Four articles on PainSci cite Kassolik 2013: 1. Does Massage Therapy Work? 2. Ten Trillion Cells Walked Into a Bar 3. Therapy Babble 4. Does Fascia Matter?
PainSci commentary on Kassolik 2013: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.
Here’s a study that compares two kinds of massage for shoulder pain: regular Swedish versus “tensegrity-based” massage, which I have literally never heard of in 15 years of studying massage (although I can easily guess what they think they mean.) I smell a pet theory. “Tensegrity-based” massage is not actually a thing. There is no TBM® or standard definition. It means about as much as “anatomy-based.” Tensegrity refers to a principle of biomechanical organization (see Ten Trillion Cells Walked Into a Bar). Massage “based on the tensegrity principle” is wide open to interpretation to the point of absurdity. And yet the defining characteristic of tensegrity-based treatment offered in the abstract of this paper is merely where massage was applied (not how): “directing treatment to the painful area and the tissues … that structurally support the painful area.” As opposed to foot massage, perhaps? Meanwhile, the control group massaged “tissues surrounding the glenohumeral joint.” So, shoulder massage compared to … shoulder massage. This comparison may be about as meaningful as a taste-test of tomatoes and tomahtoes.
Giving these researchers a little benefit of the doubt, perhaps they were trying to describe the size of the treated area, also known as “less thorough” and “more thorough.” That would be a somewhat interesting comparison, though not really useful for validating a treatment idea as vague as “tensegrity-based massage.” I can think of a few (about 17) non-tensegrity-based reasons why more thorough massage might work well. “Be thorough” is pretty much the first lesson in massage school. And the shocking conclusion? They found that “more thorough” worked much better.
~ Paul Ingraham
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical outcomes of classic massage to massage based on the tensegrity principle for patients with chronic idiopathic shoulder pain.
METHODS: Thirty subjects with chronic shoulder pain symptoms were divided into 2 groups, 15 subjects received classic (Swedish) massage to tissues surrounding the glenohumeral joint and 15 subjects received the massage using techniques based on the tensegrity principle. The tensegrity principle is based on directing treatment to the painful area and the tissues (muscles, fascia, and ligaments) that structurally support the painful area, thus treating tissues that have direct and indirect influence on the motion segment. Both treatment groups received 10 sessions over 2 weeks, each session lasted 20 minutes. The McGill Pain Questionnaire and glenohumeral ranges of motion were measured immediately before the first massage session, on the day the therapy ended 2 weeks after therapy started, and 1 month after the last massage.
RESULTS: Subjects receiving massage based on the tensegrity principle demonstrated statistically significance improvement in the passive and active ranges of flexion and abduction of the glenohumeral joint. Pain decreased in both massage groups.
CONCLUSIONS: This study showed increases in passive and active ranges of motion for flexion and abduction in patients who had massage based on the tensegrity principle. For pain outcomes, both classic and tensegrity massage groups demonstrated improvement.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Photobiomodulation therapy is not better than placebo in patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Guimarães 2021 Pain.
- No effect of creatine monohydrate supplementation on inflammatory and cartilage degradation biomarkers in individuals with knee osteoarthritis. Cornish 2018 Nutr Res.
- The CANBACK trial: a randomised, controlled clinical trial of oral cannabidiol for people presenting to the emergency department with acute low back pain. Bebee 2021 Med J Aust.
- Relationships Between Sleep Quality and Pain-Related Factors for People with Chronic Low Back Pain: Tests of Reciprocal and Time of Day Effects. Gerhart 2017 Ann Behav Med.
- Modulation in the elastic properties of gastrocnemius muscle heads in individuals with plantar fasciitis and its relationship with pain. Zhou 2020 Sci Rep.