From the annals

An aboriginal stole my massage techniques

Massage Therapy has come a long way, with a history going back thousands of years. Western medicine has also come a long way, but in a much shorter time. For 200 years, since the Age of Reason, diagnosis and remedial intervention have been pathology driven.  The causes of all diseases have been investigated in anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. During this process cause and effect are established and pathology leads to diagnosis. Pity the poor person with a problem unaccompanied by an identifiable pathology.

But, listen to this. Way back in 1987 it was estimated that back pain accounted for more than 1.3 billion person work days lost annually in the US. Headaches accounted for 0.6 billion days lost. Fibromyalgia now affects more than 2% of the total population and 15% of all people are being seen in rheumatology clinics.

Are we to believe that this epidemic of pain is normal? Is it that this epidemic can’t be contained? So much emphasis is put on measurements of pathology; X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, blood tests etc. etc? With all this new technology why aren’t the experts finding the causes of pain? Unfortunately, most of these tests don’t give any idea of the powerful influence of muscle-generated pain. There is hope though, we just need to go back in history.

I once went to a conference where three quite disparate individuals stood out. Firstly, Doctor Peter Foreman, a kiwi from the Pain Clinic at Auckland Hospital, spoke eloquently on a woman who had had twenty two root canals to try to (unsuccessfully) relieve her tooth pain. He found trigger points in the temporalis muscle on her first visit that totally mimicked her pain. You can fill in the (belated) happy ending yourself.

Also presenting was an American massage researcher, the late Robert Calvert, founder of Massage Magazine, author of the book ‘The History of Massage’, world traveler, and collector of all things massage related for his massage museum ‘The World of Massage Museum’ in Spokane, Washington. At the conference he exhibited his latest find, an Aboriginal shaman he had picked up on his travels in Australia.

The shaman’s name was Kakkib li’Dthia Warrawee’a (try saying that). Up on stage, this aboriginal elder demonstrated some traditional aboriginal massage techniques. Jeez. This man stole my techniques? I do that stuff! I’ve spent a lot of money to learn those massage techniques. Now, I find out it’s been practiced for tens of thousand of years! He also wrote a book, the thought-provoking ‘There Once Was a Tree Called Deru’. Deru is aboriginal word for ‘truth’. The truth is that we don’t need to look ahead to find stuff to solve modern problems. Let’s go traditional.

Makes you humble…