Sports Massage Therapist Profile – Emanuel

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Sports Massage Therapist Profile – Emanuel

Body Mechanics welcomes new Sports Massage Therapist Emanuel to the team! With experience in martial arts, sports, and training, Emanuel has many sources of knowledge to pull from when taking on a client! We spoke with him to get to know him a little better.

What is your background in sports? Do you train? Participate? Watch?

Emanuel – My background in sports is a diverse one. I have played football for years, was on my high school track team, and I practice several forms of martial arts. I am not competing in anything as of yet but never say never! There may be a future where I step up my training and can join another team, but for now my focus is on sports massage.

How long have you been training?

Emanuel – I’ve been training my body in one way or another since I was a teen. Practice between games, runs in the morning before school and on the weekend, with regular gym days in between. as well. Exercise is very much an important part of me. I make sure I train no less than 3 times a week keep my mind and my body sharp.

Keeping his training schedule helped keep Emanuel sane during quarintine

Can you share one experience, as a person who knows their body, that has greatly impacted  the way you approach  massage?

Emanuel – One experience I have gone through that has impacted the way I approach  sports massage therapy was being treated by a massage therapist after a pretty bad back injury. I was sparring and was tossed by my partner. I took the fall pretty bad and I knew something was wrong. I saw several doctors but there was nothing to operate on, so all they did was give me painkillers. Finally the 3rd doctor I saw recomended a massage therapist. During the assesment she saw that I was limping and that my hips were uneven and went to work on me. I was sore aftetwards but after a couple of days I was limping or feeling the same pain in my back.

From then on I saw massage therapy as something that everyone could benefit from. I think it should be normal as going to the dentist.

How did you get into sports massage? 

Emanuel – I got into sports massage because as a personal trainer I wanted to further help people. I would often see similar injuries among my clients and sometimes I’d even be there when the injury happened! I wanted to be able to give them more help than telling them to ice it. Thanks to my training I know the anatomy even better. So now when I am treating a client who is active at the gym a lot or plays sports, I am in a better position to understand their injury and how to treat it. 

What is your best uh oh story? A time you really messed something up with your body.

Emanuel – I wouldn’t say “best” but my most memorable “uh oh” story was when I broke my ankle in football practice back in High School. I thought I had just sprained it at first, so I got up to walk off and ice it. When I tried to take a step I said to myself “UH OH!” realized I couldn’t walk and had to be assisted off the field.

What sets your sports massage apart from anyone else?

Emanuel – What sets my sports massage apart is my ability to pay attention to detail and communication. I believe if I’m in tune with what the patient is experiencing they will receive the best treatment.

If you could try any sport/or amazing physical activity what would it be?

Emanuel – One sport I would love to try is Gymnastics. It takes a TON of strength, coordination and stamina to pull off those routines.

What are your favorite kinds of people to treat and why?

Emanuel – I like treating athletes and other active people, especially people training for a game or competition. They usually want a very specific muscle group or body part to be worked on and I can focus on maximizing their results. I feel extra accomplished when they are satisfied with my work.

Is there anything we do not know about you we should?

Emanuel – I’m a huge video game fan, particularly fighting games like Mortal Kombat. 

If you had a super power what would it be?

Emanuel – It’s gotta be flight! Especially in New York City; I’d never have to wait for the train again!

If you want check out more of our therapists head over to our Massage Therapist Page and check them out!

Plantar Fasciitis and Massage Therapy

Many years ago – in what seems like the Dark Ages, I was in school to become a registered massage therapist (RMT) in Ontario, Cananada and was taught a standard massage treatment for plantar fasciitis and runners. 

The massage therapy mostly focused on the foot. It involved stretching the plantar aspect of the client’s foot by cranking the toes into extension forcefully and pulling the bottom of the foot tight. Then while your client was face down and you had this position achieved, you were to take your thumbs or even an elbow and dig away at the tissue until you had eradicated all of the ‘granular’ scar tissue. 

I quite clearly remember my teacher saying that we needed to then ice the bottom of the foot immediately, as he slapped an ice pack on my friend who was a runner and triathlete. I remember her gingerly limping off post-treatment. I can’t remember how long it was before she ran again after that. Who knows?  No explaination was ever given for the method of treatment. They never explained that the purpose was to break down tissue and re-injure the site to facilitate healing. But it surely stank of that mode of treatment, and it did not make sense. 

Why do we need to hurt someone to make a massage work? 

Now let me ask you a question, a question that I will likely repeat in multiple blog posts: If you come to me, as a medical practitioner, and you complain of a black eye, and I punch you in the same eye and tell you it will facilitate healing, does that make sense? No! So why is it acceptable in massage? Certainly it applys to plantar fasciitis and massage. 

Massaging the leg for runners
Photo by Adam Ninyo

Years later, I now teach a very different method to address runner’s issues to the therapists at Body Mechanics. It is far more gentle, treats the entire lower leg as well as upper (depending on time constraints), engages the brain by moving the body, and involves a referral to PT or exercise depending on the level of experience the runner or athlete has. 

The Plantar Fasciitis Massage Treatment

When assessing, we are looking at a far wider spectrum of dysfunction than simply plantar fasciitis. Indicators that there might be an issue or impending problem include heel pain, pain in the bottom of the foot, and sometimes calf pain. Of course with any assessment, we screen to rule out red flags as well. The symptoms listed above can also correlate with a recent increase in mileage or speed work for runners, or a weight change, plyometrics or recent changes in health. If there is no connection to the assessment you’re probably going to want to refer out regardless to check for bone Spurs and tendon issues. 

For the purposes of this blog let’s focus on the lower leg. I generally combine in-prone, general massage with gentle pin and stretch. Having the patient flex and extend the ankle as well as pronate and supinate. I am looking to see a full articulation of the foot and ankle. Often you will see that those with foot pain also have poor articulation. Resistance in these areas can be added to help cue the body into moving better. Once we have warmed the area with massage and movement, adding resistance to those movements is helpful. While many massages focus on the muscles, at Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage I like to include tendon work, like “bowing,” as well. We want soft supple moving parts so practicing flexibility is helpful. 

When treating the bottom of the foot, I no longer use that awful stripping technique that requires an ice pack. Instead, I use a hot towel to warm the foot and then use a deeper gliding technique across the sole, while I have the patient flex and extend the toes, or spread them and let them fall to neutral. Here, if things are still not moving well we would add in some mobilizations between the tarsals and resisted exercises for the toes. 

As for home care, if the problem persists, we will refer you to a physical therapist and if it does not, then we would advise you to a program of foot and calf strengthening as injury prevention. As a massage therapist, I am not rehabbing you.  My job is to get you more comfortable while your body does what it does and what it was designed to do. It is adaptive. It will adapt, with or without me.

Summing up…

A warm towel? Simple exercises? No digging thumbs or elbows into the client’s foot? This is a far cry from the painful techniques that I was taught! No one is limping painfully off our tables before a run. The clinical outcomes seem just as effective and I’d say are more beneficial. If you are looking for a therapist who will not hurt you to help you, ask questions before you book. Look for someone who listens well and has a wide variety of techniques at their disposal. It would be a shame to miss your next run due to foot pain… especially if it was caused by the person trying to help you.

Check out more on plantar issues

 

Medical Massage Therapist Profile – Veronica

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage presents a profile on a face many of you already know, Veronica Sanabria! We sat down to learn more about her 16 years of massage experience and hear some stories she from before she joined Body Mechanics in 2019.

What is your clinical/career background and what drew you to medical massage?

Veronica – I was led to medical massage by a former employer. I worked with a sports medicine doctor who developed a unique practice. He incorporated multiple disciplines under one roof and blended them all to customize treatment for each individual patient. He didn’t try to address everyone’s issues one one blanket approach and I found that inspiring.

I followed that inspiration and learned many modalities of healing body work including ART (Active Release Therapy), deepened my understanding of sports massage, studied medical and pregnancy massage techniques and trigger point. 

Body Mechanics Orthopdic Massage medical massage therapist veronica
Veronica Sanabria

How long have you been practicing medical massage?

Veronica – I was originally licensed in Florida in 2000. I moved to New York and looked to expand my skill set and so I entered the  Swedish Institute of massage when I got here. I graduated and got my New York massage license in 2004. I’ve been working ever since. I worked in different settings from spas, to chiropractor clinics to health centers in Fortune 500 office buildings. I shifted my focus to medical massage 6 years ago.

Can you share one experience that has greatly impacted your massage?

Veronica – It’s difficult to choose just one client that has impacted me. I remember in Florida I had a return client who I did facials and massage for. One day she broke down crying. She told me that no one takes care of her, except me. THAT really resonated with me. She was a physical education teacher, a volunteer, and her mother’s caretaker. She kept pouring out of her cup, and it was empty. I helped her feel seen, heard and cared for. I’ll never forget that. Being able to provide physical as well as emotional healing to my clients is a gift I am so proud to be able to give.

What is your best “Uh-oh!” story? A time you really messed something up with your body, that helped inform your medical massage technique.

Veronica – Years ago I had a treated a client who was seeking a massage with very deep pressure. Before getting on the table she demaned that it to raised to its highest level so she wouldn’t have to get up from a lower height. Because the table was so high I didn’t have the right angle to use my weight to help increase pressure. So I could only rely on the muscles in my arm and fingers to do all the work. After an hour of that I felt like I pulled a muscle in my shoulder and had back pain for almost a week! I know now that I shoul’ve explained why the table needed to be lowered and worked in a way that would be best for both the client and myself. 

What are your favorite kinds of people to work on and why?

Veronica – I like people who challenge me. People who are suffering from a mystery pain or a chonric problem that they haven’t been able to adress in years. Going over their body and listening to their story using my skills to find and heal a problem they thought they would have to deal with forever gives me a real sense of accomplishment. I love weird injuries!

If you could try any sport or attend a special event what would it be?

Veronica – Soccer of hockey! I get a kick of adreline just watching either of these sports. I’d love to score the winning goal at the last second of a game.

What sets your medical massage apart from anyone else?

Veronica – What sets my work apart is my instinct. My senses engage completely while I work and I pick up on subtleties in my clients’ bodies and it informs my massage. Thanks to the doctor I worked for, I never go into a session thinking I have anything figured out or that there will be a simple fix, even if it is with a client I’ve seen many times before. I approach each appointment like it’s the first and focus on what body in front of me needs to heal as well as what the person needs.

Are there any oddball facts we do not know about you that you’d like to share?

Veronica – I love sci-fi novels and movies. Going to the movies on a hot summer day and enoying the AC and overpriced snacks is one of my favorite forms of self care.

Read up on our other massage therapists on our massage therapist profile page.