MBLEX

Massage: MBLEX, Body Mechanics & Communication

When I went to massage school very little was spent on body mechanics, technique or communication. Instead the class room experience focused on the MBLEX (the licensing exam every massage therapist must take to become a licensed practitioner). I understand the weight this test is supposed to play in a massage therapist’s career and public safety. However, when put on a scale with body mechanics, technique and communication, we quickly see how this kind of educational practice is not in the best interest of the community, industry or the massage therapist.

Body Mechanics is essential, if we don’t know how to massage someone without hurting ourselves we won’t be massaging very long. When I went to massage school there was very little time spent on body mechanics. If you asked the teachers they would claim they were focused on ensuring students were given the skills necessary to protect their body.  How can an instructor be teaching students to have good body mechanics if they aren’t watching them? During the class room portion of my education the teacher would sit at their desk grading papers or talking while the students massaged on their practice tables. Little to no observation was employed to ensure students were using correct mechanics. During clinicals, when students performed massages on the public or each other, the instructor’s ability to observe was greatly diminished because they were required to help other students study for the MBLEX. Massage therapy is a hands on learning experience, requiring an incredible amount of observation and repetition, without these kinds of practices a massage student will have a difficult time becoming a massage therapist with a long healthy career.

Practicing massage in the class room should begin early, be performed regularly and have a fair amount of instructor involvement. When going through school we rarely performed massages, when we did it was irregular and the instructor seemed disinterested in maintaining a constant role helping students learn, explore and become more effective. When I asked why we didn’t practice massage very often, the answer was “we would get our hands on experience while doing our clinical work“. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, most our clinical experience was just a continuation of the classroom and nearly every hour was spent studying for the MBLEX.

The MBLEX is not the end all be all test of massage therapy. It reflects some aspects of our ability to showcase our academic knowledge. More specifically it tests a person’s ability to access obscure information, apply critical thought and sit patiently in front of a computer. These skills do not easily translate into practical massage applications. I am an avid researcher and I love knowledge, passing the MBLEX was a breeze and though I thought the test was fun I have discovered its relevance has little to no value. With a few changes the test could be made a lot more valuable to our clientele, the massage industry and the therapist. One being the elimination of questions supporting pseuodoscience, others would be to test a student’s research knowledge, writing and literacy. These are all valuable skills a massage therapist needs in the field. Unfortunately no time was spent in my  schooling teaching students how to research, critically think or write effectively. In class our teacher spoke a lot about how to write SOAP notes, but no time was spent teaching us how to write them or testing our ability to write.

The biggest and most important part of massage is communication. Great massages happen because a massage therapist knows how to effectively communicate. If a client doesn’t feel comfortable telling us how the pressure is, if the table is too warm, if a heat pack is too hot or they want a specific area massaged, we will never be able to provide them with the experience they are looking for. When I went to school we had a course on communication, but it wasn’t very involved and there was very little participation for a communication course. When I heard we were going to do some role-playing I was excited, this kind of learning is a lot of fun and can be a great way of discovering how others explore life. Unfortunately we only spent about 2 hours on communication with maybe an hour of role-playing.  Most of the time was spent justifying why we did what we did instead of trying out a bunch of likely or hard situations. If more time was spent on communication I believe we could more easily meet the expectations of our clientele, reduce workplace conflicts and make life more enjoyable for everyone.

The MBLEX is an important test, but in many ways its has a negative impact on the industry. I believe with a few changes it can occupy the purpose it was meant to. By removing the pseudoscience it supports, adding questions that evaluate research knowledge, writing and literacy, we can begin moving our industry forward. This would be the first step with later steps involving the removal of the Provisional License (which is a grace period that encourages lower quality education in our massage schools.) and the creation of policies that enforce massage schools to provide the education they are selling.


Research

What are the Benefits of Massage

Bowen Technique 

Looyen Work

Rolfing

Pain Science

Shawn White Blog

Mistakes and Fairness

Mistakes and Fairness

Should the sum of our existence be calculated by a small window of time or a few mistakes? Do you believe every good deed ought to be dismissed because of a few decisions?

We all make mistakes and decisions that lead to disaster. No one was given an instruction manual or granted a good guide. Each and everyone of us are bumbling through life for the first time.

If we want fairness we must be fair to others. We achieve this by forming a relationship with Forgiveness, Wisdom and Hope. Forgiveness helps us ease the ferocity of vengeance; Wisdom, especially empathy mutes the sharp edge of judgement; and Hope reminds us we can learn from our mistakes.

Pain can blind us

The world is an insane place and there seems to be no end in sight. It spins us round and round, twisting our gut till we are about to throw up. With the challenge of life, you’d think we’d be more understanding, but people hurt so much they are blinded by their pain.

We get kicked over and over even after being knocked to our knees. When the assault stops we are granted a reprieve, but we must raise our fists for the next beating. With so much strife it becomes hard to fight. Its difficult to give a pass when we feel like shattered glass.

I know how much it hurts to feel broken, but we cannot close our eyes. If we do, we lose more than magnificent beauty and infinite wonder. We lose our empathy and ability to see. We must hold onto our wisdom and continue to use empathy. The more empathetic and understanding we are, the more forgiving the world will be.

Forgiveness is not Forgetfulness

Forgiveness is a spiritual experience and a relationship with our inside zones. It’s a philosophy of responsibly letting go. A decision to walk away from suffering to come closer to peace. It’s a path of personal protection and a barrier against bitterness.

Its important to know Forgiveness is not forgetfulness. If someone violates, hurts or wrongs us, we should protect ourselves. Do what needs to be done, but don’t desire their destruction. Stop the cycle of bad by treating them better than they treated us. Let our abusers see how they hurt us and give them a chance grow from it.

Vengeance is easy, but imagine what kind of life we would be living if someone enacted vengeance on us for every wrong or crime we committed?

My message here is to be fair to others. Do to them as we want done to us. Be understanding while protecting ourselves. If we must protect ourselves, our goal should be to end the threat and receive fair compensation.

I know what it feels like to feel pain, it can be terrible, but making someone else hurt isn’t going to take away ours. When we strip vengeance from justice we can give Forgiveness and live with peace.

We can learn from our mistakes

At the end of the day I believe everyone can learn from their mistakes. Every day I take a misstep, sometimes I stumble, and if I fall I hope someone is rooting for me to get back up. We all make mistakes and decisions that lead to disaster, everyone has hurt someone else, and no one is perfect. Have faith that others can become the better version of themselves.

 

Hold onto the light
MEMEs

Memes aren’t Facts

MEMEs are not Facts.  They can be informative, perhaps even insightful, but they are not good sources of information. Today I am going to show two MEMEs, address their message then apply critical thought to each.

 

MEMEs aren't Facts

The other day I wrote an article about hair care treatment. Why did I write this article? For two reasons: 1. I love to research and 2. I want to promote personal advocacy. To have personal advocacy we must develop our critical thinking skills. Images like the Nioxin vs. Monat vs. Rogaine are underhandedly manipulative, their marketing strategies attempt to trick and intimidate us into buying their products. They do their best to break down our ability to use critical thought. The image encourages us to make a knee jerk reaction and cast away science in favor for pseudoscience.

How does it do this specifically?

  1. It compares apples to oranges – Showcasing ingredients in one column, stating no harmful ingredients or side effects in another, then showing side effects in the final column.
  2. It manipulates our perception – by placing their product in the center of the image, surrounded by negative space it compels us to feel safer with it over the complicated and scary jargon of the other products. It tells us their product has no harmful ingredients and no side effects while presenting the others in an inferior and negative light. Finally, it scares us with bold red words and exclamation points!
  3. It unfairly represents the three products – By providing inaccurate or incomplete data on each product they stack the deck in favor of Monat.

"big pharma" stereotype

Personal advocacy requires Hope. I love Hope, she guides me every day in my struggle against the crushing weight of the world. Hope is the ATP in the muscles of Atlas as he holds the earth above his head. We need more than Hope to protect us from the harmful manipulations of others. Hope must be accompanied by critical thought, this Wisdom grants us the sight to see through lies and manipulations, to search for truth and protect ourselves from falsehoods.

The next topic I would like to discuss is the abuse of stereotypes and the danger of unchecked bias.

I had conversation on Facebook the other week about bias and stereotypes. Everyone has bias, which is fine, however when we allow our bias to interfere with treating others fairly that is when we have failed to effectively critically think.

The above MEME was discussed, the original poster asked if this quote was true: “a patient cured is a customer lost”

My reply was chemotherapy might not be right for everyone, but it has saved many lives. That we should be wary of sources that apply negative generalizations about large groups of people.

I have encountered many who are against chemotherapy and the pharmaceutical companies. When they tell me “there is no money in a cure” I ask them two questions, 1. How many kinds of cancer are there and 2.  name 5 big pharmaceutical companies and the chemotherapy drugs they manufacture.

The information given and the sources they cite is an important indication to the amount of time they have researched and how effective they utilize critical thought. For example, someone using Wikipedia or a MEME as source for information may lack critical researching skills. Perhaps they know how to research but they are not concerned with using evidence-based data, maybe they embrace pseudoscience or simply make judgements based on feelings.

Critical thought teaches us to acknowledge our bias, to set it aside, to be fair and treat others for their qualities, rather than the actions of people unrelated to them. It is unfair to apply blanket opinions on other groups of people. When these blanket opinions are applied they create a stereotype which creates an atmosphere of unfairness.

Each pharmaceutical company is an organization comprised of dozens, hundreds even thousands of employees. There are dozens of pharmaceutical companies, how fair is it to say these people are concerned only with making money? Not all people are the same, not all companies are the same.

Instead of making blanket statements about groups of people you don’t know, research each company and judge them individually. Just like people, the ideology of one pharmaceutical company will change, one to the next.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps the next time we read a MEME and feel strongly about its message, we should consider spending some time to research its validity.

Nioxin vs Monat vs Rogaine

Nioxon vs Monat vs Rogaine

While perusing the land of Facebook I was drawn to an image (shown below) illustrating the advantages of one product over two others. With my interest piqued I spent the better part of an evening researching it’s claims. I believe we all fall victim to the whirlwind of information flashed before our eyes. There is so much knowledge at our fingers tips it can be challenging to decipher fact from fiction.

Errors and Clarifications

The first error the author made was when they classified Nioxin, a company as a product. I am assuming the author intended to compare Nioxin’s Hair Regrowth Treatment for Men and Rogaine to the Monat product: Intense Repair Treatment.

The second error was when it compared the three products unfairly. No attempt was made to compare each item in a like manner, essentially the author was comparing apples to oranges.

The next error was that the active and inactive ingredients were inaccurately listed. If you consult the following data you will see that Acetamide MEA, Cocamide MEA, PEG-150 distearate, Tocopherol, Cocamidopropyl betaine, Diazolidinyl, Sodium Laureth sulfate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Methylparaben PEG-150 distearate and Propylparaben are not on the ingredient list for Nioxin’s Hair Regrowth Treatment.
The active ingredient of Nioxin’s Hair Regrowth Treatment for Men is 5% Minoxidil. The inactive ingredients are Alcohol, Propylene Glycol and Purified Water. [3]

The active ingredient of Rogaine is Minoxidil 5%. The inactive ingredients of Rogaine are butane, butylated hydroxytoluene, cetyl alcohol, citric acid, glycerin, isobutane, lactic acid, polysorbate 60, propane, purified water, SD alcohol 40-B, stearyl alcohol.

The product I assume the author wishes to compare from Monat is their Intense Repair Treatment, which claims to be a patented biometric peptide formula, that has “higher proven results than other leading hair loss brands” and its “clinical results prove significant results in just 90 days” [1]

The Intense Repair Treatment does not use the terms active and inactive ingredients, instead the terms ‘key ingredient’ and ‘ingredients’ are used. The key ingredient is Capixyl [1]. However on the main Monat website this ingredient is not mentioned. On the main Monat website it states that the product’s ingredients are water, butylene glycol, acetyl tetrapeptide-3, Trifolium Pratense Flower Extract, hydrolyzed wheat protein, dextran, xanthan gum, pvp, cocamidopropyl-pg-dimonium, chloride, benzyl alcohol, dehydroacetic acid, fragrance.

According to another source the ingredient list of Capixyl is: Butylene Glycol, water, Dextran, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-3, Trifolium Pratense Flower Extract which matches up with most of the ingredients within the Intense Repair Treatment. [2]

How are the terms key, active and inactive ingredients defined?
According to the World Health Organization the term active ingredient is defined as:

“active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) Any substance or combination of substances used in a finished pharmaceutical product (FPP), intended to furnish pharmacological activity or to otherwise have direct effect in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, or to have direct effect in restoring, correcting or modifying physiological functions in human beings.”

An inactive ingredient or vehicle is an inactive substance mixed with an active ingredient to give bulk to a medicine. [4]

I have found no pharmaceutical definitions for key ingredients.

What do these three products do?

Nioxin Hair Regrowth Treatment for men and Rogaine have identical active ingredients.
Active Ingredient: Minoxidil 5%.

“Minoxidil applied to the scalp is used to stimulate hair growth in adult men and women with a certain type of baldness. The exact way that this medicine works is not known. If hair growth is going to occur with the use of minoxidil, it usually occurs after the medicine has been used for several months and lasts only as long as the medicine continues to be used. Hair loss will begin again within a few months after minoxidil treatment is stopped. In the U.S., this medicine is available without a prescription.” [5]

Monat Intense Repair Treatment
Key Ingredient: Capixyl (not listed as an active ingredient, see above)

There is no information on Pubmed about Capixyl. [6]

There appears to be no evidence-based data to suggest Capixyl or the Monat Intense Repair Treatment has any affect on the regrowth of hair.

Conclussion

According to my research Minoxidil is the only drug proven to regrow hair. Monat’s claim that Capixyl (or Monat’s Intense Repair Treatment) can regrow hair is anecdotal at best.

[1] “Intense Repair Treatment” Monat Intense Repair Treatment. Hair Canada. Web. 8 December 2017. <
[2] “Capixyl TM” Propspector. UL. Web. 8 December 2017 < https://www.ulprospector.com/en/na/PersonalCare/Detail/4501/191081/Capixyl>
[3] ”Nioxin Hair Regrowth Treatment for Men” JC Penney. Web. 8 December 2017. < http://haircanada.net/index.php/monat-products/intense-repair-treatment-monat/>
[4] “Defintion of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient” WHO. World Health Organization, July 2011. Web. 8 December 2017. <https://www.jcpenney.com/p/nioxin-hair-regrowth-treatment-for-men-30-day-supply-2-oz/pp5005120081?pTmplType=regular&rrec=true&rrplacementtype=product1_rr> http://www.who.int/medicines/areas/quality_safety/quality_assurance/DefinitionAPI-QAS11-426Rev1-08082011.pdf>.
[5] “Minoxidil (on the skin)” Minoxidil. NCBI. 1 November 2017. Web. 8 December 2017. < https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0011238/?report=details>
[6] “No result found for Capixl” < https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/search/?term=Capixyl>

Discovering Personal Advocacy

Discovering Personal Advocacy

Hope is the corner stone of personal advocacy. To find her we must fantasize about the world, embrace the thought of adventure and share our dreams with others. From this spark we will explore our creativity through artistic expression, connecting our soul parts with our body and mind. Creativity gives way to imagination, the ability to see something that does not exist and manifest it within reality. Once we can imagine ourselves as the person we want to be, all we have to do is make it a reality. Hope is the faith we can achieve this reality.

Critical thought entails the usage of empathy, insight and research. We will learn to explore the perceptions and realities of others, avoid pseudoscience and become effective researchers. This is an important component in personal advocacy because it gives us the knowledge to have power over our lives.

Force of will is the quality of pushing forward despite our obstacles and hardships. It is our willpower, forward momentum and determination. It is living with significance, purpose and drive. Force of will sprouts from Hope, it grows with critical thought and blossoms when we give purpose to the pain.

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Discovering Hope

 

Empathy

Empathy – Boundaries – Personal Advocacy

Empathy is essential when establishing and enforcing our boundaries. When we use the word empathy we are referring to intellectual empathy. What does that mean?

“Understanding the need to imaginatively put oneself in the place of others to genuinely understand them… It correlates with the ability to accurately reconstruct the viewpoints and reasoning of others and to reason from premises, assumptions, and ideas other than our own. This trait also requires that we remember occasions when we were wrong, despite an intense conviction that we were right, and consider that we might be similarly deceived in a case at hand.” [1]

A challenging but useful exercise is to imagine yourself as someone else. Let your eyes find someone nearby, now look at their shoes. Imagine what it would feel to be wearing those right now. How do you think they would feel? Now think about someone you know, perhaps someone who’s hurt your feelings recently. Ignore your feelings and imagine being them. What do you think they were feeling at the time when they were hurting you? Why do believe they were feeling this? What if you’re wrong? What else could they have been feeling at this moment?

We are going to do an exercise, first I want you to write down the premise they were acting from when the event occurred. Next, what assumptions might they have been operating from and finally what do you think their thoughts, opinions or plans were?

Intellectual empathy is an effective critical thinking tool. When implemented correctly it serves as a valuable resource to establish and enforce personal boundaries. It also helps us identify the walls of others. With this information we improve our ability to treat others fairly while encouraging them to do the same.

[1] Paul, Richard, and A. J. A. Binker. Critical Thinking: What Every Person Needs to Survive in a Rapidly Changing World. Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2012.