Shirley Vanderbilt

Enhancing Health With Massage Research

Best Part Of A Massage

On the surface, it may seem that the best part of a massage is the wonderful feeling of relaxation and being touched, but the benefits are more than just skin deep. For almost two decades, researchers at the Touch Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Miami School of Medicine have documented the specific physiological and psychological changes brought about by massage therapy.


Your Body’s Natural Healer

Your body can heal itself from skin and digestive disorders, as well as a host of other maladies, if you just give it a chance. What does it take?

According to Scott Ohlgren, holistic health practitioner and proponent of nutritional cellular cleansing, it’s as easy as changing what goes from hand to mouth. What’s difficult, he says, is living with the diseased state your diet has created and the rounds of pharmaceuticals that never quite cure what ails you.

Breath Therapy: A Mind–Body Awareness Approach for Chronic Low-Back Pain

Somatic Research

Contemporary treatment for low-back pain runs the gamut, from the conventional to the alternative, with sufferers seeking relief any way they can. What if it were simply a matter of mindfulness and attention to the breath? In a small pilot study from the Osher Center of Integrative Medicine in San Francisco, California, a research team led by Wolf Mehling, MD, used just such a concept for comparison of breath therapy and physical therapy for treatment of low-back pain.

Handle with Care

Massage Therapists Connecting with Hospitalized Children

Massage therapist Tina Allen was making one of her routine hospital visits when the father of a hospitalized child approached her with a question. Allen is director of the Children’s Program for The Heart Touch Project in Los Angeles, California, a nonprofit group providing compassionate touch to local homebound and hospitalized men, women, and children. The father’s little girl was only six years old, severely injured in an auto accident, and now quadriplegic. “He recognized my Heart Touch shirt and asked if I had given his daughter a massage,” Allen says.

The Ups and Downs of Blood Pressure: Effects of Varying Types of Massage Therapy

Somatic Research

Massage therapy helps to decrease blood pressure, right? Not necessarily. It may depend on the type of massage applied, according to researchers at the National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, Illinois. In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2006), Jerrilyn Cambron, DC, and her team report the effects on blood pressure change for six types of massage administered to a group of one hundred fifty normotensive and prehypertensive adults.

Power Under Soft Hands

PUSH Muscle Therapy for Chronic Pain

Twenty-five years ago, Michael Takatsuno was a tennis pro suffering the aches and pains customary to athletic endeavors. A debilitating injury and a chance encounter with a Zentherapy bodyworker set him on a path that led, after many years of experimentation and study, to the development of a muscle therapy system to reduce pain and chronic muscle tension. He calls it PUSH, for power under soft hands, and it’s definitely a push in the right direction. According to Takatsuno, the PUSH approach not only brings relief to the client, it’s also gentle on the therapist.

Reiki, Simple and Profound

A Balancing Practice for Client and Therapist

What is reiki, how does it work, and how can it benefit bodywork practitioners, both personally and professionally? The concept for this article began with a newly published book, written by reiki master Pamela Miles, simply titled Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide. I had collaborated with Miles a few years back when reporting on a reiki study for Massage & Bodywork’s Somatic Research column. Despite Miles’ best efforts to guide my understanding of this spiritual healing practice, my mind remained in a muddle.

The Missing Piece

Bodywork for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

It has only been within the past few decades that victims of childhood sexual abuse have gained recognition, validation, and appropriate treatment, but the process has been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride. From the mid-1970s into the 1980s, there was a rapid increase of identification of abuse victims, along with development of support programs and agencies to handle reports and treatment. With the rise of reported cases, some considered it an epidemic, although more likely it had always been epidemic but ignored.

Traumatized Bodies, Restorative Touch

Exploring CAM in Community Mental Health Practice

With the growing evidence that massage and other forms of bodywork and energy therapies are beneficial complements to traditional healthcare, we’ve seen an exponential increase of integrative programs within conventional medical services. From doctor’s offices to major hospitals, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is being used to attenuate symptoms in a variety of conditions, from cancer to everyday maladies such as headaches.

Teach Your Body Some New Moves

Humans are creatures of habit, and one of our most enduring habits is the way in which we move our bodies throughout the day. Generally, we move without even thinking about it. This can be a good thing, in that we don’t have to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. But moving mindlessly, without conscious body awareness, also allows us to perpetuate dysfunctional movement patterns that can negatively influence our health and well-being.