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Meditation of Touching

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Meditation of Touching

Photo by Levi XU on Unsplash
Photo by Levi XU

In the course of my training as a yoga therapist I have learned a fair amount of new information about pain, stress management, and relaxation. With these new skills under my belt, my massage therapy goals have changed.

I can particularly see this in the massage therapy education that I pass on to staff and students. The techniques stay the same but the application and information changes.

Right now I am particularly focused on a return to fundamentals like ‘rate and rhythm’, something I think is often overlooked. It sounds like a weird thing for someone with “orthopedic massage’ in their title to be grooving over rate and rhythm. Most people would assume I would be filling my treatments with what some refer to as ‘advanced massage techniques’. They are, in limited doses, if appropriate, but mostly we are trying to make a nice pattern in a larger sequence.

It is one of the ways I am trying to tap into interacting with the nervous system. Brains like to know what happens next so predictable patterning makes them happy. At the very least they are not wasting time trying to figure out what is coming next…and that stillness of mind is very valuable.

If you’re into meditation, there is a very well known technique called a body scan. That mediation is specific to relaxing the body and putting people into a deep relaxed state. It uses a pattern that goes something like this:

‘Focus on the tip of your thumb, let the thumb get heavy, let it go. Focus on all the fingers, let the fingers get heavy, let it go. Focus on the palm of the hand, let the palm get heavy, let it go. Focus on the whole hand, let the whole hand get heavy, let it go. Focus on the forearm, let the forearm get heavy, let it go. Now focus on the hand and the forearm, let them both get heavy, let it go.’

It goes on to cover the whole body in that manner, repeating patterns. If you’re a massage therapist, that pattern might ring a few bells for you. It is pretty similar to the concepts of ‘general, specific, general’ and ‘distal, proximal, distal’. A well-formed patterned massage is running through a body scan of touch.

If you have properly controlled your space for someone, and created a safe place to relax and focus on the sensory experience at hand, you may be guiding them into a meditative state. That is an odd thing considering most scopes of practice deal primarily with muscles and skin rather than the nervous system.

Is that all that massage is? Of course not, massage covers a lot of areas in what people are ‘doing’ in treatment, but it is one of the many things you can do provided you do it well. If this all sounds super-strange to you, you you can listen to this 6 min body scan as an example.

Sports Massage LMT Interview – Crystal

Crystal Massage TherapistFor each of our Massage Therapists, we do a little interview when we hire them so that everyone can get to know them better and see a little about why they got into the Sports/Medical Massage field.

This month we are focusing on our Sports/Medical massage therapist Crystal and her massage therapy skills.

What is your background in sports? Have you ever trained or participated in a sports program? 

Yep, I ran track in both middle school and high school so I am familiar with training programs and running.

Can you share an experience that you have had in the past that has changed or impacted they way you work with massage as a tool today?

I once worked with a professional body builder who wanted an entire 90 minute massage session on his injured shoulder, it ended up being the most informative fun session I have ever had.

How did you get into Sports and Medical Massage Therapy? 

I have been fascinated in the study of the body ever since I visited an Orthopedic Doctor for a knee injury I had when I was running track. I found the process very interesting.

What are your favorite kinds of people to massage?

Anyone who uses their body for a living, I have worked with many pro and semi pro athletes. I like how tuned into their bodies they are.

Okay, give us an odd ball fact about yourself, something we do not know about you but we should.

I have a horrible sense of direction.

And last but not least, if you could have any super power, what would it be?

Oh my super power would totally be extreme strength and agility!

And that sums up our ‘get to know you’ sports massage interview. If you want to learn more about Crystal or her massage therapy you can head over to our Massage Specialists profile page or book an appointment with her on our booking site.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Don’t Tell Me to Relax

Relax….

You book the massage appointment. You take the risk. It is a financial stretch but you have to do something because you have not been able to manage on your own. You lay down on the table. The massage therapist says “Take a deep breath…Relax…”

In the last few years I have become very conscious of what I say to people. As I have gotten older I have given less ‘%#@’s’ about some things and more about others. One of the things I have given more about is how I might accidentally harm someone whom I am caring for. That fills two categories; people I treat, and the people I teach to treat.

I primarily work with massage patients in  pain. Frequently those people have the kind of pain that has been untreated, underestimated, and has fallen through the medical cracks. They are sometimes angry, vulnerable, difficult to deal with, as well as they are often generous beyond belief, humble, and full of hope. They come in all forms and shapes and sizes…but what they have in common frequently is they cannot relax. This may pertain to their whole body, or a single part…but if they could simply relax and gain control of whatever they are seeing me for, they would have done it long ago.

And so, it really bothers me when people say ‘relax‘. It has become somewhat of a trigger word because, what I hear is the response: “Don’t you think I would if I could? I booked an appointment specifically because I need HELP relaxing, and here you are telling me to relax, when I have admitted, I can’t”. In fact, in my case being told to relax, specifically makes me more anxious. I am pretty sure every dentist I have ever known has said “take a deep breath and relax” right before he has done something awful.

I think in terms of massage therapy, the word relax is old, is loaded and full of harm. It is like a brand that has ceased to have meaning to us, and yet has become the only word we use. For people looking for a spa day, it may have no connotation, but for many it could be one of the worst things I say to them all day.

While it is hard to watch your words all the time, I have tried to omit relax completely from my massage practice. I had to think for a bit on what exactly should take its place. Frequently I am communicating a lot with people on how an area feels to them, and I will ask whether or not they felt a tone drop in an area or if that is my perception- ie ‘should I move on? Do you feel more comfortable now? And then, of course, the old stand by word “release” pops up. I am not a big lover of the “release” description either. What has been released? Certainly I am releasing nothing…something might be relaxing…but then there is that word again!

Neither word is the correct thing I want to say to anyone, but those two words are flung about, both of them holding too much meaning, and way too little at the same time. What I want is to give someone an actionable word or words, that they have control of, something that removes my hands from the picture, other than to bring awareness. The words I want to use need to suggest that they have self efficacy in a process that I am creating a space for. And so for the moment, I have settled on “Let go” or “Be heavy”.  As in, “I am going to be gently moving you around for a moment, and so there is no resistance, I would like you to try to let go of that area/practice being heavy, but if you cannot, that is okay…we can just move together for a little while and it will be just as good.”

 

Sports Massage Therapist Profile – Matt

Sports Massage Therapist MattCheck our our latest Sports Massage Therapist profile Matt

Here we go again with another Sports Massage Therapist profile! This time we are focusing on our therapist Matt. Matt has been with us for a number of years and works with our Sports Massage program, TMJ program, Medical Massage and more. We hired him directly out of school, which we never do, but Matt was a special case as he had already been actively working and blogging about the fitness world. So let’s get to know Matt!

What is your background in sports?

I grew up doing karate, kickboxing, and submission grappling, but stopped due to the toll they took on my body. I currently do some kind of resistance training 3 to 4 days a week. I am not picky about what I use so long as it feels good and I have fun doing it. I go through phases where I like doing more stuff with barbells, bodyweight, bands, kettlebells and machines. When I can get out of the city, I am up for a good hike.

How long have you been working at it?

I have been doing types of resistance training for at least 15 years.

What is your best ‘uh oh’ story?

Name a body part and I’ve had some sort of pain and/or injury there. It is way faster to list the body parts I have not hurt.

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

I think it would be pretty cool to learn some kind of gymnastics without ending up in the hospital or on the ground

How did you get into sports massage?

I spent well over 10 years living with varying levels of disabling pain. I became so obsessive about everything to do with movement, exercise, pain, recovery, performance, etc; that there were nights I did not sleep because I felt I needed to understand more. Somewhere in that journey I go into personal training and massage therapy to allow my passion to flourish and share what I knew with others. 

What are your favorite kinds of people to work on?

I like massaging anyone who wants to learn, and become more independent. I get about an hour out of someone’s day to work with someone; they have weeks or months without me to make changes on their own. 

What sets your sports massage apart from everyone else?

I’m constantly questioning what I do in a sports massage and how I can do it better. 

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

I sneeze when I walk into direct sunlight.

If you had a super power what would it be?

The ability to fold a fitted sheet. 

Why did you start writing?

I started writing because I did not see much out there for the general public that explained complex interactions in plain language. Most of what I saw was either too dense and technical, or played fast and loose with the facts. I write primarily what I wish I would have been able to find when I was looking for answers. 

So there you go! Our Sports Massage Therapist profile for Matt! Massage therapist, dry witt, and all around good guy. You can see more about Matt on his profile here. Or you can read his writing at truemovment.net

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

 

Five Things Your New York State Massage Therapist Should be Doing for You

We have put together the top 5 things your New York State Massage Therapist, should be doing for you but may not be….

This blog post is specific to New York State Massage Therapy, but in any state that see’s massage therapy as a licensed medical profession, these may apply. We put together this list of important bullet points in order to educate the public about their rights. Massage therapist undergo training in order to become professionals, but the public is often unaware of what that training is or what their rights are. So here it goes, here are our top five things your New York State licensed Massage Therapist should be doing for you.

1. Giving you a full consent before you are treated or assessed

What is consent you ask? It is your agreement to the treatment, assessment, or procedure that is about to be performed. It can be both verbal and written. Consent can cover the type of treatment for massage (for example: trigger point therapy, stretching, or Swedish massage), how it is performed, what products or tools may be used (for example lotions or graston tools), and even as far as what smells you might encounter. The bottom line is, you have full control over what happens to you, even if you have not been made aware of it. What does this mean for you in real time? At the very least you should be looking for a Massage Therapist who gives you a rundown of what they are going to do before they do it, a little snapshot so to speak. This rundown, not only keeps you safe but also ends up in making you happier over all with your massage because you can actually relax.

2. Protecting your right to privacy

In New York state, Massage Therapists are considered Medical Professionals. They are required by law to protect your privacy. If you find your therapist is particularly chatty about their other patients, it may be time to move on.

The New York State Massage law reads as follows:Massage therapists will safeguard the confidentiality of all patient/client information, including patient/client records, unless disclosure is required by law or court order. Any situation which requires the revelation of confidential information should be clearly delineated in records of massage therapists.

3. You have the full right to refuse, modify, or change the treatment at any time. 

Ever have the feeling you have made a terrible mistake, part way through something? It happens, even with massage. It is totally ok to stop once you start. Individual clinics may have policy’s on if you will pay or not based on stopping treatment so you may want to check, but generally if you encounter a medical problem, such as feeling dizzy, we waive all fees at our clinic. Fee aside, you can always simply stop regardless of the situation. If you just think that it is not working out, you can always change the plan too. If your therapists pressure is not right, tell them…or redirect the treatment entirely so it works on what you just figured out you want. A 30 minute back massage can easily become a 25 minute foot massage. Do it, it is your right.

New York State Massage law reads as follows: Massage therapists will respect the patient’s/client’s right to refuse, modify or terminate treatment, regardless of prior consent for such treatment.

4. Referring you out

Is your therapist Mr/Ms fix it? It is fantastic that you found a great therapist. Massage Therapists cannot wear all health care hats however. As a Massage Therapist we cannot diagnose or treat disease, so if you genuinely have a medical issue no one has seen you for, your therapist should refer you out. Vibrant clinical practices are loaded with referrals, we send people out and they send other people to us. We just cannot be all things at all times. It may totally be appropriate for your massage therapist to work alongside another professionals work though, just because they refer you out does not mean you necessarily have to stop going to your therapist.

New York State Massage law reads as follows: Massage therapists may provide services that lead to improved health and muscle function, but they do not diagnose medical diseases or disorders. They evaluate patients/clients in terms of health and disease in order to know what massage technique should be used and when to make referrals to other health care practitioners.

5. Maintaining your personal health records

Records are an essential part of making sure you get a good treatment. If you are seeing one person, they help them remember the details of the last treatment. If you are at a clinic that shares files, they help keep your heath care consistent and make sure your health information travels to the practitioner you are seeing next. Beyond that, your health care records may be needed if you have been in an accident, or are claiming to certain kinds of insurance. Beware of the therapist without files, they may not serve you best long term. New York State Massage Therapists have to maintain records for 6 years.

New York State Massage law reads as follows: therapists must keep a record of client evaluations and treatments for six years or until the client turns 22, whichever is longer.

If you want more information on New York State Massage Therapy, you can find it at the New York State Government website. If you want to verify that your massage therapist is in good standing you can do so here.

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 Therapist Profile Interview

Check Out Our Sports Massage Therapist Sharon!

sport massage therapist Sharon

We do this profile for our therapists now and again so that you can get to know them and get a little more information on who they are and what they do. Many of our therapists not only work in sports massage but also are athletes themselves. So here we go!

What is your background in sports?

Sharon: I have always enjoyed movement and have tried different kind of sports, even field hockey at one point, but lately I am really into yoga. I specifically train in arial yoga, circus, and silks. 

How long have you been training at your sport?

Sharon: I took my first arial class in 2013, but really started to get serious about it in 2015. I am now teaching arial yoga.

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

Sharon: Training in aerial can sometimes contribute to some weird imbalances. Especially if you are training for a performance sequence. However, I am a big fan of movement variability. Because of this I try and make sure BOTH sides of the body are worked in a sports massage, not just the side that has the issue. 

How long have you been training at your sport of choice?

Sharon: 5-6 years

What is your best uh oh story?

Sharon: One of the most significant injuries I have had is pretty recent. I inured my right shoulder so badly that it took me out of any regular movement practice. It gave me a deep appreciation of shoulder injury.  

How did you get into sports massage?

Sharon: When deciding our final semester practical, I decided to train as an LMT at the Joffery Ballet School. It was after that experience that I realized I really wanted to work with athletes and dancers. 

Are there any athletes you admire?

Sharon: Misty Copeland is pretty cool and inspiring!

Other than sports massage is there anything else you really enjoy working on?

Sharon: I LOVE working with the prenatal population. 

Is there anything else about you we should know? (odd ball facts and such?)

Sharon: Oh, I can hula hoop, play the ukelele while singing at the same time.

Sharon has now been on our staff for 1 year! Congratulations Sharon, you have grown leaps and bounds and worked hard for it. If you want to book a session with Sharon for sports massage, medical massage or prenatal massage you can find us online on our booking page!

You can also find more about Sharon in her therapist profile here.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

 

 

 

 

Review of Walt Fritz Myofascial Release Seminar

Walt Fritz’s Myofascial Release Seminar for Neck/Voice/Swallowing disorders

Before I get into the meat of this, there are a few things to note.  This class, ‘Myofascial Release Seminar for neck/voice/swallowing disorders,‘ is named for the conditions that may occur in the area being treated, as well as how the touching is done. While the title is ‘neck/voice/swallowing’  you can use many of the cervical techniques with any patient who has neck discomfort.  To further the point about the course name, it also is named for Myofascial release.  However Walt is not suggesting that this modality is meant to replace whatever intervention you are already using or that you should just go pulling on skin.  We frequently have a description problem when it comes to manual therapy and courses that operate within the realm of scientific reality.  The question becomes, what do you call things when your tag is “this may help some people, some times, in some way, with some things…but it also may not”.  So if you are fine with the spirit of this, keep reading.

Two other staff members (Tommy and Sylvia) and I attended this course in April of 2019.  It is a two day seminar.  This particular one was at the Grabscheid Voice and Swallowing Center of Mount Sinai near Union Square.  The attendees were mostly speech pathologists, with a smattering of other professions, including massage therapy.  I will get back to who is in the course, but one of the reasons I have admired Walt’s classes is that he has taken the time to get his classes approved for New York State Massage Therapy continuing education credits.  In New York State, it is super hard to level up your skill set when the same information is being taught and re-taught by the same professionals, over and over again.

Walt’s class was well attended and well organized.  He utilizes helpers to make sure you get real feedback ,even though you are in a large group.  Snacks and coffee were provided, although we did not need the coffee to keep us awake.

If research is your thing, Walt does provide it with his materials, but

you are not going to go into a deep dive in this class.  He will give you an introduction and you are welcome to proof on your own.  The assumption is that you are a professional and as such, it is your job to review this information.  A small amount of time was spent on this.  In this way the class was pretty neutral in the “how we think this works” department.  It is not likely to radically change anyone’s mind on the function of manual therapy.  That being said, I am not really sure anyone’s mind can be changed unless they want to.  That is another topic entirely.

The same goes for anatomy in this course.  Walt provided some information in the form of his manual, but the goal is not to teach you anatomy.  If you are a little rough on what goes where in the head, face, neck and jaw, I would recommend flipping through your anatomy book before attending.  You will get a lot more out of the course by being able to connect the dots.  Keep in mind that he is not trying to reinvent the wheel, just showing you different ways you can roll it.  If you are struggling to find a touch that feels safe and appropriate due to anatomy, you might be slowed down.

This class follows the fairly typical pattern of  the presenter talking about what you are going to demo, then performing a demonstration on a willing subject, before you split off and practice on each other.

There are three things Walt does that I like:

  1. He utilizes technology to solve the issue of everyone standing around him, blocking the view of those behind them, while he demos.  One of his helpers was present at all times to get a live feed video on the manual actives that he is showing.  That video was then projected onto three screens so that everyone in the conference hall could access it as if they were in the front row.  The space we were in was well set up for that, and other spaces may not be, but I can only assume if he took the time to do it thoughtfully this time, he probably does in most spaces if there is need. (Maybe he will chime in on an answer for us post, post 🙂
  2. Walt gives his interview process with a patient equal weight to the hands on that he is doing.  In most classes, manual or otherwise, teachers often jump to new technique.  The format becomes ‘for this problem use this thing”.  Not so here.  Walt lets you sit in on his client/patient interview.  If you are a massage therapist, who wants to improve quality, booking, professionalism etc, this is 100% the area that you need to work on.  Sitting in on this is gold.  What he is showing is a conversational health care format of “ol’ dr fricara” interview (if you do not know what that is here is a link) and an adapted motivational interview strategy that continues on to the treatment in the form of feedback (remember consent is an ongoing process).
  3. He has a mixed profession class. For many of the speech path professionals manual therapy was new. They got to work with massage therapists. I think they learned a lot from them. For the massage therapists we got to work with speech pathologists….same story. Both sets came away with great referrals and a really good understanding of how we might work together to better care for people. Rather than pair off into our professions, we sought out the other for their expertise. It was a unique opportunity.

As to the things I did not like. To be honest I would have to be super nit-picky about this. It is a great class. I would say if you are really comfortable working cervical spine in multiple ways manually, or intra-oral treatment is in your wheel house already, it might be a little slow for you. Both Sylvia and I spend a fair amount of our days in working with TMD, so much of this was review. Even so, we managed to come away with some good take aways. Even if this is the case, there is HUGE value in watching how someone else problem solves the same problems. This course assisted us in the decision to add ‘dycem’ as a home care tool for our population, as they often struggle to figure out how to self treat at home in a way that feels good.

Walt also provides ongoing support in his facebook groups (invite only) and his YouTube channel for Myofascial Release.

So to wrap it up: If you are a speech pathologist, much of what he teaches will give you a fresh approach and more options, if you are a massage therapist, this is right up your alley, and will be a detailed course getting you comfortable with helping cervical/jaw/neck pain and problems.

Additionally, if you do find that you NEED more and this was basic, Walt also has an advanced MFR for Neck, Voice, Swallowing class you can check out.<—-I just found out about that from his mailing list.

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 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