W ith the recognition of massage as an alternativeor complementary form of therapy, the demands made of the therapist are increasing. Although mas-sage is more involved with the knowledge and use of physical skills and techniques, the knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and pathology is also necessary for the therapist to effectively use those learned mas-sage skills. The therapist is certainly not required to know the field as thoroughly as medical professionals because diagnosis is not involved; however, the ther-apist should have the knowledge to understand how the body functions and how different parts of the body integrate.
With this foundation, a therapist should under-stand how various diseases affect specific functions and how to recognize those conditions in which treatment may be detrimental to the client. Thera-pists should also be able to recognize conditions that may be harmful to his or her well-being.
In addition, the therapist must have a thorough knowledge of various standard medical terms that are accepted and used in the medical field. This will help the therapist effectively discuss a client’s condition with other health professionals, a situation that often occurs. The correct terminology will also help the therapist keep up with the rapidly increasing knowl-edge in health-related fields relevant to massage.
The definition of the term anatomy, meaning “cut-ting open,” originates from the ancient Greek. Al-though the study of anatomy need not involve “cut-ting,” it is the study of the external and internal structures of the body and the physical relationship between the parts of the body. Anatomy answers the questions: What? Where? Physiology, also of Greek origin, is the study of the functions of the various parts of the body. It answers the questions: Why? How? For example, anatomy describes the location of a muscle; physiology describes how the muscle contracts. Remember that the structure of any body is adapted to its functions; therefore, anatomy and physiology are closely related.
Anatomy can be divided into many subtypes. Mi-croscopic anatomy involves structures that cannot bevisualized with the naked eye. Macroscopic, or grossanatomy, considers structures that can be visualizedwithout aid. Surface anatomy involves the study of general forms and superficial markings on the surface of the body. Regional anatomy focuses on the super-ficial and internal features of a specific area. Systemicanatomy is the study of structures that have the samefunction. Developmental anatomy involves changes that occur during the course of physical development. Embryology is a study of changes that occur duringdevelopment in the womb. Histology involves the ex-amination of tissues, groups of specialized cells, and cell products that work together to perform specific functions. Cytology involves the analysis of the inter-nal structure of individual cells.
Physiology can also be divided into subtypes. Cellphysiology relates to the study of the cell function,and systemic physiology considers the functioning of structures that serve specific needs, such as respi-ration and reproduction.Pathophysiology is the study of how disease affects specific functions.