World Health Day and Facing the Oversexualization and Dehumanization in Massage

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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

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!


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.

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.

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

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!

Racism is Both a Moral Issue and a Public Health Issue

Black lives matter image

 

Within the span of just the past few weeks, a number of Black Americans have been killed. Many of these people were murdered by police officers over non-violent offenses or no offenses at all. Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Jamel Floyd, and Sean Reed are just a few of the names we must remember as this list appallingly keeps growing. This is tragically familiar territory in this country and it needs to stop. We here at Body Mechanics extend our deepest condolences to all who have been affected by these grave injustices, both past and present. We stand firmly alongside those who seek justice and systemic reform from a system that so clearly does not value human lives equally.

As healthcare providers, we recognize that systemic racism is both a moral issue and a public health issue. We recognize that the medical care you have access to, and how you are treated when you receive that care is often determined by the color of your skin. We vow to confront the pernicious racist myths and misinformation that are still highly pervasive across the medical field – because being silent is being complicit.

As New Yorkers, we recognize that our strength lies in the diversity of our community. That none of us are safe until all of us are safe. We promise to listen to our clients, coworkers, friends, family, and partners if or when they are ready to speak. We may not always have answers, but we are committed to hearing from you and supporting you however we can.

The phrase “these uncertain times” has become cliché amid the COVID-19 pandemic, so we want to make absolutely certain where we stand: Black Lives Matter

Further Reading/Resources:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1609535

https://nymag.com/strategist/article/anti-racist-reading-list.html

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/race-and-health/

https://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/webinars/racism-and-health

Additionally, we would like to highlight a personal perspective from Yoga Therapist and author Yuliana Kim-Grant’s personal perspective on family, racism, and the current state of events. Please take a moment to check out her deeply personal blog here. 

To read more about Body Mechanics views on equality, check out our blog on Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage supports the LGBTQIA+ community

Pain and the Zombie Apocalypse

Whether it’s another exhausting election cycle or the impending zombie apocalypse, many of us are a bit more stressed and anxious lately than usual.  Intense times, it’s totally normal to start experiencing some physical symptoms that might feel abnormal if you don’t realize their source.  Some of your old injuries might start hurting again, your back or neck may become stiffer or achier, and if you’re already dealing with some kind of pain, that may become worse.

Stress and/or anxiety can increase or decrease normal pain thresholds directly or indirectly.  Prolonged stress will tend to decrease a person’s pain threshold so that the exact same physical stimuli might become more painful than usual, or something that didn’t used to hurt might begin hurting.  People with persistent pain are often aware of how a stressful day at work can cause a flare-up, but far fewer people realize that stress and depression are two of the biggest predictors of painful flare-ups in people with acute low back pain.

Stress can also decrease pain thresholds by influencing behavior.  Most of us know that a stressful day, week, or decade can make it harder to get to sleep or stay asleep.  Lack of sleep and non-restful sleep are significant risk factors in developing physical pain and prolonging it.  Being tired can also make it far more difficult to push yourself to get some of the physical activity our bodies need to stay happy and healthy.

In these stressful times, it’s perfectly normal to begin experiencing all sorts of symptoms that might seem as if they came out of nowhere.  That’s all the more reason to take care of yourself in all the ways you can.  Spend time engaging in meaningful activities, talk to the people you care about, make time to be mindful or to relax, practice good sleep hygiene, ask for and accept more help from others, and get in some movement where you can.  You’re not broken and you’re not falling apart—we promise.

By Matthew Danziger

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4795524/?report=classic

https://journals.lww.com/spinejournal/Abstract/2018/03150/Do_Physical_Activities_Trigger_Flare_ups_During_an.14.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046588/

The Benefits of Manual Therapy- An Interview from the Knowledge Exchange

Benefits of massage therapyOur Massage Therapist, Matt Danziger sits down with the Knowledge Exchange to talk Manual Therapy or, rather what manual therapy is NOT in this blog/podcast

One of the things we pride ourselves over here at Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage is our devotion to science and giving people a real outlook on what massage can and cannot do. We are for the most part, for what its worth science-based-ish with the understanding that minds do not change over night and therapists need room and time to grow. When Matt told us that this podcast blog post was coming out we immediately asked him if we could re-post it for the Knowledge Exchange.

If you have never heard of the Knowledge Exchange, they are a professional education group that runs courses and mentor ships on the BPS model of pain (that’s Biopsychosocial if your not up on your acronym’s).  They have some wonderful online resources and blogs you can check out and they specifically define what they do as:

“We don’t see our selves as educators but rather facilitators of ideas, discussion and critical appraisal. We do this because we aren’t satisfied with the status quo of health care and believe we can all do far better for our patients.”

I do not want to give too much away in what this podcast covers but it gives some great insight into how Matt sees the role of massage in terms of fitting into the BPS framework. Frequently, a massage therapist who uses this model is viewed as anti-manual therapy and that is not the case.

You are also going to get a great look into Matt’s personal journey as a massage therapist as well as his journey with pain.

Want to check it out? Go ahead and read their post by following this link to listen to the podcast.

You can check out this blog with Adam Meakins  by the Knowledge Exchange if you want to go further into the manual therapy rabbit hole.

If you want to book with Matt and his talented mind, you can read more about Matt’s Massage therapy her or book here.

To connect to Matt’s blog follow this. 

Six Easy Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Massage Therapy

Want to get a great massage?  We put together a list of six super easy ways to make sure you are getting the most out of your massage therapy experience.

 

Massage can be great…it can also be miserable. Just browse through Google reviews or Yelp reviews and you will see experiences that run the gamut between amazing and horrific. In between the lines of those reviews there are frequently experiences that did not have to be bad, but were created by a series of misunderstandings or misinformation. Sure you might get a dud of a massage therapist now and again, or someone on a bad day but the majority of Massage Therapists are professionals who want to give you what you want. We put together this list of easy ways to get the most out of your massage experience to help paitents and clients navigate how to avoid some of the common problems that come up on review sites.

 

1. Arrive on time: Actually arrive 10-15 minutes early, especially if it is your first time. Frequently customers think they have purchased an hour of time. What they do not realize is that that hour of time is very specific to it’s time slot. If you booked a 5pm for one hour, your hour starts at 5 pm. Arriving at 5pm and then needing to use the restroom, fill out paper work and check in, will cut into that time. Paper work is a big time suck. Even at a gym or salon there might be some liability forms to fill out, so err on the 15 minute side of early if it is your first time at a location. Additionally you might consider asking have them send you the paper work in advance or if it can be done online. One of the big complaints we see online is that the appointment was cut short. Generally this will not happen so long as the customer has arrived with time to spare, this is literally getting the most ‘time’ out of your massage. (if it does then see suggestion number 6)

 

2.  Advocate for yourself: There are MANY different depths and styles of massage. Before most sessions your therapist will either take a medical history, ask your likes or dislikes, and what you want to focus on. Some processes are more thorough than others…but whereever you are, this is your time to speak up and make your needs known. You do NOT want someone else’s massage. You want the massage you want. If you like a head massage, let the therapist know. If you do not want your new blowout touched, let the therapist know. Asking a questions about what will be massaged and what will not be is another good way to go. “Full body” does not mean the same things to all people, so try instead to say things like “I would really like I would really like a massage that focuses on my back, legs, calves, arms and neck, I do not care so much about my hands and feet”. Clarity of words can go a long way to clearing up any misunderstandings and having an experience where your legs were mysteriously left out.

Come in with a plan. Knowing what you want ahead of time will save you time and money. If your goal is to relax, that is totally valid, but a ‘full body’ can be made very un-relaxing by your therapist chatting away. Stating what you came in for can be really helpful to both you and for your therapist in order to get what you want. Same things goes for sports massage and medical work. Let your therapist know both your long and short term goals so that they are not guessing at what you want. Some people are terrible guessers.

 

3.  If you are sick or have a possibility of a schedule change, let reception know ASAP. Most places have cancelation policy’s. Those policies are often more lenient the earlier reception knows there might be an issue. If you wake up with the sniffles or your boss throws a curve ball,  give the reception a shout as soon as you know…they might be able to do you a solid. When you wait till an hour or two before your massage because you waited to see if you could really come, you are not going to find much flexibility.

 

4.  Be forthcoming in your injury history and health history:Things that may not seem like a big deal to you, such as that trick shoulder that separates when you put your arm over head, might cause a serious problem if your therapist does not know. Sure you have had it all your life, but this is your massage therapists first time seeing it. Medications are equally important. There is no judgment, but some medications can leave you at risk for bruising, blood pressure complications, and injury. Most complications are easily avoided just by knowing the medication, so please be honest.

 

5.  Do not come in medicated, drunk or high: Massage therapists are supposed to legally send you home if you are altered in any way…and you will probably be charged a fee. Even if your therapist does take you after a few boozy lunch drinks, it may be because they are not exactly sure if you are or are not altered. The likely outcome is, they are not going to give you the massage you want, instead they are wondering if they should be sending you home and giving you the most conservative massage possible. If you have medications you’re taking for an injury and that is what your coming in to be seen for, then call ahead and ask about them. Any medicine that alters your sense of touch or judgment, is a no-go for massage because it may increase your ability to be injured.

 

6.  Complain…but start at the right place first. Businesses are not perfect. No one wants you to have a bad time. Seriously, a business is only as good as their customer service. If you had a bad experience or feel you were somehow wronged, reach out to a manager. Frequently I hear stories where a customer might have mentioned something to reception…and you should totally do that since they are sitting there, but know that not all reception knows that means you needed help. Receptions job is to take payments and greet, often they will be overtasked and not realize you complained at all, or that that complaint should be passed on. Politely asking for a managers email is totally ok, and it will get you the fastest resolution. For small businesses, they are often grateful for this approach as they WANT to find out about problems before they hit the fan. With larger businesses you may indeed have to go to social media to get someone’s attention….but this is rarely the case with self run businesses or businesses that are not chains.

Every massage is going to be a little different. It is important to keep in mind, we do this every day as massage therapists but it may be a special day for you…Hopefully this guide helps you navigate our world of massage therapy a little better.

To book an appointment, or ask us a question about our practice find us here on our Contact and booking page.