Do you want a Massage or a Rub?

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Do you want a Massage or a Rub?

Massage or a Rub?

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

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

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


Definition of Massage and Rub

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

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

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

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

to rub the cloth over the glass pane.

Massage: noun

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

Slang. attentive or indulgent treatment; pampering:

ego massage.

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

to treat by massage.

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

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

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


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

What is the difference?

back massage

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

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

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

Are both massages and rubs good for you? 

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

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

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

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

  • Are you seeking touch for a reason?

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

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

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

  • Is cost an issue for you?

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

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

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

  • Insurance

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

  • Length of Time and Scheduling

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

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

  • Associations/Connotations 

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

Summing up

owner and massage therapistof Body Mechanics Massage LMT Beret Loncar

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

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

Sincerely, your friendly local massage therapist

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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


COVID policies for Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

Covid policies continue to change based on the local ordinance, science, and the current situation. You can check back here for more information or reach out to us at info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Important Updates

New: While mask guidance has been updated for the city and dropped in some cases, masking continues to be required in health centers like ours. For the safety of our staff in close contact, we ask that all guests are vaccinated as well. (updated 3/5/2022)

The full text can be seen here: New York state mask requirement remains in effect for (1) state-regulated health care settings, nursing homes, and adult care facilities; (2) correctional facilities and detention centers; (3) homeless shelters; (4) domestic violence shelters; and (5) public transit and transportation hubs.

New: All guests must show proof of vaccination and be fully vaccinated as of 1/1/2022 (2 doses of the two-dose regimen or 1 of J and J)

New: Therapists will monitor symptoms and test when appropriate since caseloads are low.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage continues to provide safe massage therapy throughout the pandemic by following all the CDC recommended guidelines and more. We are committed to your safety and that of our employees. Here are current COVID-19 policies


General COVID 19 policies

All staff are fully vaccinated. At this time, that means both shots of either a Moderna or Phiser vaccine. Many of our team are also boosted, but this is dependent on the time of their vaccination. ‘Fully Vaccinated’ may soon include the booster as policy.

Clients must show proof of vaccination on their first visit, and we will note this information on your client file. If you have a reason that you cannot be vaccinated, reasonable accommodation will be granted. Please reach out to us by email if this applies to you.

Face coverings must currently be worn in the office at all times. You may use the pillowcase as your face covering for the face-down massage portion.

Please wash your hands or sanitize them upon entering the office to help us reduce cross-contamination.

If you have recently been exposed or feel ill or off, please reschedule. We have a 24 hr cancelation policy, and we expect that you adhere to that, let us know as early as possible in case of emergency.

We ask as this time that you do not bring guests to wait for you in the lobby so that we can reduce the number of people in the office.

Please arrive 5 minutes early to your appointment to do an intake and escort you to an unoccupied room.

Our check-out can be contact-free if you prefer. We take apple pay and tap and pay.


Staff policies

  • Staff are required to be fully vaccinated
  • Staff are required to wear masks at all times during treatment, intake, and in public spaces. In the rare occasion, you see a staff member unmasked, please do not be alarmed this is not due to non-compliance. Our staff still has permission to eat and drink when appropriate.
  • All staff need to test negative for COVID 19 if they call out of work for any reason.
  • All staff must test if returning from travel.
  • Sick staff members may not attend work until symptoms fully resolve or have been cleared by the dept of health.
  • Staff members must wear clean scrubs and wash thoroughly for treatment.
  • TMD massages may be performed with goggles or glasses.

Room Policies

library room with massage table
  • All rooms are cleaned daily and sanitized with CDC level cleaner between guests.
  • All linens including the top blanket are clean and used only for you —many places re-use blankets, this is not acceptable.
  • Each room has a HEPA filter, a window and a heater for you. The filter will always be on but if you would like the window open and it is cold out please ask. We can crack it and turn the heater on.
  • We have central air, but each vent in the room has a HEPA filter on it. The air in your room stays in your room.
  • We have 30 minutes between each appointment for cleaning and airing. Most places have 15.
  • Each room has rubber gloves and extra masks for contamination control.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Massage Therapists and the TCS NYC Marathon

Introduction to the New York City Marathon and Massage

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

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

The role of Massage therapists at the TCS NYC Marathon

Body Mechanics Sports Therapists Emanuel Gomez headshot
Emanuel Gomez

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

Why The Marathon Needs Volunteer Healthcare Workers

Emanuel at the Marathon

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

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

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

Summing Up the Massage Therapist Role in the Marathon

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

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

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Can Massage Therapy Help My Lower Back Pain?

Can Massage Therapy Help My Lower Back Pain?

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

Back Pain is Common

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

Back Pain is Often Non-Spesific

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

Research is Complicated and Low Quality

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

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

Pain is Complicated

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

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

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

Massage therapist treating low back pain

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

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

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

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

BERET’S REVIEW OF ROCKTAPE FMT ROCKPODS ONLINE CUPPING CLASS

What are RockTape and RockPods?

cupping class rockpods

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

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

What was the cupping class?

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

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

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

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

What did I think of the cupping class?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

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

The secret permit you didn’t know existed that is ruining massage in New York City and what we can do about it

If you are a licensed massage therapist practicing in New York City, you need to read this article now. 

9 years ago, in opening my business, I came up against a wall called the Adult Physical Culture Permit. If you are a licensed massage therapist and do not know what it is, you are not alone. When I started asking about it, many of the business owners and teachers I asked were unfamiliar with the permit or misunderstood how it worked. Many long-established licensed massage therapists did not know that their businesses were technically in violation of an out-of-date zoning law. 

What’s is it?

In the 1970s, regulations were put into place in New York City to get a grip on the brothels and unsafe prostitution houses running out of bogus business fronts. The regulations used a wide brush and stated all businesses where the services provided include touch or instruction between man and woman needed to prove that they weren’t selling sex. To do so, they needed to apply and be approved for an Adult Physical Culture Permit.

The Adult Physical Culture Permit is highly specialized, much like a liquor license. It requires that you have rented your space before applying for the permit, you then go through a permit application that can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months to process (while you pay rent!), hire an architect to do a land survey, interview neighboring businesses and residents to see what your impact on the community would be, and go through a public hearing process. If that sounds like a LOT, you’re right it is!
Read more about how the permit came to be here

How this hurt’s NYC Massage bussinesses

Here’s how the math played out when I estimated the cost to opening a very small clinic of 3 rooms:

Let’s say rent at your potential location is $4,000 a month, but your landlord requires a 6-month commitment and deposit, so in your first month, your initial cost is $24k. At a minimum, the permit process takes another 6 months, so that’s another $24k just in rent. According to land attorney Howard Goldman, the lawyers, architects, and processing fees to get the permit approved can cost up to $50k. So to get into your space, before you factor in insurance and payroll, you need $98,000 in operating costs to practice massage legally in New York City right now.

Aside from the gross and possibly debilitating financial drain on small businesses, like our very own, the very fact that the permit requires massage therapists to prove that they aren’t performing sex work before they even open their space implies that massage could only be sex work if some government authority doesn’t oversee it. We’ve already spoken about the biases people can have toward massage, conflating it with sex work, and this shows that bias can literally be written into law.

Setting the financial bar so high ensures that large companies dominate massage in New York City rather than actual small businesses. Meaning, people with no training in massage are often running a massage business through a corporate structure, ensuring low pay and low quality.

What we can do about it

I am bringing this up now because there is a chance for us to do something about it.
Sometime this week, NYC is hosting public feedback sessions to potentially change the text of this law, leading to therapists no longer needing this permit to practice in New York City. Massage therapists, business owners, and future owners will be able to call in and testify how this permit hinders their business, profits, and plans. NOW IS THE TIME MASSAGE THERAPISTS NEED TO ACT.

Because of the service we provide, massage should rightfully be classified as medical care, and the zoning should reflect that.

If you attended the webinar held by the New York State Society of Medical Massage Therapists, you have already gotten some information on the players involved and who will be speaking, but anyone can attend the hearing virtually. 

35 years is way more time than this thing should’ve been on the books. Many small businesses and entrepreneurs are crushed under the weight of this permit, leaving room only for the big spa chains and corporations. Let’s change that now!

Today, the date and time for the review haven’t been decided, but we will update HERE when it is. We are asking that you forward this to any massage therapist you know so that they can get involved.


Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Sports 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

Science-Based Educators for Massage Therapy

Body Mechanics’ own Beret Loncar was recently featured in an article in Massage & Fitness Magazine, which highlighted some of the top educators in the field of massage therapy for those in the United States and Canada. One of the key points author Nick Ng makes is that reliable and current information can be difficult to come by for massage therapists. That’s not to say that many teachers and providers don’t have valuable things to say or techniques to teach, but many massage therapy educators are also teaching outdated or incomplete ideas as well.

All medical fields go through growing pains where tradition will sometimes clash with science. The physician Ignaz Semmelweis was derided by his peers when he proposed that washing his hands was the reason his patients had a drastically lower incidence of death during childbirth when compared to the patients of his colleagues. Semmelweis’s peers resisted hand washing because it was not something they (or the people who had come before them) had ever done, so they saw no reason to change. It was not until years after Semmelweis’s death that the rest of the medical community eventually accepted hand washing as a standard practice.

Within the past 10-15 years, much of the research in physical medicine and pain management began to point to the need for some major paradigm shifts in how we understand many things including the effects and implementation of massage therapy. We are keen to give credit and homage to those who have come before us for doing the best that they could with the information available at the time, but in order for our field to advance, massage therapists must be willing to embrace evidence over eminence.

Ultimately by growing with and adapting to new research, massage therapists are able to provide better massage treatments and improved outcomes for those who they serve. That’s why the environment at Body Mechanics cultivates continual growth and encourages therapists to challenge what they do and don’t know. Even if it’s uncomfortable to change, at the end of the day our primary focus is on getting the best results that we can with the knowledge that’s available.

One of our favorite resources for keeping up with current research and trends is Massage & Fitness Magazine. Most massage industry magazines usually include a few authors who appreciate the ever-changing nature of research in related fields, while the rest of the authors will mostly share opinions on ideas they’ve had passed down to them by others. In contrast, Massage & Fitness Magazine features articles that always include perspectives that are deeply informed by recent research and authors who will even go back to revise what has changed on certain topics based on newly available information. Check out some of our favorite recent articles below that take aim at keeping massage therapy on the science track.

Massage therapy and patella-femoral pain syndrome

Massage therapy and trigger points

Massage therapy and lactic acid

If you are a massage therapist looking to up your game, we encorage checking their content out.

By Matt Danziger

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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