local level, then a state level.

Working on a local and state level provided me with the opportunity and challenge of creating engaging events and garnering participation, and I didn’t feel any substantive change was created. There was a discussion about the future of the industry and the direction within the state; the ability to create substantive change or make measurable progress was lacking. This created frustration for me because I believed we would have the opportunity to truly influence the field.

After these experiences, I can tell you, I didn’t feel like a leader.

This experience left me wondering…how do we then create change? How do we lead? Where are all the leaders?

The leaders, I’ve discovered are right in front of us.

We have the daily opportunity to create change by the influence we have on our clients, the professionalism of our behaviours, and the respectable image we perpetuate in our practices. We can be effective in every aspect of our practices. It depends on how our clients feel when they walk out the door. Did we meet their expectations? Have we treated them with the respect and dignity they deserve? Did we give them our full attention? What will they tell their friends and family about their experience?

We have a very unique industry. While we can work in environments with multiple therapists, we are often left to our own devices in the execution of our sessions. Not only do we tend to work in an isolated environment, massage therapy is, for most, a second, if not a third career. I believe our field has such an incredible array of talent, knowledge, and skill I wonder why we aren’t doing more to mine and utilize this valuable resource.

Why do some of our colleagues feel threatened by other therapists? Why are we so unwilling to share our expertise and talents with each other?  Even further, why are we intimidated to share our knowledge? I’ve decided, instead of passively wondering, it’s time to take action…and here are some thoughts on simple things we can do every day.

1. Learn More

There are over 100 modalities in massage therapy.

What have you learned lately?

If your practice and bodywork are starting to feel stale and you’re getting bored, trust me, your clients know.

If your clients know, will they keep coming back or will they start looking for something else? I would take the initiative and become the something they need that they don’t know they need; let that weird sentence rattle around your brain for a little bit. This can be tricky though. I know many therapists who become CEU junkies or end up following some of the modality empires. They go from one workshop to the next without truly applying the knowledge and integrating their new-found skills into their sessions.

There is great power in understanding the concepts of skilled touch. Once we have mastered the skill of varying angles of entry into muscle, communicating effectively with our clients, understanding the anatomical and physiological repercussions of our work, we can elevate ourselves, and our practice to better serve our clients and the profession.

Once we fully understand concepts rather than just modalities, they can be easily applied and integrated with our previous knowledge. While I am a strong proponent of education; there are light years between book learning and practical learning. We have to strive to find the balance to truly become exceptional; through that example alone, we can lead our profession.

2. Share Your Knowledge

I suffer from imposter syndrome. I often ask, “why would anyone want to hear from me?” or “who am I to tell people what to do?”

As an educator, I’ve learned, those that are interested will find useful information in anything you share; those that aren’t motivated won’t; ultimately, it isn’t our responsibility to get everyone on board.

Those of us with experience have gained a vast amount of knowledge and wisdom. This information can always be shared with new therapists. If you’re working in an environment with other therapists, take the time to reach out to those that are new and share with them some of the knowledge you’ve gained.

It can be as simple as how to maintain a client base; a solid technique to use for someone’s shoulder; how to build a strong rapport with clients. Sharing knowledge doesn’t always mean leading a workshop or a huge event; it’s the little things we can do every day to help our colleagues grow and improve; this, in turn, has a direct, positive effect on our industry.

3. Network

When was the last time you were able to refer a client to another therapist?

We all have those clients that don’t necessarily fit in our treatment style, or are our ideal client; why not collaborate with another therapist that can meet their needs? Personally, I do not perform prenatal massage well. I have colleagues to whom I can refer those clients during their pregnancy.

It is not important if the client returns to my practice. The focus is the service to their needs. If they know my goal is their well being, they will be willing to refer friends and family because there is comfort in the knowledge that the client’s needs are the priority and every effort will be made to ensure their satisfaction.

Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

4. Lead By Example

Let’s be honest, some of us don’t like public speaking.

If we behave in a manner that demonstrates professional behaviour, confidence, and understanding, others will begin to emulate those characteristics. These can be very subtle and natural practices.

Show up on time, speak respectfully to your clients, listen intently to others, treat others the way you’d like to be treated. It can manifest as sharing your experiences in a workshop or class, talking about an article/blog/social media post that you read and sharing it with your colleagues, showing enthusiasm and excitement for the field, and smile and say hello to everyone along your path.

5. Appreciate Others

Acknowledge a colleague’s accomplishments. It doesn’t have to be a significant accomplishment; it can be something as simple as a full schedule or handling a difficult client with grace.

Always say thank you.

I liked to thank my colleague that properly prepared the treatment room at the end of their shift; it made the transition into my shift so much easier and, because of the way I was treated, I wanted to make sure I left the room in the same condition.

We can all agree that people enjoy talking about themselves the most, so ask them about their interests; find out what’s important to them, or what I like to do…ask them about their favourite food or candy and randomly bring it to them for absolutely no reason. I’d also suggest giving a random or well-placed compliment; we could all use a pick me up in the middle of a tough shift; find the opportunity to put a smile on someone’s face.

And most importantly…

6. Choose To Lead

All of these actions have one thing in common…we have to make the conscious decision to take on these challenges. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

I’ve noticed that as I’ve decided to take on some of these actions, my own perceptions of my colleagues and workplace have changed. If we provide positive energy and optimism, it begins to infuse us, as well as our environment. The best part; this can go beyond the workplace. All of these actions can easily be translated into our personal lives.

Reviewing these options reinforces the idea that we don’t need a title to be a leader; we just have to make a conscious choice to make a positive impact on our clients’ and colleagues’ lives. We have to decide what we want in our workplace and community. Once that is identified, the actions required to influence change will become apparent. Frustration was my motivation to seek change; I hope your inspiration comes from a more positive space. Leadership comes from within…are you ready to be the one to inspire growth and change? Warren Bennis, widely regarded as the pioneer of contemporary leadership said, “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.” It appears the fundamental question begs…who then, are you?


Articles Of The Week February 11, 2018

Like so many things in our industry, there is lots of confusion around youth strength training. Does it improve health? effect bone growth? is it even appropriate? Some great information in this article covering those questions and many others.

“Youth Strength Training”  – Mario Chavez

Chronic disease is a massive expense on our healthcare system, and yet there doesn’t seem to be much done to prevent it. So how can we start to change things to start making prevention a regular part of our healthcare systems?

“An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure” – Jarod Hall

Quite often I have patients and colleagues ask where to get good information on pain. Well, Lissanthea Taylor is stepping up with this great resource she is developing. There will be lots of information on pain so that we can give accurate information to others.

“Where’s The Good Information About Pain?” – Lissanthea Taylor

Do you know the difference between Varus and Valgus? This post will help to give you a better understanding of the differences between the two and what can contribute to it. One of the things I like about the article is how the author points out that someone may have this kind of condition, but not experience any pain, so it may not even need treatment.

“Valgus, Varus, Vargus…What Is It?”  – Whitney Lowe

Being in business for yourself is hard work! It seems there is a never-ending list of things that have to get done and we’re constantly hustling to accomplish more. But could we be more successful if we hustled less? Here are four tips on how to do just that.

“How Not To Hustle Your Way To Success: 4 Tips For Aspiring Entrepreneurs” – MeiMei Fox


Articles Of The Week February 4, 2018

First off, a challenge. Do you ever demand things of your patients? They could be polite demands, but they’re still demands (we may be doing it without realizing it). We have to be careful with our communication when talking to patients and this article will help you with that.

Clinical Challenge I” – Cory Blickenstaff

A link between depression and low back pain? Well, there is a link but it’s probably not the way you think. While there is a link, there are probably more factors at play.

“Twin Studies Lend New Insights Into Link Between Depression And Back Pain” – Dr. Marina Pinherio

It turns out the struggle around evidence-based treatment isn’t isolated within manual therapy. Mental health therapists are facing some of the same issues, and it’s surprising the similarities between our professions.

“Looking For Evidence That Therapy Works” – N.Y. Times

I’m sure we all know someone, whether a patient, family member or friend who has suffered a stroke. Turns out some new research shows the brain can rewire itself to unused areas as part of recovery. 

“Stroke: Can The Brain Rewire Itself To Aid Recovery?” – Medical News Today

With some debate online this week, some therapists were calling themselves “healers”. In turn, we found this post which shows we are the “helpers”, the patient is actually the “healer”.

“I Am A Massage Therapist, Not A Healer” – Tania Velasquez


Articles Of The Week December 31, 2017

We have to be careful when loading certain injuries like a fracture or complete tendon tears. However, with muscle and tendon injuries the evidence is showing that loading early is beneficial, and a little bit of pain isn’t a reason to back off. 

“Starting Rehab Early Can Speed Recovery From Muscle Injuries: Study” – The Globe And Mail


This is a great article (however I think I connect with it because I used to be that guy!). Manual therapy is great, but we don’t need to crush tissues or use heavy weighted force to ‘release’ tissue. We need a more logical way to work, and this article helps us understand that. 

“Should We Crush Tissue?” – Mitch Hauschildt


This one is actually a video from David Butler on assessment of the upper and lower limb. It’s great information and can be implemented in your clinical setting right away.

“NOI Neurodynamics” – David Butler


We are all business people, so it’s just as important to learn about business as it is therapy. This article shows how recognizing a pattern and reacting to it differently can change a bad habit and create new positive ones.

“How Your Patterns Can Kill Your Business – The Solution Is Not So Simple” – Alley Jean


I’m sure we’ve all helped a patient in our practice who has dealt with a concussion. Whether from a car accident, a fall, or from playing sports, concussions can be difficult to deal with. For this reason, some parents are pulling their kids from sports because they’re afraid of them getting a concussion. But what about all of the other things sports do for kids? Here are 5 reasons why they should still be in sports:

“5 Reasons Kids Should Play Sports” – Complete Concussion Management


Change is hard, change within an entire industry is even harder! However, this post goes on to discuss why manual therapy needs to change, and why the change is important.

“Embrace Change” – Eric Purves