Abdominal cavity: The abdominal cavity contains the spleen, liver, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine, and most of the large intestine.
Abbreviations: Symbols and shortened words used in healthcare documentation because they take up less space on the page and are faster to write.
Abdominal cavity: The abdominal cavity contains the spleen, liver, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine, and most of the large intestine.
Abbreviations: Symbols and shortened words used in healthcare documentation because they take up less space on the page and are faster to write.
Abdominal region: The abdominal region is the area of the trunk inferior to the thorax (separated by the diaphragm) and superior to the pelvic region. The abdominal region is broken into four quadrants.
Abdominopelvic cavity: The abdominopelvic cavity is separated from the thoracic cavity by the diaphragm. It is divided into the abdominal cavity (superior) and the pelvic cavity (inferior).
Abduction: Takes place in the coronal plane with the body part moving laterally away from the body.
Abhyanga: The Sanskrit word for oil massage.
Accessibility: Refers to ease of access and user-friendliness of a massage business.
Acromial region: The region related to the acromion, a bony protrusion on the scapula, which articulates with the clavicle to form the highest point of the shoulder.
Active communication: A form of communication that requires awareness, active listening, and the ability to communicate a message honestly.
Active treatment group: Part of a clinical trial group who receive the treatment being researched.
Acupoints: Places along channels where qi can be accessed and manipulated to improve qi flow (also known as Qi Xue meaning “energy cavities” in Chinese, qi points in Tuina massage, or Tsubo, meaning “body points” in Japanese).
Acute stage: The acute stage of the inflammatory response begins seconds after tissue damage has occurred and lasts from several hours to several days depending on the severity of the injury. Signs and symptoms may include redness, swelling, and pain at the injury site.
Acute traumatic injury: An injury or wound to the body caused by the application of extreme external force.
Acute: A disease with a rapid onset and severe symptoms that only lasts a short time (less than 6 months).
Adaptive measures: Modifications made by a therapist during the massage session in response to the overall health and condition of the client.
Adduction: Takes place in the coronal plane with the body part moving medially toward the body.
Adrenal glands: Situated above the kidneys, each adrenal (from the Latin prefix ad– meaning “toward” or “on” and ren meaning “kidneys”) gland has two parts. The inner area (medulla) secretes epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), the flight-or-fight hormones that ready the body for maximum action in times of danger or high stress. The outer area (cortex) secretes hormones that regulate carbohydrate reserves, suppress inflammatory responses, and regulate the balance of electrolytes.
Adverse reaction: An undesirable response to treatment in which current symptoms are exacerbated or new symptoms occur.
Afferent nerves: A type of neuron that conducts impulses to the spinal cord and brain (from the Latin afferens meaning “to bring to”; opposite of efferent and synonymous with centripetal).
Agonists: Also called prime movers, these are muscles that contract to carry out a specific action (movement). They are the main muscles involved in performing the movement.
Amphiarthrosis joint: A functional classification that refers to joints that are slightly movable, like the cartilaginous discs found between the vertebrae.
Anatomical position: In this position, a person stands with both feet facing forward shoulders-width apart. The arms are at the sides with the palms facing forward.
Andreas Vesalius: A Flemish anatomist (1514–1564 CE) who wrote On the Workings of the Human Body in 1543, which became one of the most influential books on human anatomy during that period.
Antagonists: Muscles that have the opposite action to the agonist; they must extend when the prime mover contracts.
Antebrachial region: Ante– is the Latin prefix meaning “before” and brachial means “arm.” The antebrachial region refers to the forearm.
Anterior: (ventral): Refers to the front of the body or to structures toward the front of the body. The term ventral is used less often than anterior. This term is from the Latin venter meaning “belly.”
Anterior triangle: An area of caution defined by the trachea, mandible, and sternocleidomastoid muscles on each side of the neck.
Antiseptic: Cleaning products that are safe for use on the skin and create an unfavorable environment for pathogen reproduction. Hand soap, iodine, hydrogen peroxide, and rubbing alcohol are commonly used antiseptics.
Aorta: The aorta (from Latin from the Greek aeiro meaning “to lift up”) is the largest artery in the body and receives blood from the left ventricle. It moves downward and then branches to other arteries to supply the body’s tissues with oxygenated blood.
Approach: Different systems that share many similar characteristics are collectively called an “approach” (which might also be referred to as a modality, form, or style).
Area of caution: Any region of the body where delicate structures are superficial and unprotected, requiring caution from the massage therapist.
Armoring: A concept introduced by Wilhelm Reich to explain the use of physical tension to support psychological defenses.
Aromatherapy: The use of essential oils (aromatic plant extracts) for health and wellness.
Arteries: Blood vessels that transport blood from the heart to the body’s tissues.
Asian bodywork therapy: A general term used to describe a number of different forms of bodywork that have developed over the centuries in Asian countries, and more recently in the West.
Assertive relating: A style of relating to other people in which one remains open, listening, and responsive in order to collaborate with others toward a common goal or cause.
Assertive technology: Devices and societal or personal modifications that help people with disabilities overcome impairments and broaden the accessibility of places and things.
Assessment: A judgment based on an understanding of the situation.
Autonomic nervous system (ANS): The section of the nervous system that regulates smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, and certain glands without conscious control.
Axilla area: The area of the armpit.
Axillary region: In lay terms, the axillary region is called the armpit. It lies inferior to the shoulder joint and contains the axillary artery, axillary vein, part of the brachial plexus, and the axillary lymph nodes.
Ayurveda: The traditional medical system of India.
Basalt: Main type of stones used in hot stone massage because they hold heat well.
Benefit: A good effect that promotes well-being, even if a specific pathology, postural dysfunction, or muscular tension pattern is not an issue.
Bilateral: Refers to both sides.
Biomagnetic field: The electromagnetic field produced as a result of the body’s electrical activity that is projected into the space around the body.
Blood vessels: Blood flows in a closed system of five groups of vessels: arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins.
Blood: A connective tissue composed of formed elements and plasma. Formed elements include erythrocytes (from the Greek erythros meaning “red”), which are red blood cells, leukocytes (from the Greek leukos meaning “white”), which are white blood cells, and platelets (from the Greek platys meaning “flat” or “broad” referring to the shape of the platelet), also referred to as thrombocytes, which function in blood clotting. Plasma is the fluid portion of blood, comprising 55% of blood volume and made up mainly of water and proteins.
Board of massage: Appointed in states that regulate massage to supervise the practice of massage through reviews of therapist applications, investigations of complaints, and overseeing licensees who practice in the state.
Body mechanics: Refers to the proper way to stand, sit, bend, and lift to avoid movements that lead to injury or burnout.
Body planes: Imaginary planes that divide the body into different sections.
Bodymind connection: The recognition that the body and mind mirror each other and are intimately connected.
Bodymind split: The unconscious belief that the body and mind do not reflect each other.
Bolster: One of many specially shaped pillows that are used to support the client’s body so that she or he can relax completely without undo pressure on joints while receiving massage.
Boney landmarks: Boney prominences, such as irregularly shaped bones with knobs, grooves, holes, depressions, and angles; these help therapists find their way around the body.
Boundary: An imaginary border that marks the limits of an individual’s personal space.
Brachial plexus: The collection of nerves that innervate the upper extremity. Three large trunks of the brachial plexus pass under the clavicle and divide into five major nerves.
Brachial region: Brachial is the Latin word for “arm,” modified from the Greek word brachion. In anatomy, the arm is considered the area superior to the elbow and inferior to the shoulder both anteriorly and posteriorly.
Bronchi: The trachea branches into the right main bronchus (which goes to the right lung) and the left main bronchus (which goes to the left lung). When they enter the lungs, the bronchi branch into three smaller lobar bronchi, then into smaller bronchioles, then into smaller terminal bronchioles, which divide into microscopic branches called respiratory bronchioles. Bronch(o) is the Greek root meaning “windpipe.”
Buccal region: Bucca is the Latin root that means “cheek.” The buccal region follows the outline of the zygomatic bones, called the cheekbones in lay terms.
Buoyancy: Refers to floating in water.
Business plan: A written guide to starting and running a business:
Calcaneal region: The calcaneus is the tarsal bone that forms the heel. This region relates to the heel.
CAM therapies: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) include such diverse forms of practice as acupuncture, Tai Chi, biofeedback, chiropractic medicine, meditation, dance therapy, aromatherapy, art therapy, ayurvedic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, hypnosis, and many others. The term “complementary medicine” describes alternative healing practices used in conjunction with conventional medicine.
Cancer: General term for a large number of diseases typified by the growth of abnormal cells that replicate uncontrollably.
Capillaries: These tiny vessels have thin walls that allow substances to move between tissue cells and capillary blood in exchanges. Capillaries (from the Latin capillaris relates to “hair,” referring to their shape and size) link arterioles and venules.
Carpal region: Carpal is Latin modified from the Greek karpos meaning “wrist.” Eight small bones (the carpal bones) articulate directly with the radius and indirectly with the ulna to form the wrist. The carpal region refers to the anterior and posterior wrist.
Cartilaginous joint: A structural classification that refers to joints that have no joint capsule and are held together by cartilage. Sometimes the joint is held together by hyaline cartilage that slowly ossifies (hardens) as the individual matures (e.g., the first rib and the sternum). These joints are referred to as synchondrosis joints and are immovable. Joints held together by tough, flat discs of fibrocartilage are called symphysis joints and are slightly moveable, like the intravertebral discs.
Cellular level: Cells (from the Latin cella meaning “storeroom”) are the smallest units of living structure and are highly specialized (e.g., blood cell, nerve cell, muscle cell). They are the basic units of structure and function in the human body. Cells make up tissues.
Centered: Refers to a person’s ability to find an emotional, mental, and physical center.
Central nervous system (CNS): The CNS includes the brain and spinal cord. It receives input from the body’s nerves, processes the information, and responds in a coordinated manner.
Central: Refers to the middle of the body, the internal core of the body, or the middle of specific structures or systems.
Cervical region: Cervix is the Latin word for “neck,” and the cervical vertebrae form the top seven vertebrae of the vertebral column. This region most often refers to the posterior area of the neck where the cervical vertebrae might be palpated.
Channels: A term used in some Asian therapies to refer to pathways or routes where qi flows.
Chemical headache: Headache triggered by chemical imbalances in the body.
Chemical level: The chemicals (from the Greek chemeia meaning “alchemy”) of the human body are composed of atoms such as hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium, sodium, and potassium. These atoms combine to form molecules such as proteins and carbohydrates. Chemicals combine to form cells.
Chinese four pillars of examination: A primary assessment method in some Asian therapies that promote observation, listening, asking, and touching as key methods of determining treatment choices.
Chronic: The term chronic has two related but different meanings. Sometimes a condition or disease persists for a very long time or regularly recurs. This is called a chronic condition, such as chronic hepatitis. In the case of a soft-tissue injury, the term chronic indicates the last stage of healing. In the chronic stage of healing, the therapist aims to help the client return to full function and build strength to avoid re-injury.
Chronic inflammation: When the injury site does not progress normally through the maturation stage and enters a recurrent inflammatory process.
Chronic pain: Pain that persists for a period of time past the point of typical injury recovery.
Circumduction: A series of movements that occur at the shoulder and hip joints when these body areas flex, abduct, extend, and then adduct in an arching motion such as when swimming the backstroke.
Client self-care: Actions the client performs that aid in recovering from an injury or in managing a condition or disease.
Clinical trial: A type of research study that compares a treatment to a placebo (inactive treatment), to another treatment, or to standard treatment to establish safety and efficacy, using randomization and controls in study design.
Cluster headache: A rarely occurring vascular headache that causes debilitating pain that is usually located around one eye but may spread out to other areas of the face, head, neck, and shoulders.
Cocoon: A type of body wrap where treatment product is applied directly to the client before the client is wrapped in plastic and blankets in order to absorb the product into the skin.
Code of ethics: A professional group’s ethical principles.
Collagen fibers: Collagen is a protein that forms the tough rope-like strands that make up the fibrous content of skin, fascia, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bone, blood vessels, and organs.
Compensation patterns: Refers to new behaviors that offset a weakness. When the body is injured, it adopts new movement patterns as a means to protect the weakened areas and to manage the resulting loss of function.
Compress: A cloth that is dipped in hot, warm, neutral, cool, or cold water, wrung out, and placed on the body.
Compression: A massage technique in which the therapist pushes the muscle belly directly toward the bone beneath it with a rhythmic pumping action
Condyle: A rounded articular surface at the end of a bone. An epicondyle is a small projection above a condyle (from the Greek kondylos meaning “knuckle”).
Confidentiality: The therapist’s obligation to ensure the client’s privacy by not discussing the client’s information with anyone but the client or other healthcare professionals, and then only with the client’s permission.
Conflict resolution: A process used to resolve a conflict through conversation or mediation.
Connective tissue: Connective tissue includes bone, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, adipose tissue (fat), blood, and lymph. Connective tissue is widely distributed throughout the body and shapes the body’s form with an interweaving network that binds various body parts together, while separating certain structures so that they can move freely over one another.
Contraindication: When a therapeutic treatment might harm a client or cause an adverse reaction, it is contraindicated (Latin prefix contra– meaning “opposed” or “against”).
Control group: Part of the clinical trial group who receive the standard treatment (if there is one), no treatment, a placebo treatment, or a second treatment being researched as a comparison.
Contractility: Contractility is the characteristic of muscle tissue that allows it to contract (shorten and thicken) to produce movement at joints.
Counter-transference: When a therapist personalizes the therapeutic relationship.
Cover letter: A letter used by someone seeking a job that provides an introduction to an employer.
Cranial cavity: The space within the skull that contains the brain and cerebrospinal fluid. It is sometimes referred to as the intracranial cavity.
Cranial nerves: The 12 pairs of cranial nerves handle impulses for the special senses (smell, vision, taste, hearing), general senses (pain, touch, temperature, pressure, and vibrations), motor impulses resulting in control of skeletal muscles, and visceral motor impulses for the involuntary control of cardiac muscle, smooth muscle, and glands.
Cranial region: Cranio– is a prefix from the Greek kranion meaning “skull” and is synonymous with the term cephalic from the Greek kephale meaning “head.” The skull is divided into two portions, the cranium and the facial area.
Crest: A bony ridge or distinct border on a bone (from the Latin crista meaning “crest”).
Crural region: The term crural can relate to both the thigh and the leg. It is most often used to denote the region distal to the knee on the anterior leg.
Cubital region: The area of the elbo:
Décor: What the client sees when entering a massage space.
Deep tissue: An approach to soft-tissue structures where the therapist works slowly while applying more pressure to deeper muscular structures, creating greater length and pliability in soft tissue.
Deep: Refers to structures that are positioned away from the surface of the body.
Deformation: A term used to describe the change in shape that occurs to soft-tissue structures in response to the application of a massage stroke.
Delayed-onset muscle soreness: A type of muscle soreness that is experienced from 12 to 48 hours after a vigorous workout or after a period of inactivity followed by unaccustomed strenuous physical activity. Symptoms include diffuse muscle tenderness, stiffness, swelling, and pronounced soreness.
Deltoid region: The deltoid is a muscle that “caps” the shoulder and flexes, extends, and laterally or medially rotates the shoulder joint. The surface area over any of these structures is called the shoulder or deltoid egion.
Depression: Movement that can occur at the mandible, scapula, clavicle, pelvis, and hyoid bone where the body part moves inferiorly (down).
Dermis: The dermis (from the Greek derma meaning “skin”) is the skin layer below the epidermis. Components of the dermis are responsible for the strength, elasticity, and extensibility of the skin (collagen and elastin fibers), blood supply to the skin, and nerve endings sensitive to touch.
Diarthrosis joint: A functional classification that refers to joints that are freely movable like synovial joints. The name refers to the fact that synovial diarthrotic joints move in paired directions, such as flexion and extension, and adduction and abduction.
Disability: A medical condition or functional impairment that impacts the ability to perform particular activities.
Disease transmission: Disease is caused by pathogens which are transmitted by direct contact, indirect contact, vehicle transmission, or vector transmission.
Disinfectants: Cleaning products that are stronger than antiseptics and should not be used on the skin. They kill or are effective against most bacteria and viruses.
Distal: Refers to being farthest away from the trunk or, when a specific structure is being referred to, the area of the structure that is furthest from the point of origin.
Documentation: The records kept by a therapist to record the particular techniques used during a session and the results they achieved. A health history form and SOAP notes are standard forms used to document massage sessions.
Dorsiflexion: Movement that occurs in the joints of the foot when the dorsal surface of the foot moves superiorly so that the toes point up to the sky and slightly back toward the knee.
Dosha: A concept in Ayurvedic medicine that explains the nature of the universe. The three doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha) govern the qualities of different times of the day or night, different seasons or climates, the characteristics of the physical body, and a person’s mental and emotional tendencies.
Downward rotation: When the scapula rotates so that the glenoid fossa moves inferiorly.
Draping: The use of a sheet, bath towel, or blanket to establish professional boundaries, preserves the modesty of both the client and therapist, and ensure that the client stays warm during the massage.
Drug: A synthesized chemical that may be prescribed by a physician to treat a particular condition, purchased over-the-counter without a prescription (e.g., cold medication, pain reliever, etc.), or categorized as illegal substances (e.g., cocaine, heroin, etc.).
Dry room: A tiled room with drains in the floor that allows services using water to be applied efficiently.
Dry skin brushing: A technique in which natural bristle brushes, rough hand mitts, or textured cloths are used to stimulate the sebaceous glands, increase local circulation, remove dead skin cells, and invigorate the nervous system to revitalize the body.
Dual relationships: A situation in which more than one relationship with a client is present.
Ebers papyrus: A lengthy scroll written around 1,550 BCE that contains around 700 formulae and remedies demonstrating ancient Egypt’s advanced understanding of human anatomy and the use of herbal medicine.
Efferent nerves: A type of neuron that conducts impulses from the central nervous system to the muscles and glands (from the Latin efferens meaning “to bring out”; opposite of afferent and synonymous with centrifugal).
Effleurage: The French word for the gliding strokes used in Swedish massage.
Elevation: Movement that can occur at the mandible, scapula, clavicle, pelvis, and hyoid bone, in which the body part moves superiorly (up).
Embodiment: Refers to the subjective sensation of having and using a body.
Emotion: A state of psychological arousal accompanied by detectable physiological responses and feelings of tenderness or vulnerability.
Emotional intelligence: The ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.
Emotional release: A natural process that may occur during a massage session in which a client relaxes his or her defenses and experiences emotions such as sadness, happiness, or other emotions.
Employee: A person who is hired by another person to perform particular duties for a determined fee.
End feel: During passive range of motion, it is the point at which the therapist feels the structures of the joint and surrounding the joint “push back.” There are three different types of normal end feel: hard, soft, and firm.
Endocrine gland: Endocrine glands secrete hormones into the space around them. The hormones pass into capillaries and are conveyed through the blood to target cells.
Energy medicine: One of five domains of Complementary and Alternative Medicine therapy identified by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
Energy: The exertion of power; the capacity to do work, taking the forms of kinetic energy, potential energy, chemical energy, electrical energy, and others.
Epidermis: The epidermis (from the Greek epi- meaning “on” and dermis meaning “skin”) is the outer layer of the skin, which has four sublayers. Components in the epidermis are responsible for waterproofing the skin (keratin), some of the color of the skin (melanin), protection from UV radiation, and some immune function (Langerhans’ cells and Granstein cells).
Erect position: In this position, the client stands in a relaxed posture with the arms hanging naturally at the sides.
Esophagus: The esophagus (from the Greek oisophagos meaning “gullet”) secretes mucus and transports food to the stomach. Food is pushed through the esophagus by involuntary muscular contractions called peristalsis (from the Greek peri meaning “around” and stalsis meaning constriction), which also occurs in the gastrointestinal tract.
Essential oil: Pleasant-smelling substances that come from specific species of aromatic plants.
Ethics: A major branch of philosophy exploring values, morals, right and wrong, good and evil, and responsibility. Also called moral philosophy.
Etiology: The study of the cause of a disease, or the theory of the origin of a disease.
Event massage: A category of sports massage where the massage is applied on the day of a sporting event at the location of the sporting event.
Eversion: Movement that occurs in the tarsal joints of the foot when the plantar surface of the foot pivots to face the midline of the body.
Exfoliation: A coarse-textured product or hand-held cloth, brush, or mitt is applied to the skin to brighten it by removing the dull top layer of dead cells.
Exocrine gland: Exocrine glands secrete their products into ducts where they are carried to certain organs (digestive glands) or the body’s surface (sudoriferous and sebaceous glands of the integumentary system).
Expenses: All of the monies that go out of a business related to startup or operational costs.
Extension: Takes place in the sagittal plane with the body part moving posteriorly (with the exception of the knee). The knee extends in an anterior movement in the sagittal plane. It is the opposite movement to flexion.
External: From the Latin externus meaning “outside,” this term refers to the outer surface of the body.
Extensibility: The characteristic of muscle tissue that allows it to extend (lengthen) when opposing muscles contract.
Excitability: The characteristic of muscle tissue (also of nerve tissue) that allows it to receive and respond to stimuli.
Facet: A small, smooth area on a bone, such as the facets on each vertebra, that articulate with the vertebrae above and below.
Facial region: The facial region of the head includes the area of the eyes, nose, mouth, and cheeks. It can be broken down into smaller areas.
Fascia: A type of connective tissue that forms a fibrous membrane covering that supports and separates muscles and other structures in the body.
Fees: A monetary cost paid by a client to a professional for a desired service.
Femoral region: The word femoral means “relating to the femur,” the long bone in the thigh. This region refers to the thigh.
Femoral triangle: An area of caution defined by the inguinal ligament, sartorius, and adductor longus in the thigh.
Fibromyalgia: A condition characterized by the distribution of tender points over the body, chronic pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.
Fibrous joint: A structural classification that refers to joints that have no joint capsule and are held together by fibrous connective tissue, such as the sutures that hold together the bones of the skull.
Filter: The concept that all people have individual needs, values, beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, and experiences that become a “filter” for how we view the world, listen to others, communicate ideas, or feel in certain situations.
First trimester: The first three months of pregnancy.
Flexibility: The range of motion available at a given joint or series of joints.
Flexion: A movement that takes place in the sagittal plane with the body part moving anteriorly (with the exception of the knee). The knee flexes posterior in the sagittal plane. It is the opposite movement to extension.
Flight-or-fight response: The body’s response to a perceived threat (run away or stay and fight) mediated by the sympathetic nervous system.
Foramen: An opening in a bone through which blood vessels, ligaments, or nerves pass (from the Latin aperture meaning “a small narrow opening”).
Forces: Something that internally or externally causes the movement of the body to change or body structures to deform.
Fossa: A depression in or on a bone (from the Latin term for “a trench or ditch”).
Friction treatments: A classification of spa treatments such as salt glows, dry or wet skin brushing, cold mitt friction, and loofah scrubs that stimulate the skin, blood circulation, and lymph flow when applied to one body area or the entire body.
Friction: A heat-producing, chafing stroke or a stroke applied with deeper pressure to outline particular muscle structures and break up adhered tissue. One of the traditional strokes used in Swedish massage.
Frontal plane: Also called the coronal plane, divides the body into anterior and posterior parts with a straight vertical line that is at right angles to the sagittal plane.
Frontal region: The frontal bone of the skull forms the forehead and the superior portion of the eye socket. The frontal region of the head follows the outline of the frontal bone.
Functional goals: Goals developed with clients that define the particular activities the client would most like to accomplish in daily life without a significant increase in symptoms.
Functional limitations: Activities of daily living that are limited by a condition or by soft-tissue injury.
Functional outcomes reporting: A form of writing SOAP or chart notes that focus on the client’s ability to function in activities of daily life
Gait: The client’s walking patterns.
Galen: Claudius Galenus of Pergamum (129-200 CE), known in English as Galen, was a Greek physician who built on the theories of Hippocrates. Eventually Galen moved to Rome where he lectured, conducted experiments on animals to develop his understanding of anatomy, and wrote twenty-two volumes. He wrote The Elements According to Hippocrates to expand on the idea of the four humors.
Gallbladder: A small sac located on the surface of the liver that stores bile until it is needed in the small intestine.
Gate theory: In 1965 psychologist Ronald Melzack and physiologist Patrick Wall introduced the gate control theory of pain management in a paper published in Science magazine. Melzack and Wall believed that the spinal cord had a gating mechanism whereby nerve fibers carrying somatic stimuli relating to touch, temperature, pressure, or movement can “close the gate” to dull aching pain information traveling to the brain.
Gluteal region: The gluteal muscles form the buttocks. This region lies on either side of the sacral region.
Golgi tendon organs: Propriocepters that monitor muscle tension and tendon strain.
Ground substance: A fluid produced by fibroblasts that looks like egg whites and surrounds all the cells in the body to support cellular metabolism.
Grounded: Refers to a person’s ability to find a relaxed and connected state of being.
Growth: Refers to the body’s ability to develop and increase in size to reach maturity.
Head-forward position: An abnormal posture in which the head is positioned forward of its correct alignment.
Health intake form: A document the client completes before his first session that provides contact details, current health conditions, medications, past health conditions, and health-related goals.
Health intake interview: A conversation that occurs between the therapist and client to rule out contraindications and plan the treatment.
Heart: An organ located between the lungs that pumps blood throughout the body. The two upper chambers, called the right atrium and left atrium (plural atria, from the Latin meaning “entrance hall”), receive blood. The two lower chambers (right and left side), called the ventricles (from the Latin ventriculus from venter meaning “belly” and referring to a cavity), pump blood. The right side of the heart pumps blood through the pulmonary circuit, where the blood is oxygenated by the lungs. The left side of the heart pumps blood through all other parts of the body.
High-risk pregnancy: A pregnancy that puts the mother or developing fetus at higher than normal risk for complications.
Hippocrates: A Greek physician (460–377 BCE) widely regarded as the “Father of Western Medicine” because he based his medical practice on observation and an extensive study of anatomy.
HIV/AIDS: The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Homeostasis: The relative constancy of the body’s internal environment maintained by adaptive responses in spite of changing environmental conditions.
Hot sheet wrap: A common spa and massage treatment in which the treatment product (herbs, coffee, milk, honey, seaweed, mud, etc.) is dissolved in hot water. Two muslin sheets (or a sheet and a bath towel) are steeped in the dissolved product and then wrapped around the client.
Hydrostatic pressure: Refers to the amount of pressure exerted by a liquid, in this case water, when the liquid is at rest.
Hydrotherapy: The use of water for health and wellness.
Hyperkyphosis: An abnormal increase in the thoracic curve of the spine (also called kyphosis).
Hyperlordosis: An abnormal increase in the lumbar curve of the spine (also called lordosis).
Hyperthermia: General term used to describe a number of heat-related characteristics that are associated with illnesses.
Hypothermia: A condition that occurs when the core temperature of the body falls below 96 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ida Rolf: An American biochemist working in the 1940s, who extensively researched musculoskeletal components and founded structural integration (also “Rolfing”). Her methods continue to profoundly influence massage today.
Idiopathic: A disease or condition that develops spontaneously or without a known cause is referred to as an idiopathic disease.
Independent contractor: A person or business that performs services for another person or business under an agreement.
Indication: When a therapeutic treatment is likely to benefit a client and have no adverse reactions, it is indicated (from the Latin in-dico, meaning “to point out”).
Infectious agents: Pathogens that cause infections like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa.
Infectious diseases: Diseases (also known as communicable diseases) caused by an infectious agent referred to as a pathogen. Infectious diseases are spread by contact with another person or an animal, or to an infant from its mother.
Inferior: Refers to being situated below something or closer to the feet.
Inflammation: Inflammation is the response of living tissue to injury, infection, or irritation. Heat, redness, swelling, and pain are present at the site and in surrounding tissue.
Inflammatory response: The response of living tissue to injury. To repair the damage done to tissue, the body rapidly reacts to any injury with a series of specific vascular, chemical, and cellular events.
Informed consent: A process by which a fully informed client consents to participate in the massage treatment.
Infrared radiation: Electromagnetic radiation of a wavelength longer than that of visible light, but shorter than that of radio waves.
Injury: Damage to the body’s tissues caused by physical trauma or repetitive stress.
Internal: The word internal is from the Latin internus meaning “inside.” In anatomy, the term is used to refer to anything situated away from the surface of the body.
Inversion: Movement that occurs in the tarsal joints of the foot when the plantar surface of the foot pivots to face the midline of the body.
Ipsilateral rotation: Refers to a movement that may occur in the axial skeleton. The term ipsilateral means on the same side with reference to a given point; the term is from the Latin ipsi meaning “same” and latus meaning “side.”
Isometric contraction: In an isometric contraction tension is generated, but the joint angle and muscle length do not change. Isometric contractions are important because they are used to stabilize joints such as when an object is held in a fixed position. For example, pushing the hands against a wall causes an isometric contraction because the tension increases in the arm muscles but their length stays the same.
Isotonic contraction: This is a muscle contraction in which the muscle length and joint angle are changed in response to the tension generated in the muscle. Eccentric and concentric contractions are the two different types of isotonic contractions.
Jurisprudence exam: Basic law exams required by some states to obtain massage credentials, that ensures knowledge of the laws relating to massage in the particular state, general massage ethics, and continuing education requirements.
Kickback: Any money, fee, commission, credit, gift, gratuity, thing of value, or compensation of any kind, provided for referrals of clients.
Lateral flexion: A movement that takes place in the coronal plane when the axial body part bends either to the right or left.
Lateral rotation: A movement that takes place in the transverse plane when a limb (anterior surface) turns away from the midline to face laterally.
Lateral: Refers to the structures that are on the sides of the body and out from the body’s center.
Laws: Rules, recognized by a community as binding and enforceable by authority.
License: A printed, state-issued document that gives a person official permission to practice massage within the limits of a scope of practice. Allows qualifying therapists to use a protected title and list their massage credentials after their names.
Liver: The liver (from the Greek hepato) conducts many vital functions needed for normal digestion, metabolism, blood production, and the elimination of wastes. Activities of the liver include carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism; removal of drugs and hormones from the body; production of bile to process fats; synthesis of bile salts; storage of vitamins, minerals, and glycogen; phagocytosis of worn-out red and white blood cells and some bacteria; and the activation of vitamin D.
Load: Refers to the amount of stress soft-tissue structures are under due to forces.
Local contraindication: One area of the body is contraindicated for massage.
Lubricant: A product such as oil, lotion, gel, or cream that is used with many massage techniques to prevent undue friction between the therapist’s hands and the client’s skin.
Lumbar region: The lumbar region refers to the low back in relationship to the five lumbar vertebrae.
Lymph nodes: Small oval or bean-shaped structures that reside along the length of lymphatic vessels and filter lymph.
Lymph: A clear fluid that is collected from tissue spaces throughout the body by the lymph capillaries and channeled into lymphatic vessels to be filtered by lymph nodes.
Marketing: All the activities a massage therapist undertakes to attract and retain clients.
Mastoid region: The mastoid process is a bony projection of the temporal bone that serves as a place for muscles to attach. It is located directly behind the inferior portion of the ear lobe, and this region is comprised of the area behind the ear.
Mechanical effect: A response of the body to massage that occurs as a direct result of the manual manipulation of the client’s soft tissue.
Mechanical strength: The amount of force a tissue can absorb or resist before failure.
Medial rotation: A movement that takes place in the transverse plane when a limb (anterior surface) turns in to face the midline.
Medial: Refers to the middle or centerline of the body.
Meridian system: A concept in many Asian therapies that describes an energy network composed of channels, collaterals, and their associated zang fu organs, sense organs, and tissues.
Metabolism: Metabolism (from the Greek metabole meaning “change”) refers to all of the chemical reactions that occur in the body to break down food, release energy, and make up substances that form the body’s structural and functional components.
Migraine headache: Chronic vascular headaches that cause significant pain for hours or days.
Movement: Movement (from the Latin moveo meaning “to move”) refers to the body’s ability to move from one place to another or to move one part in relation to another. It also refers to the cells and organs that must move in order to carry out the body’s essential processes.
Elasticity: Elasticity is the characteristic of muscle tissue that allows it to return to its original shape after contracting or extending.
Muscle spindles: A propriocepter that helps control muscle movement by detecting the amount of stretch placed on a muscle.
Muscle tissue: Muscle tissue is formed by fibers that are highly specialized to contract, thereby generating heat and movement. Muscle tissue is classified as skeletal (the type that creates body movements), cardiac (the type that forms the heart wall and produces regular heart contractions), and smooth (the type that forms the walls of hollow organs and causes movements like the wavelike contractions of digestion).
Neuromuscular therapy: A form of bodywork that aims to locate, treat, and prevent chronic pain associated with myofascial trigger points.
Neuron: The functional unit of the nervous system. It consists of a cell body, dendrites, and axons. Dendrites conduct impulses to the cell body, while axons conduct impulses away from the cell body.
Nociceptor: Sensory receptors that transmit sensations of pain.
Obesity: An excessive amount of body fat in relation to lean body mass for an individual of a given height.
Objective data: Information the therapist gathers through observation and palpation.
Occipital region: The occipital bone forms the posterior and base section of the skull. The occipital region of the head follows the outline of the occipital bone.
Older adult: People who are 60 years of age or older.
Onsite massage: Refers to massage taken to clients at their businesses, homes, or events they attend, or situated close to businesses they frequent.
Opposition: A series of movements that occur at the thumb allowing the thumb to flex, adduct, and medially rotate to cross the palm and touch the fifth finger (little finger).
Osteoarthritis: A condition (also called degenerative joint disease) related to wear and tear of a synovial joint’s structures that cause the joint to become painful and inflamed.
Otic region: The otic region is the area directly around the ear.
Over-exertion injury: An injury that occurs from an abrupt increase in activity without proper preparation.
Overuse injury: An injury that occurs from performing a movement repeatedly without sufficient recovery time.
Pack: A hot, warm, cool, or cold application that causes changes in soft-tissue structures when it is placed on the body.
Pain assessment: Involves a number of methods that might be used to capture a client’s experience of pain at aven point in time.
Pain: gi An unpleasant physical and emotional sensation associated with tissue damage or the immediate potential for tissue damage.
Pain-spasm-pain cycle: A persistent cycle in which pain triggers muscle spasms, which then lead to more pain.
Palpation: Data obtained through touch based on the client’s tissue textures, tone, temperature, and hydration.
Paraffin: A waxy substance obtained from the distillates of wood, coal, petroleum, or shale oil that is heated and applied to body areas to produce changes in soft-tissue structures.
Parasympathetic nervous system response: The rest and recovery response of the body mediated by the parasympathetic nervous system that is often trigged by the relaxation brought about through massage.
Parasympathetic nervous system: The division of the autonomic nervous system associated with the body’s ability to rest and recover (from the Greek prefix para– meaning “alongside”).
Pathology: The medical science concerned with disease or abnormal function.
Pelvic cavity: The pelvic cavity contains the urinary bladder, portions of the large intestine, and the internal reproductive organs.
People First Language: A form of politically correct disability etiquette that aims to diminish the subconscious dehumanization that occurs when discussing people with disabilities.
Per Henrik Ling: An Austrian (1776–1839) credited with creating medical gymnastics, he built on the work of many other people to develop a structured movement system called Swedish massage.
Peripheral: Refers to the periphery of the body or parts that lie away from the center.
Peripheral nervous system (PNS): This part of the nervous system is made up of all nerves outside the CNS. It includes the cranial nerves, which transmit impulses to and from the brain, and the spinal nerves, which transmit impulses to and from the spinal cord.
Personal space: The physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual space people hold around themselves.
Petrissage: A rhythmic massage technique utilized in Swedish massage that seeks to lift tissue away from the bone to increase tissue pliability and decrease adhesions.
Physical history: The past physical state of the client, which influences the present physical state of the client. It includes genetics, nutrition, age, fitness level, past diseases, conditions, or injuries, and current diseases, conditions, or injuries.
Physician’s release: A document that notes that a physician approves the use of massage for a client.
Physiological effect: The physical changes the body undergoes in response to massage treatment.
Piezo-electricity: The ability of tissue to generate electrical potentials in response to mechanical deformation such as the deformation that occurs with massage treatment.
Pin and stretch: Refers to a technique in which a muscle is first shortened passively or actively (placed in a shortened position through passive range of motion by the therapist or placed in a shortened position by an active movement performed by the client), then “pinned” by the therapist’s hand at its origin, insertion, or muscle belly, before it is lengthened passively or actively.
Pineal gland: Located posterior to the midbrain, the pineal gland produces melatonin, which regulates waking and sleeping cycles (from the Latin pineus meaning “pine tree,” relating to the shape of the gland).
Plantarflexion: Movement that occurs in the joints of the foot when the plantar surface of the foot moves inferiorly so that the toes are pointed downward.
Plaster: The application of an herbal paste (herbs mixed with either water or oil) to a body region.
Plexus: A network of nerves that occurs on both the right and left sides of the body.
Polarity therapy: An energy-based system that aims to address the body, mind, and spirit of the client through energetic bodywork, diet, exercise, and improved self-awareness.
Popliteal region: The muscles of the posterior leg form a diamond-shaped surface where they converge at the posterior knee to form what is called the popliteal fossa. The popliteal fossa and the popliteal region are the same area.
Positioning: Refers to the different positions a client takes while on the massage table or massage chair to allow access to specific areas of the body.
Posterior: (dorsal): Refers to the back of the body or to structures toward the back of the body. The term dorsal is also widely used and is Latin for “back.” It might also refer to the top of the foot or the back of the hand.
Posterior triangle: An area of caution defined by the clavicles, sternocleidomastoid muscles, and trapezius muscles on either sides of the neck.
Post-event massage: Massage performed after an athlete’s sporting event.
Postpartum massage: Massage applied in the weeks after the baby is born.
Postural dysfunction: Any position of the body that exerts undue strain on body structures including joints, ligaments, fascia, muscle, nerves, blood vessels, and bones.
Posture assessment: The assessment of the client’s posture in order to determine where structures are experiencing undue strain.
Posture: The arrangement of the body’s parts in space, in other words, the body’s position. The way in which a client holds his or her body while standing and moving.
Power differential: The power advantage that a therapist naturally holds over a client due to his or her knowledge of the body and massage skills.
Practical exam: In some states an applicant performs massage techniques in front of a panel to demonstrate competency in the application of techniques, sanitation and hygienic practices, communication with clients, and overall professionalism.
Prana: In the ayurvedic medical system of India, prana is defined as spiritual, physical, and mental energy. This vital energy is the fundamental life force of the body and the source of all knowledge.
Pre-event massage: Massage performed before an athlete’s event.
Process: Any prominent projection on a bone, like the mastoid process of the temporal bone or the spinus processes of the vertebrae (from the Latin processus meaning “an advance, progress, or process”).
Prognosis: A prediction of the probable course and outcome of the disease based on the condition of the patient and the doctor’s knowledge of the disease.
Promotion: Marketing activities that increase a massage therapist’s business visibility and attract the attention of potential clients.
Pronation: Movement in which the forearm rotates so that the palm is facing downward and the radius crosses over the ulna.
Prone position: In this position, a person is lying face down, usually with the face in a cradle so the cervical vertebrae are aligned with the rest of the spinal column.
Proprioception: Comes from the Latin proprius, meaning “one’s own,” and the word perception. It refers to the position of the body in space and the relationship of body parts to one another and to the environment around them.
Protraction: Movement that can occur at the mandible, scapula, and clavicle where the body part moves anteriorly.
Proximal: Refers to being nearest the trunk or, when a specific structure is being referred to, the part nearest the structure’s point of origin.
Psychological defenses: Mental processes that enable the mind to deal with conflicts it can’t resolve.
Psychological effect: Responses to massage that occur in the mind and emotions of clients.
Psychological history: Refers to the client’s attitudes, beliefs, expectations, and cultural influences and how these influences might determine the outcome of a massage session.
Publicity: Media exposure arising from an event related to the massage business.
Pursed-lip breathing: A breathing technique that aims to tone and strengthen the diaphragm and help to re-educate the client’s kinesthetic sense of breath.
Qi: A concept in Chinese medicine that seeks to explain the energy that underlies everything in the universe.
Radial: Refers to the radius, a bone in the forearm, or to the structures that lie close to it (e.g., radial artery, radial nerve).
Range of motion assessment: An assessment procedure that aims to evaluate the client’s ability to move and to identify if there are any pathological restrictions present in a particular joint.
Range of motion: Refers to the amount of movement that is possible at a joint based on its structure and condition.
Reciprocal inhibition: Refers to a reflex mechanism in the body that ensures coordinated movement between groups of opposing muscles.
Reflecting: A listening skill with which the listener gathers information conveyed by the speaker and then summarizes the information in a brief phrase back to the speaker.
Reflexive effect: An involuntary and rapid response of the nervous system to stimuli that result in changes to the structural or systemic condition of the body.
Reflexology: A therapy based on the belief that there are points on the feet, hands, and ears that stimulate the function of different parts of the body including the glands and organs.
Reiki: An energetic approach to health and healing wherein a reiki practitioner places his or her hands on a recipient or above the recipient, or heals from a distance.
Resting and holding strokes: A technique in which the hands are placed, without lubricant, on the client with the intent to greet the client and allow the client time to become accustomed to the unfamiliar touch.
Resume: A summary of a person’s background, experience, education, training, and skills used by employers to determine if you have the experience necessary to fill an open position.
Retraction: Movement that can occur at the mandible, scapula, and clavicle where the body part moves posteriorly.
Revenue: All of the monies that come into a business through payment on services by clients.
Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune disorder that primarily affects the synovial membranes of joints, but may also affect other tissues including blood vessels, the lungs, and fascia.
Rotation: A movement that takes place in the transverse plane when the anterior surface of the body part rotates right or left.
Routines: A series of massage strokes that are planned in advance, delivered to body areas in a pre-set order, and practiced until they flow smoothly together.
Sacral region: This region lies over the sacrum and between the gluteal muscles. The sacrum is formed by the fusion of five vertebrae that lie inferior to the lumbar vertebrae.
Sagittal plane: Divides the body into left and right parts with a straight vertical line (also referred to as a longitudinal line). The sagittal plane runs through the midline of the body and is also called the midsagittal plane, or the median plane when the left and right parts are equal.
Salt glow: A spa treatment in which different types of mineral salts (Dead Sea salt, Bearn salt, sea salt, Epson salt, etc.) are rubbed across the surface of the skin with gentle massage strokes.
Sarcomeres: The functional unit of muscle that causes the muscle to contract (millions of sarcomeres must be activated to make even the smallest movement).
Scapular region: The scapula is a flat, triangular bone that lies over the ribs on the posterior trunk and articulates with the humerus to form the shoulder joint. The scapular region is the area directly over and around the scapula.
Scientific method: A process that scientists use to develop an accurate representation of the world, investigate phenomena, acquire new knowledge, integrate established knowledge with new knowledge, and correct existing knowledge.
Scoliosis: An abnormal lateral curve of the spine.
Scope of practice: The methods and techniques a professional can utilize in practice.
Seated massage: A massage applied to a fully clothed client sitting in a specialized chair.
Seated position: In this position, a client is seated in a regular chair or a massage chair for the massage or for assessment (e.g., range of motion assessment).
Sebaceous (oil) glands: Sebaceous glands (from the Latin sebum meaning “tallow” like animal fat used for candles) are located in the dermis and secrete an oily product called sebum into hair follicles to lubricate the hair and skin and prevent dryness.
Self-care: Attention to one’s own health and wellness.
Semi-reclined position: In this position, a client lies supine but pillows elevate the upper body so that the client is half-sitting.
Sequencing: Refers both to the sequence of strokes (the order in which strokes are applied to a given body area) and to the overall sequence of the massage (the order in which body areas are massaged).
Session planning: The use of information gathered during an assessment to determine goals and techniques that will be used during the session.
Shiatsu: A bodywork form from Japan based on principles of traditional Chinese medicine. Composed of the Japanese words shi meaning “finger” and atsu meaning “pressure”, and so translates literally to finger-pressure.
Shoulder region: The shoulder region refers to the shoulder girdle composed of the clavicle and the scapula. The shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint) is formed by the humerus and the glenoid fossa of the scapula.
Side effect: A secondary effect of a medication or therapy that goes beyond the desired effect or causes unwanted responses in addition to the therapeutic effect.
Side-lying position: Also called the lateral recumbent position. In this position, the client lies on the side with one leg positioned on a bolster and a pillow in front of the chest to support the upper body.
Signs: Objective physical manifestations that the doctor or therapist can observe.
Somatic nervous system: A division of the autonomic nervous system that involves the skeletal muscles under voluntary control (from the Greek root soma meaning “the body”). It consists of peripheral nerves that send sensory information to the central nervous system and motor nerves that send impulses to the skeletal muscles.
Special populations: Groups of people who require specific considerations and adaptations during a massage session.
Spinal cavity or canal: The spinal cavity or canal is a boney cavity formed by the vertebrae of the spine that encloses the spinal cord and the roots of the spinal nerves. It is sometimes referred to as the vertebral canal.
Spinal cord: The spinal cord is positioned in the spinal canal of the vertebral column. The function of the spinal cord is to transport sensory impulses from the periphery to the brain and motor impulses from the brain to the periphery.
Spinal nerves: The 31 pairs of spinal nerves connect the central nervous system to sensory receptors, muscles, glands, and the somatic part of the peripheral nervous system.
Spleen: The spleen is the largest mass of lymphatic tissue in the body, but it does not have sinuses like a lymph node and does not filter lymph. It functions in the production of B cells, which develop into antibody-producing cells and aid in immunity. Bacteria, worn-out or damaged red blood cells, and old platelets are removed from circulation by phagocytic cells in the spleen. The spleen serves as a blood reservoir for the body and releases blood in the event of an emergency involving blood loss.
Standards of practice: Professional guidelines based on ethical principles.
State-approved exam: The written examination chosen by the state to test entry-level knowledge. Massage therapists must pass this test in order to obtain massage credentials in most states.
Sternal region: The sternum is a long, flat bone that articulates with the first seven ribs and with the clavicle forming the middle section of the anterior wall of the thorax. The sternal region resides between the two mammary regions.
Stone massage: The use of heated or cooled stones to apply massage techniques.
Stress: Any event that threatens homeostasis and causes the body to adapt.
Stressor: Any stimulus that produces stress.
Stretch reflex: A somatic reflex mediated by proprioceptors called muscle spindles that are located in the muscle belly and monitor the muscle’s length.
Subacute: A patient or client with a condition that has entered the subacute stage still has symptoms but they are less severe than in an acute stage. Normal function is slowly returning, but the body or body area is not yet at full strength.
Subcutaneous layer: The subcutaneous layer (from the Latin sub– meaning “under” and Latin cutis meaning “skin”) is located directly beneath the dermis and is composed of loose connective tissue and adipose (fat) tissue (from the Greek adip(o) meaning “lipid” or Latin adipis meaning “lard” or “fat”). It is sometimes called the hypodermis or the superficial fascia and connects the skin to the underlying muscles while insulating the body and protecting underlying structures.
Subjective data: Information the client tells the therapist about his or her condition based on what he or she feels and his or her opinions. Gathered through the health intake form and interview.
Sudoriferous (sweat) glands: Sudoriferous glands (from the Latin sudor meaning “perspiration” and fero meaning “to bear”) are located in the subcutaneous layer and dermis. They cool the body and eliminate a small amount of waste through perspiration.
Superficial: Structures that are superficial lie closer to the surface.
Superior: Refers to structures situated above something or closer to the head.
Supination: Movement where the forearm rotates so that the palm is facing upward and the radius and ulna are parallel to each other.
Supine position: In this position a person is lying on the back face up.
Sympathetic nervous system: A division of the autonomic nervous system that controls the flight-or-fight response, fear responses, and responses to feelings (from the Greek sympathetikos meaning “to feel with”).
Symptoms: Subjective abnormal physical manifestations that the patient or client reports.
Synarthrosis joint: A functional classification that refers to joints that are immovable, like the fibrous suture joints between the bones of the skull.
Synergist: A muscle that aids the action of another. Synergistic muscles have similar actions and thus support each other in movements.
Synovial joints: Freely moveable (diarthrosis) joints where the bones do not touch each other.
Taila: Oils infused with herbs that are believed to have a medicinal effect. They are used in ayurvedic medicine and bodywork.
Tapotement: A rhythmic percussion stroke used in Swedish massage.
Target market: The group of specific clients that a business aims to attract.
Tarsal region: Seven bones make up the ankle and instep of the foot, called tarsal bones. The region of the ankle is referred to as the tarsal region.
Temporal region: The two temporal bones of the skull form the sides and part of the base of the skull. The temporal region of the head follows the outline of the temporal bone and includes the otic region and mastoid region.
Tendon reflex: A somatic reflex mediated by proprioceptors called Golgi tendon organs that monitor muscle tension and tendon strain. Golgi tendon organs are located in tendons near where the tendon joins muscles (Fig. 4-5).
Tensegrity: A term coined by an architect and designer named Buckminster Fuller that has been adopted by massage therapists and bodyworkers. Fuller’s architecture was based on a geometrical model where structures maintain their integrity because of a balance of continuous tensile forces through the building. Tensile forces refer to stretching forces (tension) pulling at both ends of a structure.
Tension headache: Most common type of headache with mild to moderate pain that is often described as a diffuse, tight band around the head.
Terminal illness: A disease that is considered ultimately incurable and likely to cause death within six months.
Therapeutic edge: The particular pace and depth of deep tissue manipulation that allows the greatest possibility of therapeutic change to occur in the tissue. The client experiences some pain, but the pain feels right, appropriate, and good.
Therapeutic relationship: A professional partnership between a massage therapist and client in which safe, structured touch is used to help the client achieve reasonable and clearly defined treatment goals.
Therapeutic Touch: An energetic healing method that aims to balance and increase the body’s energy as a way to support health and wellness.
Thixotropy: The phenomenon by which gels become more fluid or more solid.
Thoracic region: The thoracic region encircles the upper trunk and includes the area directly inferior to the neck and directly superior to the abdominal region. Structures in the thoracic region include the thoracic vertebrae, ribs, and sternum.
Thymus gland: Located in the lower part of the neck, the thymus gland plays an important role in the maturation of T cells (a type of white blood cell), which are necessary for immune function.
Thyroid gland: Thyroid is from the Greek thyreoeides meaning “an oblong shield,” referring to the shield-like shape of the gland, which sits in front and to the sides of the upper part of the trachea. The thyroid gland secretes hormones that regulate metabolism.
Tissue failure: The point at which structures are damaged by loads and lose their mechanical integrity, usually resulting in injury.
Tissue level: Tissues (from the Latin texo meaning “to weave”) are groups of similar cells that perform special functions. There are four basic tissues in the body: epithelium, connective tissue, muscle, and nerve tissue. Specialized tissues make up organs.
Tissue load: A normal or abnormal internal or external force applied to a tissue.
Tissue strain: The amount of deformation experienced by the tissue.
Tissue stress: The amount of resistance the tissue exhibits to a load.
Tonsils: These large lymphatic nodes are fixed in the mucus membranes and located in a circle at the intersection of the oral cavity and pharynx. They protect against foreign substances that are inhaled or ingested. Tonsil comes from the Latin tonsilla meaning “a stake.”
Transference: When a client personalizes the therapeutic relationship.
Transverse plane: Divides the body into superior and inferior parts with a straight horizontal line.
Trigger point: Hyperirritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule in a taut band.
Trochanter: The greater and lesser trochanters are found only on the femur and serve as attachment sites for some of the muscles of the thigh and gluteals. The word trochanter is Greek meaning “a runner” and originally referred to horses that have three trochanters (tro meaning three and canter referring to a horse’s running gait), whereas humans have only two.
Tuberosity: A large, rough, rounded process, such as the ischial tuberosity of the pelvis.
Tuina: A bodywork form practiced as part of traditional Chinese medicine for over 4000 years and based on principles of Chinese medicine. Tui means “push” and Na means “grasp” in Chinese, conveying the vigorous and firm quality of this massage system in which squeezing, compression, kneading, and joint movements are used to positively manipulate qi.
Ulnar: Refers to the ulna, a bone in the forearm, or to the structures that lie close to it (e.g., ulnar nerve, ulnar vein).
Unilateral: Refers to something on one side only.
Universal precautions: Guidelines for dealing with broken skin and mucus membranes, blood and other body fluids, and the clean-up of body fluids. Important components of universal precautions include: correctly using gloves, properly linens soiled in blood or body fluids, and properly cleaning surfaces contaminated with blood or bodily fluids.
Upward rotation: Movement when the scapula rotates so that the glenoid fossa moves superiorly.
Valgus: Valgus is modified Latin meaning “turned outward.” The term refers to any of the paired joints in the extremities such as the elbow or knees. Valgus is a deformity in which the bone distal to the joint deviates laterally from the proximal bone, causing an outward angulation of the distal bone.
Varus: Varus is modified Latin meaning “bent inward.” Like valgus, varus refers to the paired joints of the extremities.
Vasoconstriction: A decrease in a blood vessel’s diameter resulting in decreased blood flow to an area (from the Latin root vas(o) meaning “blood vessel”).
Vasodilation: An increase in a blood vessel’s diameter allowing for more blood to an area.
Veins: Veins (from the Latin vena) receive deoxygenated blood from venules and form larger vessels that drain into the venae cavae. Veins have one-way valves that allow blood to flow in only one direction, toward the heart.
Vena cava (plural, venae cavae): The superior vena cava and the inferior vena cava are two large veins that receive deoxygenated blood from the veins and deposit the blood in the heart’s right atrium.
Vibration: A pulsating, tremor-like, oscillating stroke practiced as part of Swedish massage.
Wellness chart: A simple form used to document wellness sessions when the client is healthy, a condition is not the reason for the visit, sessions are standardized or sessions are provided purely for relaxation and enjoyment.
Wellness massage: Used by the public to decrease stress, promote relaxation, support the body’s natural restorative mechanisms, and have an enjoyable experience that leaves the body feeling refreshed and revitalized.