Simple ways to manage normal pregnancy-related back pain

Proudly owned by a Dyslexic

Kindly wear a mask & YES we are all vaccinated.

Body Mechanics NYC Gears Icon

Simple ways to manage normal pregnancy-related back pain

If you are having trouble managing pregnancy-related back pain, you are not alone. Having been a former pregnant person twice, I can tell you that the aches and pains pregnant people undergo for months are no joke. Your body undergoes large-scale changes to accommodate the growing baby. There are a lot of unseen changes to your body as well, including hormones, blood flow, and growing a whole new organ called the placenta. All of this lead to a number of aches and pains, including prenatal or pregnancy-related back pain. For most people, after they have checked with their doctor that the pain is normal, the advice for managing pain while pregnant does not include medication. With that in mind, we put together some tips to help.

Seek out safe pain-modifying activities, such as massage therapy, and acupuncture (we love Theresa Costigan Acupuncture). Both of these are generally safe for pregnant people. Even though you are under a doctor’s care while pregnant, it is always good to check to make sure this applies to you. It is also wise to choose massage providers that have experience in pregnancy-related back pain.

Use moderate local heat or cold. Generally, your doctor will tell you to avoid saunas, hot tubes, and hot baths as they all affect blood flow and blood pressure, but for the most part, local applications are fine and can be used to help ease aches in pains. In fact, in our massages, it is very normal for us to use cold compresses on the feet and a warm towel on the neck to help ease aches and pains. Pregnant women might enjoy a cold cloth on the forehead, wrists, feet, lower back, or sinuses. Heat might feel good on the upper back, neck, feet, or hips.

Move! It may feel like the last thing you want to do but moving is good for you and can be a natural analgesic. Walks, swimming, and yoga are typically recommended for pregnant women experiencing pregnancy-related back pain, but many women stick with their normal running, lifting, and other exercise programs. If in doubt, please check with your medical provider, as not all may apply to you.

Meditate or breathe. Stress levels are indirectly tied to your perception of pain. Often you can meditate and help reduce muscle tone by relaxing through a meditation practice. There is no need to become an expert, sitting pillowed and spending 2-5 minutes calming your breath can work wonders.

Self-massage or partner massage. Pain can be daily, and let’s face it, we cannot all go to the massage therapist every day. Do ask your prenatal massage therapist to show you how to perform safe self-massage with a ball or roller during your massage session. You can also ask your partner to massage you. They should use moderate pressure (ie it should not hurt) and they should avoid sensitive areas such as the sacrum, belly, and front of the neck since they do not know what they are doing.

We always advise that when in doubt, please check with your doctor. Many people think that they need to suffer back pain when they do not. Help is available, check with your team to find out which options are right for you at what stage of pregnancy.

next post:

Lymphatic massage: What is it and why it won’t make you lose weight?

What is lymphatic massage?

lymphatic system

To start let’s go over what exactly lymphatic massage is. It is a light touch massage modality. It focuses on skin depth manipulation of the epidermis, in an effort to move fluid through the body. Targets include the lymphatic capillaries and the lymph nodes. It is now common to see in spas, esthetics locations, medical offices, and massage clinics. Sessions might start with deep breathing, followed by central node pumping, then peripheral node pumping, and then the skin is lightly pulled rhythmically to stimulate the lymphatic vessels. Frequently you might see it in the medical massage world or spa world.

What are the claims and misconceptions of lymphatic massage?

One of the big misconceptions I see in the lymphatic massage world is that lymphatic massage is great for weight loss, or that it can make you thinner. I hear this both from clients/patients and also I see it in advertising. It is unclear why exactly this claim is knocked around but it likely stems from the idea that this massage somehow ‘cleans you out’ and the fact that many massages actually will plump up the skin a bit due to increased circulation from the tactile input. There is also a tendency in the wellness industry to try to create a problem to fix with a treatment, and this is one of those situations. But I have to tell you, if I could truly slim you down with a rub, I would get paid a lot more. 

This is particularly challenging when clients come in having already booked a session and we have to mediate their expectations. We do have the FAQ on our website, unfortunately, many people obviously book based on their personal understanding, which may be flawed to unethical advertising, and previous providers selling them needed unethical treatment. One of our missions is to help dispel myths with education both for therapists and for patients so we frequently publish content related to education.

What does the research say about it? 

So if it does not thin you down, what does lymphatic massage it do? Well, there is quite a lot of debate not that and the research is rather opaque. Check out this kindly-worded 2009 study that says ‘Manual lymphatic drainage techniques remain a clinical art founded upon hypotheses, theory, and preliminary evidence.’ Or this meta-analysis from 2020 that did not find that lymphatic massage significantly reduced swelling of breast cancer patients. 

One could begin to think that lymphatic massage was never indicated, but before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, lets look at some of the clinical reasons lymphatic massage can be useful to someone who is compromised in some way.

So what does this massage do?

  • Touch seems to be an important part of the human experience. Many people who have some sort of lymphatic compromise, cannot have more traditional kinds of touch. Lymphatic massage provides a safe structure for that. 
  • Stimulating the surface of the skin does cause some blood flow modification, bringing blood closer to the surface, which in turn might have an effect on lymphatics but not necessarily swelling. In general the body seems to like these kinds of dermal changes and they make us feel good. 
  • Lymphatic massage is often performed post surgically to help modulate pain when deeper touch cannot be performed 
  • Lymphatic massage is often performed along side exercise rather than replacing it. In essence feeling better can help you feel better about moving. 
  • Lymphatic massage can put you into a state of rest and digest. 
  • We are treating humans not statistics. 

Who seeks out this kind of massage?

massage on the side of head

Generally, the people seeking out this massage want to feel better. It is not typically a treatment, such as a deep tissue that is about the ‘feeling’ so it is extra important therapists and practitioners are ethical in their marketing and claims. The patient population we see at Body Mechanics is generally post-surgical, post-mastectomy, or has an underlying health condition such as: chronic pain, Lyme disease, M.S, cancer, or lymphedema. We also occasionally see people for general health reasons, but the reason they seek lymphatic massage is in essence, to feel better. 

If you are looking for a lymphatic massage, choose a practitioner who is marketing ethically, who is well trained, and you trust. Your dollar has power. If you love lymphatic massage, there is no reason to stop if you have found out it does not do what you think it does. Enjoying something is a valid form of self-care. If you have questions about lymphatic massage we are happy to answer. You can reach us at info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Common Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them During the NYC Marathon

Why Inuries occur at events like the NYC Marathon

NYC Marathon at Marcus Garvey Park
New York Marathon, Marcus Garvey Park

In the coming weeks the Marathon will be upon us and many hundreds of thousands of people are training for it as I type. This is always an exciting time, but today even more so since the NY Marathon was sadly cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. If there is a bright side to that, it’s that many of the participants had an entire year to train for this year’s event. Hopefully that will mean we see less injuries, more record times, more participants and more new runners.

There is no way through this beast of an event other than training hard, consistently and, most importantly, training smart. I hate to say it but there is always the possibility of a runner getting injured due to overtraining, under training, inadequate nutrition, lack of information or being new to running. With these things in mind, we can make informed decisions in our workouts to minimize our chances of getting injured while accomplishing our ultimate goals. Whether that goal is finishing number one or finishing at all, we can get there without hurting ourselves. Below I will list 3 possible injuries that a runner might experience during training or the marathon. These injuries are usually caused by repetitive use.

Common running injuries

  1. Runner’s Knee (patellofemoral syndrome) – This injury is self explanatory. This is an injury to the knee mainly caused by over-usage. A runner may experience pain on the kneecap or around the knee.
  1. IT Band Syndrome (iliotibial band syndrome) – The IT band is a fascial sheath that runs down the lateral aspect of your thigh that tends to pull in different directions by hypertonic or tight muscles that are connected to it, such as your lateral hamstring and/ or your lateral quadriceps and/ or your TFL (tensor fascia latae). A runner may experience hip or knee pain due to a repeated rubbing or friction to the IT band to the bone, especially around the later aspect of your knee. The pain becomes more pronounced when you bend the knee.
  1. Achilles Tendinitis – Your Achilles tendon is what connects your calf muscle to your heel. We wouldn’t be able to walk without it, let alone run. There are many reasons why a runner may develop Achilles tendinitis but a common one is super tight calves and/ or weak calves that puts stress on the Achilles leading to inflammation of the tendon – hence the name! This can make it very painful to walk, especially if the tendon isn’t warmed up. Athletes who suffer from this injury will notice, upon taking the first few steps after being stationary for a period of time, that it will be extremely painful at first then the pain subsides.

Now I’m going to list prevention strategies a runner should consider before training and before the marathon.

Preventing injury while running

Body Mechanics Sports Therapists Emanuel Gomez headshot
A Sports Massage Therapist and Personal Trainer, Emanuel! Check out his bio .
  1. A proper warm up – There is nothing more valuable than a proper warm up. It’s one of the tenets of injury prevention across the board. Making sure that you get a proper full body warm up will get your body and mind ready for the activity.
  1. Increasing your running volume slowly – This is very important if you want to increase your fitness level properly and safely without hitting a wall. Many inexperienced athletes will try to bite more than they can chew and end up either getting injured or becoming discouraged because they couldn’t handle the load. So, make sure you increase your volume slowly and methodically in order for you to develop your strength and endurance the right way.
  2. Cross training – Many athletes are so dedicated to their craft that they won’t deviate from their primary sport. However, cross training can be very beneficial for improving your overall athleticism for your primary sport. For instance, consider weight lifting for running. Light weight training can strengthen the core, hips, balance and coordination: all things that a runner needs. An amazing tool for injury prevention.

The NYC Marathon is a big deal and historical event, but participating doesn’t mean you need to completely sacrifice your body. Take the precautions I’ve laid out here and find a healing sports massage to minimize your chances of a major injury. Good luck!

athletes back pain biceps Body Mechanics Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage consent Covid covid-19 fascia work health care healthcare home care intra-oral massage manual therapy massage massage NYC massage nyc. running injuries Massage therapist Massage therapy Meddical Massage Myofascia new york new york city nyc nyc massage orthopedic massage orthopedics pain pain low back pain pain science posture pregnancy prenatal care prenatal massage Preventative Care running science based small buisness Sports massage stretches tendinitis therapist profile tmd tmj training

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Back Pain & Knee Pain: Body Mechanics’ Orthopedic Study Corner

Our second look at recent studies and findings in the world of body and movement science!

massage therapist matt

Welcome back to Body Mechanics Study Corner where we do all the research so you don’t have to! Actually, Matt does all the research. Normally he does this to satiate his own thirst for knowledge and drive to learn any findings that could make him a better massage therapist, but once again we are offering up the fruits of his labor up to you all. We hope you find it enlightening and interesting.

Reads

What are the Major Contributing Factors to Osteoarthritis Knee Pain?

Many people suffer with knee pain and many people are given a list of different things that could be causing that pain. Todd Hargrove, of Physio Network, sought out to get to the bottom at the issue and find the real root of the issue.  He analyzed a study comparing general health workshops, high load strength training, and low load strength training for people with knee osteoarthritis, to see which method produced the most relief. Interestingly, he found that all three methodologies produced about the same amount of results, meaning the most important factor was the work being something the person would actually do consistently. These findings debunk the notions of “wear and tear” being the vague, inevitable, problem causing these osteoarthritis knee issues. 

Videos

Pinpointing Pain Along the Scapula

In the video above, physical therapist Marc Surdyka DPT discusses why most pain felt along the medial border of the scapula is actually referred from the structures of the neck. Without addressing habitually poor conditions such as sleep quantity and quality, and a lack of breaks when sitting for a long time, chronic shoulder pain will return no matter how much you roll your back out and stretch.

Interview with Dr. Mark Laslett on SI Joint Pain

This is a long one, but if you’re interested in Sacroiliac Joint pain then this is the video for you! Sports therapist Matt Phillips interviews Mark Laslett PT PhD about all things SI joint pain. Dr. Laslett is a true giant in the world of musculoskeletal physiotherapy, with over 50 years of experience as both a treating clinician and research scientist. Dr Laslett discusses the extra joint pain women feel when pregnant and theorizes that the cause of SI joint pain may, in fact, be chemical and not physical!

Research

What’s Really Helping Our Back Pain After Exercise

Working out and getting a massage to address your lower back issues are a surefire path to pain relief, right? Maybe not! This systematic review examined 16 studies to see if the reason exercise therapy really improves pain and disability levels in people. Surprisingly, the takeaway here is that brain functions and psychological health may have a bigger impact on chronic back pain, than regular exercise.

Bdy Mechanics Sports Massage Therapist showing cow pose for home care back pain presentation

Will Clients Do Their Homework?

Home-care is an important part of healing and strengthening. But what can we, as massage therapists, do to get clients to actually do the work at home? A study found at the National Library of Medicine tracked the progress of over a hundred military service people in physical therapy. It found that the recovering clients who had 4 or more exercises were far less likely to complete their at home work than the ones who were given only 2. From this, healthcare providers can see that it’s more important to be practical with a client’s home care notes, instead of giving them a long regimen of all the most effective exercises.  

Thanks for reading! Use the comments below to let us know what findings you found most interesting or if you have a contradictory idea about anything here. Also, let us know if you want to see a certain theory researched or explained in our next post.