With PTSD Awareness Day coming up June 27th, this seems like a good time to talk about trauma and massage therapy.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is increasingly being viewed as one end of the trauma spectrum, and for many people dealing with the effects of trauma, massage therapy can be part of their healing.
PTSD can affect people exposed, either personally or as a witness, to an event involving violence, serious injury, death, or the threat of death, or Intense perception of threat triggers the “fight, flight, or freeze” response, leading to imbalances in neurotransmitters and hormones, in turn leading to emotional symptoms that can be debilitating. There can also be physical symptoms such as chronic tension and pain.
Many theorists consider the physical and emotional symptoms to be related. Peter Levine’s groundbreaking book on trauma “Waking the Tiger” and the more recent Forward “Facing Trauma Therapy” by Eric Gentry approach the treatment of trauma spectrum disorders including PTSD by focusing on physical tension held in the body. Both are excellent reads for laypeople, written by professionals.
Since muscular tension is tied to the physical and emotional pain of trauma disorders, massage therapy might be an effective component of treatment. One important effect of massage therapy is stress reduction; massage decreases the fight, flight, or freeze response, decreasing the levels of the neurochemicals involved in that response. It also decreases muscle tension and pain.
A pilot study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (a division of the National Institutes of Health) on National Guard veteran patients resulted in a significant reduction in pain, tension, irritability, anxiety and depression when patients received even just one 20-minute weekly massage. These reductions were felt immediately after massage and long-term analysis suggested decreased baseline levels of tension and irritability.
According to the same study, perceived stigma associated with seeking behavioral health care is still a hurdle for many PTSD sufferers. Massage therapy can also carry less of that stigma for patients.
Massage therapy triggers the body’s relaxation response in the brain, helps break the “fight or flight” cycle, can improve sleep function and circulation, and fights physical pain resulting from chronic tension or the traumatic injury itself.
In the spirit of Autism Awareness Month, here are some of the research findings (accumulated by Tina Allen, at the Liddle Kidz Foundation®) on massage therapy and autism.
Research indicates that massage therapy may promote more on-task and social relatedness behavior during play among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Improvements in this area can have a profound effect on quality of life.
There is evidence that children with ASD show less erratic behavior, are more attentive, and demonstrate reduced touch aversion and withdrawal after receiving massage therapy. Over time, touch therapy also helps the child to become more accustomed to tactile stimulation and aides in body awareness. Often by incorporating massage therapy into daily routines, children with Autism experience decreased issues with sleeping.
And just as massage therapy can provide relaxation, stress reduction and calm muscle spasms in the general population, there is evidence that it can do the same in children with autism and ASD.
Happy National Voter Registration Day! SSMT enthusiastically encourages all students, graduates, staff, and all other eligible Florida citizens to register to vote by clicking here.
If you prefer to complete a paper registration form you can print one here, or pick one up at the SSMT Front Desk or Admissions Office. We will gladly stamp and mail your completed form for you if you’d like.
The deadline to register is October 9 for voting in the 2018 General Election on November 6. Register now!
The announcement of the death of Dr. Leon Chaitow is news of the passing of a giant. The British Osteopath was a leading voice in manual therapy for decades. He was the first osteopath appointed by the British government to a medical practice and he was the Editor-in-Chief of our profession’s only peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. He wrote more than 70 brilliant books and spoke around the world at schools and conferences of osteopathy, chiropractic, physical therapy, and massage therapy.
While SSMT has hosted some top names in our continuing education program, I am sorry to say we never brought Dr. Chaitow to Sarasota. I did see him speak in 2007 at the first Fascia Research Congress, which he helped organize, bringing the world’s top fascial scientists to Harvard Medical School to present their research to bodyworkers. He was an inspiring, eloquent, educated voice for manipulative medicine.
SSMT instructor and continuing education provider Chris Dux was fortunate to study Muscle Energy Techniques with Dr. Chaitow. While I never completed any formal training with him, I feel like I know and learned much from Dr. Chaitow through his writings and that brief moment in Boston sitting in an auditorium listening to him speak. I wonder how many others who never met him also credit him as one of their teachers. Thank you Dr. Chaitow, for a life of tremendous contribution.
“Can you send us more graduates?”
This is a constant refrain coming from employers, and happily has been for many years. Large spas and all of the massage therapy franchises have not been able to find enough qualified massage therapists to meet the increasing demand. It has even been described as a “talent war” in the press. But it goes so much deeper than this.
Demand for Licensed Massage Therapists (LMT’s) is projected to continue to outpace supply for the foreseeable future, and the US Department of Labor and Statistics projects continued rapid job growth. In Florida, the need for massage therapists is projected to increase by 29 percent through 2024. The job placement website Indeed.com reports that massage therapist jobs often go unfilled for more than 30 days. This shortage has contributed to an increase in approximately 20% in average entry-level pay for an LMT, from about $33,000 in 2013 to nearly $40,000 today.
Massage Envy-Sarasota employs 120 LMT’s between their 3 locations, and there has not been a moment in the past three years when they were not actively looking to fill open positions. Elements, Massage Heights, and Hand & Stone are all hiring right now. Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Wellness Centers, 5 Star Hotels, Day Spas, and many small businesses are all hiring…right now.
More than 17 million Americans received massage last year for relaxation or stress reduction; more than 26 million Americans received massage for medical or health reasons. 89% of Americans agree that massage can be effective at reducing pain, and research is beginning to show that massage therapy is not only effective treatment for pain; it may compare favorably to other medical interventions for pain. This is really big news, given the damage wreaked by the opioid crisis. (We will explore the research on massage therapy and pain in a future post.)
A population more educated about massage therapy, a crisis of pain, an increasing need to disconnect and recover from a society that is moving at warp speeds, and an aging population, have all combined to create a demand for massage therapy that is outpacing the supply.
For the right person, massage therapy can be an incredibly fulfilling career. In another post we will examine what makes a great fit.
“Can you send us more graduates?”
We’d love to!
Update Saturday September 9, 10:15 AM
It looks like we are likely to end up in the worst-case scenario, or close to it. If you have a place to go, there is still time to leave. If you are staying, and the forecast continues to be this bad by this evening, go to a shelter. Please be safe SSMT community! We love you!
The school will be closed Monday, and may be closed for longer. We will continue to post updates here.
Original Post – Sept. 6 2:43 PM
SSMT will be closed Friday and Saturday, September 8th & 9th. Though the storm is still more than 5 days out, everyone should make preparations in case it’s needed.
The school and clinic will remain open through Thursday evening.
At this point there is better than a 50% chance that we will experience no severe weather at all. There is a 15% chance that we will experience hurricane force winds, and a small – but not insignificant – chance that we experience a direct hit from a major hurricane. We encourage the entire SSMT community to make preparations to be out of harms way in the event that becomes necessary over the weekend.
This post will be updated throughout the weekend. At this point the plan is to have class Monday, but students can check this post for updates as conditions change.
In 2015 we unveiled a new mobile site that contained some of the most important information about the school. Last year we launched a full new desktop site, and quickly realized that the more limited mobile site needed to include everything the desktop site did.
Today we are pleased to announce that everything works everywhere. The complete website, including this blog, continuing education registration, the online application, student/alum login area, and every other feature of the desktop site is now available and optimized for every device.
We hope you like it!
The faculty and staff of Sarasota School of Massage Therapy extend our heartfelt support to Heritage Institute’s students and staff during this time of transition. Community is important to us at SSMT. We have a deep passion for the massage therapy field and are saddened to see so many affected by this closure.
We invite Heritage students to a caring and supportive phone call (941-957-0577) to explore the possibility of completing their education. You can also schedule a tour or complete an online application.
People exploring the possibility of relocating to Sarasota to study at SSMT may wonder about the weather here. Today seems like a good day to muse on the weather, as this morning it feels distinctly like Sarasota fall. Continue reading