Simple ways to manage normal pregnancy-related back pain

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Simple ways to manage normal pregnancy-related back pain

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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.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

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Do you want a Massage or a Rub?

Massage or a Rub?

We thought it might be a good idea to do a little post on the difference between a massage and a rub. Often these two things are confused, used interchangeably and the general public might not know that there is a difference.

As a massage therapist, there is definitely a difference. We get a little prickly when what we do is considered a ‘rub’. Let’s be clear here, there is nothing wrong with a good rub, but it is not the same as a trained massage. Certain areas of the world actually have ‘rub downs’ culturally. You can go to Thailand and have your feet rubbed daily on the street for a few dollars. I myself enjoyed this immensely when I was staying there for many months.

Before we go any further let’s look at the dictionary definition of the words Rub and Massage. 


Definition of Massage and Rub

Rub: verb (used with object), rubbed, rub·bing.

to subject the surface of (a thing or person) to pressure and friction, as in cleaning, smoothing, polishing, coating, massaging, or soothing:

to rub a table top with wax polish; to rub the entire back area.

to move (something) back and forth or with a rotary motion, as against or along another surface:

to rub the cloth over the glass pane.

Massage: noun

the act or art of treating the body by rubbing, kneading, patting, or the like, to stimulate circulation, increase suppleness, relieve tension, etc.

Slang. attentive or indulgent treatment; pampering:

ego massage.

verb (used with object), mas·saged, mas·sag·ing.

to treat by massage.

Slang. to treat with special care and attention; coddle or pamper:

The store massages its regular customers with gifts and private sales.

Informal.to manipulate, maneuver, or handle skillfully:to massage a bill through the Senate.
to manipulate, organize, or rearrange (data, figures, or the like) to produce a specific result, especially a favorable one:The auditors discovered that the company had massaged the books.


Even by definition alone, we can start to see the difference. The word rub is associated with repetition and non-outcome-based techniques. While the word massage is much more active and implies a system.

What is the difference?

back massage

Frequently a rub is given by someone who has not gone through a specific training process or is licensed, and a massage is associated more with someone who has completed those things. Although that may not always be the case, depending on where you are regionally and what the laws are.

In NYS and many other places the title  ‘Massage Therapist’ is a protected term. In NYS that title can only be used by Massage Therapists and Massage Therapy itself can only be applied by Massage Therapists or by other practitioners who may have a higher designation that allows for massage within it. 

Body rubs, bodywork, or massage (with no therapy in it) are typically listed at places providing the service of some kind of rubdown. This is because they cannot use the title of massage therapy. NYC has some excellent places to get a rub or shiatsu. There is a whole cult following to many of these places, they are so good. 

Are both massages and rubs good for you? 

Heck yes! Both massage and a rub can be important parts of self-care routines. As an example, you might give your body a nice rub with oils nightly to apply cream or relax, or you might massage an area that is overtired or sore after a workout.

Or if someone else is applying the touch for you, a simple rub on the beach or from a partner could go a long way to making you feel better. As could a skilled massage from a massage therapist. 

So how do you know what to pick as a client? 

To be honest there is some discretion here. As mentioned above, massage and rubs do both offer a level of self-care that is extremely important to wellness. There are some things to take into consideration when deciding what kind of practitioner to book. Here are some thoughts to ponder. 

  • Are you seeking touch for a reason?

Depending on what the reason is, you may lean one way or the other. If you need simple stress management and want to pop in for 30 minutes somewhere multiple times a week, a rub might be the right choice for you. If however, you need something quite specific, then you might choose a massage. I have to be honest, we do get a fair bit of traffic from people who have had stiff necks and went and got a ‘rub’ first at their favorite nail salon and it did not go well. 

  • Are you concerned about safety and or have any underlying conditions?

If you have any underlying medical conditions, you probably want to see someone who will do a health care intake as part of the process. Touch can always go wrong so it is best to see someone who has some training.

  • Is cost an issue for you?

Generally, ‘rubs’ tend to be cheaper than ‘massages’ so in a pinch if this is a concern for you try looking at the reviews and find someone well suited to your price range

  • Do you want touch that is directed to you rather than general? 

If you are seeking touch for a specific reason such as training, range of motion or pain, you probably want to see a massage therapist and pick one that has experience in outcome-based treatment. 

  • Insurance

We always want things to go right, but sometimes they do not. I have never had to use mine, but licensed massage therapists carry insurance that backs their services much like other medical practitioners. Additoinally if you are using HSA, FSA or billing through your insurance company, they may require a licenced practioner.

  • Length of Time and Scheduling

Rubs are often sold in minutes. You can usually pick a 10, 15, 20, 25 minute period based on exactly what time you have. Massages on the other hand are usually booked in sessions of 60 minutes or 90 minutes. 

Oftentimes (but not always), rubs have a walk-in element whereas massages typically book in advance and require an intake (but not always).

  • Associations/Connotations 

This one gets a little tricky as there are a lot of great places that offer ‘rubs’ or Thai massage that are totally reputable, but some unlicensed massage does include human trafficking and that is something we should all be aware of and keep vigilant about. 

Summing up

owner and massage therapistof Body Mechanics Massage LMT Beret Loncar

Of course, we are partial to massages as we are licensed, massage therapists. We specialize in outcome-based treatment for chronic and occasional problems. We coexist happily with places offering bodywork of other kinds, as what we do is different from what they do, but it may not always be apparent to the layperson when they are trying to decide who to see. 

Regardless of what is right for you, self-care is an important part of your wellness. We do recommend you practice some form of it: be it massage, rubs, walks in the park, yoga, steams or reading. Take care of yourself or let someone else do it for you. And of course, we are always happy to be the ones to do it for you.

Sincerely, your friendly local massage therapist

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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


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

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Massage Therapists and the TCS NYC Marathon

Introduction to the New York City Marathon and Massage

Every year we take part in the NYC Marathon by supporting runners in their health care journeys. We see runners of all kinds, new runners, experienced marathon runners, runners with disabilities who all have one thing in common, they think massage would be a benefit to their marathon training.

This year we were lucky enough to have one of our therapists Emanuel participate. Take a look at what he had to say about the experience.

The role of Massage therapists at the TCS NYC Marathon

Body Mechanics Sports Therapists Emanuel Gomez headshot
Emanuel Gomez

Hello there, my name is Emanuel Gomez, and I am a Licensed Massage Therapist and a Personal Trainer. I specialize in Sports Massage. I volunteered as a medical staff member for the 50th anniversary of the NYC marathon. This was a great opportunity to work alongside other medical professionals to help runners get back on their feet after running 26.2 miles. The kind of training you must have as a Licensed Massage Therapist for this particular event is how to treat an athlete post-competition. A lot of the athletes needed to be treated for muscle cramping and/ or muscular aches after the race. My job at the event was to assess the athletes to see whether the athlete was cramping due to dehydration, which was the case for many of them or if they experienced any muscular injuries throughout the race such as a tear for example, which can be treated through massage. From there you apply the appropriate massage treatment according to their condition. 

Why The Marathon Needs Volunteer Healthcare Workers

Emanuel at the Marathon

The volunteer experience was great and a bit intense since our tent was the medical tent where the more severe of cases were. The cases ranged from a mild muscle strain or cramping to complete dehydration and hypo/hyperthermia. One particular runner that we received was suffering from dehydration and hyperthermia and had a core temperature of 103 degrees. He had to be submitted to the ICU immediately.

In his case he seemed moderate upon arrival until he settled down. At first he felt cold and his legs were cramping. We gave him salt packages and Gatorade to alleviate the cramping and we provided gentle stretching and massage. But he then started to shiver aggressively. Our team applied heavy blankets on him and provided him with soup but he still wasn’t warming up. Our Captain Physician decided to take his rectal temperature and read 103. A more extreme treatment approach was needed. He was sent to the ICU where we monitored his heart rate and blood pressure. We applied ice packs to his axillary areas and groin to bring down his core temperature. An IV was inserted into his arm to continue to rehydrate him and eventually he recovered. This case was one of the more severe ones that we encountered.

          However, not all cases were like this. Depending on the degree of the runner’s condition we provided the appropriate treatment. If it’s muscle cramping or a strain, then that’s when LMT and PT get involved. We made sure we ran down a check list of conditions to an incoming subject to get a picture of what treatment the runner will receive. LMTs and PTs were amongst the busiest since we had to deal with the mildest of cases like muscle cramping and strains which were the more common of complaints.

Summing Up the Massage Therapist Role in the Marathon

After such a demanding event like the marathon, I recommend a post-event recovery massage approximately 24 to 48hrs after to mitigate DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which can be debilitating especially for newer runners. I conclude by saying that this was a fantastic experience, to see all the disciplines from Physicians, to Podiatrists, to ER emergency workers, to PT and LMT to even Psychologists working together and performing their specialty in helping the athletes get better was very inspiring. Every medical staff member had a job to do in the marathon.

      This experience is great for old and new therapists who would like to work in a sports environment with a team of other disciplines. If you do decide to participate as a volunteer in future marathons, prepare to be on your feet all day and moving around as you will be going from station to station helping runners. Typically, the day will be long, we are talking from 8 30 to about 6 30pm.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Massage Therapy Treatments for Low Back Pain

Introduction to back pain

Low back pain is surprisingly common among all Americans and is one of the foremost reasons we miss work. Based on that it is not surprising that we are always looking for ways to solve, treat, or rid ourselves of nagging back pain. The truth is though, our medical system is not the best at treating it.

I am a massage therapist and I love massage therapy but I will be the first to tell you, the number one recommended treatment for back pain is not massage therapy; it is movement. Let’s first clarify what I mean by “recommended.” When I say that what I mean is supported by research and recommended by experts in back pain. Unfortunately that does not mean that recommendation is actually reaching the people in pain. Our medical system is so saturated with other noise that it’s hard for people navigating within the system to find what is best for them.

When you’re ready to a seek medical Massage Therapy Treatment

I gave a short list of questions to go through in a previous post so here’s a condensed version. If you are coming into Body Mechanics for back pain the first thing you need to know is; it is best to come in 3-5 days after an initial injury. You need to be able to lie comfortably on the table during treatment. Please come in unmedicated as well. It is very important that you can accurately feel what is happening to your body while receiving your massage. If you are coming in for more chronic kinds of back pain, the kind that rears its ugly head every once in a while but that you  are very familiar with, you can come anytime – but you may want to time your visit based on the cycle of this chronic pain.

Low back pain can be nonspecific but even without a diagnosis, we can divide it up into a few subcategories:

  • Back pain that is more related to the hip
  • Back pain that is more sacral
  • Back pain that is more located around the spine
  • Pain that is more muscle spasm related to the area between the hip and the last ribs.

We can get into the individual diagnosis, but it may not matter so much in terms of massage therapy because we are treating symptoms. For example, you may hear that massage therapy is treating any of the following: sacroiliac joint pain, labral tears, bursitis, tendinopathy, disc degeneration, disc herniation, nerve impingement or stenosis.

Saying we are treating a spesific pathogy is slightly off  base. We are more managing your body’s response to its pathology.

Massage Therapy for Back Pain that is hip-dominant or is stemming from labral tear, cam impingement or other hip dysfunction

It is important to note that even though the issue may be in the hip, the pain might be felt in other areas, this is called referred pain

We treat back pain that stems from the hip will in a slightly different way than a back injury. Functionally, this type of pain often appears to create spasm in the glutes, the rotators of the hip and the piriformis. It is essential that a massage address these areas fully. Ideally, and with sufficient time, the hamstrings and the back would also need to be treated.

The area should be thoroughly warmed with massage and/or a heating pad first. Restoring internal and external rotation to the hip through range of motion, active release and mobilizations often significantly helps relieve symptoms. Additionally, as the muscles have a lot of bulk, the glutes need to be treated. I frequently work by creating a lot of slack by putting clients into what I call the “froggy position.” I find it helps to relive the trigger points without causing the patient a lot of undue pain. Depending on the type of injury, relief might be temporary or longer-lasting.

Hands massaging the low back
Body Mechanic Licensed Massage Therapist treating hip-dominant pain

Using Massage Therapy Treatment to treat Back Pain that is from Acute injury

If you are coming in for an acute injury treatment is far different. Ideally you would be coming in after you have a diagnosis, and you are out of the initial stages of healing (again, we recommend 3-5 days after injury.) There must be no open wounds, active infection or swelling. That being said, if you are too uncomfortable for massage in the area that is directly affected, there is a fair bit of research that indicates that working with one area of the body can affect another. Check out this research on stretching the hamstrings affecting neck’s range of motion.

Essentially, a massage therapist who is skilled is going to be able to get you more comfortable while you heal. They’ll do this by working on another body part and by just generally relaxing the nervous system. 

Massage for acute areas of pain must be gentle, and focus on relieving discomfort rather than gaining function. Heat or ice may be applied to the back depending on what feels better. Soft strokes such as effleurage, scooping, and techniques that lift the surface of the skin like cupping, might all be utilized. As the massage expands towards the periphery, the strokes can become deeper. If movement is in the therapist’s scope of practice, breathing and tense and relax exercises can all help to signal to the body that it is time for the area that is affected to relax and un-brace. 

Addressing chronic back pain with Massage Therapy Treatment

Massage for back pain that is from a chronic injury is where massage therapy really excels. It is generally safe to use a wide variety of depth, massage strokes and movement. The hips, low back, glutes, and mid-back can all be treated safely and effectively. Ideally, due to their size and potential to create tension in the back, the glutes and rotators are treated first with both movement and massage. Then the therapist would move on to treat the erector muscles along the spine and quadratus lumborum (the deepest abdominal muscle) with stripping and trigger point therapy.

Since therapists have the option to choose from many massage therapy modalities, the best techniques to use are the ones that 1) The patient enjoys, and 2) Are most effective for the situation. Some people naturally respond better to movement, tense and relax, stroking, trigger point or fascia work. Here good listening skills both with the hands and the ears are very useful in deciding how to proceed.

Sacroiliac joint issues and Massage Therapy Treatments

Massage therapy for SI joint issues has a very different plan than other massage therapy plans. The SI joints are small joints to the left and right sides of the sacrum. They have very little movement, and in fact over time, the movement reduces, but they cause a great deal of pain for many people. Since the pain is radiating from a bony area that often feels inflamed and pinched, many people feel relief through ice application to the joint.

Additionally, since it is a joint, we can relieve the tension on it by making sure the muscles around it are relaxed. Treating the quadratus lumborum and the glutes (specifically the cute medius) seem to provide the most relief. Massage and stretching can be applied to these areas to provide the sensation of even pressure across the joint, which helps to relieve the pain.

Summing up

Beret Loncar Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer and Yoga Therapist

There are many different kinds of low back pain and they can present in different ways. While movement is the best way to address it, I think I’ve pointed out some specific and effective ways Massage Therapy can be used to help people in pain. Provided the therapist pays close attention to what kind of massage techniques are safe. Based on where the issues are stemming from and listening closely to the patient’s body and preferences, massage therapy can be a helpful treatment. If you would like to talk to us about what treatment options are right for you, you can reach out to us, send an email at info@BodymechanicsNYC.com!

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Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Can Massage Therapy Help My Lower Back Pain?

Can Massage Therapy Help My Lower Back Pain?

Can massage therapy help my pain? The answer to this question is more complicated than you would think. Massage Therapy research is all over the map. For starters, there are some inherent conflicts with the studies because people LIKE massages. And people are more likely to choose massage over another treatment that they do not like, even if something else could be more effective.

Back Pain is Common

To examine how others have answered the question, let’s start by taking a look at lower back pain in general. Did you know it is normal to have some pain sometimes? Lower back pain is the 2nd most common cause of disability in the USA and a surprisingly common cause of missed work. 80% of Americans will have an episode of low back pain in their lifetime. So you are not alone if your back is feeling achy and sad. 

Back Pain is Often Non-Spesific

Medical professionals are historically bad at treating lower back pain. You might have experience with a doctor suggesting a list of seemingly unrelated treatments for your pain, like throwing a dart at a target with their eyes closed, hoping for a bullseye. That may be because the WHO lists that 60-70% of back pain is “Non-specific,” meaning the cause is unknown. cause.  If we do not know what the cause is, planning the treatment becomes extremely difficult. The National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke lists about 30 different possible causes and contributing factors to back pain alone. 

Research is Complicated and Low Quality

To complicate matters, though massage has excellent research supporting the treatments of both depression and anxiety, the research is rather underwhelming in the area of back pain. Instead, movement is often the recommended treatment. However, massage can incorporate things that are not massage; On table exercise, stretching, mobilizations, and resistance might also be included in your message. So the research that measures the effectiveness of just massages on back pain, isn’t really accurate when a therapist is including these other treatments to help you recover.

Body Mechanics Sports Massage Therapist Matt performing a lower back massage NYC
Sports Massage Therapist Matt massaging a client’s back. Photo credit Adam Ninyo

Pain is Complicated

Muddying the matter further, pain in your back may not solely be caused by an injury. Going back to that WHO the number of 60-70% of back pain being nonspecific, many of us have back pain that chronically exists and isn’t a reaction to a movement or standing or bending. Pain is generated for a number of reasons, the number one being to protect you. Your nervous system takes into a number of variables such as your medical history, your environment, your mental state, your sensitivity, your general physical health and more, before it generates pain as a warning. 

So how do you know if massage is for you and your  back pain?

It is a hard question. I suggest you ask yourself the following:

Massage therapist treating low back pain

  1. Is it safe? I recommend having a diagnosis from a doctor and being out of the range of acute pain before coming in. Even when the diagnosis is “non-specific back pain,” it’s important to rule out other injury as the culprit. Being able to lay still and be touched for the duration of the massage is important, so if your back is too sensitive to touch, wait a day or two.
  2. Am I seeking an alternative route of pain management? When natural and over-the-counter options aren’t up to the task, massage can be a powerful ally in pain mitigation.
  3. Do I like it? If you enjoy being touched and it makes you feel safe, that can be advantageous. Our mental well-being affects the physical, so the boost from treating yourself and the physical connection of massage could help with your pain.
  4. Am I using it in addition with another rehab? If you are in physical therapy, massage can loosen up tight muscles and make a big difference in increasing ease of movement.
  5. Am I additionally stressed or depressed? If you’re burning the candle at both ends or in a stressful time, massage might really help. The trauma of being injured itself can be very stressful and so managing that can be a huge boost to recovery.
  6. Has massage worked for me before? If you have a history of massage working for you it is a good bet that it will work again!

If you answered yes to a few of those questions, then massage therapy might be a great choice for you and your back pain. Check out our booking options for medical massage to see if is right for you:) 

Stay tuned for our next blog on what goes into a good massage for back pain.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

BERET’S REVIEW OF ROCKTAPE FMT ROCKPODS ONLINE CUPPING CLASS

What are RockTape and RockPods?

cupping class rockpods

This is a fantastic place to start as not everyone is familiar with RockTape or the products that go along with them. RockTape is a trademarked brand that came out of the whole kenisio tape popularity. Their particular tape is mostly targeted to athletes, specifically for CrossFit. I do not want to get into the discussion here on if keniso tape works or not but I will say, if I want to tape, I really like RockTape best, as it is very sticky (especially their H2O version) and it is made for people who sweat rather unlike the clinical tape. I use it with my sports massage patients and clients.

Over the years, they have come out with several other products and changed from just a taping company into what they say is a movement company, and have many products and classes that fall under that umbrella. There are topical analgesics and warmers, stretching bands, compression movement gear, rollers, and more. For this, we are looking at their version of cupping, which they call “RockPods.”

What was the cupping class?

So the class I took was RockPods, it was a one-day, 6-hour cupping class. It is actually part of a series of a 2-day event that included another product called RockFloss. I took this during the pandemic, so it was entirely online. I used this class for my NYS LMT Continuing Education Credit – or CEU. The class covered the history of cupping, decompression, research around cupping, treatment considerations, exposure therapy, cupping techniques, and thinking out of the box. Our teacher was a CrossFitter named Jen Deiter. This class had a wide range of students, including LMT’s, Physios, Chiros and trainers. I think the broad spectrum of professionals that were in the class shows the usefulness of cupping when done correctly.

After a brief tour of the history of cupping, we went into what RockTape is selling. I want to note this class was not about Wet Cupping or cups you can slide across the body for fascia work. The “pods,” as they call them, are really made for a static application. Which brings me to my next point, how was it to take a manual class online? Well, since you asked…it was actually fine! Since these cups are not about creating drag, there is no single treatment routine that you have to memorize. You practice putting the cups on and taking them off, and the main takeaway from the class is to think of possible uses for that kind of application. This was another benefit of having many kinds of professionals in the class. Each one explained how they might adapt the “Pods” to their own work. Massage therapists might use standard cupping while PTs might focus on more proprioceptive uses.

We learned 3 suction techniques to apply these cups during the class. You can practice attaching the cups to any available part of your body on your own, other than your mid-back. So we spent a portion of the time going body part by body part and exploring what it felt like. The cups are, in general, easy to use and feel pretty good. They get the job done. It is something I could certainly use in treatment for people who like that pulling sensation.

The rest of the class was more about theories and different applications of cupping than manual massage techniques. They theorized what cupping does decompression-wise on the client. By “decompression,” I mean suctioning the skin up into the cup so that it creates lift across the skin. So we would watch a demonstration via video of that usage and have a little discussion and feedback on it. If you are not a manual therapist, this is where things get more interesting for you, as this is the portion where RockTape has tried to approach cupping as more of a modern science-based solution. They spoke about the benefits in general of decompression, ways to use the cups in more of a proprioception re-education capacity, and desensitization (for pain). These ideas are outside the scope of the traditional cupping framework and they are how RockTape moves into their rebranding as a movement company.

What did I think of the cupping class?

owner and massage therapistof Body Mechanics Massage LMT Beret Loncar
Owner Beret Loncar

I always keep in mind, as a science-informed practitioner, that I will never be 100% satisfied with all manual classes. As far as a treatment, cupping is fairly passive so it falls on the lower end of the value in the intervention spectrum. But as you can definitely apply these by yourself, there is the option to give these tools to a patient to give them a sense of autonomy. Self-treating without being dependent on a therapist is a big plus. If it gives ongoing relief the client can do it whenever they have time and gives them a mental boost to be able to help themselves.

I am also a big fan of mixed-level classes. Having many kinds of professionals in a class adds a lot of value for me. Our health and wellness system has a lot of unwellness in it, and some of that can be healed through respect, collaboration, as well as access to better information. Kudos to RockTape for going jumping through all the hoops to make this class-compliant to Massage CEU requirements. They are a pain in the ass and many companies don’t bother.

I would still love a pod that I can slide, as some people like that sensation. I get that this is not the function of their product so I am not going to get it, but it feels a little limiting. These are tools that are primarily used to treat a “feeling” by creating another feeling, so why not give me all the options!?

The teacher, Jen, certainly knew the product and her way around the body. Since I do a lot of sports massage, I got on with her sporty vibe very well. She presented the material well. She did not overly focus on or push CrossFit or herself, which I deeply appreciate. We do not take courses to give people platforms to push personal agendas.

As far as being online, this course translated very well. It was an easy, fast-moving, way to look at cupping in a number of different ways. I think some other manual courses probably do not lend well to online teaching. This class moved back and forth between lecture and demo so it was paced pretty well.

RockTape is a company with a product – they are not a research company. They don’t have millions of dollars to pour into scientific research, but they took the time and made a genuine effort to make a real case for the benefits of RockPods. They have invested in some research on the lift aspect, although it is not quantifiable and they did make an effort to find some supporting research. Because it is a product, it is a little reverse engineered, the research does not necessarily lead to an endorsement, and we know there is a great body of research that supports a move towards more active interventions. RockPods counter to that would be that their suggested uses require movement and or proprioception.

Still, they had a knowledgeable teacher speak from a place of authority and had people from different professions give various applications for the products. So I would definitely suggest attending it if you’re interested in sports therapies, we are treating humans, not data. Let’s face it, I am a manual therapist in a manual therapy class, so there is that:)

If you are interested in cupping as a modality and just want to dip a toe in, I would give this online course a go. Keep in mind you will need to take another class if you want to learn a full cupping routine. To check out some of our other CEU reviews you can look at Walt Fritz’s Myofascial release seminar.

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 – 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