Simple ways to manage normal pregnancy-related back pain

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Simple ways to manage normal pregnancy-related back pain

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If you are having trouble managing pregnancy-related back pain, you are not alone. Having been a former pregnant person twice, I can tell you that the aches and pains pregnant people undergo for months are no joke. Your body undergoes large-scale changes to accommodate the growing baby. There are a lot of unseen changes to your body as well, including hormones, blood flow, and growing a whole new organ called the placenta. All of this lead to a number of aches and pains, including prenatal or pregnancy-related back pain. For most people, after they have checked with their doctor that the pain is normal, the advice for managing pain while pregnant does not include medication. With that in mind, we put together some tips to help.

Seek out safe pain-modifying activities, such as massage therapy, and acupuncture (we love Theresa Costigan Acupuncture). Both of these are generally safe for pregnant people. Even though you are under a doctor’s care while pregnant, it is always good to check to make sure this applies to you. It is also wise to choose massage providers that have experience in pregnancy-related back pain.

Use moderate local heat or cold. Generally, your doctor will tell you to avoid saunas, hot tubes, and hot baths as they all affect blood flow and blood pressure, but for the most part, local applications are fine and can be used to help ease aches in pains. In fact, in our massages, it is very normal for us to use cold compresses on the feet and a warm towel on the neck to help ease aches and pains. Pregnant women might enjoy a cold cloth on the forehead, wrists, feet, lower back, or sinuses. Heat might feel good on the upper back, neck, feet, or hips.

Move! It may feel like the last thing you want to do but moving is good for you and can be a natural analgesic. Walks, swimming, and yoga are typically recommended for pregnant women experiencing pregnancy-related back pain, but many women stick with their normal running, lifting, and other exercise programs. If in doubt, please check with your medical provider, as not all may apply to you.

Meditate or breathe. Stress levels are indirectly tied to your perception of pain. Often you can meditate and help reduce muscle tone by relaxing through a meditation practice. There is no need to become an expert, sitting pillowed and spending 2-5 minutes calming your breath can work wonders.

Self-massage or partner massage. Pain can be daily, and let’s face it, we cannot all go to the massage therapist every day. Do ask your prenatal massage therapist to show you how to perform safe self-massage with a ball or roller during your massage session. You can also ask your partner to massage you. They should use moderate pressure (ie it should not hurt) and they should avoid sensitive areas such as the sacrum, belly, and front of the neck since they do not know what they are doing.

We always advise that when in doubt, please check with your doctor. Many people think that they need to suffer back pain when they do not. Help is available, check with your team to find out which options are right for you at what stage of pregnancy.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

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Dynamic Stretching for Runners

Dynamic Stretching for runners Vs. Passive stretching

If you are preparing for a race, before your warm-up we recommend a pre-race dynamic stretching-for- runners routine. This is not a warmup on its own, but it will prepare you for your warmup and ultimately your race. While passive stretching is a great cool down due to its longer holds and focus on relaxing, dynamic stretching helps prepare your muscles for movement. Dynamic stretching involves making movements with your body that stretch the muscles to their full length or range of motion. Most stretches can be turned into dynamic stretches. This worksheet shows a brief outline of a good dynamic pre-race stretching routine to be used before your warmup or shake out. There is no set number of times a dynamic stretch should be done. Simply repeat the routine until the area is warm and feels good.

Walking quad stretch

Walking quad dynamic stretching for runners
Walking quad stretch

Walking quad stretches are a great traditional runners stretch and mobility warm-up. Start by standing and reaching for your foot behind your back (this can be done with the same side hand or opposite hand) Raise the opposite hand above your head. Hold for a breath then release and step forward and repeat on the other side. You should be able to ‘walk’ and stretch in a nice rhythm.

See a video of the walking quad stretch

Lunge with side stretch and cross-body stretch

This stretch encompasses multiple versions and modifications. In the simplest version, you can try a rocking lunge to stretch your quads and side body. Start by taking a lunge posture as shown in the first image. Raise the arm of the leg extended behind you, over your head, and rock forward. To reach more into the psoas and deeper belly muscles, tilt the raised arm across the body until you feel a stretch and pulse, as shown in the second picture.

More flexible people can try this same stretch as a cross-body lunge as shown in the third image. To make this stretch dynamic, open the arm wide to the side and drop it back down to the mat. Alternatively, you can make this stretch dynamic by turning the lunge into a march, where you alternate the sides of the lunge. This is a great progression dynamic stretching for runners.

Inner thigh/adductor stretching

Adductor stretch

Start by standing with your legs spread apart as if you are doing a jumping jack. Bend forward at the waist and drop your opposite hand to the opposite leg as shown while leaning into the stretch in the inner thigh. Alternate left and right sides until the area is warm and free of discomfort. This should be done in a nice steady rhythm with a pause between movements.

See a video of the dynamic adductor stretch

Walking out the calves

waking out the calves stretch for runners
Down dog calf stretch while walking out the feet

The beginning posture/stretch in this photo is called the downward dog. In general, this posture will passively stretch your calves just by holding the posture. To make this stretch dynamic walk back and forth by picking one foot up and letting the other foot sink deep into a heel stretch, then switch to the other side. This is called walking out the dog or peddling the feet.

In Conclusion about, dynamic stretching for runners

Many people/runners operate under the assumption that stretching is a tedious stationary activity but dynamic stretching for runners can be a great addition to a warmup. Many forms of stretching are actually dynamic and can prepare you for a better run. Most passive stretches can be turned into dynamic ones with a few simple tweaks. Building in some dynamic stretching time pre-run can help you improve your body awareness and thereby prevent injury as well as mentally prepare you for the task at hand. If you do not like stretching yourself, you can always book a runner’s massage and stretch with us and we will do it for you 😍.

Four Reasons for Massage in the Winter

Cold and Massage

Why do people feel like they need more self care like massage in the winter?

As I sit here and write this post, we have about a month left of winter which seems far to long after 3 months of cold inside. I am eagerly awaiting spring, but I am also finding that my physical self seems to need a lot more self-care at this point. If my body had a voice it would be demanding a lot of things. It is not just my body either, my mind also seems like it requires a lot more maintenance than it did in September. I find myself often thinking about how amazing it would be to have a massage in these last days of winter. My body aches, I am tired and mentally I am just burnt out. More so than usual this year since we are 2 + years into a pandemic. So I put together this post on four reasons you might need a massage in the winter.

I do not want to sound an alarm about how winter is causing all kinds of problems for you. It is not. How you ‘feel’ is a pretty important part of wellness though, and predictably, I do not feel good. There is a good reason that you might be craving self-care like massage in the winter though

Many people need more rest in the winter, massage can help

As a natural extension of that, you might feel the need to build in rest you are not getting due to our rigid work schedules.  According to a recent American Academy of Sleep Medicine study 34% of U.S. adults say they sleep more during winter. For many, the dark, cold winter months are a time to catch up on sleep.”

Your body might be more sensitve to discomfort in the winter

When it is colder our circulatory system changes. The cold weather causes venous and arterial constriction. Ie, in laymen’s terms your blood flow constricts and pulls close to the body. In addition to the pulling close, the actual blood flow is also shunted to your organs and away from your limbs. While it is not an exact science, this contraction likely puts more pressure on your nervous system, making it a little more sensitive.

Seasonal mood changes lead to craving comfort like massage

Winter and massage

It is fairly well documented that some people’s moods are affected by summer and winter patterns. This is called seasonal affective disorder. It turns out that some people are actually biologically more sensitive to seasonal changes which can, in turn, change mood and behavior. Feeling down or sluggish in the winter months may lead you to choose activities such as self-care, or massage to bolster your mood. This is a real disorder, so if you find that you are struggling you should definitely reach out to a medical professional rather than solely seek massage. Massage can definitely be part of your care program in conjunction with the appropriate medical care though!

Physical behavior changes based on season

Many people actually DO less in the winter. While some of us love the winter and it is an excuse to strap on skis or go for a long hike, some of us just wait for the cold to pass! Poor weather often leads people into doing less physical activity and we naturally look to indoor activities as the weather gets cooler. You might skip the walk to work and instead take the bus to avoid the rain/cold. These sorts of behavior changes can lead us out of our ‘ideal’ mobility and add to our natural aches and pains:)

In conclusion

So if you are feeling like you need a little extra self-care, particularly in the form of massage, do not be alarmed! A lot of people do! Particularly now, in February and March, we see a lot of people coming in for a massage. Sometimes they are turning over a new leaf, training for a marathon, but sometimes they are experiencing some of the effects of the above.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Do you want a Massage or a Rub?

Massage or a Rub?

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

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

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


Definition of Massage and Rub

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

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

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

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

to rub the cloth over the glass pane.

Massage: noun

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

Slang. attentive or indulgent treatment; pampering:

ego massage.

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

to treat by massage.

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

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

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


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

What is the difference?

back massage

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

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

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

Are both massages and rubs good for you? 

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

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

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

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

  • Are you seeking touch for a reason?

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

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

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

  • Is cost an issue for you?

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

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

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

  • Insurance

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

  • Length of Time and Scheduling

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

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

  • Associations/Connotations 

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

Summing up

owner and massage therapistof Body Mechanics Massage LMT Beret Loncar

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

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

Sincerely, your friendly local massage therapist

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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


Body Mechanics’ Orthopedic Study Corner

A collection of interesting studies, new findings or new ways of looking at old practices.

Body Mechanics’ own Matt Danziger takes an inquisitive look at emerging findings in sports medicine and physiology. 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, so we thought we’d put his effort to some more public use and share his findings right here with our clients and friends.

Reads

Person stretching

Photo by Nigel Msipa on Unsplash



Photo by Nigel Msipa on Unsplash

Should You Do Static Stretching Before You Exercise?

Our pal Nick Ng does a nice job covering some of the back and forth on static stretching in a warm-up. The short story is: we don’t know what it does, but the idea that static stretching is either essential or harmful is probably overblown. Static stretching probably helps a bit, but if the short-term power output is of maximum importance, you shouldn’t hold stretches for more than a minute. 
Read more on Nick’s blog.

Videos

Jeff Nippard demonstrating “Good” and “Bad” postures

Perfect Posture Myths?
YouTube personality and bodybuilder Jeff Nippard is joined by two physical therapists to discuss why perfect posture isn’t worth chasing and it could be causing more harm than good.  The featured folks all display a strong bias toward strength training, but the point still stands that movement and exercise are far more important than perfect alignment. Of course, if something hurts, it’s totally reasonable to avoid and modify positions that hurt in the short term. 

What’s New in Pain?
Post-doctoral researcher and physiotherapist Tasha Stanton talks about how different things like words, vision, smells, and sounds can all influence how our bodies feel and act. . All of this stuff is incredible, but in one of her studies, a visual illusion combined with gentle traction at the knee managed to provoke increased swelling in a man with knee osteoarthritis, but by altering the illusion, the swelling went down. This seems like some (albeit limited) evidence that perceptions can alter bodily processes at the level of multiple body systems.
Click here to watch What’s New in Pain

Research

person lifting weight
Photo by John Arano on Unsplash

Getting out of Neutral
It is literally impossible to maintain a true neutral spine while squatting, deadlifting, jumping, or similar movements. There is insufficient evidence to make broad recommendations about lifting while trying to attempt a neutral spine in regard to injury risks. Most lumbar herniations can be ascribed to hereditary factors with only small changes seen in numbers based upon physical activity. Lifting in a moderately flexed position may be more efficient in terms of strength, however, these benefits should always be weighed against potential risks.
Read the full paper here

3D Model of Massage Affecting Human Tissue
The major implication from this study is that the nervous system primarily mediates the sense of release felt by both patient and the massage practitioner. There is some room in the literature for debate about changes in fluid dynamics and endocrine involvement on a broader scale, but all of those play second or third fiddle to the nervous system.
View the model and the full study

Leave your thoughts and reactions to any of these topics in the comments beflow!

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Sports Massage Therapist Profile – Alex

Body Mechanics NYC is proud to add Alex to our wonderful team. Anytime we hire a new therapist, we like to provide a little profile so you can get the 411 on getting to know them! You can check out a more formal Massage Therapist bio for Alex here.

If you have any questions please reach out to reception and they can answer additional questions! Want to know more about our programs? You can read up on our Sports Massage and Sports Injury programs or check out some of our other offerings such as prenatal massage or our tmd program.

What is your background in sports? (do you train in, participate in, or watch…. give us the 411)

Alex– I grew up as a big skier, tennis player, and dancer.  Now I love being active in various ways to keep it interesting.  I love weightlifting, hiking, and yoga.

How long have you been training or working at it?

Alex– I started teaching yoga about 8 years ago and got big into strength training about 6 years ago.

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

Alex – My first “real” massage.  I had an aching pain in my hip that prevented me from squatting.  I went to a professional LMT and she had me feeling great after one session.  That’s when I realized massage is not just to feel good and relax (although that is a bonus), it actually has amazing effects on your mobility and can be used to aid in your training.

What is your best uh oh story? (time you really F-d it doing something with your body)

Alex– After many years of dancing and having TOO much flexibility, my hips were super wonky.  I tore my labrum many years ago, but I still notice it every once a while during certain movements.  I focus on diligent strengthening and consistent sports massage to keep myself feeling my best.

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

Alex – I would love to do more climbing and hiking.  South America is on my list and Teton!

How did you get into sports massage?

Alex – I needed it myself!  I realized how much massage is an important piece of the puzzle to keep both your mind and body healthy.  I have also surrounded myself with so many athletes and clients who use their body so much and needed a massage, I decided “Hey, who understands what you’re feeling more than me?  Let me help fix you!”  From there I decided to get my massage license.

What are your favorite kinds of people to work on?

Alex – Athletes and active people. I can speak their language.

Are there any athletes you particularly admire? Who?

Alex – Any professional athlete because I understand how it really needs to become your entire life.  Fitness, diet, rehabbing, injuries, there is so much more to it than just playing the sport.  It takes so much determination and diligence to do it all.  You make sacrifices that I would struggle making (especially when it comes to diet) and I admire their focus and hard work.

What sets your sports massage apart from anyone else?

Alex – I feel like I can really understand my clients because Ive been there.  I’ve seen it all, whether it was me personally, a client or a friend.

Is there anything we do not know about you we should? (odd ball facts) If you had a superpower what would it be?

Alex -I spent New Years a few years ago climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania

Want to read up on more of our therapists?

Why This New York Massage Therapist Will Probably Wear a Mask for the Rest of her Massage Career

Mask Wearing as a Massage Therapist

When the pandemic hit New York City last year, I started wearing a mask when practicing massage in the last days before we closed. In my reasoning, even though the government said masks were not necessary, from a health care perspective it made sense to me. As a medical massage therapist, I specialize in a number of things many other massage therapists do not. One of the treatments I specialize in is intra-oral massage for TMD. These treatments require me to put my gloved hand inside a client’s mouth to massage the muscles there. It means I spend a large part of my day focused around people’s heads, neck, and faces. I remember saying to one of my last clients, “I am going to wear this mask today, it’s just going to help my air stays in my space”. It is not exactly a scientific explanation of germ transmission but I was trying to keep things simple and not scary.

Tmd intra oral massage

As a New York Massage Therapist, I very rarely wore a mask. Wearing a mask in New York signified illness and was a scary addition to the massage. The thinking being, ‘If you are sick enough to wear a mask, you should stay home’. That is totally true by the way, you SHOULD stay home while sick. Unfortunately, there is a lot of time between beginning to feel off, and being sick. When I worked in Ontario, Canada, where massage therapy is a full health care position, I saw a much broader patient population. The public perception of the job is different, so I frequently wore a mask. I wore them if my client had a sniffle, or if I felt off, or if the client was compromised. No one really batted an eye at my mask-wearing as they reasoned it was for a good medical reason.

When Massage Therapists are Sick

I hate being sick. I mean, hate it. I always feel as if I am sick more than the average person. I get sick at least 4 times a year. The CDC notes that “Each year in the United States, there are millions of cases of the common cold. Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more“. I am sick slightly more than the average person, but given my close contact with people that is not unusual. For me, as a Massage Therapist, being sick is very stressful. My income is tied to my ability to not be sick. I cannot work from home and sniff my way through the day. Patients are often very upset when I cancel as well. We have had demands for free service, threats, and general poor behavior over having to cancel due to illness as well. Since my income is directly tied to my ability to massage, you can be assured I NEVER want to cancel unless I have to.

My Mask Has Kept Me Healthy

It has been about a year since I started wearing a mask full time. I have yet to be sick this year (knock on wood) I know there is still time…but it has nearly been a year and I am out and about riding trains, treating people up close, and generally going about my life…with a mask. I cannot say for sure it is the close contact with patients that is the number one reason I got sick so frequently in the past…but it probably is:). I always washed my hands far more than the average person but it is hard to say if, previous to Covid, my clients were. The fact that everyone is now washing their hands when they come into the office means I am not coming into contact with the usual yukies.

Masks Are Keeping a Lot of You Healthy

It is not just me either. Earlier this year conspiracy theorists pointed to a massive drop-off in flu reporting in an effort to classify Covid as a hoax. Almost no one got the flu this year….even with increased testing. The flu dropped off though, because people are doing what we know works for infection control. Washing hands frequently, staying home when sick, and wearing masks. Check out this article in the Science section of the Atlantic on ‘The Pandemic Broke the Flu’. Mask wearing and appropriate infection control works to keep a population healthy.

When we reopened I also expected we would have large problems with people canceling due to being ill, since we ask anyone who is sick to stay home….but it did not happen. Normally, people come in sick all the time. We do not want them to. This year, we have no one coming in sick, and no one calling out sick. NO one is sick! In 8 months we have had 2 cancellations due to being ill. That is far below average.

Massaging in a Mask Forever

I will probably be massaging in a mask forever. Even once the mandate is lifted for massage in New York City. I see no reason to endanger you with my common cold or a flu that has yet to be identified. I see no reason for me to ever be sick again if I can help it. I lose thousands of dollars a year in missed income being sick. That is money I can sock away for better things. My stress is increased exponentially by being sick, and quite frankly, being sick SUCKS. Thank you, but now that it has been accepted, I will be wearing a mask in my massages forever. I really do not mind it, and it is good for both of us.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Pregnancy and Ankle Massage: Is it safe?

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Photo by Conscious Design on Unsplash

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

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

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

Correlation vs Causation: see the example

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

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

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

The Kahn Institute


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

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

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

Miscarriages are common and we need to talk about them

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

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


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

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

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Sleep Hygiene and Massage Therapy

“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together”

-Thomas Dekker

What is sleep hygiene?

The CDC defines sleep hygiene as “the good habits that can lead to you getting a good night’s sleep” As a yoga therapist, I talk a lot about sleep hygiene and refer our clients to sleep hygiene resources in our massage therapy practice. Good sleep habits are one of the fundamental lifestyle modifications that you can do to improve your health and wellbeing. The steps are simple and there is a fairly significant payoff for small changes. Many people have never heard of sleep hygiene, and even if they are complaining of poor sleep, poor health and chronic fatigue, they do not realize they may be inadvertently contributing to those feeling with their behavior. Sleep hygiene alone may not be enough to ensure quality rest. You may require additional intervention from a medical professional, medication, or cognitive behavioral therapy. You should check with your medical provider. This is an excellent self-care place to start.

What does sleep hygiene have to do with massage therapy?

As both a yoga therapist and a massage therapist, I wanted to do this little post on sleep because over the years I have had clients and patients who are specifically using massage as a sleep intervention. Back in my early days of massage, I worked at a number of locations that were open until 10 pm. I remember thinking, “who would want a massage that late?”. Those 9-10 pm spots were always booked though. It turns out, many people are NOT good at relaxing. They do not know how to send the message to their brain that it is time to turn off. They probably did not know what sleep hygiene was, but they had reached the conclusion that they needed HELP and they were getting it.

Massage therapist demonstrating Sleep hygiene for healthy sleep habits

I have always said loosely, that since massage is a passive intervention, that what I am really doing as a massage therapist is more of a complex mediation using touch, where I am teaching people to relax. Even with the massage treatments that I do that are more complex, for example a manual therapy treatment that is more movement based, I am trying to get you to move in a relaxed way and guiding you through that.

Those late night massages that I used to do did not come cheap! Not everyone has the means to spend $150 dollars a few days a week to help communicate with their brain that it needs to shut off. The good news is, sleep hygiene is free. Read on to see some of the basics I suggest as a Yoga Therapist. (p.s if you have children and have sleep trained, these steps might seem familiar to you or you can try them to help make bed better)

1. Do not try to sleep unless sleepy

Only try to sleep when you are actually tired. If you find that around bedtime you have no desire to sleep, you may need to move your bedtime or adjust some of your other habits discussed below. If you get into bed and find you can’t shut off, get out of bed and do something relaxing, then try again in 20 minutes.

2. Stick to a schedule

One of the best ways to tell your body it is time for bed is to keep a regular schedule. Going to sleep at the same time and waking at the same time (regardless of the day of the week) can help your body and mind know how to behave depending on the time of day.

3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol

If possible, avoid taking in caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine within 6 hours of bedtime. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can disrupt your natural sleep rhythms and your ability to fall asleep, alcohol is a depressant, and while it can encourage falling asleep in the short term, in the long term it disrupts the sleep cycles and your ability to get deep restful sleep.

4. Develop a pre-bed routine

Communicating with your nervous system that it is time to shut down can be hard. Doing the same thing every night as a soothing routine can help cue your body and mind that it is time for bed. Examples of quality sleep routines are: baths, meditation, self-massage, gentle stretching in a dim room, or drinking a ‘good night’ tea. Most people do well to avoid overly stimulating activities like checking the news or watching sports. Pick something that works for you and stick with it.

5. Use your bed primarily for sleeping

Help cue yourself that it is sleepy time by ONLY using your bed for bedroom activities. Refrain from eating, reading, watching TV, using your phone, or working in bed. This will help you associate your bed as a restful stress-free space away from the rest of the world.

6. No screen time before bed

TVs, computers, and phone screens give off blue light, which makes your brain think it’s the middle of the day. Set your timers for nighttime modes without blue light and do not use electronics within at least 30-60 minutes before bed. Make sure your dings and alerts are silenced so that your sleep is not accidentally disrupted.

7. Control your sleep environment

There are some common things that set the stage for good sleep that you can do in your home to create a sleep-friendly environment. Make sure the room is cool, dark, and quiet. If the room is not quiet, use a sound machine to fill the space with white noise or a sound you find relaxing. Blocking out the outside light can also be helpful, especially if you live in an area with ambient lighting. Have a blanket on hand, and consider experimenting with a weighted blanket.

Summing up…

Sleep is an important activity. We often think of sleep as passive because we are not up and doing things, but our body is in an active state of rest and digest. Massage therapy can be important in your sleep hygiene routine. In today’s world, it is easy to put emphasis on the more conscious active parts of life. It also may NOT feel natural or easy for you to communicate with your brain and tell it to slow down and prepare for the function of sleep. Taking the above steps into consideration is a great first step. The CDC recommended The American Alliance for Healthy Sleep for more information on sleep hygiene. It is also important to remember this is not a prescription, it is an assessment and a tool. You should check in with your care provider if your sleep issues persist.

You can read more on relaxing on or blog: Don’t tell me to relax!

Supporting Small Businesses in the Holiday Season of Covid

The Ultimate Guide to Paying it Forward to Small Business During Covid

 

It is no surprise that 2020 is a hard year for most people. As a small business owner, it has been especially challenging. Many New York businesses were closed upwards of four months at the start of the season representing crushing financial losses.  While most of us New Yorkers gripe about the big box stores coming in, New York is still mainly made up of small businesses, and those businesses represent jobs, and more importantly, people.

The SBDC of New York, which offers free business counseling for New York business, lists that small business makes up 99.9% of all business in New York. As a group, we made up 50.2% of the private workforce and employed 4.0 million people. That is a lot of people, of those, 708,962 of those are also minority/woman-owned. With the current situation, there is less money in people’s pockets which means less spending money, there is less foot traffic and many businesses have capacity restrictions on them (such as ours follow us @bodymechanicsnyc) that make paying the rent a challenge. As a community, we need to come together to support each other.

With that in mind I wanted to put together a list of things you, the public (or fellow small businesses) can do to help make sure your favorite Mom and POP’s make it through the winter.


Prime Guide Partners Logo

We reached out to PrimeGuide Partners, a social media marketing agency based in NYC, to get some advice on best FREE practices to support small businesses. They are women and minority-owned small businesses themselves. Here is the list of completely free tools most people have at their disposal. They recommended some of the following bolded tips. Be sure to follow @primeguide on Instagram for more social media advice:

  1. Posting a positive review to Yelp or Google. (or both) Posting reviews for a business is FREE marketing for them. It can also provide content for Google to crawl/read so it can affect how businesses come up in search, so putting words that include the neighborhood and service into their review can be extra helpful. Since Google is a huge search engine, it is preferred, especially since Yelp sometimes filters first-time reviewers.
  2. Following the business on Facebook and Instagram…and commenting on their posts. Prime Guide specified that “Engagement on a post can be as simple as a smiley face emoji or heart. It helps businesses understand what type of content is resonating with their audience. Also, posts with more active and thoughtful interactions will get more reach and help the business grow its online presence. And don’t forget to share on your page or story!”
  3. Feature the business in a story or post. If you have a favorite photographer or are remembering an event, remember to tag/geotag and give a shout out to the business involved. Telling your friends via a story that you just had your workout with your favorite trainer is literally invaluable.
  4. Recommend them online in social groups. While these kinds of recommendations do not come up in Google the same way reviews do, they are often more trusted as they are personal recommendations from online community groups. The thread may be searched over and over again by others looking for recommendations from real people that they trust. Trust is a high-value reward.
  5. Sign up for their mailing list. Signing up for a business mailing list can keep you aware of opportunities you might be interested in.
  6. Word of mouth referral. This one is old fashioned, but it works. Face to face referrals are trusted…and can build long-lasting relationships.

For industry-specific advice, we reached out to some of our other favorite businesses to see if they had ideas about things that might help them the most in the next few months.

Photography:

Katie Ward Photography
Katie Ward Photography

Katie Ward, a family photographer, is currently only offering outdoor shoots due to COVID. This has cut her season short since no one wants to have outdoor shoots when it gets cold. In addition to the suggestion of buying gift certificates for friends and family, or booking shoots now for next year, she also added that many photographers can provide prints and holiday cards for you as well. “I know that most of my clients are already planning on spending money to have prints and holiday cards made. What would be ideal is if they love my work, and the photos I provide to them, to make these purchases through me. The commissions from these purchases would be helpful in keeping me afloat during the winter when I can’t be shooting.”@katie_n_ward


Yoga Studios:

Due to both being labeled as exercise and being a face-to-face business, yoga studios have been hit hard. Yoga studios are not necessarily a place to go exercise, they are technically schools and community meeting places. We reached out to Teri from Park Slope Yoga and she had this to say:” There are many thoughts on what support looks like – and the longer this goes, the amounts required keep rising. Coming to class and purchasing online memberships seems obvious, but can be problematic to those who struggle with space (mental/physical) in NYC apartments. Our beautiful community has provided donations that have allowed us great benefit.” She recommended introducing your neighbors, friends, and coworkers to studios you love…this season it seems like it might be time to give the gift of yoga, after all it will be a gift that flows two ways. To help right now you can access on-demand yoga from their website rather than go to YouTube, and buy gently used props for home practice. Please check with your local studio for their offerings.  @parkslopeyoga


Fitness:

Luisa Noelle

Making it as a small fitness + wellness business on the other side of Covid requires flexibility, a focus on safety and quality more than ever.  We talked to Luisa Noelle about her personal training business and she said she has, “shifted about 80% of my fitness and yoga clients online.  My nutrition services were generally online already or shifted along with my personal training clients to online. 10% of clients have shifted to training outside.  As it’s getting colder, we are layering up and are still training outside.” While some gyms are open, it is at limited capacity and there are no classes, so now might be the time to start having some fitness dates at a distance. Being open to modifying your usual routine to train outside or online really helps. She also noted, because she took off 3 months in the pandemic, finding balance is hard, things can suddenly drop off, and “it’s hard to fit in the needed time for nonspecific client communication along with my other work-related tasks.  On the weeks where things sink to 5 sessions a week,  it’s hard to power work through a communications plan effectively due to change@noelleh33


Beauty:

Beauty industries have been hit hard because they are face to face and they were closed the longest. We talked to Hibba Kapil about her business Hibba Soho that specializes in waxing, threading, and eyebrow shaping about what she needs most. She said, “many people are reluctant to buy packages right now, due to the uncertainty of it all, but rest assured your packages will be there when this is over.” Buying them now is very helpful. She also said to enquire about other options if you do not want to come in. For example,  right now Hibba will come to you if you are in the NYC area for services over $100. Your whole pod can get pampered. Bottom line email the business and ask questions @hibbabeautystudio


Florists:

Stems Brooklyn
Stems Brooklyn

Businesses that produce things, like florists, gift basket makers, and personalized products face a different set of challenges altogether. We reached out to Suzanna Cameron of Stems Brooklyn, an eco-conscious florist in Bushwick to ask her about what would best help businesses such as her in this holiday season and she recommended, “To look for any items locally versus just going online to a big chain. And having patience with small businesses by understanding everyone is working more restricted services so that sometimes impacts how quickly you can get what you want.”. New York State has placed restrictions on business capacities and many mom and POP’s are now working with reduced staffing due to moves, finances, and staff changes. Buying local even when there is a big distributor for a service is super important right now. @stemsbrooklyn


Cafes:

Mojo Mousse Bar

We can all see what is happening to the restaurants and cafes….We have outdoor dining but winter is coming. We reached out to Jaqueline Assumpcao of Mojo Desserts on the Upper East Side to ask what she thought would be the best help. She had recently heard of something called a “‘cash mob‘, which is where groups of people come together and shower the business”. Buying in groups so the money really adds up, taking the initiative to organize and support your community can make a huge difference. And of course, if you’re wondering, order directly from the business. @mojodesserts


There are a LOT more suggestions. While I was putting this list together and talking to business owners, this website came out to support the UES Stores. Big thank you to the designers for taking the initiative. For businesses like mine, and massage therapy, that requires long face-to-face contact I would recommend contacting the city council for rent relief. In the end our survival depends on US working together as a community to keep the beautiful things we have built. I encourage you to tag, share, post, buy, recommend, ask questions about what you can do. Many small businesses are working at 25-50% capacity by law, and that does not cover the rent.

The other thing you can do is GET INVOLVED. There are things that could be legislated to help small businesses, but so far not much relief has been provided. If you have more ideas feel free to let us know!

Header photo by DiEtte Henderson on Unsplash

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