Beret Kirkeby, Author at Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage : Sports Massage and Massage Therapy New York City

Plantar Fasciitis and Massage Therapy

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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

 

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204,
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

The secret permit you didn’t know existed that is ruining massage in New York City and what we can do about it

If you are a licensed massage therapist practicing in New York City, you need to read this article now. 

9 years ago, in opening my business, I came up against a wall called the Adult Physical Culture Permit. If you are a licensed massage therapist and do not know what it is, you are not alone. When I started asking about it, many of the business owners and teachers I asked were unfamiliar with the permit or misunderstood how it worked. Many long-established licensed massage therapists did not know that their businesses were technically in violation of an out-of-date zoning law. 

What’s is it?

In the 1970s, regulations were put into place in New York City to get a grip on the brothels and unsafe prostitution houses running out of bogus business fronts. The regulations used a wide brush and stated all businesses where the services provided include touch or instruction between man and woman needed to prove that they weren’t selling sex. To do so, they needed to apply and be approved for an Adult Physical Culture Permit.

The Adult Physical Culture Permit is highly specialized, much like a liquor license. It requires that you have rented your space before applying for the permit, you then go through a permit application that can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months to process (while you pay rent!), hire an architect to do a land survey, interview neighboring businesses and residents to see what your impact on the community would be, and go through a public hearing process. If that sounds like a LOT, you’re right it is!
Read more about how the permit came to be here

How this hurt’s NYC Massage bussinesses

Here’s how the math played out when I estimated the cost to opening a very small clinic of 3 rooms:

Let’s say rent at your potential location is $4,000 a month, but your landlord requires a 6-month commitment and deposit, so in your first month, your initial cost is $24k. At a minimum, the permit process takes another 6 months, so that’s another $24k just in rent. According to land attorney Howard Goldman, the lawyers, architects, and processing fees to get the permit approved can cost up to $50k. So to get into your space, before you factor in insurance and payroll, you need $98,000 in operating costs to practice massage legally in New York City right now.

Aside from the gross and possibly debilitating financial drain on small businesses, like our very own, the very fact that the permit requires massage therapists to prove that they aren’t performing sex work before they even open their space implies that massage could only be sex work if some government authority doesn’t oversee it. We’ve already spoken about the biases people can have toward massage, conflating it with sex work, and this shows that bias can literally be written into law.

Setting the financial bar so high ensures that large companies dominate massage in New York City rather than actual small businesses. Meaning, people with no training in massage are often running a massage business through a corporate structure, ensuring low pay and low quality.

What we can do about it

I am bringing this up now because there is a chance for us to do something about it.
Sometime this week, NYC is hosting public feedback sessions to potentially change the text of this law, leading to therapists no longer needing this permit to practice in New York City. Massage therapists, business owners, and future owners will be able to call in and testify how this permit hinders their business, profits, and plans. NOW IS THE TIME MASSAGE THERAPISTS NEED TO ACT.

Because of the service we provide, massage should rightfully be classified as medical care, and the zoning should reflect that.

If you attended the webinar held by the New York State Society of Medical Massage Therapists, you have already gotten some information on the players involved and who will be speaking, but anyone can attend the hearing virtually. 

35 years is way more time than this thing should’ve been on the books. Many small businesses and entrepreneurs are crushed under the weight of this permit, leaving room only for the big spa chains and corporations. Let’s change that now!

Today, the date and time for the review haven’t been decided, but we will update HERE when it is. We are asking that you forward this to any massage therapist you know so that they can get involved.


Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204, New York, NY 10001Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Body Mechanics Therapists’ Favorite Local Bites

It feels like it took an eternity, but Spring has finally pushed away the chilly days of Winter. We no longer have to power-walk from the subway to our heated destinations. We can take a relaxed stroll down the block and meet up with friends. With that in mind, we realized visiting guests might want to take advantage of the weather and make a full day of their massage appointment. So we asked the Body Mechanics staff to list some of their favorite local bites near the office so you can plan your day.

Coffee and Quick Stops

The joke about there being a Starbucks on every corner in Manhattan is never more true than in Herald Square. There are three within one block radius of us, the most convenient to get to being the  Starbucks right across the street, right next to the entrance to the Empire State Building’s observatory. The new oat milk goes a delicious chai latte! 

And for America’s next favorite cup of joe, there’s a Dunkin Donuts just around the corner! Our vegan therapists think the avocado toast is perfect for a fast meal.

Directly across the street from us is a Chipotle that is always busy. Grab your favorite rice bowl to go after your massage.

Most New Yorkers have a preferred bagel place, but you can’t go wrong with Ess-a-Bagel on 32nd. From whitefish on pumpernickel to bacon egg and cheese on wheat, this place has it all.

Therapists’ Favorite Meals

We’re lucky to be so close to Koreatown and all the delicious hidden gems it has. Outdoor, heated dining is available for many restaurants or you can grab and go.

Design the perfect bowl of curry for yourself at Abiko Curry. Choose your level of spiciness, then add your favorites from a selection of chicken, pork, seafood, or veggies.

A staple for over 20 years, Woorijip has a lot to choose from. Pre-pandemic, they were a cafeteria-styled, sit-down location where you could take your fill your tray with whatever you wanted from kimchi fried rice, Japanese style chicken, fried eggplant, spicy pork, and much much more. They’ve switched over to stacking containers prepackaged with one part of a meal that you can mix and match and take out.

For even more options to choose from, head over to Food Gallery 32. A small food mall with over 10 vendors selling specialized items. Taiyaki, steamed buns, ramen to bubble tea to fried chicken sandwiches and luxurious desserts are a few of the many offerings here.

Something for Everyone

Sometimes we’ve made all the decisions we’re gonna make in one day and on when we can’t decide what we want to eat and on those days we go somewhere that does everything! Market Crate and ETC Eatery both have built-in cafes for various coffees and espresso drinks, a pasta bar, a sandwich area, a griddle for egg platters and pancakes, and seasonal hot meals. ETC Eatery also offers New York-themed gifts, rare candies, and treats like mochi.

Food isn’t just fuel; it’s a gift you can treat yourself or loved ones to. Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage is proud to support these local New York businesses that have given us comfort and kept us going as we’ve worked for all of our clients who have supported us. Let us know if you find a new favorite treat near us!

A Map of every location we mentioned above!

Want to learn about recent changes here at Body Mechanics?

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204,
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Medical Massage Therapist Profile – Meagen

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage is proud to bring you a profile on another new New York licensed massage therapist that has recently joined our team, Meagen! If you’re suffering from from chronic pain, stuff joints or have had a crick in your neck for a few months, medical massage therapy with Meagen might be for you.

We chatted with Meagen to learn about what makes her personal approach to medical massage stand out and while being effective!

Megan medical Massage Therapist
Medical Massage Therapist Meagen


What is your back ground and what drew you to science?

MeagenI have a degree in Occupational Studies of Massage Therapy and outside of that, did some coursework in psychology. I am endlessly fascinated by the human body and physiology, so massage therapy was a natural career choice. 

Can you share one experience treating someone that really impacted your view of treatment?

MeagenI once had a 3-hour session with a pro-lacrosse player with adhesive capsulitis — a frozen shoulder. The treatment was unlike any spa session I’ve done. It included a visual assessment, friction, passive range of motion, and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. The amount of mobility he regained afterward was incredible and it really highlighted just how much bodywork can be implemented in a medical way to achieve quantitative AND qualitative results! 

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

MeagenAt one point I got mild ulnar neuropathy* from excessive forearm usage at some clients’ request. It made me realize that a conversation must be had with certain clients for them to understand that deep is not always ‘more effective’ when treating the body with massage. I changed my habits and no longer have the condition. 

*Neuropathy is numbness or pain caused by compression or damage to the nerves.

Do you have a bad science joke you like?

Meagen Why don’t ants get sick?  Because they have little anty bodies!  That one has been gotten more laughs now that we hear about antibodies every day.

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

MeagenDiving.

Or What was your favorite class in high school?

MeagenCollege Writing.

What are your favorite kinds of people to work with/what kind of injuries do you like to work with?

Meagen I love to work on people with myofascial restrictions because they get so much relief from each myofascial session! Their joy is contagious!

What sets your medical massage apart from anyone else?

MeagenIt is detail oriented and galvanizing. I don’t just absent massage a body; I can pinpoint the issues clients came in to address and the ones they didn’t know where causing the issues in the first place. Then I teach them how to recognize these matters before they become more significant.

Is there anything we do not know about you we should? (Odd ball facts?)

MeagenAlthough I call New York my home I’m a world traveler, and the one thing I might enjoy more than myofascial release is hula hooping. In fact, I’m a hula hoop champion!

Missed our earlier profiles? Check out our other blogs.

If you want to check out our other massage therapists you can head over to our massage therapist profile page.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204,
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Sports Massage Therapist Profile – Alex

Body Mechanics NYC is proud to add Alex to our wonderful team. Anytime we hire a new therapist, we like to provide a little profile so you can get the 411 on getting to know them! You can check out a more formal Massage Therapist bio for Alex here.

If you have any questions please reach out to reception and they can answer additional questions! Want to know more about our programs? You can read up on our Sports Massage and Sports Injury programs or check out some of our other offerings such as prenatal massage or our tmd program.

What is your background in sports? (do you train in, participate in, or watch…. give us the 411)

Alex– I grew up as a big skier, tennis player, and dancer.  Now I love being active in various ways to keep it interesting.  I love weightlifting, hiking, and yoga.

How long have you been training or working at it?

Alex– I started teaching yoga about 8 years ago and got big into strength training about 6 years ago.

Can you share one experience as someone who uses their body that has greatly impacted your massage?

Alex – My first “real” massage.  I had an aching pain in my hip that prevented me from squatting.  I went to a professional LMT and she had me feeling great after one session.  That’s when I realized massage is not just to feel good and relax (although that is a bonus), it actually has amazing effects on your mobility and can be used to aid in your training.

What is your best uh oh story? (time you really F-d it doing something with your body)

Alex– After many years of dancing and having TOO much flexibility, my hips were super wonky.  I tore my labrum many years ago, but I still notice it every once a while during certain movements.  I focus on diligent strengthening and consistent sports massage to keep myself feeling my best.

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

Alex – I would love to do more climbing and hiking.  South America is on my list and Teton!

How did you get into sports massage?

Alex – I needed it myself!  I realized how much massage is an important piece of the puzzle to keep both your mind and body healthy.  I have also surrounded myself with so many athletes and clients who use their body so much and needed a massage, I decided “Hey, who understands what you’re feeling more than me?  Let me help fix you!”  From there I decided to get my massage license.

What are your favorite kinds of people to work on?

Alex – Athletes and active people. I can speak their language.

Are there any athletes you particularly admire? Who?

Alex – Any professional athlete because I understand how it really needs to become your entire life.  Fitness, diet, rehabbing, injuries, there is so much more to it than just playing the sport.  It takes so much determination and diligence to do it all.  You make sacrifices that I would struggle making (especially when it comes to diet) and I admire their focus and hard work.

What sets your sports massage apart from anyone else?

Alex – I feel like I can really understand my clients because Ive been there.  I’ve seen it all, whether it was me personally, a client or a friend.

Is there anything we do not know about you we should? (odd ball facts) If you had a superpower what would it be?

Alex -I spent New Years a few years ago climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania

Want to read up on more of our therapists?

Why This New York Massage Therapist Will Probably Wear a Mask for the Rest of her Massage Career

Mask Wearing as a Massage Therapist

When the pandemic hit New York City last year, I started wearing a mask when practicing massage in the last days before we closed. In my reasoning, even though the government said masks were not necessary, from a health care perspective it made sense to me. As a medical massage therapist, I specialize in a number of things many other massage therapists do not. One of the treatments I specialize in is intra-oral massage for TMD. These treatments require me to put my gloved hand inside a client’s mouth to massage the muscles there. It means I spend a large part of my day focused around people’s heads, neck, and faces. I remember saying to one of my last clients, “I am going to wear this mask today, it’s just going to help my air stays in my space”. It is not exactly a scientific explanation of germ transmission but I was trying to keep things simple and not scary.

Tmd intra oral massage

As a New York Massage Therapist, I very rarely wore a mask. Wearing a mask in New York signified illness and was a scary addition to the massage. The thinking being, ‘If you are sick enough to wear a mask, you should stay home’. That is totally true by the way, you SHOULD stay home while sick. Unfortunately, there is a lot of time between beginning to feel off, and being sick. When I worked in Ontario, Canada, where massage therapy is a full health care position, I saw a much broader patient population. The public perception of the job is different, so I frequently wore a mask. I wore them if my client had a sniffle, or if I felt off, or if the client was compromised. No one really batted an eye at my mask-wearing as they reasoned it was for a good medical reason.

When Massage Therapists are Sick

I hate being sick. I mean, hate it. I always feel as if I am sick more than the average person. I get sick at least 4 times a year. The CDC notes that “Each year in the United States, there are millions of cases of the common cold. Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more“. I am sick slightly more than the average person, but given my close contact with people that is not unusual. For me, as a Massage Therapist, being sick is very stressful. My income is tied to my ability to not be sick. I cannot work from home and sniff my way through the day. Patients are often very upset when I cancel as well. We have had demands for free service, threats, and general poor behavior over having to cancel due to illness as well. Since my income is directly tied to my ability to massage, you can be assured I NEVER want to cancel unless I have to.

My Mask Has Kept Me Healthy

It has been about a year since I started wearing a mask full time. I have yet to be sick this year (knock on wood) I know there is still time…but it has nearly been a year and I am out and about riding trains, treating people up close, and generally going about my life…with a mask. I cannot say for sure it is the close contact with patients that is the number one reason I got sick so frequently in the past…but it probably is:). I always washed my hands far more than the average person but it is hard to say if, previous to Covid, my clients were. The fact that everyone is now washing their hands when they come into the office means I am not coming into contact with the usual yukies.

Masks Are Keeping a Lot of You Healthy

It is not just me either. Earlier this year conspiracy theorists pointed to a massive drop-off in flu reporting in an effort to classify Covid as a hoax. Almost no one got the flu this year….even with increased testing. The flu dropped off though, because people are doing what we know works for infection control. Washing hands frequently, staying home when sick, and wearing masks. Check out this article in the Science section of the Atlantic on ‘The Pandemic Broke the Flu’. Mask wearing and appropriate infection control works to keep a population healthy.

When we reopened I also expected we would have large problems with people canceling due to being ill, since we ask anyone who is sick to stay home….but it did not happen. Normally, people come in sick all the time. We do not want them to. This year, we have no one coming in sick, and no one calling out sick. NO one is sick! In 8 months we have had 2 cancellations due to being ill. That is far below average.

Massaging in a Mask Forever

I will probably be massaging in a mask forever. Even once the mandate is lifted for massage in New York City. I see no reason to endanger you with my common cold or a flu that has yet to be identified. I see no reason for me to ever be sick again if I can help it. I lose thousands of dollars a year in missed income being sick. That is money I can sock away for better things. My stress is increased exponentially by being sick, and quite frankly, being sick SUCKS. Thank you, but now that it has been accepted, I will be wearing a mask in my massages forever. I really do not mind it, and it is good for both of us.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204,
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Science-Based Educators for Massage Therapy

Body Mechanics’ own Beret Loncar was recently featured in an article in Massage & Fitness Magazine, which highlighted some of the top educators in the field of massage therapy for those in the United States and Canada. One of the key points author Nick Ng makes is that reliable and current information can be difficult to come by for massage therapists. That’s not to say that many teachers and providers don’t have valuable things to say or techniques to teach, but many massage therapy educators are also teaching outdated or incomplete ideas as well.

All medical fields go through growing pains where tradition will sometimes clash with science. The physician Ignaz Semmelweis was derided by his peers when he proposed that washing his hands was the reason his patients had a drastically lower incidence of death during childbirth when compared to the patients of his colleagues. Semmelweis’s peers resisted hand washing because it was not something they (or the people who had come before them) had ever done, so they saw no reason to change. It was not until years after Semmelweis’s death that the rest of the medical community eventually accepted hand washing as a standard practice.

Within the past 10-15 years, much of the research in physical medicine and pain management began to point to the need for some major paradigm shifts in how we understand many things including the effects and implementation of massage therapy. We are keen to give credit and homage to those who have come before us for doing the best that they could with the information available at the time, but in order for our field to advance, massage therapists must be willing to embrace evidence over eminence.

Ultimately by growing with and adapting to new research, massage therapists are able to provide better massage treatments and improved outcomes for those who they serve. That’s why the environment at Body Mechanics cultivates continual growth and encourages therapists to challenge what they do and don’t know. Even if it’s uncomfortable to change, at the end of the day our primary focus is on getting the best results that we can with the knowledge that’s available.

One of our favorite resources for keeping up with current research and trends is Massage & Fitness Magazine. Most massage industry magazines usually include a few authors who appreciate the ever-changing nature of research in related fields, while the rest of the authors will mostly share opinions on ideas they’ve had passed down to them by others. In contrast, Massage & Fitness Magazine features articles that always include perspectives that are deeply informed by recent research and authors who will even go back to revise what has changed on certain topics based on newly available information. Check out some of our favorite recent articles below that take aim at keeping massage therapy on the science track.

Massage therapy and patella-femoral pain syndrome

Massage therapy and trigger points

Massage therapy and lactic acid

If you are a massage therapist looking to up your game, we encorage checking their content out.

By Matt Danziger

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204,
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Read the next blog….

Pregnancy and Ankle Massage: Is it safe?

Why did I want to write this post about pregnacy and ankle massage?

After my two pregnancies and seeing a post on a prominent Facebook parenting group for the Upper East Side of New York, I started thinking about writing this blog.  In the post, the OP had asked the group, “Is it safe to get a pedicure or foot massage while pregnant?”  Apparently, some people had heard it could cause miscarriage.  I am not going to post the link to that discussion, as it is not fair to “out” people for their private views and conversations on another platform, one meant solely for the ears of parents.  I’m sure the post is searchable, and you might find another in any parenting group by searching “massage and pregnancy” or “ankle massage and pregnancy”.  Given that massage therapy is my vocation, I had watched the post grow, in part because it is actually fairly rare that massage gets posted about at all.  What I saw unfold was that a great many people are wildly misinformed about massage, but are perfectly willing to give advice on what is medically appropriate for pregnant women based entirely on hearsay.

Where does the myth of ankle massage causing miscarriage come from?


The advice fell into three categories.  The first was the “I heard massage on the ankles or specialized pressure points can cause a miscarriage”, some posters going so far as claiming it as fact.  So let’s look at that specific misinformation.  It is NOT a fact.  The whole ankle massage myth is based on Eastern medicine pressure points.  Eastern medicine is traditional medicine, which means it is based on philosophy, not on clinical trials and research (although clinical trials and research DO exist for eastern medicine NOW covering a great many areas).  I want to be clear that there is nothing wrong with adding Eastern Medicine to your care.  I am not here to bash Eastern medicine.  Women should be wary of adding fear to the list of things their complementary health care brings to the table as part of that.

 In the Eastern pressure point/acupuncture philosophy, certain points on the body correlate to other body parts and functions. Stimulating them, and meridians, might be part of a holistic care plan, and many people find value in that kind of treatment as a supplementary or management tool. I want to be clear though, that if I am in medical distress, I do not seek out an acupuncturist—I want to see a medical doctor.


In writing this, I tried using Google Scholar to find any existing research on ankle massage and miscarriage, or pressure points and miscarriage, but I could not find anything.  In other words, I found no research to support the theory that ankle massage or pressure points can cause miscarriage in any way.  What I DID find is many articles written by reflexologists and on pregnancy sites such as this on Hellomotherhood:  which have published articles stating that it is dangerous simply because the philosophy says so, without any research to substantiate that claim.  From a medical point of view, there is no real correlation between miscarriage and ankle stimulation. In fact, as a trained massage therapist, if I could stimulate your baby to come by pressing a few spots on your leg, I would probably be able to earn a great deal more than I do now. At week 40 you are rather desperate to get the baby out!

Is the idea of ankle pressure points supported by research? And what should we focus on?

Photo by Conscious Design on Unsplash

What should women be paying attention to in terms of risky activities?  Their focus instead should  be things like Am I a high-risk pregnancy?”  “Have I been cleared by my doctor for this activity?”  “Will there be any substances used in my treatment that may not be appropriate for a pregnant person?”  (see essential oils)  “Is my therapist experienced in prenatal massage?”  These are far more valid concerns.  Traditional medicine can be an important part of care especially in cultures where it connects people, but we need to reject the parts of traditional medicine that cause fear or people and spread misinformation.  If we cannot support an idea with research, it is only an opinion.  But we don’t recommend you simply take our word for it.  Look for articles that are linked with supporting evidence like this one about prenatal massage and ankle massage from “Massage and Fitness Magazine.”

What about first-hand experiences of people who went into labor after a foot massage?

The second kind of so-called proof of danger that was given as a reason to avoid ankle massage during pregnancy came from “experiential proof”.  People often are not objective by nature.  We are wired to find meaning in things.  So a number of women stepped up to say things like “I had a massage and asked to have my ankles massaged at the special points, and then I went into labor.”   While it might not be unreasonable to assume that if you did “A” and then “B” happened, they are connected. “B” might just as easily have happened WITHOUT “A”.  This is an issue of correlation versus causation.  We would have to look at a substantial amount of data to be able to prove that “A” actually caused “B”.  I would cite one of my favorite educational sources on science, The Kahn Institute.  Here is the example they put forth:  

Correlation vs Causation: see the example

“Liam collected data on the sales of ice cream cones and air conditioners in his hometown.  He found that when ice cream sales were low, air conditioner sales tended to be low and that when ice cream sales were high, air conditioner sales tended to be high.

—Liam can conclude that sales of ice cream cones and air conditioners are positively correlated.

—Liam can not conclude that selling more ice cream cones causes more air conditioners to be sold.  It is likely that the increase in the sales of both ice cream cones and air conditioners are caused by a third factor, an increase in temperature.”

The Kahn Institute


The Kahn Institute has an entire post on this subject if you want to learn more about or check out your reasoning skills.  Correlation and causation can be tricky for people because we want things to have meaning and time is linear.  We attribute meaning to things that happen just before or after an event.  A perfect example would be athletes who wear their “lucky” socks or people who tell you to wash your car if you want it to rain.  It is easy to be tricked by this kind of reasoning, so listen closely to what people tell you for evidence of their claims.

What about hearing a story about early labor and ankle massage?

The next kind of comment that I saw was a combination of correlation and causation mistakes plus hearsay.  It is the weakest of all the arguments.  These posts said in effect “I had a friend once who went into early labor after a massage”.  Indeed that could be horrible and scary.  At the heart of it, though, we do not know if those two things were actually interrelated.  AND we don’t know the whole story. What we do know is, if you have a massage late in pregnancy, at some point you will go into labor. The sum is it is hearsay and could have been filtered in any number of ways by that claimant.   

Miscarriages are common and we need to talk about them

The truth is, miscarriages and pregnancy loss are very common, and often not preventable.  There is actually a day designated to encourage advocacy around not keeping these struggles silent.  October 15th is National Pregnancy Loss and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.*  The fact that people often do not talk about their miscarriages can conceal just how common losing a pregnancy actually is.  This can contribute to rumors or concerns that you must have done something to lose the pregnancy.  It contributes to guilt, poor mental health, and poor understanding of the facts. There is no room for blame in health care, especially in issues like a loss.  A woman could carry that “what if” her entire life when it is not reality.

What is the truth about having a foot or ankle massage while pregnant?


Getting an ankle massage or foot massage during pregnancy is a perfectly acceptable way to handle stress and pamper yourself. Rest assured that there is no medical reason not to have one unless you have been told by your doctor for OTHER reasons that you should not.  I enjoyed them successfully during my pregnancies, although markedly less with the second one because I spent so much time chasing my toddler  🙂 Taking care of your health means taking care of yourself.

If you would like to book a prenatal massage with one of our massage therapists check out our booking page or go to our prenatal massage in NYC page to find out more information!

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204,
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Sleep Hygiene and Massage Therapy

“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together”

-Thomas Dekker

What is sleep hygiene?

The CDC defines sleep hygiene as “the good habits that can lead to you getting a good night’s sleep” As a yoga therapist, I talk a lot about sleep hygiene and refer our clients to sleep hygiene resources in our massage therapy practice. Good sleep habits are one of the fundamental lifestyle modifications that you can do to improve your health and wellbeing. The steps are simple and there is a fairly significant payoff for small changes. Many people have never heard of sleep hygiene, and even if they are complaining of poor sleep, poor health and chronic fatigue, they do not realize they may be inadvertently contributing to those feeling with their behavior. Sleep hygiene alone may not be enough to ensure quality rest. You may require additional intervention from a medical professional, medication, or cognitive behavioral therapy. You should check with your medical provider. This is an excellent self-care place to start.

What does sleep hygiene have to do with massage therapy?

As both a yoga therapist and a massage therapist, I wanted to do this little post on sleep because over the years I have had clients and patients who are specifically using massage as a sleep intervention. Back in my early days of massage, I worked at a number of locations that were open until 10 pm. I remember thinking, “who would want a massage that late?”. Those 9-10 pm spots were always booked though. It turns out, many people are NOT good at relaxing. They do not know how to send the message to their brain that it is time to turn off. They probably did not know what sleep hygiene was, but they had reached the conclusion that they needed HELP and they were getting it.

Massage therapist demonstrating Sleep hygiene for healthy sleep habits

I have always said loosely, that since massage is a passive intervention, that what I am really doing as a massage therapist is more of a complex mediation using touch, where I am teaching people to relax. Even with the massage treatments that I do that are more complex, for example a manual therapy treatment that is more movement based, I am trying to get you to move in a relaxed way and guiding you through that.

Those late night massages that I used to do did not come cheap! Not everyone has the means to spend $150 dollars a few days a week to help communicate with their brain that it needs to shut off. The good news is, sleep hygiene is free. Read on to see some of the basics I suggest as a Yoga Therapist. (p.s if you have children and have sleep trained, these steps might seem familiar to you or you can try them to help make bed better)

1. Do not try to sleep unless sleepy

Only try to sleep when you are actually tired. If you find that around bedtime you have no desire to sleep, you may need to move your bedtime or adjust some of your other habits discussed below. If you get into bed and find you can’t shut off, get out of bed and do something relaxing, then try again in 20 minutes.

2. Stick to a schedule

One of the best ways to tell your body it is time for bed is to keep a regular schedule. Going to sleep at the same time and waking at the same time (regardless of the day of the week) can help your body and mind know how to behave depending on the time of day.

3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol

If possible, avoid taking in caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine within 6 hours of bedtime. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can disrupt your natural sleep rhythms and your ability to fall asleep, alcohol is a depressant, and while it can encourage falling asleep in the short term, in the long term it disrupts the sleep cycles and your ability to get deep restful sleep.

4. Develop a pre-bed routine

Communicating with your nervous system that it is time to shut down can be hard. Doing the same thing every night as a soothing routine can help cue your body and mind that it is time for bed. Examples of quality sleep routines are: baths, meditation, self-massage, gentle stretching in a dim room, or drinking a ‘good night’ tea. Most people do well to avoid overly stimulating activities like checking the news or watching sports. Pick something that works for you and stick with it.

5. Use your bed primarily for sleeping

Help cue yourself that it is sleepy time by ONLY using your bed for bedroom activities. Refrain from eating, reading, watching TV, using your phone, or working in bed. This will help you associate your bed as a restful stress-free space away from the rest of the world.

6. No screen time before bed

TVs, computers, and phone screens give off blue light, which makes your brain think it’s the middle of the day. Set your timers for nighttime modes without blue light and do not use electronics within at least 30-60 minutes before bed. Make sure your dings and alerts are silenced so that your sleep is not accidentally disrupted.

7. Control your sleep environment

There are some common things that set the stage for good sleep that you can do in your home to create a sleep-friendly environment. Make sure the room is cool, dark, and quiet. If the room is not quiet, use a sound machine to fill the space with white noise or a sound you find relaxing. Blocking out the outside light can also be helpful, especially if you live in an area with ambient lighting. Have a blanket on hand, and consider experimenting with a weighted blanket.

Summing up…

Sleep is an important activity. We often think of sleep as passive because we are not up and doing things, but our body is in an active state of rest and digest. Massage therapy can be important in your sleep hygiene routine. In today’s world, it is easy to put emphasis on the more conscious active parts of life. It also may NOT feel natural or easy for you to communicate with your brain and tell it to slow down and prepare for the function of sleep. Taking the above steps into consideration is a great first step. The CDC recommended The American Alliance for Healthy Sleep for more information on sleep hygiene. It is also important to remember this is not a prescription, it is an assessment and a tool. You should check in with your care provider if your sleep issues persist.

You can read more on relaxing on or blog: Don’t tell me to relax!

Supporting Small Businesses in the Holiday Season of Covid

The Ultimate Guide to Paying it Forward to Small Business During Covid

 

It is no surprise that 2020 is a hard year for most people. As a small business owner, it has been especially challenging. Many New York businesses were closed upwards of four months at the start of the season representing crushing financial losses.  While most of us New Yorkers gripe about the big box stores coming in, New York is still mainly made up of small businesses, and those businesses represent jobs, and more importantly, people.

The SBDC of New York, which offers free business counseling for New York business, lists that small business makes up 99.9% of all business in New York. As a group, we made up 50.2% of the private workforce and employed 4.0 million people. That is a lot of people, of those, 708,962 of those are also minority/woman-owned. With the current situation, there is less money in people’s pockets which means less spending money, there is less foot traffic and many businesses have capacity restrictions on them (such as ours follow us @bodymechanicsnyc) that make paying the rent a challenge. As a community, we need to come together to support each other.

With that in mind I wanted to put together a list of things you, the public (or fellow small businesses) can do to help make sure your favorite Mom and POP’s make it through the winter.


Prime Guide Partners Logo

We reached out to PrimeGuide Partners, a social media marketing agency based in NYC, to get some advice on best FREE practices to support small businesses. They are women and minority-owned small businesses themselves. Here is the list of completely free tools most people have at their disposal. They recommended some of the following bolded tips. Be sure to follow @primeguide on Instagram for more social media advice:

  1. Posting a positive review to Yelp or Google. (or both) Posting reviews for a business is FREE marketing for them. It can also provide content for Google to crawl/read so it can affect how businesses come up in search, so putting words that include the neighborhood and service into their review can be extra helpful. Since Google is a huge search engine, it is preferred, especially since Yelp sometimes filters first-time reviewers.
  2. Following the business on Facebook and Instagram…and commenting on their posts. Prime Guide specified that “Engagement on a post can be as simple as a smiley face emoji or heart. It helps businesses understand what type of content is resonating with their audience. Also, posts with more active and thoughtful interactions will get more reach and help the business grow its online presence. And don’t forget to share on your page or story!”
  3. Feature the business in a story or post. If you have a favorite photographer or are remembering an event, remember to tag/geotag and give a shout out to the business involved. Telling your friends via a story that you just had your workout with your favorite trainer is literally invaluable.
  4. Recommend them online in social groups. While these kinds of recommendations do not come up in Google the same way reviews do, they are often more trusted as they are personal recommendations from online community groups. The thread may be searched over and over again by others looking for recommendations from real people that they trust. Trust is a high-value reward.
  5. Sign up for their mailing list. Signing up for a business mailing list can keep you aware of opportunities you might be interested in.
  6. Word of mouth referral. This one is old fashioned, but it works. Face to face referrals are trusted…and can build long-lasting relationships.

For industry-specific advice, we reached out to some of our other favorite businesses to see if they had ideas about things that might help them the most in the next few months.

Photography:

Katie Ward Photography
Katie Ward Photography

Katie Ward, a family photographer, is currently only offering outdoor shoots due to COVID. This has cut her season short since no one wants to have outdoor shoots when it gets cold. In addition to the suggestion of buying gift certificates for friends and family, or booking shoots now for next year, she also added that many photographers can provide prints and holiday cards for you as well. “I know that most of my clients are already planning on spending money to have prints and holiday cards made. What would be ideal is if they love my work, and the photos I provide to them, to make these purchases through me. The commissions from these purchases would be helpful in keeping me afloat during the winter when I can’t be shooting.”@katie_n_ward


Yoga Studios:

Due to both being labeled as exercise and being a face-to-face business, yoga studios have been hit hard. Yoga studios are not necessarily a place to go exercise, they are technically schools and community meeting places. We reached out to Teri from Park Slope Yoga and she had this to say:” There are many thoughts on what support looks like – and the longer this goes, the amounts required keep rising. Coming to class and purchasing online memberships seems obvious, but can be problematic to those who struggle with space (mental/physical) in NYC apartments. Our beautiful community has provided donations that have allowed us great benefit.” She recommended introducing your neighbors, friends, and coworkers to studios you love…this season it seems like it might be time to give the gift of yoga, after all it will be a gift that flows two ways. To help right now you can access on-demand yoga from their website rather than go to YouTube, and buy gently used props for home practice. Please check with your local studio for their offerings.  @parkslopeyoga


Fitness:

Luisa Noelle

Making it as a small fitness + wellness business on the other side of Covid requires flexibility, a focus on safety and quality more than ever.  We talked to Luisa Noelle about her personal training business and she said she has, “shifted about 80% of my fitness and yoga clients online.  My nutrition services were generally online already or shifted along with my personal training clients to online. 10% of clients have shifted to training outside.  As it’s getting colder, we are layering up and are still training outside.” While some gyms are open, it is at limited capacity and there are no classes, so now might be the time to start having some fitness dates at a distance. Being open to modifying your usual routine to train outside or online really helps. She also noted, because she took off 3 months in the pandemic, finding balance is hard, things can suddenly drop off, and “it’s hard to fit in the needed time for nonspecific client communication along with my other work-related tasks.  On the weeks where things sink to 5 sessions a week,  it’s hard to power work through a communications plan effectively due to change@noelleh33


Beauty:

Beauty industries have been hit hard because they are face to face and they were closed the longest. We talked to Hibba Kapil about her business Hibba Soho that specializes in waxing, threading, and eyebrow shaping about what she needs most. She said, “many people are reluctant to buy packages right now, due to the uncertainty of it all, but rest assured your packages will be there when this is over.” Buying them now is very helpful. She also said to enquire about other options if you do not want to come in. For example,  right now Hibba will come to you if you are in the NYC area for services over $100. Your whole pod can get pampered. Bottom line email the business and ask questions @hibbabeautystudio


Florists:

Stems Brooklyn
Stems Brooklyn

Businesses that produce things, like florists, gift basket makers, and personalized products face a different set of challenges altogether. We reached out to Suzanna Cameron of Stems Brooklyn, an eco-conscious florist in Bushwick to ask her about what would best help businesses such as her in this holiday season and she recommended, “To look for any items locally versus just going online to a big chain. And having patience with small businesses by understanding everyone is working more restricted services so that sometimes impacts how quickly you can get what you want.”. New York State has placed restrictions on business capacities and many mom and POP’s are now working with reduced staffing due to moves, finances, and staff changes. Buying local even when there is a big distributor for a service is super important right now. @stemsbrooklyn


Cafes:

Mojo Mousse Bar

We can all see what is happening to the restaurants and cafes….We have outdoor dining but winter is coming. We reached out to Jaqueline Assumpcao of Mojo Desserts on the Upper East Side to ask what she thought would be the best help. She had recently heard of something called a “‘cash mob‘, which is where groups of people come together and shower the business”. Buying in groups so the money really adds up, taking the initiative to organize and support your community can make a huge difference. And of course, if you’re wondering, order directly from the business. @mojodesserts


There are a LOT more suggestions. While I was putting this list together and talking to business owners, this website came out to support the UES Stores. Big thank you to the designers for taking the initiative. For businesses like mine, and massage therapy, that requires long face-to-face contact I would recommend contacting the city council for rent relief. In the end our survival depends on US working together as a community to keep the beautiful things we have built. I encourage you to tag, share, post, buy, recommend, ask questions about what you can do. Many small businesses are working at 25-50% capacity by law, and that does not cover the rent.

The other thing you can do is GET INVOLVED. There are things that could be legislated to help small businesses, but so far not much relief has been provided. If you have more ideas feel free to let us know!

Header photo by DiEtte Henderson on Unsplash

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