Podcast Episode #27 Myofascial Release And CLB, What Does The Evidence Say?
James Johnston RMT 0:12
You’re listening to the massage therapist Development Initiative. I’m Jamie Johnston.
Eric Purves 0:17
And I’m Eric Purvis. This is a podcast by massage therapists for massage therapists.
James Johnston RMT 0:22
Our objective is to simplify how to be a more evidence informed practitioner. Let’s dig into this episode.
So often said that you can’t judge a book by its cover. And I think you could say the same when it comes to research. We’re going to look at a paper today called myofascial release for chronic low back pain, a systematic review and meta analysis. And funding when I looked at it, I just assumed that they would be trying to point out wonderful and effective myofascial releases. But the paper tells us otherwise.
Eric Purves 1:04
Yes, I liked that. The, the title kind of brings you in, I use that as a manual therapist, as massage therapists, you’re like, okay, my apologies, chronic low back pain, all of a sudden, my, my alarm bells were up and I was like, Oh, I’m going to tear this paper apart. It’s going to be crap. You know, my bias was coming into effect. And I was like, oh, no, you would send me you’d send this you’d found this paper and send it to me. I thought, Okay, well, let’s just let’s just see what it has to say. And I was pleasantly surprised. There’s a few things in here, which, you know, I didn’t agree with it. I’m sure you as well. But I was pleasantly surprised how they went about it. And the findings that they came up with? was not what I expected.
James Johnston RMT 1:44
No. And it turns out, I did confirm my bias as I read through it.
Eric Purves 1:47
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it basically, you know, you know, slow, stretchy skin techniques to the low back aren’t as wonderful as some people claim. But there is some positives, and there’s some nothingness of this. What is what did it find, though, is lost or is never mentioned in these studies? And I think this is the problem with these type of studies like this, like these quantitative studies, where there’s like, assigning value or numbers to things is there’s no qualitative aspect of like, what does this mean to the personally, the person getting the most is going to put into this air quotes MFR treatment for the low back? Do they value that? Or do they value exercise? Or do they value rescue? They value medication? Do they value that type of massage technique? Or like, what is it that they want, because when we’re looking at these kind of patient centered care stuff, you know, all these buzzwords we hear all the time. And that’s really the way things should be going as person centered care. If someone comes in and you give them this, like slow, stretchy skin, technique, of varying forces, whatever feels good for you, and the person receiving it, you know, we say we call that myofascial release is the person value, that is what they want.
Jamie Johnston 3:05
Yeah, yeah. And rarely,
Eric Purves 3:07
that makes a big difference in terms of the outcomes are going to come because you can’t, you can’t force somebody if something they don’t want and expect them to get better. Yeah.
James Johnston RMT 3:15
And like to go along with that, it’s they also never mentioned anything about contextual factors of treatment, the interaction between therapist and patient, the, you know, all those other things that we know, matter so much. And granted, in this case, because it’s systematic review. You know, they’re just looking at all the papers that have been done. And so it’s not necessarily necessarily their responsibility at this level of the research to, to look at that. But at the lower levels of the of the research of the papers that they would have looked at, they it’s still not talked about, none of those things are, are taken into account. And, you know, it’s not talking about the confidence of the therapist and doing those techniques, compared to one that they don’t like, right, and so, even though it’s, you know, one of the things they looked at was myofascial release versus Sham, and I’m not sure what the sham was, but, but it still showed that, you know, it wasn’t getting better. So, so it’s, you know, I wish that they would start doing research papers to take all of those things we just talked about into account as as part of it.
Eric Purves 4:20
And that’s the thing that that I find is seems to be a problem is they keep on doing these studies, and people putting these papers when they’re looking at the same thing again, and again and again. And again, you think, why do you like and then they always a conclusion always is more research is needed. But why don’t you do the other research as needed rather than doing the same research again? I mean, this is this paper was done at universities, some china and Italy looks like this where the researchers were, and it was just done last year, and it’s just time Yeah, July 2021. So it’s relatively like it’s a newish like a very new study. But you have to keep putting these resources and times into it and you’re studying. Myofascial release for chronic low back pain. And I think this is the problem with this, when you call things like this, it tends to probably add more validity to the term myofascial release than it really deserves. Because if you’re doing myofascial release, and someone can be like, That’s what I do, I guess why I call my technique. And I think, you know, myofascial release sounds nicer than slow, stretchy skin technique, if you know, for sure, probably triple s t technique. But the problem is, is that it’s inferring that you’re making that you’re like imparting change, or you’re like creating change in the muscles and fascia. Yeah. And that is and that and in order for that to be true, that has to be validated first. And we know that from other studies, that your manual techniques don’t actually create long standing changes in that tissue. Yeah, through the mechanisms proposed, proposed, right. So we know it’s, there’s this neurophysiological things which have these more reflexive effects. But that’s, that’s, you know, when when you’re using it, you’re myofascial just, it makes a lot of assumptions, right. And it, I think it creates this idea that tissue needs to be addressed in a specific way for a specific problem in order to get results. And you know, and there’s a lot of assumptions made about how this works. I think in the paper, they talk about, like changing this visco elasticity of the fascia and increasing blood flow and, you know, increasing neural function through like opening space, creating space from I can’t remember. Yeah, the like, Okay, well, that’s a lot of assumptions. Those are assumptions. Those are not science facts. Those aren’t those are hypotheses or theories,
James Johnston RMT 6:47
which was, which is what a lot of the myofascial release research has been based on.
Eric Purves 6:54
Yeah, and even in here, and his paper when they talk about near the end when they’re there, and we’ll get to there. And when they talk about the, you know, how this is supposed to work, they’re using old research, which isn’t even, like, physic neuro, are there even physiological anatomical studies, really, they’re like, just old, like ideas by like, SCHLAPP. And our, you know, and just just going like, Okay, well, these are ideas, and they helped us get to where we are now, but those ideas are kind of not fully complete, we have
James Johnston RMT 7:25
to put those in them are completely wrong. Yeah, we have to put those away now, and, and go with, you know, start looking at the stuff that Bilasa T is doing. And that’s the more modern interpretation of what’s going on, right. So that’s the stuff that should be included in their paper like this, when we’re talking about how things work. And interesting, like, towards the end of this paper, or even talked about, like, looking through all the papers, they couldn’t define one specific technique that was used, it was all different myofascial release techniques that were used. So they can’t, It can’t even be narrowed down to say, you know, doing a hold on the area around the QL, for X amount of time in this direction, was is the way to do it. Because there were so many different styles that were used, that they couldn’t pinpoint that. And kind of funny to go with that because I just was looking at a paper recently about manual lymph drainage. And they were trying to say that manual lymph drainage works. And then when you read through the paper, all they do is say we did general Swedish massage in that area. So they weren’t doing MLD technique. They were using Swedish massage and saying manual lymph drainage works. Wow. Right. So so so that’s, that’s like one of the big issues with all of these modality based or technique based things is that there, there’s nothing concrete about it. And the more that we understand about how things work, when we put our hands on people, we can realize that none of these are all outdated ideas and theories that should really be
Eric Purves 9:03
put to bed. Totally, totally agree with these things to what you see is, you know, all these studies, like all these manual therapy studies, right, they all kind of show doesn’t really matter what you do, you name your technique. And they all show that you’ll have a short term decrease in pain and maybe a little bit of increase in physical function, depending on how those are measured short term, but doesn’t matter what these myofascial release are cranial sacral or Swedish or anything else, they all kind of show the same thing, which I know some people might who are listening maybe people who listen to this podcast before and like oh my god, these guys are who are they? They don’t know what they’re talking about. We promise has a million times the last thing on the podcast we’ve done now 2530 of them something like that. That it’s it actually should be empowering to us because it means we have more opportunities. 100% And it doesn’t have to follow the specific protocols and in the courses that we teach together or individually, you know, we always talked about that like, it’s just like, beaks, explore, be curious, find something that feels good that you like to do that the person likes to do. That’s, you know, harder, softer stretch, your faster, slower doesn’t matter as long as it feels good to the person, that’s the person centered care. You don’t have to worry with these very specific interventions. And I know that people are that, you know, are gonna argue that, but that’s okay. You can argue that all you want, like, there’s not the data sport, you may have your clinical experience to support it. And I would never argue with clinical experience. But the reasons why you’re getting those results from your clinical experience are probably very different than what you think. Yeah. And this is where we have that ethical obligation as healthcare providers to to be less wrong. Yeah. Don’t claim you’re releasing fascia.
James Johnston RMT 10:46
When we know that that’s not possible.
Eric Purves 10:50
Exactly. But you can make people feel good doing those techniques. Yeah. And that’s, I think, where the the discussion gets bogged down a little bit.
James Johnston RMT 11:01
Yeah. Funny enough, you know, the discussion that we were involved in offline this morning was something around, I think the term was used, elitism. Where, you know, people that are, you know, they’re discussing things with physios and things like that. And there seems to be this manual therapy elitism. And, and as I was watching some of the comments around that, I was like, Well, you know, people could probably point at us and say the same thing. Because we’re pushing so much for evidence based care, there’s probably a certain population of massage therapists that look at us and go, Well, these guys are, you know, they’re, they’re trying to be elitist in what they’re doing. But it’s, it’s just not the case, we’re just trying to bring the education around what we do. So this sort of a little bit of a tangent off track there. But you know, it’s a podcast. But it’s, you know, I think we just got to be, be careful when we’re, you know, when we’re interacting with other therapists and things like that. And like you said, there’s probably lots of people that listen to this, and these guys are idiots. They don’t know what they’re talking about. Because we’re looking at this stuff and trying to get rid of those old narratives. So, you know, we just probably want to get across that we’re not trying to be elitist about anything, we’re just trying to bring forward the most the most up to date information about the things we do in order to help other therapists.
Eric Purves 12:26
And I think that what happens sometimes is that, you know, I know, we’ve seen people before, I’ve seen have said things like, oh, you know, I’m tired of the myth busting. And, you know, I don’t believe that when you we educate, we just spend so much time busting myths. And I agree with that to some way. But the problem is, is that having been teaching CCS for so many years now, I’ve done them over 100 plus times, when you experiment to try something different, and you don’t do the mythbusting aspect of it, things go sideways, because people don’t know what you’re talking about. Yeah. And so
James Johnston RMT 13:03
as well as, as long as the myths still exist. Yeah, we have to do something about that.
Eric Purves 13:10
Yeah. Yeah, and I would say we do way less now than we used to, I used to spend so much time on it, but I just kind of got like, well, you know, I’m just kind of tired of doing it, because been doing it for seven or eight years now. And you think, how many more times do we need to do these bust these myths like these things are, but they’re still there, and the society is still there. And the profession? So yeah, we maybe would call there’s a term myofascial release. And it’s like, Oh, my God, I’ve heard these guys say this a million times. But the thing is, is still the common narrative is still the common idea within the profession of what’s happening. And there’s this like, higher level of value assigned to certain techniques over others. And, you know, I don’t think yeah, we’re not trying to be elitist. We’re just trying to say, look, we spent it, this is what we do for a living. This is like, we read this stuff, we talk with the stuff, we teach this stuff, you know, and we’re trying to change the profession to be more evidence based, be more up to date, because we don’t make these changes, then we’re gonna be left behind. And I think that we don’t want to be left behind. We want to be seen as leaders, like we know we can do we can be leaders that MSK care. And, you know, we made that comment before and of course, we be leaders and we’ve had people be like, Well, I don’t think it’s fair to put down other people or other professions where that’s not what we’re saying. But yeah, why would we not want to strive to be the best set like hands on and movement based musculoskeletal care? Why do we not want that? We can do it is within our scope? Yeah. Yeah. And then the also to sorry, I’m gonna go on a tangent here. Now just thinking of like, previous like courses we’ve taught and other podcasts we’ve been, haven’t necessarily been ours. Where people hear us terrible things. Like I think we made some discussions and some stabs at the importance of the psoas muscle on someone else’s podcast, thinking practitioner, maybe In the last pod, yeah, we talked about that. And then we got, we got some, like, from this one listener and got some very kind of like upset emails. Yeah. Basically saying that, you know, you should be better than calling out this stuff. And, you know, it makes it sound like you’re like you’re, you think you’re above everybody. And we’re like, no, like, that’s not we think at all. We’re just talking about this stuff, because this is to what we hear all the time. Now, it was a while ago, I can’t exactly remember the context of that. Maybe you might remember, but I remember thinking people hear what they want to hear. Yeah. And, and if you say something that makes them feel uncomfortable, they oftentimes will come at you as trying to be elitist or being trying to make yourself feel superior or making trying to make others feel dumb. And there’s never that’s never my intention was the intent. And so sometimes, maybe if people feel that way, I’m like, Okay, well, maybe I could have said that better. Maybe we could have had that discussion better. I don’t know. But or maybe somebody you think, well, maybe, maybe that’s, maybe that’s you listen to the listener, which I like. Because not everybody feels
James Johnston RMT 16:06
that way. Yeah. And we’re not going to be able to make everybody happy. No, right. There’s always going to be somebody who, and everybody has the right to take things the way that they want. And that’s fine. But, you know, but I think it really comes down to like, when people get their beliefs challenged, is is typically when we get that that kickback. Right? You know, I, we could go that’s a whole other podcast we could talk about. Sure. Yeah. You know, and I’ve been, I’ve been doing some, some learning and some reading around that lately. And it’s some really interesting stuff about how the brain always switches to a safety mechanism, even when it comes to that stuff. So when those beliefs get challenged, you know, it’s an automatic automatic reaction for the person to get upset and pull back and be like, no. So, you know, could we have done a better job of trying to change the opinion of somebody? I think we’re, I think we’re doing our best and, and all you can do is do your best. So if people can be offended, that’s okay. But we’re, we know that there’s other people and there’s people in the population that we’re helping, because because those narratives are getting changed.
Eric Purves 17:20
Yes, yes. All right, you want to
Unknown Speaker 17:25
paper after that ramp?
Eric Purves 17:26
Yeah. We shouldn’t, we shouldn’t go put it like thing. Fast forward 15 minutes, and you actually hear the paper.
James Johnston RMT 17:34
So one of the things that that I looked at with it, and I’ve just got the paper in front of me, so I’m gonna have my head down reading but is when they looked at the when they were selecting the papers they were going to look at and they looked at the comparison, they looked at my alpha myofascial releases versus sham myofascial release versus exercise, myofascial release versus exercise, myofascial release, and exercise versus exercise, myofascial release and spinal spinal manipulation versus spinal manipulation alone, and myofascial release and phys ed physiotherapy program versus just a physiotherapy program. And really interesting when they looked at the outcomes, the outcomes weren’t any better. Let’s just myofascial release, so and, and that was strictly just looking at pain, and doing like the disability pain questionnaires and things like that. But it wasn’t any better. But then when it looked at things like that, what really stood out to me is like physical function and mental health. And when they looked at things like that, so what really jumped out to me was like kinesio phobia, when they’re looking at mental health that myofascial release did not help at all, when it came to things like that. And, and when we look at it, it’s like, well, especially with something like kinesio phobia, how could it possibly help? Because, you know, that’s fear of fear around movement, that it’s going to cause more pain. So how would somebody laying on the table being passively touched, have any effect on that whatsoever? And that’s one of the big reasons why we need to incorporate more movement into the treatments that we do in order to help with that aspect of goals.
Eric Purves 19:04
Oh, for sure, for sure. And I think with what I get from from this, just from the very kind of like, general aspect of it is that, you know, six, manual therapy or myofascial release, right, it works for pain, and it works for certain types of function. And depending on the studies and how they measured it, but everything else kind of works, too. So, you know, it’s I think this goes back to that initial statement we made were like, it really depends on the person wants. Yeah, and what’s gonna work for them. You know, the one thing that I find is is you see a lot in the musculoskeletal literature, which I find to be, I don’t know, almost lazy research is that they do with like a plus b, right? So you look at myofascial release and spinal manipulation versus just spinal manipulation, myofascial release plus physiotherapy program versus physiotherapy program, you’re getting two interventions to one. So maybe two interventions are getting more care and more is being done to them. So oftentimes, what you see as those studies will produce better outcomes than just one thing alone. Yeah, to make this, you know, to make myofascial release as that technique to be seen as more validated that you’d have to compare that with another similar technique.
James Johnston RMT 20:31
Yes, so say you did myofascial release versus cranial sacral? Sure, yeah. But
Eric Purves 20:38
or myofascial release versus general Swedish or, or maybe just myofascial release versus spinal manipulation? Yeah. Or myofascial release versus, you know, dry needling or you’d see like, you know, intervention, you know, comparison, what are the outcomes and see which one is better? My assumption would be based on the data I’ve seen for other things is they’re kind of the same.
James Johnston RMT 21:01
Yep. And then be interesting to if they if they did a study that way, if they were to say, taking 100 People who had low back pain, and before they got there, say, What do you prefer acupuncture or hands on technique, and they put the people into the things that they thought would work better, and then see what the outcomes are? Yeah, I think that we’ll show them the opposite one, and see what the outcomes are.
Eric Purves 21:25
Yeah, Mark Bishop and his research group in Florida, they did something like that with it with acupoints. Like, they put people into different clinicians who had a different preferred way of treating spa money for the therapy or exercise. And then they, they just randomly allocated people to the treating clinicians, I could be wrong. And this I’m probably telling someone, if someone knows the studies they’d like, yeah, you’re wrong. But general idea. And what they did is what they found is that when they ask people afterward, are they the people treating the clinicians treating, didn’t know what the person’s preference for treatment was? Okay. Right. And so the clinician got to be able to do a treatment on somebody. And then afterwards, what they did is they I believe, they looked at the data and said, Okay, these 50 people got spine, we have a therapy, these 50 people had a light touch, or an exercise intervention came out it was, what they found was, if I remember correctly, is that when those people that one of those people that were given spinal manipulative therapy, if that’s what they liked, and that’s what they preferred from, and then the provider loved that was their preference and confident with it. And those things matched the person reported better outcomes, which goes with kind of with what we’re saying here is if the person values it, and I should values it, you’re gonna probably get better outcomes than if neither party does or if one party values and the other one doesn’t. Work, which, and there’s a bunch of other studies on that. That’s just the one that comes to my mind. I think that was one the first ones I read years ago, and maybe we didn’t have a podcast about that, cuz I’m probably bastardizing. The
James Johnston RMT 23:11
Yeah, we should find that paper and look at it be cool.
Eric Purves 23:15
Yeah, I haven’t someone. One thing to just when you’re talking about the manufacturer is one thing I wanted to just mention, which I thought, this is the thing that I think is something that’s very problematic for people that are reading study. So if you’re reading the studies, have a look. And if you see these type of statements, make sure you read the references that they’re coming from, because one study or that they talked about in the introduction, it says, Previous studies have found that the psoas muscle fascia may be related to chronic low back pain, that all of a sudden for me, I thought, Really, okay. And then so I went and read the other two papers that they took that reference from and what the author’s said that the conclusions. And then the conclusion is where we see changes in connective tissues and people with low back pain, this could be either the cause or the effect. So all they’re saying is that when you have low back pain, it looks like all the tissues that we’re attaching are round to low back. We’re different than those who didn’t have low back pain. And so that’s a big leap to say the psoas muscle fashion is contributing to it. Yeah. Can you be and then the author’s go on to say, and there’s other studies that, you know, when people have chronic low back pain, they’re different motor control? You know, I think a lot of them had were heavier, they might have been, like, heavier people will be in my mind might have been bigger or less active, that kind of thing. And so, you know, maybe the changes that we’re seeing because they did it all through ultrasound, or not causative, but maybe they’re a response to being in pain for a long time. And that’s what other studies I’ve read, too. So I think when you see these kinds of statements like so as muscle fashion, maybe related, well, those those authors didn’t Let’s say that they said they see a change there. It didn’t say it’s necessarily causative. I think that’s, that’s a, that’s something that we need to be very mindful of when we’re reading these papers is that these kind of bold statements, go check the references and see what those references have to say.
James Johnston RMT 25:13
Yeah. And whenever I read something like that, when it says, the psoas muscle may be a contributor, that that to me isn’t a, that doesn’t tell me that the source is a contributor. That when whenever it says May, I’m like, okay, that that just means that there’s a possibility. It doesn’t mean if it’s not a for sure thing. So, you know, just when you’re reading it, to me, anytime that it says it may do this, isn’t it’s not a be all end all. It’s a, you’re referencing a possibility, not a not an absolute.
Eric Purves 25:44
Exactly. Exactly. And yeah, if you familiar with some of the debates about the fascia, rather than so as muscles relevance, I think
Jamie Johnston 25:54
we have a whole other podcasts that sort of motivate a whole podcast
Eric Purves 25:56
on that. And TJ did a big and I think human image Austin might have done a Facebook Live on that maybe. Anyway, yeah, it’s been that’s been beaten to death. So
Jamie Johnston 26:06
yeah, so we don’t need to be
Eric Purves 26:09
talking about that too much. But it was just something I think, people if they’re listening, make sure you check the references, the references, if something seems to be a bold claim that doesn’t resonate well with you see where they came from?
James Johnston RMT 26:19
Yeah. So it is really mean. Like I said, this paper confirmed my biases. But it goes through and talks about physical physical function, quality of life, balance, function, printing, pressure, threshold, trunk mobility, mental health, all these other things that they picked apart with the information, and it still showed that myofascial release didn’t have much of an effect on any of it.
Eric Purves 26:46
No, that’s something I would I would I would love to see is that they did talk about it. And if you looked at some of the other studies, the researcher they did they usually analysis, they looked at myofascial release, and how often people got it, and how long the treatments were. And that was quite very, they used the treatments, I think, or somewhere 40 minutes or so. Yes, as your 40 minutes once every two weeks or 40 minutes once every three weeks or eight weeks, some are 40 minutes each once every two weeks for two weeks. My family six times in total. But they don’t actually describe what the author or what the clinician did. Like what was what are you calling myofascial release? Like? How are you? What’s the is it the same for everybody? A same protocol in person centered, like what what techniques are you doing? That’s the kind of stuff that would be really important for us as massage therapists to know. Now, we don’t want to follow a cookie cutter recipe approach, because that’s boring and lame. But it would be nice to know if they’re like, Yeah, we did this technique. And maybe it was just like a slow hold, you know, for two minutes. Yeah.
James Johnston RMT 28:01
Well, that’s like what I was mentioning before, just to back up, what you’re saying is right, right, at the end of the paper somewhere, makes the statement that they couldn’t they couldn’t recreate it, because they didn’t because it was all different styles of myofascial release that were being used. It was all different techniques. So
Eric Purves 28:18
James Johnston RMT 28:21
And it’s kind of funny, because you know, this, this probably sounds like we’re picking on myofascial release as we discuss this. But you could probably take any manual therapy technique and put it at the title of this, and it would still apply the same way.
Eric Purves 28:36
Right? Yeah, I think that what you see, what I seem to see is because myofascial release is something that, you know, it’s for some reason we’ll have for whatever reason it is it’s, it’s a term, it’s a treatment style, it’s very popular in the world, and, you know, we have fashion everywhere. And so let’s try and manipulate it. And when we do these techniques, they work and so you have clinical experience of like, hundreds of 1000s of people and clients that are respond well to it. But yeah, you there’s so many different ways of doing it. And there’s so many different ways of touching and moving and manipulating people that how could you ever say that one is right and one’s wrong? Obviously, the one way is better than the other. And that’s, I think it was one of the problems that we see with this stuff. And but because myofascial release is so popular, and it does and they do saying here somewhere that, you know usually involves holding for like 100 to 300 seconds. Right? And so, and then we’re like and they’re like and then people feel better. But then if we look at what some of the neurophysiological things that occur with the slow, sustained stretch techniques, and when you put that force into tissue, we do see that there is an anti nociceptive effect through activation of a variety of things, but one of them being I believe it’s Ruffini corpuscles.
Jamie Johnston 30:03
Yep. Pressure receptors, right?
Eric Purves 30:05
Yeah, I think it’s really so and so and so I can’t remember I should know, when I teach this stuff I should know if I’m mad, but I’m tired. I just got back from vacation. So my brains a little bit. When you do the slow stretchy skin, Teddy’s a certain receptors in the skin and upper layer of the connective tissues that do actually slow down noxious stimuli through the spinal cord. So that’s why people feel better after a massage, right? It doesn’t have to be necessarily that slow, sustained one, but from what I’ve read before and other neuro physiological studies is that when those things are held for a certain period of time, they become more activated. And that’s going to create a larger antinociceptive effect. So maybe myofascial release isn’t changing the fascia, maybe it is more likely being that you’re activating these receptors, which is changing the sensory input that your bodies that your spinal cord in the brain is receiving. That, to me is makes more sense because we can measure that.
James Johnston RMT 31:02
And that’s how, that’s how every technique works.
Eric Purves 31:05
And so every time Yeah, so that’s a, that’s something I really wish that we would embrace as a profession, rather than chasing all these these techniques.
James Johnston RMT 31:15
Well, I I was having a thought the other day. And this can this can go back to that I was writing a blog post about it. The the whole thing where we will get our beliefs challenged. And I was thinking, Well, what if, what if, when we were in college, we didn’t actually name any of the technique courses? It was just called manual therapy technique. Class one. Yes. And then we had equal amounts of classes in research and exercise. And we did two manual technique courses. So what if we had five classes on how to do a massage five classes on some exercise and five classes on some research? And all we called all the classes were massage therapy technique, manual therapy technique. Yeah. Then when we got into school, we wouldn’t run into this whole identity thing where it’s Well, I’m a myofascial release therapist, or I’m a cranial sacral therapist, or I’m a general Swedish massage therapist, or I’m this and that, it would be just a manual therapist. And then it wouldn’t be so daunting when those beliefs get challenged. Because the beliefs wouldn’t be there for the most part, right?
Eric Purves 32:33
Well, because they’re put in there by school, or any, you know, thing I’ve talked about before is that the what you learn in school forms the foundation for what you’re how you’re gonna practice. And it’s very hard to unlearn those things. And I agree, I love that idea. That if we could just stop naming these techniques is like the special thing, but teach a variety of those techniques, but teach them under like a general manual skills thing. Use those techniques to work with specific populations. So teach people some manual skills. Well, here’s some different ways this is, this is like what we would normally call Swedish massage, it’s kind of long or slower or faster. Yeah, sliding and gliding techniques. And there’s ones over the stretch here, ones and ones that are maybe a little more specific, maybe you want to use like your thumbs, your fingers, your knuckles, your elbow, whatever, you know, here’s ones that are maybe a little more pressure. And here’s what’s more, like, maybe you’re doing some trigger point type things with little more pressure in a certain spot, or whatever that looks like, you know, like get people to teach everyone the skills and how to touch because that’s really important. And that’s what I think separates us from other MSK professionals is we do as a profession have our touches is better in terms of that, because we do all day more experience with more experienced patients like betterment, and we’re more experienced with it. So but yeah, just so that we you move away from all these different name techniques and creates people to kind of pick and choose what they want to do, rather than just gravitating towards a specific way of thinking. Yeah, and you could easily do you could be here’s to all these populations that you’re going to treat. Here’s a class on geriatrics. Here’s a classroom class, no sport, here’s a class on, you know, surgical rehab, you’re the one on like, I mean, we do I do anyway, did some neurological stuff. And all this stuff was very, it was kind of very, it was quick, quick, and there wasn’t really a lot of thought process. It’s like, well, I can use these techniques and use these techniques for this person. Yeah, but you don’t really have to think about it. I mean, I know some schools probably do a better job than than others. But when we went to school, you were really taught to think you were taught just to basically copy and paste. Yeah, yeah.
James Johnston RMT 34:37
Yeah. What was it the neural stuff was like roots techniques and things like that. Yeah. And
Eric Purves 34:42
a couple other other other technique, things that you learned, but the focus was always on technique, technique, technique, and it was never enough on like critical thinking or interaction or how would I communicate with this person? How would I explain to them what’s going on? They’re gonna be like, Why do I hurt what’s going on? What are some strategies that you can use that aren’t like pathway anatomical tissue blaming. Unless there is a tissue, you’re injured, yeah, yeah, there it is inflamed here that’s going to take, you know, for six weeks to recover, like just to learn these basic things, which we do in clinic. But I find that when people come out of school, they’re not given that they’re just given a visit to basic. Yeah. And I think that can result in more. Not not the total
Jamie Johnston 35:27
results and what we have now. Let’s, it results in what we have, though.
Eric Purves 35:32
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So yeah, that would be that’d be nice to change those techniques. And I like that you brought that up? That’s good.
James Johnston RMT 35:40
Yeah, I’ve been looking at a lot of stuff about that whole belief system thing lately, and I’m trying to make change. So yeah. Yeah, some thought reversal kind of stuff.
Eric Purves 35:54
For sure, ya know, as important stuff, right?
James Johnston RMT 35:58
Well, I think we beat a lot of that to death. But I think getting towards the end of the paper, it also pointed out, there was like five or six points that it made about, basically why the research they looked at wasn’t good. Which is important to take into account. And some of the things that they pointed out is like, a lot of the papers didn’t have long term follow up with the patients to show whether the whether the pain relief or whatever lasted for them. You know, it talked about like, it didn’t include things about disease duration, how long this has been going on for them. The risks in terms of randomization, so there was like, a whole list of things that he pointed out by there needs to be more research done on this stuff, because the research we have isn’t good.
Eric Purves 36:46
Yeah, they said that the quality of evidence to was only the best, it was moderate. And that was for pain, and physical function, which is what they that was what they said the conclusions were from the data that painted physical function is the best thing for that we can say myofascial release does, based on the current data we have, all the other stuff was low or very low. And the but there’s only moderate. So it’s not like high quality level of evidence. So it’s like, less. So okay, it’s not great. But that’s seems pretty consistent with what you see most other any type of manual and massage therapy, literature’s the outcomes can be monitored, at best for short term. And we all know clinically, right? People come to see us they leave, they often will feel better. And
James Johnston RMT 37:33
it’s, there’s so many things that go into that more than just us putting our hands on them.
Eric Purves 37:38
Exactly more than just the technique. Right? So yeah, what I did like, though, in his paper, there was they did say, you know, when they’re talking about the limitations and talking near the end, right, they’re talking about, like, they say, you know, integration of sensory information, central nervous system processing, neuromuscular activity, and they start using a lot of appropriate receptors, the overall adjustment of the nervous system, they talked with all this, they started talking about all these other things that occur. So it’s funny, it’s just funny to me that they, they started paper being like myofascial release is supposed to do these things. And then when we go to talk about the outcomes, and the things that, that you see in people with, you know, when they’re looking at their measurements, like these are all the things that we see in proprioception, sensory challenges and this kind of thing, and you’re like, now they’re talking about neuro physiological stuff, which I feel like they should have been talking about it earlier, when they kind of were building the background.
James Johnston RMT 38:36
Or when the it’s funny when they’re building that that background part, the part you’ve commented on a couple times, it was like a long couple paragraphs where they were basically saying, This is what the papers say myofascial release does. And then they went through and I, honestly, I kind of glossed over a bunch of that, because I’m like, No, it doesn’t do that. But they were referencing what the papers say and then, and then get into what manual therapy actually does with this stuff. You’re just talking about the neurophysiological input and things like that. So it’s good that they came around to almost correct that part of it.
Eric Purves 39:10
Yeah, which made me feel feel happy with the two and and they did say yeah, like, it kind of has short term impacts, but sounds great. It’s gonna be better than much else that’s out there. But they did say, you know, at the end, too, which was just great. As I said, future randomized controlled trials should strictly limit interventions and reduce the use of combination interventions, which is what we’re saying earlier, like the a plus b, right? You do this and this, versus that. So just do like, a single one to see is this type of treatment. And you can you can you put that, can you quantify that Troodon? Or can you put it into like something like, this is something that we’re going to deliver, like this is how we’re going to do it, which I know isn’t very person centered, but if you wanted to see if a technique work, it has to be standardized. Yeah. Like do you have to like this is what we’re going to do for all these people that come in, at SCORE whatever it is on this Back Pain measure? Yeah, and that we’re gonna do this very specific protocol, and we’re gonna see what happens. Right? And you probably the results probably aren’t gonna be great, but at least you, you know, they’re not gonna, it’s not gonna be like, Whoa, amazing. We’ve, you know, found the cure. But it’s, it’ll, I think that’s what the better way of doing you say. So we can say, Look, this type of technique can help or the technique type per technique, man doesn’t is. That’s what we like to do. Go ahead and do it, which I think is what I got from this. If you’d like to do it, go ahead, do it. It’s not going to be the be all end all the works for you, of course, people who come to see you, then it is part of the overall treatment plan.
James Johnston RMT 40:37
Yeah. I mean, the other thing that I take from papers like this as well is it really reinforces to me why the clinical guidelines of MSK care or education reassurance movement and some manual therapy, right? Because we know that reassurance and education plays a huge role in the mental health and the functional aspect of things. And then, of course, so does integrating the movement into things because of things like kinesio phobia, and, you know, other issues that that people have. So it really reinforces to me why manual therapy is the thing at the bottom of the list, and why those other things are more important, because it shows that the technique alone doesn’t really do a whole lot, by comparison with pain and physical function and all these other things. It’s a piece of the overall
Eric Purves 41:25
puzzle. So yeah.
James Johnston RMT 41:29
So I think to kind of wrap it up, and to go back to what you were just commenting on is, if you really liked doing myofascial release techniques, and your patients like it, continue to do them. But the problem is that we just need to change the narrative around it, we need to stop telling people that we’re releasing fascia, we have to, you know, change those things and start talking about, you know, inputs to the nervous system and how things actually work. And then of course, start if you’re not already start into integrating more movement, education and reassurance as part of your treatment plan with your people.
Eric Purves 42:05
And people feel good to catch on when it feels nice, as we always say, TPN touch people nicely, that can such a subjective thing, right? That’s totally different for everybody. So it doesn’t mean you have to be super gentle, it doesn’t mean you have to be, you know, it doesn’t mean don’t touch them, it just means fine touch that feels good. Make them feel good. Give them movement, if they value moving to find them to do something that they that’s important to them as well, because yeah, that’s the a plus b right there. If they can do something else as well, or when they’re not in a treatment with you, that’s gonna be in most of the population, that’s going to be
James Johnston RMT 42:37
good for them. Yeah. And make that make that interaction with them meaningful to them. Right, make the make the treatment, make the movement, make the homecare all meaningful to that person, and you’re probably going to have better outcomes than just doing myofascial release
Eric Purves 42:52
alone. And I think what you said beautifully in our last podcast, was he talked about engage in treatment, rather than just give or provide human engagement. So I think I like that I think it plays really well with kind of wrapping up this discussions. Yeah, engage with people and have them, have them have a say in what they want to do like to do and facilitate that for them.
James Johnston RMT 43:13
Perfect, we’ll end it there. Alright, see you next time, everybody. We hope you enjoyed this podcast. These kinds of topics are what we are all about. If you’d like to learn more, go to our websites,
Eric Purves 43:26
themtdc.com or Ericpurvs.com. If you know of any other therapists that could benefit from this, please tell them to subscribe.
- Wu Z, Wang Y, Ye X, Chen Z, Zhou R, Ye Z, Huang J, Zhu Y, Chen G, Xu X. Myofascial release for chronic low back pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in medicine. 2021 Jul 28;8:697986.
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