The internet for massage therapists

Doug Alexander, BSc, RMT
August 31, 2003
By Doug Alexander, BSc, RMT
Computers hold little attraction for many massage therapists. These tools seem to come from a strange, mechanistic linear way of thinking and feeling that is so different from the organic, flowing connected states of consciousness that massage therapists tend to facilitate and love. If you have been ignoring technology for these reasons, then you might be excited to know that technology is becoming more organic, non-linear and fluid!

We touch our clients in ways that facilitate a return of their consciousness to their flesh. A client may have a tight right hip. The tightness may be a result of long-distance driving with the thigh in external rotation. This tightness may be associated with a feeling of bitterness at driving on the road all the time and missing the love and growth of one’s children at home.
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Alternatively, it may be associated with a feeling of excitement as you approach your home after a long trip on the road. It might be tight from guarding that was set up when an appendix burst some 20 years previously.

The tightness may be very local to the external rotators, or it might be part of a chain of tightness that is transmitted along the iliotibial band into the peroneals and into a flattened foot on the same side! The tightness in the hip might be coupled to inhibition of the iliopsoas from that nasty appendix incident 20 years ago.

This process of exploring the client’s flesh and having an open mind to what you might discover mirrors the process of exploring the Internet. This is because the Internet is like the body; it is a micro-universe of interconnected information. Just like the body!

Start Your Engine!

Just as we use Swedish massage techniques to flow from one region of the body to another, the internet has search engines and hyperlinks that allow us to flow along lines of relationship and content. In the enjoyable process we can discover a lot about whatever topic is of interest to us. And, just like in massage, we often discover a lot about things we weren’t really looking for! This article assumes that you have a computer that is connected to the Internet.

Now what do you do? Let’s say you are interested in helping a client with plantar fascitis. I often start with a Google search. Google is my favourite search engine. Type http://www.google.com or http://www.google.ca into the URL box of your browser and away you go!

I have typed “plantar fascitis” into the search window and am about to click on the Google Search button. I could also just hit the “Return” button on my keyboard and that will start my search. Google has a slightly academic slant and tends to bring forward academic sites a little more commonly than personal home pages and business sites. When I click on the “Google Search” button for plantar fascitis I get a selection of websites to choose from.

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Google displays 10 results per page. It has found more than 6,000 websites that feature the key words “plantar fascitis” in a way that it feels may be significant. And, it is displaying links to 10 sites per viewable page on my computer screen.

Google provides many paths that all have something to do with the key words I typed in. In this case the first three links point to three different types of web pages. The upper page is Foot Care Direct’s page on Plantar Fasciitis. Foot Care Direct is a commercial page that promotes Podiatry products and Podiatrists in most of the US States. The second link is to a short scholarly paper on Plantar fascitis on Dr. Mirkin’s site and the third is to the Rothman Institute, an Orthopedic Surgical Center in Philadelphia.

Exploring a website: Clicking on the Anatomy link on Foot Care Direct’s Plantar Fascitis page takes me to the Anatomy of a Foot Page. Clicking on the downward facing arrow by the “Specific Ailments generates a drop down menu from which you can pick any ailment for further information. I clicked on “Shin Splints” and it took me to the “Shin Splints” page. From there I found a link to a type of orthotic, the Angsko heel pad, that might be helpful for my client. Clicking it takes me to a page of information on the heel pad and tells me how I can order it on-line.

Exploring upwards through a website:
Dr. Mirkin has written a scholarly paper on Plantar Fascitis. As I scroll down the paper by clicking the scroll bar, I reach the end of the paper and see he has referenced his information with sources that are mostly dated 1996 and 1997. This probably establishes the date around when he wrote the material. Clicking homepage link www.Drmerkin.com takes me to his homepage. Dr. Mirkin is a media doctor! I discover that he has a regular radio show that is broadcast on the internet, as well as archives of audio presentations on numerous health issues. There is also an example of an audio presentation on immunity and aging.

Tracking down a Reference:
I am interested in the first reference and click my mouse over a few words of the title of the paper. I then left click and copy the words. Then I paste the words from the title of the paper into a Google search. The first page Google finds is the abstract of the article. I click on the link and it takes me to the abstract as it is indexed on PubMed which is a giant
inventory of scientific papers that is available on-line at the National Library of Medicine in the U.S.

Searching PubMed: The paper I have found is inspiring, so I decide to do a search for papers on “plantar fasciitis” by entering the search term and clicking on the search button. This takes me to 262 papers on plantar fasciitis arranged chronologically from the most recent reference to the oldest indexed reference. I just click on a paper and it takes me to an abstract of the paper.

My inspiration knows no bounds, so I now enter the terms “plantar fasciitis massage therapy” and don’t get anything. I drop the word “therapy” from massage and find a paper from the American Family Physician that suggest the use of massage as an adjunct to care for plantar fascitis.

Finding PubMed directly:
Go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and enter your search terms directly. You can enter by author to pull up all the work a researcher has done in the last decade or so. You can enter by topic, or title of paper as well.

Sending a web page address to a client:
Let’s say that you have found the information at the Rothman Institute of Orthopedics to be most helpful to your client. You can send him or her the link to the web page by e-mail! From the Rothman Institute page, you click on the menu bar “File” and scroll down to “Send” and roll your mouse over to “Link by E-mail.”

You could send the whole page by e-mail, but if your client’s e-mail box is full or they have only a free account such as Yahoo, then their e-mail folder might not be able to receive the whole page.

When you send them the link, it is like sending them a finger which will send them to the Rothman Institute page when your client clicks on the link. I have clicked on the “Send link by e-mail” and this opens my e-mail program. It automatically enters the name of the page I am sending in the subject bar of my e-mail, and prints the link to the page in the body of my e-mail. All I have to do is to type in my client’s e-mail address and hit the send button!

Communicating via e-mail:
My client has responded to my e-mail with the link in it to the Rothman Orthopedic Centre, and now wants to book a massage! In my client’s e-mail back to me,
I can read my original e-mail in the bottom and
his response in the top.

These are just some of the ways the Internet can be used by Massage Therapists. Stay tuned to Massage Therapy Canada for my next article, in which I will share some of my favourite massage therapy resource sites with you!

Doug Alexander teaches with the Algonquin College Massage Therapy Program in Ottawa, practices part-time and continues to explore Massage Therapy in the flesh and on the World Wide Web. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it • website: http://www.Masterclass.ca

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