Recent findings from the Touch Research Institutes of the
University of Miami School of Medicine show marked improvement in
those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis after massage
Specifically, after moderate pressure massage therapy, those
with rheumatoid arthritis had less pain, greater grip strength and
improved range of motion in their upper limbs. (Read a summary of this latest research.)
In fact, the Arthritis Foundation has great things to say about
massage therapy as a pain relief option for those living with
arthritis. Research has shown that massage can lower the body's
production of the stress hormone cortisol, and boost production of
serotonin, which, in turn, can improve mood. Additionally, massage
can lower production of the neurotransmitter substance P, often
linked to pain, improving sleep as a result. (Read the three-page report on massage therapy and
When you train as a massage therapist in a clinical environment,
you'll have more exposure to clients seeking massage for medical
conditions, such as arthritis. A key advantage in earning your massage therapy
certification at National University of Health Sciences is its
internship in the on-campus integrative medical clinic. Here, you
will not only practice massage geared toward relaxation and
wellness, but also have the chance to work with clients referred by
physicians from a variety of medical specialties. Your massage will
be part of an over all treatment plan managed by the client's
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a symposium
of integrative medicine professionals in New Mexico. Since I was
there representing National as an exhibitor, I did not attend the
many exciting and innovative workshops, but I did speak to many
exciting and innovative health care practitioners who are inspired
to bring their practices to another level in patient care. Making
the adventure even more interesting was the diversity of the
participants. In attendance and conducting workshops were MDs,
PhDs, RNs, dietitians, chiropractors, naturopaths, nutritionists,
oriental medicine practitioners, acupuncturists, and yes, massage
Of most interest to me was the fact
that a good portion of the workshops were lead or assisted by MDs.
I think that I have unfairly grouped MDs together as practitioners
who prefer to work with other MDs and shun complementary and
alternative care providers. Nothing could have been further from
the truth in this setting. If I were from Mars and came to earth
for the first time landing smack dab in the middle of this group I
would feel their unity, their deep and abiding desire to help and
nurture. and be very impressed with the quality of care offered to
The only things that resembled any
other conference or symposium that I've ever attended were a
continental breakfast, refreshment breaks and lunch on your own!
Seriously, this was so far off the beaten path and so intense in
its purity and energy that I felt privileged to rub elbows with
these forward thinking professionals.
The first day started with a keynote
presentation on the future of integrative medicine. Workshops
included: Integrative Pain Management; Mindfulness Based Stress
Reduction; Native American Healing Practices; and Mexican Folk
Healing. The afternoon sessions concentrated on cardiology with an
Integrative Cardiology; Yoga Therapy for Cardiovascular Health; and
Prayer, Healing and the Soul. Day two covered oncology and
pediatrics and these sessions included: Chinese Herbal Medicine in
Integrative Oncology; Restorative Qualities of Oncology Massage,
Yoga for Breast Cancer; Chiropractic Medicine in Adults and
Children; Homeopathy in Daily Practice; Healing with Hypnotherapy
in Children; and Indigenous Healing Traditions.
Day three addressed women's health
issues including nutrition, osteoporosis, chronic stress, and core
strength. The symposium concluded with a look at integrative
pharmacy with workshops that included The Herbal Kitchen, Ayurvedic
Pharmacy, and a Botanicals Panel.
Being a huge supporter of
complementary and alternative care, I was in awe of the amount of
information that was exchanged by these leaders in integrative
medicine. There was an outpouring of support for one another, an
eagerness to learn from each other, and a yearning to create a new
model of health care together.
Some of the additional benefits
offered at this conference were sunrise yoga and meditation at 6:30
am. Our continental breakfast had background music from a harpist
one day and a flutist another - and there wasn't a sweet roll or
donut in sight. Complementary chair massages were offered by
students of the massage program at the University of New Mexico.
One evening there was a community ritual for healing offered
offsite at the Dragonfly Sanctuary and participants were asked to
fast for the day for optimal success. There was much buzz the next
morning about how extraordinary the experience had been.
The best part for me was meeting
massage therapists who use their practices to improve the health of
their clients and, in this setting, were accepted and respected for
their part in integrative care. As groups like this one take up the
challenge to engage their patients in a wide variety of holistic
care, massage therapy will be elevated to its proper position in
the health care system.
So get on
board and explore the possibilities of this profession - the sky is
the limit! Join the growing list of professionals who call
themselves massage therapists and use touch as their healing art.
We make it easy for you with our Intro to Massage mini course where
you can be a student for two weeks, fall in love with the
profession and unleash your inner healer.
Shawnee Isaac Smith had a very good friend and fellow body
worker who was dying of AIDS. As you may assume, many friends and
family members were uncomfortable visiting or touching him. Shawnee
decided to offer a weekly massage session to him, and just to be
touched, he told her, made him feel human again. Shawnee, through
massage, found a way to comfort her friend in the biggest struggle
of his life.
Spawned by that experience, the Heart Touch Project was
formulated. The Heart Touch Project is a nonprofit educational
organization dedicated to the training and delivery of
compassionate and healing touch to homebound or hospitalized men,
women and children. The organization uses professional volunteers
to bring comfort to seriously ill patients in California.
Heart Touch is also expanding its
outreach services across the United States through its Heart Touch
Training Program, a three-day course designed to teach bodywork
practitioners how to work with clients with difficult medical
For more information, visit http://www.hearttouch.org.
If you thought massage therapy is just for self-pampering at
resorts and spas, think again! Massage therapists are now part of
many integrative health care clinics, nursing and rehabilitation
centers, hospitals and other health care venues.
Why? Massage therapy has profound health benefits that continue
to be documented by solid clinical research. Massage can lower
blood pressure, increase circulation, reduce stress, provide pain
relief, and much more. That's why many physicians are now referring
patients to massage therapists as part of their overall plan for
This spells good news for those working in the field
of massage therapy. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor
predicts that jobs in the heath care sector will continue to grow
for the foreseeable future. This is because the baby boomer
generation is aging and will continue to need and demand more care.
As massage therapists become a more valued part of the health care
delivery system, their employment prospects are certain to expand
However, to take advantage of massage therapy jobs in medical or
therapeutic settings, a massage therapist must be able to function
as a professional in a medical environment. That's why National
University of Health Sciences offers a Massage Therapy
Certification Program anchored in basic sciences and training in
the skills a therapist needs to be part of a medical team.
At National, massage students don't just study anatomy from
books; they work in a real cadaver lab and examine human
musculature and body systems first hand. In other programs,
students might "get by" massaging friends and family to earn the
internship credits needed for certification. But at NUHS, students
spend six months in a real integrative medical clinic, where they
work on clients with a variety of health conditions, create charts
for each client and work in conjunction with clinical physicians.
When massage students graduate from NUHS, they understand medical
terminology and clinical protocol in a way that allows them to be
valued professionals on an integrative health care team.
The great part about the massage certification program at
National is that it only requires a high school diploma or GED to
start and can be completed in one year of convenient evening
classes. This makes massage therapy a very accessible career option
for those seeking an entry into the health care field.
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