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Medical Massage Therapist Profile – Veronica

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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.

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

Sports and Medical Massage Therapist Profile – Zachary

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage is happy to introduce you to another new member of our team! Meet Zachary – a dancer, performer, mover and shaker. Zachary’s expressive and empathetic personality assists him in getting to the root of the problem with his clients, to fix issues they weren’t even aware were causing them distress.

Zachary gave us a peek behind the curtain as to what makes his sports massage therapy special and effective.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage Sports Therapist Zachary
Zachary Koval Sports Massage Therapist

What is your background and what drew you to sports?

 Zachary – I was a soccer player growing up and I competed in the NYC triathlon a few years ago. I was also a personal trainer for several years, and have spent a good portion of my life in the weight room doing resistance training.

How long have you been training or working at it?

ZacharyBeing healthy and using my body to its fullest potential has been something that I’ve always enjoyed and been focused on. As I witnessed my father deal with chronic pain, illness, and physical disability through the years, I took it as inspiration to work (and play) to make sure my own body would last and allow me to enjoy every moment with it.

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

ZacharyI first fell in love with bodywork through learning Thai massage. I was introduced to it as a recovery modality in the acro-yoga community I was a part of. In Thai massage the practitioner uses their whole bodies to stretch and support the receiver with acupressure and assisted yoga postures. It becomes almost a dance between the two.
I carry that energy and intention in my work, as I integrate my training and my own movement practices, even while just using my hands. There is a silent dialogue, conversation, and dance that is occurring, that provides a fluidity and deep connection throughout my work.

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.

Zachary –  I’ve often been of the personal mindset to just push through the pain. But in training for the triathlon, my body definitely got over taxed and I quickly learned the importance of allowing time for recovery and self-care

What are your favorite kinds of people to work on? 

 Zachary People who either already have a strong connected sense to their body or are open to developing that mind-body connection. Not everyone is able to articulate where, exactly, their pain but through a bit of light conversation I can phish the info out of them during their sports massage, but the ones who know exactly how I can help them are my favorites.

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

Zahary I love gymnastics! Shapes and poses that seem to defy gravity, and yet through dedication and training somehow go from feeling impossible to becoming possible. And for a sport- I’ve always wanted to try Kitesurfing.

Tell us a little bit about some of the other hobbies you enjoy

ZacharyI’m a mover and dancer. Active in many ways- yoga and acro yoga, cycling, swimming, hiking, dancing, contact improv. I’m also a performer and love working in collaborative and physical theatre.

What sets your sports massage apart from anyone else?

Zachary I find that having a strong somatic understanding of my own body, combined with anatomical and physiological knowledge, has led to an strong intuitive sense of how to work with others’ bodies. By moving, stretching and sometimes injuring my body over the years, when a client and I narrow down their issue I can work fluidly through all the sports massage modalities I have trained in, from swedish to myofascial or neurofascial release, to trigger point orThai, to work out their issues with the perfect method.

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

ZacharyI traveled across the country for a year after college dressed as Baloo the bear, performing in and directing children’s theater.

If you had a superpower what would it be?

ZacharyThe ability to pause time so that I could read and learn uninterrupted.

What was the last book you read?

ZacharyThe Overstory by Richard Powers. Life changing. Highly recommended.

Take a look at our other massage therapist profiles!

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

World Health Day and Facing the Oversexualization and Dehumanization in Massage

2020 was likely the first time many people heard so much news directly from the World Health Organization so it wouldn’t be surprising if this is the first time you’re hearing of World Health Day. It isn’t not marked on many calendars but April 7th 1948 was the day the WHO was established and is now the day they create many campaigns to raise awareness of serious, imminent global health issues. Last year’s theme spurred by the surging number of COVID-19 cases, was to foster an appreciation of nurses and midwives, the people at the forefront of the most precarious and daunting medical situations during the pandemic.

This year’s World Health Day theme is  Creating a Healthier World. WHO’s goal is to have international agenies address inequalities in the perception and treatment of different social groups. This directive can be seen as a lesson learned from COVID-19 and the fallout surrounding the pandemic . One inequality that we see more and more each day (especially as New Yorkers) is a rise in racism and violence toward people of Aisan descent. We here at Body Mechanics emphatically denounce these heinous acts and stand in support of the Asian people and communities who have been affected by this senseless and unjust hatred.

Massage in Media

The world of massage can sometimes contribute to the negative light that paints how society views Asian people, and it is up to us as part of the massage community to push back against these ideas. Racist and sexist ideas often develop because a certain group of people have been dehumanized by another. When we don’t have to look at someone as a fellow human, we don’t have to offer them respect, understanding, or empathy. Without those things, abuse, intolerance, and hate can grow. The media and general culture of American society dehumanizes massage in three major ways: attaching mystic orientalism to massage practice, conflating massage with sexual favors, and minimizing female massage workers as only sexual objects.

Movies, shows, or books that refer to Asian-run massage establishments as “rub and tug joints” or making jokes about getting a happy ending whenever someone mentions massage gives a bad connotation to both sex work and massage. Believing that there’s a secret, dirty code you can give any massage therapist to receive a sexual favor reduces the person and the work they do to being a dirty secret. The people working with our bodies deserve the same respect we’d give any professional.

Respect must also be given to the cultures from which we in the West have taken and commodified certain massage practices. From “namaste” tattoos, to Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, to any stereotypical; Dragon Lady character, the history of stereotyping and other-ing Asian culture runs deep. The same applies for massage techniques of Asian origin.

Discussing Orientalism in Medicine with Nick Ng

Body Mechanics sat down with Nick Ng, founder and editor at Massage and Fitness Magazine and spoke about his personal experience traversing the world of massage education as an Asian American.

Body Mechanics: Why do you think Asian women tend to be sexualized in massage settings?

“Orientalism began in the 13th century, but the fantasies and misrepresentations it provoked stretch through media and text all the way to the present. The fetishization of Asian women in a massage setting has its roots in Orientalism.”

Body Mechanics: In the past, you’ve spoken about how Orientalism is common in health and wellness. Can you explain some of the ways the misrepresentations of Orientalism manifest in massage therapy?

There’s a gap in the understanding of the language between the Japanese and Chinese language to the Indo-European language. Other than my [ethnically] Japanese teacher, everyone else [in massage therapy school] misinterpreted a lot of the meanings of the Chinese narratives and even the language and the characters themselves when they mention about Traditional Chinese Medicine. And I’m just rolling my eyes in class and I try not to voice out, but nobody challenged it. And it gets passed on to clients, it gets passed onto media, it gets passed on to each generation of massage therapists.

A lot of therapists who study these Asian massage therapies or other Indigenous types of bodyworks, they do not understand the culture and the history and the language of the people who first practiced it. And it’s a sign of colonialization. …what [American therapists and educators] don’t realize is that a lot of these techniques and narratives also have their own identity. Like Lomi Lomi has its own Hawaiian narrative, Shiatsu has its own Japanese narrative, Thai massage has its own narrative. And there is an issue with cultural appropriation where they leverage these cultures. They use these techniques to leverage for their own thing.”

Body Mechanics: Is there a way for someone who is not from these cultures to teach or practice in a way that still honors and respects these cultures?

Really spend the time and energy to try to fully understand the history of the cultures from where the techniques come from rather than just using the techniques for personal gain.

We here at Body Mechanics hope that on this World Health Day, this post shows the proper respect to the people and cultures from which many massage therapists derive the skills and knowledge they use to help their clients and patients. A healthier world doesn’t just mean getting medical representation of at risk groups but creating a safer world for the people currently at a higher risk of being attacked, mistreated, stereotyped and taken advantage of.


By Matt Danziger and Ken Douglas

Related reading:
Science-based Educators for Massage Therapy

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!