Can Massage Therapy Help My Lower Back Pain?

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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

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

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

massage therapist matt

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

Reads

What are the Major Contributing Factors to Osteoarthritis Knee Pain?

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

Videos

Pinpointing Pain Along the Scapula

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

Interview with Dr. Mark Laslett on SI Joint Pain

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

Research

What’s Really Helping Our Back Pain After Exercise

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

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

Will Clients Do Their Homework?

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

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

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

Pregnancy and Ankle Massage: Is it safe?

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Photo by Conscious Design on Unsplash

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

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

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

Correlation vs Causation: see the example

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

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

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

The Kahn Institute


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

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

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

Miscarriages are common and we need to talk about them

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

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


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

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

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

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

Sports Massage Profile Gerry

Get to know our sports massage therapist Gerry!

We asked our sportsports massage therapist nyc gerrys massage therapist, Gerry, a few questions so you can get to know him a little better. Here is what he had to say!

What is your background in sports, since you are working in sports massage currently?

Gerry: I used to race and I was a bike messenger, back when that was a thing in New York.  I also spent some time snow boarding.

If you could try any sport what would it be?

Gerry: Motorcycle racing!

How did you get into sports massage as a thing?

Gerry: I have a curiosity about the way people move and want to help them.

Are there any athletes your particularly admire? 

Gerry: Peter Sagan, he is a professional road bicycle racer.

Is there anything that sets your massage apart from anyone else?

Gerry: I hope it is my sensitivity

Do you have any specialized training that you are really drawn to?

Gerry: While I love working with athletes, I also work with geriatric paitents and that work is really inspiring. 

Is there any special skills or hobbies you want us to know about, something people would be surprised to know?

Gerry: I am really good at backgammon and swing dancing.

Last but not least, if you could have a super power, what would it be?

Gerry: I would want to fly of course!

 

If you want more information on Gerry you can find it on our therapist profile page.

To book an appointment see our prices page.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

 

 

 

 

 

Sports Massage Therapy Profile -Laura F.

Get to Know One of Our Sports Massage Therapists, Laura!

We are asking our sports massage therapists for a little extra information so that you can get to know them and their experience in sports massage.

 

So here it goes!

First off Laura, What is your background in Sports?

Laura: I have been working in the field of sports massage for 30 years.  I am not just a massage therapist but I am also a personal trainer, and I train myself.  I have played a number of sports… including boxing, running, and lifting.  If you are coming in for these things, I have a pretty good understanding of what is going on. 

What is your best “uh oh” story in regard to injury?

Laura: When I moved from LA to NYC, I (bleeping) fell on some black ice and I tore my left medial meniscus.  That was awful and it was a long recovery. 

If you could try any sport now, without limitations, what sport would it be? 

Laura: Krav Maga!

How did you get into sports massage?

Laura: When I was at Swedish Institute in NYC, I was bored with the relaxation massage and energy work I was learning.   I had an an instructor who taught sports massage and she was incredible.  That’s when I knew that was what I wanted to do. 

What are your favorite kinds of ‘sport’ people to work on now?

Laura: I love to work with dancers, but I also just love people who are active and want to take care of their bodies. 

Are there any athletes that you particularly admire?

Laura: Manny Pacquiao and Michael Jordan.  They are my favorites!

What sets your sports massage apart from everyone else’s sports massage?

Laura: (laughs) Honestly, I do not compare myself.  I just studied hard and took advanced courses.   I truly care about helping people in pain, and teaching them how to learn about their bodies.  As a trainer, I can also suggest some ways they might prevent hurting themselves. 

And last but not least, are there any other things we should know about you?

Laura: I am also a certified life coach.

To book with Laura, you can book online at this location, or you can read more about her Massage therapy and Sports massage there.

 

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage, 1 W 34th St, #204, , New York, NY 10001, United States (US) - Phone: 212-600-4808 Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com URL: https://www.bodymechanicsnyc.com/

 

 

We Have Moved to a New Location!

We Have a Fantastic New Location

Hello all! We just wanted to keep you updated to a few of the changes that have happened this year. The biggest of which of course is WE HAVE MOVED TO A NEW LOCATION!! It was a long time coming but after 5 years at our former location, near Grand Central Station, we have moved to a stunning location just near the Empire States Building! We traded one monument for another! Our new location address is 1 w. 34th Street. NY, NY, 10017. We are right across the street from the Empire States Building and across from Heartland Brewery. Our phone number and web contact information remains the same. We stay devoted to the same kinds of treatment: Sports Massage, Medical Massage, TMJ Massage, Breast Cancer Massage and Runners Massage.

There are a few things you should know about our new location 

  • Space! We have a lot of it! We went from 3 rooms to 4 room…and we have a staff room now with an extra large lobby. No more crowds and being on top of one another.

 

  • We have central air that is HEPA filtered. So this is pretty awesome…especially since our old space ran really hot and the dirty old outside air used to come in…but it also means there is 1 temp for everyone. If you are running hot or cold please let us know, there are fans and table heaters in each room but we can’t control the room temperature any more.

 

  • It is MUCH nicer. I mean really, its is totally an upgrade. We look a little more medical, as we are in a medical building, but we have kept with the same lux and plush stylings. We are just a little more streamlined now. The old space was cute, but the building was old and ill cared for. This building is brand spanking new!

 

  • Speaking of new, we have a few new things that may surprise you. Now on weekends we have to buzz you in. It takes a few seconds, but hey we have a buzzer, because we are fancy now.

 

  • We also have changed our pricing. You can find that information here: Pricing at Body Mechanics . Minimum wage is changing in NYC and we needed to adapt to reflect that. On the upside, yay for sustainable living! You will also find little perks like a new hot and cold water cooler, a better bathroom (no more keys), wifi for you, and a new charging station.  We also have some new therapists. You can check them out here: Massage Therapists 

Here are some pictures of our new space to help you get an idea of what we are doing. Scroll through and take a look!!
Our Space
 

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 w. 34th Street #204. NY, NY 10017

212-600-4808

info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Finding Naturalism in Massage

naturalism and massage

Many of us in the massage industry spend a lot of time talking to other therapists about massage therapy. What is holding it back? Is it the non-science based nature that is the issue? Is it the lack of research? Is it the people it attracts? Is it the professionalism? What about the spiritual aspects that some seem to want to connect to?

As most of you know, I am firmly in the science-based camp. My background is  pain management with rehabilitative exercise. This is what I was taught in school and I was exposed to nothing else. Prior to my RMT training, I had taken pre-med courses in college, and before that all the AP science classes offered in high school so the Canadian program fit right in with my science-based ideals. It made sense to me.

The US massage industry frustrates me to no-end. I desperately want it to change because, after working in Canada as part of a heath care continuum, I know how good a massage program can be.

I know there are a lot of us pushing for a shift to a science-based program. However, given the condition of the US system and its irregularity, changing to science-based might be asking too much transitionally.

The US massage industry faces a number of problems. With such a large number of workers currently in the industry, the change would surely need to be gradual. One of the things I constantly think about is, with the current requirement of 500-1000 hours and no competency requirement, are we barking up the wrong tree demanding science? Is science even doable? Of course I learned some science in my education, but I didn’t necessarily learn the act of science in massage school. Often times what we receive is the outline of science, the puppetry of science, the mimicry of science…not actual science, even from the best and brightest who teach and share knowledge.  I am not saying don’t teach the science aspects, I am saying expecting meta data analysis from someone still trying to figure out where the elbow is, is probably unrealistic.  The results may be as poor and dangerous as pseudoscience.  Maybe what we should be asking for is naturalism…and leave the science to the experts.

Naturalism is defined as: A philosophical viewpoint according to which everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted. 

Massage therapy lends itself  very well to naturalism. At its base even the most complex thing that I have done with a patient through a rehabilitation is simply mimicking how the body would normally behave in a controlled, suggestive state in the hopes that the body realizes it can keep moving and that it does not need whatever protection or feeling it has produced.  I try to remind the body of its normal function by setting the stage with relaxing/safe elements, and then lead it through passive, active and resisted activities.   And follow up by assigning exercises that will re-enforce that. There are only so many things the body can do. We take the body through these activities in order to start a dialogue. A dialogue with words like – rest, slack, stretch,  move, stimulate, sense, resist and strengthen.  I try to build windows of time where there is an altered signal or decreased signal, so the body can get back to doing what it loves to do…homeostasis. I monitor all of it through range of motion and pain scales. It is not rocket science;) Of course it can get more complex when you start building in limitations and conditions, but at its base its fairly simple.

Science can be a complicated system of testable questions and answers. There are entire systems in place to understand how to correctly ask the questions, let alone address  the answers. Rarely is it simple. It takes years to study, explore and even begin to understand even small parts of it. Naturalism however is beautiful in it’s simplicity. With 500-1000 hours of training and little time to test the application let alone question it, perhaps some of the answers lie there.

Starting with a few simple observations, perhaps we could make a safer, simpler, more ethical massage world. Here are some of the simple statements I keep in mind when practice daily.

  • Relaxation has value and potential.
  • The body is fine the way it is. Homeostasis works. For the most part the body will correct itself naturally, unless disease is present.
  • In the end, all change comes from internal function, not external force *other than trauma
  • Setting the stage for rest and digest may help remind the body that things are ok, which may let the person move more or differently, so they can get back to their normal.
  • Form is not necessarily representative of function.

What are the statement you practice under? More and more I see statements like “the science of massage”. Yet that statement is pretty misleading, when I think about what I do, as I am not really doing anything. I am simply setting the stage for what the body does for itself…naturally. Absolutely there is room for more advanced practitioners in advanced practice settings,  but at the core we need to get comfortable with who we are.

*I want to make a small disclosure here, as to the above statements of rehab. Rehab or rehabilitative exercise falls within the scope of an RMT (Canada). In no way do I advertise the practice of that here in NY, the example is based on my past experiences where it would be very normal for me to work with stroke patients, whiplash patients, etc combining manual therapy, movement and rehab exercise on my own. Your scope will depend on where you practice, and you should follow the local law to that effect.

 

What I did Not Learn About Fascia Work and Massage

UNLEARNING

This blog was inspired by the fact that we spend a lot of time trending hard and obsessing over modalities. We debate whether they are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and what we as therapists should be doing now.

Recently I talked with a very aggressive young therapist who was willing to alienate many of his current peers and deprive himself from the benefit of their experiences by defending a modality he in fact had no training in, simply because some of his previous peers had deemed it ‘right’. And shortly before that, while training another young man, I told him he might want to do some more research on some of the modalities he was using simply to ensure that they actually did what they said they did. At that point, he became completely confused, afraid to treat, thinking he might be doing something wrong.

It leaves me wondering if, as experienced therapists in the age of easy communication, we are really doing our parts by telling younger therapists what to value and what not to, without letting them see how we got there – because the process is just as important as the result.

With that I give you  ‘What I did not learn about Fascia work 2005’


I did not learn about Rolfing or Tom Myers

I did not learn that it was tearing, stretching or re-modeling

I did not learn to use heavy pressure

I did not learn to go in any one direction or follow a track

I did not learn it as a passive activity

I was not told that it would solve any one problem or kind of pain

I did not learn that it would hurt

 

In fact, what I learned did not have much theory behind it. What we had learned about fascia was imparted to us in anatomy and dissection, where it was labeled ‘the packaging’.

Our instructions and week of practice were demos of our teacher accessing different areas of the body, with different holds, based on the shape of the body, the clients’ complaints, and instructions that our work did not have to look like hers. We were just to find a comfortable way to hold, to move in the direction of ease with the biology, to move slowly and gently, and to ask for feed back.

When the demos were over, we were set free to work on our own. Our instructor went around and helped us with body mechanics for staying in one place for a long time, and showed us how to keep our fingers from digging in and pinching skin.

Some of the work was feather light, as it was around the face. Some of the work was broader, as it was on the leg or arm. None of the work was particularly deep. The methodology she gave us was “see what works for your client, given their comfort, and the shape of the structure or how you can access it.” It was simply another way to ‘get in’ based on the needs of the client.

At the end of the class, when we had worked every part, she added to the list, “Next time you practice, experiment with having the person tense a little under your hand, and then relax. And see what that does….see if that changes things.”

I think that was probably the most important part of the class.

I have been working this way since 2005. I also imagine everyone who was in my graduating class is working that way, and that our instructor learned to work that way from someone before her, and that she had a community of peers that supported her in that work.

It is fantastic that we now know the tensile strength of fascia, but modalities have never been what drives good treatment, they are ONLY an extension of a communication process. I do not know that we are doing young therapists any favors by debating what is right and wrong as far as modalities. In fact it gives the impression that things are black and white, which they are not. There is ONLY what works given the circumstance, and it requires a lot of thinking outside the box often. Young therapists need to be taught to think for themselves about what is plausible, and to listen. I am not so sure that is the impression we are leaving.