Massage May Help Reduce Risk of Hip Fracture in Post-Menopausal Women - by admin@mcb on July 10 2018

Massage May Help Reduce Risk of Hip Fracture in Post-Menopausal Women

Massage therapy has been shown to have many benefits, with reduction of anxiety one such proven outcome with massage. The anxiety-reducing quality of massage has a benefit that might not be readily apparent. New research suggests that having a lower level of anxiety can reduce the risk of hip fractures in post-menopausal women.

According to a Reuters Health article recently published on, risk of hip fracture increases with high anxiety levels. The study compared the anxiety assessments and bone mineral density tests on 192 postmenopausal women of an average age of 68, approximately 20 years after having gone through menopause. Of the 192 women in the study, 150 of them had experienced at least one hip fracture. Those with the lowest anxiety levels had a 10-year fracture risk of about 20%. This was compared with a 25% risk among women with the highest anxiety levels.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Antonino Catalano of the University Hospital of Messina in Italy, stated that, “Higher anxiety levels were independently from other factors associated with low bone mineral density and higher fracture risk”. He suggested that the study gave doctors another method to help identify women who may be at higher risk of hip fracture.

This was not the only study of its kind. Dr. Catalano claimed that earlier research had also linked the increased risk of osteoporosis to anxiety. Anxiety levels appeared to be influenced by advanced age, age at menopause, years since menopause and depressive symptoms.

Massage therapy has repeatedly been shown to help lower levels of anxiety. Therefore, post-menopausal women who are experiencing anxiety can reduce their odds of hip fracture by receiving massage therapy to reduce their anxiety.

The Institute of Somatic Therapy offers a wide range of massage therapy continuing education courses. Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB as a continuing education approved provider, #280672-00. Our continuing education courses are also approved in Florida, Georgia, and New York, as well as being valid for AMTA, ABMP, and most states.

For Fourth of July, Offer Discounts for Veterans - by admin@mcb on June 11 2018

For Fourth of July, Offer Discounts for Veterans

This Fourth of July, offer special deals for those who have sacrificed to keep us safe. ©
This Fourth of July, offer special deals for those who have sacrificed to keep us safe. ©

Consider a Fourth of July Promotion

The Fourth of July is a celebration of everything that makes America great. From coast to coast we celebrate with parades, fireworks, cookouts, family, and friends. It is also the perfect time to remember and celebrate the veterans that have fought to keep our country free.

Offering a Fourth of July massage therapy promotion is an excellent way to honor veterans and active duty military personal and promote your massage therapy business at the same time.

Advertise Your Promotion Through a Press Release

Consider writing a press release to advertise your promotion. If you have never written a press release, here are some ideas:

  • Look professional. Do an online search to find the proper format for a press release.
  • Word it to be of interest to the readers, not to look like you are simply advertising yourself.
  • You can quote yourself as though it was written by a reporter.
  • Try to keep it to a single page. The real purpose is for the media to want to interview you for a full story.

Send your press release to local newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, and any other local media outlets.

If you are interested in more ways to improve your massage therapy business visit us online at the Institute of Somatic Therapy. We can help you discover innovative courses that are perfect for growing your massage therapy business and better meeting the diverse needs of your clients.

If you haven’t already, we urge you to take our free sample course. Click here:  Seven Mistakes Massage Therapists Make, and How to Avoid Them. This course will help you analyze your massage practice to find potential areas of improvement.

Institute of Somatic Therapy  is approved by the NCBTMB (Provider #280672-00) as a continuing education Approved Provider. Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by Florida (#MCE-326), and New York (#0019). Our courses are also valid for AMTA, ABMP, and most individual states.

Positioning for Prenatal Massage - by admin@mcb on June 01 2018

Positioning for Prenatal Massage

There are two schools of thought on client positioning for prenatal massage therapy.

  1. Some therapists prefer to keep the woman in as close to fully prone and supine as possible to provide prenatal massage in the same positions as a standard massage. This is achieve with the use any number of specialty tables and support systems to achieve this purpose.
  2. Other therapists prefer to use a sidelying and modified supine position for performing massage therapy during pregnancy.

At the Institute of Somatic Therapy, we carefully considered positioning for prenatal massage. Our decision has been to teach in the  sidelying and modified supine (semi-reclining) positions. The routine we teach focuses on the back and legs while the pregnant woman is in a sidelying position, and the abdomen, arms, neck and face when she is in a modified supine position.

Why IST Prefers Sidelying Positioning for Prenatal Massage

Image from Istockphoto
Image from Istockphoto

There are several reasons why the Institute of Somatic Therapy prefers sidelying positioning for prenatal massage rather than the use of a support system that allows for a fully prone position.

Some of our reasons for preferring the side-lying position include the following:

1. Potential Strain to Uterine Ligaments: With some prenatal massage tables, it can be difficult to get a perfect, firm fit over the abdomen, so uterine ligament strain can be caused. While the woman may not notice it during the duration of the massage, she may have some discomfort afterwards.  Other systems do not provide good support for the legs, and others only allow for prone and don’t provide a way to modify the supine position to keep the weight of the uterus off the vena cava for the supine portion of the massage.

2. Ease for Client: As the pregnancy reaches the final trimester, it can be difficult for the client to get into and out of the prone position without assistance, and it can be difficult to assist an undressed client in and out of that position without compromising her privacy.

3. Cost Efficient: Most therapists already own a standard table, and can’t afford the expense of another table when it is not absolutely necessary. The cost of the sidelying and modified supine bolsters are often less than a specialty table.

4. Comfortable: A sidelying, fetal position is a very nurturing, comfortable position, one in which most people sleep, so it is very calming physically and psychologically.

5. Effective: A sidelying position places the client in a position which makes it very easy for the therapist to access her hip, IT band, piriformis, and sciatic nerve areas. These areas of the body are often in need of special focus to relieve the strain of the pregnancy. You cannot get the same access to these trouble spots in a prone position.

That being said, we realize this is a personal choice, and do not require our students to adopt this position if they have strong feelings about the prone positioning. Most of the techniques we teach are easily adapted into a prone position if that is what you and your client prefer.

Becoming Certified as a Prenatal Massage Therapist

To learn more about becoming certified as a prenatal massage therapist with Institute of Somatic Therapy, click here.

Institute of Somatic Therapy  is approved by the NCBTMB (Provider #280672-00) as a continuing education Approved Provider. Institute of Somatic Therapy is also approved by Florida (#MCE-326), and New York (#0019). Our courses are  valid for AMTA, ABMP, and most individual states.


C-Section / Autism Linked - by admin@mcb on October 23 2017

C-Section / Autism Linked

C-Section Autism Linked

Recent medical studies in Sweden, including one that studied over 2.5 million births, suggested that children born by Cesarean section were 21 percent more likely than children born vaginally to be diagnosed with autism.

Doctors who promote natural deliveries are expressing concern of long term effects on humans from our current rate of C-Section births. One doctor who has been vocal on this is Dr. Michael Odent, who is well known for decades of encouraging natural labors and uninterrupted contact between the baby and mother until after the first breastfeeding.

Dr. Odent believes that rising autism rates may also be increased from inducing labor with synthetic oxytocin, such as Pitocin. Other interventions such as anesthesia drugs (epidurals), and elevated stress responses could also play a role.
Other medical care providers have suggested that correlation does not equal causation. In other words, just because there is a higher rate of autism among babies born by C-Section, it is not necessarily the C-Section that created that result. Pediatrician Paul Wang notes that it is entirely possible that a fetus with developmental issues may in some way play a role in a higher need for a C-Section. If the baby has low muscle tone, it might impact his or her ability to move into proper position during labor, making surgical intervention more likely to be needed.

No one disputes that C-sections are a blessing for individuals whose lives can be saved by them, but Dr. Odent believes firmly that deviations from nature’s ways has a price, and increased prevalence of autism may be part of that price.

Reducing C-Sections with a Doula

Whatever the cause, or whether or not autism is related to C-Section, if there are proven methods of reducing the need for C-Section, Pitocin, epidurals, or other interventions during labor, those methods should be used as a first resort. And there is such a method – the presence of a labor support provider (doula) with the birthing mother.

Last fall, Cochrane, a global independent network of researchers, performed a meta-analysis of doula studies. They complied 26 studies that provided data from 17 countries, involving more than 15,000 women. Their analysis confirmed what massage doulas already know, that there is a 60 percent reduction in women’s odds of having a C-section, and 80 percent lower odds of having a nonmedically indicated C-section when women have a doula. Here is a summary of their analysis:

Continuous support during labour may improve outcomes for women and infants, including increased spontaneous vaginal birth, shorter duration of labour, and decreased caesarean birth, instrumental vaginal birth, use of any analgesia, use of regional analgesia, low five-minute Apgar score and negative feelings about childbirth experiences. We found no evidence of harms of continuous labour support. Subgroup analyses should be interpreted with caution, and considered as exploratory and hypothesis-generating, but evidence suggests continuous support with certain provider characteristics, in settings where epidural analgesia was not routinely available, in settings where women were not permitted to have companions of their choosing in labour, and in middle-income country settings, may have a favourable impact on outcomes such as caesarean birth. Future research on continuous support during labour could focus on longer-term outcomes (breastfeeding, mother-infant interactions, postpartum depression, self-esteem, difficulty mothering) and include more woman-centred outcomes in low-income settings.

Becoming a Massage Doula

If you are a massage therapist who would like to be part of helping women achieve healthier labors, you should become a massage doula. The Institute of Somatic Therapy has been offering doula certification training since 1999. To learn more, visit Institute of Somatic Therapy Massage Doula Certification Package or visit our sister website:

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Sources for this post:

Photo courtesy of


Fibromyalgia and Massage Therapy - by admin@mcb on August 02 2017

Fibromyalgia and Massage Therapy

Most massage therapists encounter clients with fibromyalgia, a condition whose name means “pain in the muscles and connective tissues of the body.”

Image from Shutterstock
Image from Shutterstock

Testing revealed that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome patients showed identical brain wave patterns, tender points, pain and fatigue. Many doctors consider the two diseases as being two names for one disease. The major difference seems to be that those diagnosed with fibromyalgia tend to experience greater muscle pain, while those diagnosed with chronic fatigue seem to experience greater fatigue.

Another condition, Polymyalgia (meaning “many muscle pains”) is, for massage purposes, essentially fibromyalgia that extends beyond the 18 points.

Two measurable changes occur in the brain chemistry of fibromyalgia patients. These are: 1) An increase in Substance P, a neurotransmitter that increases the sensitivity of nerves to pain, and 2) A decrease in Serotonin, a neurotransmitter than reduces sensitivity to pain

What causes fibromyalgia? In two words: nobody agrees. While theories abound, there is no concrete medical evidence that clearly proves the cause of fibromyalgia. More likely than not, fibromyalgia is the result of a number of interdependent causes that, when existing together, make some people more susceptible to developing fibromyalgia.

In a study of 6,240 fibromyalgia patients, 59% felt they were able to identify a specific trigger of their condition. Of those, 39% felt their disease was triggered by a physical injury, 27% by a major emotional shock, 15% by a severe infection, 9% from surgery, 5% from exposure to chemicals or drugs.

Benefits of massage in fibromyalgia

Therapeutic benefits of massage have been proven in a wide variety of conditions, and fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are no exception.

A study was published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, volume 2, pages 18 – 22 compared massage therapy to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). The massage resulted in improved sleep patterns, decreased pain, less fatigue, fewer incidences of anxiety and depression, and decreased cortisol levels.

The Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Volume 3, Number 3, 1997 included a study of massage which indicated that patients receiving one-half hour of massage twice a week for five weeks showed less depression, pain, cortisol levels, anxiety, stress and increases in dopamine levels and enhanced sleep. The patient’s decrease in symptoms began immediately after receiving the first massage, and continued to decrease throughout the duration of the study.

Working with fibromyalgia clients

Institute of Somatic Therapy offers a 16 CE online massage therapy continuing education course for fibromyalgia. Techniques that are taught in this course are useful for most massage therapy clients, even those without fibromyalgia, since the 18 pain points of fibromyalgia are common areas for tension and pain, such as the neck, shoulders, and hips. This course will teach you:

  • Passive Neuromuscular Re-Education Strain/Counterstrain: These are a series of passive techniques shown for all 18 pain points, where the patient simply receives the treatment without muscular participation. These are excellent to use in clients who are experiencing extreme pain
  • Active Isometric Neuromuscular Re-Education Exercises: These are a series of isometric/isotonic neuromuscular re-education techniques demonstrated on all 18 pain points of fibromyalgia. These are active techniques that are very effective for promoting the release of chronically tight muscles. With these techniques, the client is actively involving the muscles while the practitioner applies counter pressure. This technique is effective for clients who are stronger and healthier.
  • Lymph gland work at major lymph drainage points: There are four major lymph drainage points in the body. The technique involves pumping motions designed to promote the flow of the lymphatic fluid through these points.
  • Abdomen: Working the abdomen will not only promote peristalsis, but also gently massage all the major organs in this region.
  • Mobilizations/Stretching: A series of passive stretches to promote muscle mobility.
  • Reflexology targeting PMS, a scientifically proven technique for combating a common ailment associated with fibromyalgia.

To learn more about our fibromyalgia CE course, click here.


Practice Safe Massage for Elderly Patients - by admin@mcb on July 20 2017

Practice Safe Massage for Elderly Patients

As part of our continuing education for massage therapy courses we encourage therapists to expand their business and begin taking on new patients. One of the quickest growing demographics for massage patients is aging adults. These patients are seeking massage to relax, rejuvenate, and help treat common medical issues associated with aging.

massage therapy business

Although every massage client is different we do suggest several general guidelines for working with elderly patients:

  • Reduce session length Treatment sessions for elderly patients are typically shorter than standard massage sessions. Aim for about 30 minutes. If time allows and the patient wants to continue you can extend the session based on specific needs.
  • Lighten up As people age their skin changes. This requires massage therapists to change their approach when treating elderly patients. Reduce the amount of downward pressure you exert and be careful not to apply too much sliding force.
  • Be aware Pay close attention to the patient’s body during the treatment session. Be aware that many patients prefer sitting or the supine position instead of the prone position.  Take care not to require too many position changes.
  • Remain flexible Understanding the needs of an elderly patient is important. Take time to talk to the patient about specific requests such as only scheduling during daylight hours, traveling to their home for the appointment, and using a couch or favorite chair instead of a massage table.

The Institute of Somatic Therapy is ready to help you master new skills and knowledge to take your massage practice to the next level. Visit our website today to learn more about the courses we offer in continuing education for massage therapy.


Aromatherapy Massage for Diabetic Patients - by admin@mcb on July 06 2017

Aromatherapy Massage for Diabetic Patients

Aromatherapy Massage for Diabetic Patients

Aromatherapy massage was recently shown to have a measurable improvement on neuropathic pain in diabetic patients. A study, published in the June 2017 Journal of Nursing Scholarship, sought to determine if massage with essential oils could lessen neuropathic pain in diabetic patients. The researchers found that diabetic patients who had been suffering with painful diabetic neuropathy realized a significant decrease of pain. Patients also experienced a significant increase of quality of life by adding aromatherapy massage to their care routines.

Research Results

The study, performed in Turkey, compared 21 patients who received the aromatherapy massage with 25 control patients who did not. The essential oils used in the study were rosemary, geranium, lavender, eucalyptus, and chamomile. The massage was given three times per week for a total of four weeks. The control group received only routine care, with no aromatherapy or massage of any kind. Data was compiled with the use of two different patient questionnaires (one targeting pain, the other targeting quality of life), along with a visual analog scale.

Based on the significant decrease of pain among the patients in the study group, as well as the reported increase in quality of life, researchers concluded that aromatherapy massage is a simple, effective, drug-free method to reduce pain and improve quality of life in patients with diabetic neuropathic pain.

The complete citation for the study is as follows: Gok Metin, Z., Arikan Donmez, A., Izgu, N., Ozdemir, L. and Arslan, I. E. (2017), Aromatherapy Massage for Neuropathic Pain and Quality of Life in Diabetic Patients. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. doi:10.1111/jnu.12300

The full article can be downloaded at

Aromatherapy Massage Certification

To learn more about the benefits of aromatherapy for conditions routinely experienced in a massage setting, Institute of Somatic Therapy offers a course in Aromatherapy for Massage. Some of the conditions covered in the course include arthritis, circulation problems, edema, headaches, inflammation, joint pain, muscle soreness, sports massage, sprains, stress, and more.

There are 32 essential oils covered in the course. They are: Basil, Bergamot, Birch, Carrot Seed, Cedarwood, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Clary Sage, Clove, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Geranium, Ginger, Jasmine, Juniper, Lavender, Lemongrass, Orange, Patchouli, Pepper, Peppermint, Pine, Rose, Rosemary, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Tangerine, Tea Tree, Thyme, Vetiver, and Ylang Ylang. Students have the option to submit internship paperwork to become certified in aromatherapy massage.


Poor Sleep a Contributing Factor to Gestational Diabetes - by admin@mcb on June 27 2017

Poor Sleep a Contributing Factor to Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes and Poor Sleep

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a prenatal complication that can have a negative impact on both the mother and the baby. A recent study linked two different sleep behaviors (short sleep duration, and going to bed late), with an increased incidence of GDM.

The study was performed by Dr. Francesca Facco of Magee-Women’s Research Institute and Foundation at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Few studies have objectively evaluated the duration, timing and quality of sleep in pregnancy and explored the relationship between objectively measured sleep and maternal and perinatal outcomes,” Dr. Facco and her team stated.

Their study included 782 women who were between 16 to 22 weeks into their pregnancies. The results showed that women who received less than seven hours of sleep per night (27.9% of the participants) were more than twice as likely to develop gestational diabetes as compared to those who slept longer. A separate factor in GDM was sleep midpoint, the halfway point between bedtime and rise time. Women whose sleep midpoint, regardless of duration of sleep, was later than 5 a.m. (18.9% of study participants) had an even greater odds ratio for GDM. Researchers stated that both findings were statistically significant.

The study suggests that getting to bed earlier, and sleeping more than seven hours per night, reduce the likelihood of developing GDM.

Citation: Am J Obstet Gynecol 2017.

Massage Helps Improve Sleep

The National Institutes of Health has advised that massage therapy can reduce fatigue and improve sleep.

Getting regular prenatal massage may therefore have a positive effect on lowering the risk of developing gestational diabetes.

If you wish to become certified as a prenatal massage therapist, Institute of Somatic Therapy offers certification in pregnancy massage.

Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB as a continuing education approved provider, #280672-00.


Father’s Involvement Reduces Obesity in Children - by admin@mcb on June 13 2017

Father’s Involvement Reduces Obesity in Children

Father’s Involvement Reduces Obesity in Children

Infant massage isn’t just for mothers. In fact, there are several reasons why fathers should be just as involved in childcare, including learning infant massage for their babies.

Infant massage has many benefits for children, as well as benefits to the parents, as prior articles on this blog have detailed. One more benefit can be added to the list: lowering the risk of obesity in children.

A recent analysis of several studies showed that increased participation in childcare by fathers lowered the likelihood of the child becoming obese by age 4 by 33%.

The study followed over 10,000 American children from birth to first grade. All of the children in the study lived in two-parent, heterosexual households where the father was not the primary caregiver. The fathers in the study worked an average 46 hours a week and mothers worked an average 18 hours a week.

Michelle S. Wong, leader of the study, said, “There is growing evidence of the importance of fathers’ involvement in raising children in other areas of children’s development, and our study suggests that there may be benefits to child health as well.” Obesity in children is of growing concern, and something that can reduce it by 33% should be promoted throughout the medical community.

The complete study can be found here.

Include Fathers in Infant Massage Classes

Infant massage courses teach simple, yet effective, techniques for relieving many conditions common to babies. It is simple by design, since it is intended to be easily learned by new parents with no massage therapy training or background. The infant massage certification course offered by Institute of Somatic Therapy also includes movements and stretches designed to stimulate brain development and muscle coordination. To become certified in infant massage, students complete the 16 CE online course, and perform two infant massage classes. For details about the course, click here.

Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB as a continuing education approved provider, #280672-00.

Postpartum Anxiety Relieved by Massage - by admin@mcb on June 09 2017

Postpartum Anxiety Relieved by Massage

Postpartum anxiety is one of the most common complaints in the postpartum period, and has several negative consequences. It can delay or prevent the release of oxytocin, potentially interfering with breastfeeding. Anxiety may negatively influence the emotional bond between the mother and infant, leading lead to potential psychological problems in children. Additionally, postpartum anxiety is a very strong predictor of postpartum depression. Early treatment of postpartum anxiety may help reduce postpartum depression disorder.

Research on Massage in Postpartum Anxiety

Iranian researchers conducted a controlled clinical trial to test the efficacy of massage therapy on postpartum anxiety. The study consisted of 100 primiparous (first time) mothers with normal deliveries. Women were divided into two groups – a massage group and a control group. Members of both groups were similar in age, education, and the use of medication during labor. (Citation: Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2016 Aug; 18(8): e34270. )

Massage was chosen as a treatment due to its ability to decrease levels of cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenalin. Massage also has other beneficial physiological effects, especially muscle relaxation. Relaxation in the postpartum period decreases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. This can prevent postpartum depression, and it can also increase effective mother-infant attachment.

Postpartum Massage

In the experimental group, slow-stroke back massage was performed for 20 minutes. The massage was described as follows:

“The mother was seated on the edge of the bed. Then, the researcher grasped the top of the mother’s shoulders with both hands and placed the thumbs of each hand just below the base of the skull, making tiny circular movements on the upper neck. In the next stage, the researcher placed the palm of one hand at the base of the skull and made a long and smooth stroke all the way down the patient’s spine to her waist. The second hand followed the first at the base of the skull and stroked down the spine as the first hand returned to the base of the skull. Next, the researcher placed her hands on either side of the mother’s neck under the mother’s ears and stroked down and over the mother’s collarbones with her thumbs just over the shoulder blades and repeated the motion several times. Then, she placed the thumb of each of her hands beside the spine, beginning with the shoulders, and moved the thumbs down the spine to the waist and repeated this movement several times. Finally, she completed the procedure by placing her palms on each side of the mother’s neck and making continuous, long, sweeping strokes down the neck, across each shoulder, and down the back near the spine and repeated the entire process several times.”

Research Results

In the control group, a researcher sat with the mother for 20 minutes but performed no massage. Twenty minutes later, and again the following morning, the mothers completed anxiety questionnaires.

Prior to the massage, both groups had similar anxiety levels as shown in questionnaires. Immediately after the massage and the next morning, there was a significant difference in the anxiety scores. After receiving the massage, the anxiety level of the experimental group was significantly reduced. Research on mothers on the first day after labor, third day after labor, and second day after birth reported similar results. The level of anxiety in the control group did not change.

As a result of this study, it is recommended that midwives, nurses, or other caregivers use massage in the early days after labor to help the mother achieve relaxation.

Learning Prenatal and Postpartum Massage

To learn more about prenatal and postpartum massage, Institute of Somatic Therapy offers a certification in prenatal massage. We also offer related courses in doula support and infant massage.