Eating disorders cross every ethnic, gender and age line and are increasing at an alarming rate. Whether by refusing to eat (anorexia nervosa) or binging and purging (bulimia nervosa), the victims deliberately deny their bodies of nutrition and deprive their souls of self-worth. Take a look at the statistics.
“It’s a tragedy what has happened here in the United States.” So says Sandy Ventura Gordon, director and president of Bodyworkers Association for the Birthing Year, Inc. (B.A.B.Y.). In a recent interview, Gordon spoke of the 20th century trend toward the medicalization of childbirth, and the consequent relinquishment of women’s power in the process. “Delivery has been turned into a medical situation and instills in a woman not to trust herself. She thinks her body can’t do it right. Women who trusted in their bodies and their ability to give birth now fear birth.
Sometimes a “truth” is not what it seems. Take lactic acid. For years, many massage therapists have been taught that lactic acid can and should be flushed from the muscles of athletes after intense activity. This truism has been passed on to clients who have also accepted it as fact. Both therapist and client thus have established and perpetuated a mutual belief system that purging of lactic acid is not only necessary, but also efficiently accomplished with the assistance of massage. Some beliefs die hard.
Childbirth, although a perfectly natural physiological process, can be very painful and physically traumatic for the mother. New and improved alternative approaches to labor pain have afforded many women some relief during that part of the process, but there remains a major problematic area – lacerations in the perineum area (between the vagina and rectum), with resultant postpartum pain and possible permanent damage.
It’s been dubbed the spa of the future, but the medical spa is as old as “taking the waters.” According to Hannelore Leavy, founder and executive director of The Day Spa Association, European spas have always been medical, centered around mineral springs and waters. “Treatment was and still is prescribed and monitored by a physician,” said Leavy in an interview from her office in West New York, N.J.
Touch. We come into this world being touched, and we hopefully can leave being touched. Whatever our experiences in this life, touch is usually involved in some form.
For centuries, Europeans have flocked to spas for medicinal purposes. With roots dating back to ancient times, “taking the waters” is a traditional integrative approach, utilizing the benefits of balneotherapies such as thermal and salt water soaks and mud applications. In addition, spas offer physiotherapies including various forms of massage, CO2 applications (naturally carbonated tub baths or immersion in chambers), dietary regimens and health education.
Americans have a new perspective on health. Rather than waiting for illness to strike, more of us are taking steps to prevent it. The holistic approach to wellness is about enabling the body to heal itself and maintain homeostasis, and nowhere has that concept been more appropriately implemented than in wellness centers. These facilities come in all shapes and sizes, from coast to coast, running the integrative health gamut from medical centers aligned with spas to resorts offering multi-modal programs.
Two years ago, researchers Patricia Sohn and Cynthia Loveland Cook surveyed nurse practitioners (NPs) in Missouri and Oregon to assess their knowledge and use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The results of their study, published in a 2002 Journal of Advanced Nursing, revealed that while respondents appeared to embrace CAM on a large scale, a much smaller number actually based that acceptance on formal education.
If a butterfly flaps its wings in Beijing, does it cause a dust storm in Africa? You’ve probably heard some variation of this question. Actually, Edward Lorenz, who theorized this interconnectedness of our universe, used as the title of his 1979 presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “Predictability: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”1 So what does this have to do with research, massage therapy and bodywork? Everything.