Sports Massage Therapist Profile Interview

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Sports Massage Therapist Profile Interview

Check Out Our Sports Massage Therapist Sharon!

sport massage therapist Sharon

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

What is your background in sports?

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

How long have you been training at your sport?

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

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

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

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

Sharon: 5-6 years

What is your best uh oh story?

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

How did you get into sports massage?

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

Are there any athletes you admire?

Sharon: Misty Copeland is pretty cool and inspiring!

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

Sharon: I LOVE working with the prenatal population. 

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

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

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

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

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

 

 

 

 

Sports Massage Profile Gerry

Get to know our sports massage therapist Gerry!

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

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

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

If you could try any sport what would it be?

Gerry: Motorcycle racing!

How did you get into sports massage as a thing?

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

Are there any athletes your particularly admire? 

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

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

Gerry: I hope it is my sensitivity

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

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

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

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

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

Gerry: I would want to fly of course!

 

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

To book an appointment see our prices page.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

 

 

 

 

 

Sports Massage Therapy Profile -Laura F.

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

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

 

So here it goes!

First off Laura, What is your background in Sports?

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

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

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

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

Laura: Krav Maga!

How did you get into sports massage?

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

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

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

Are there any athletes that you particularly admire?

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

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

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

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

Laura: I am also a certified life coach.

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

 

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

 

 

Finding Naturalism in Massage

naturalism and massage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Does your Massage Consent Pass the Peanut Butter and Jelly Test?

Consent, Massage &Peanut Butter & Jelly

*Full disclosure, I believe I learned this exercise in grade school creative writing.

Frequently when talking to clients you may think that you are communicating effectively and giving a great consent when you actually are not. This failing actually massage consenthappens with everyone at some time. People are full of funny little quirks. If you ask them if they understand, they may say yes when they mean no, or you yourself may unintentionally overcomplicate the matter in order to show you understand when you don’t understand. To make things even murkier, lurking below our psychology, the actual words we choose may have a totally different meaning to another person based on the context, their past experience, and the desired outcome.So how do you know if you’re really making sense and connecting on any legitimate level?

I would always advocate for clarity and simplicity of speech, but sometimes even when you think you are being clear you are not.

This recently happened between a staff member and a client. As the mediator, I listened to both sides of the event, and both thought they had clearly communicated their thoughts but both walked away completely at odds with the outcome. So what happened?


 

-The client had expressed that her shoulders were tight and her neck needed work

-After a full intake, the therapist confirmed that she agreed and that she also wanted to work on those areas and described “We have 30 minutes. I would like to spend about 15 min on each area. How does that sound?”

-At the end of the massage the client was unhappy and stated, “Although I thought the massage was quite good, I asked for my neck to be done”

-In talking to the therapist, I learned she had performed a 30 minute massage, with 15 minutes on the shoulders and 15 minutes on the neck, but she had performed the majority of the cervical massage prone, rather than supine because she felt the client was very relaxed and did not wish to ruin that therapeutically. As the client was use to the neck treatment having been performed face up, she assumed it had not been done and left unhappy. 


 

Even though both parties sat down to communicate formally, because of the personal histories they brought to the table, they failed to reach clarity. For reasons like this, and many others, I really recommend putting your consent through the peanut butter and jelly test. It goes like this:

Write instructions for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to an alien, who does not know anything about this planet. 

While the task seems simple enough, you will soon find you are going to run into problems when you start critically thinking about things such as:

 

  • What is jelly?
  • What is a plate? What does that look like?
  • What is a knife?
  • How do you determine amounts?
  • What are descriptive terms? What do they mean?

Through this practice, you begin to understand there is a LOT we take for granted in our communication, even when relating to other professionals. Words like ‘massage, trigger point, therapeutic, deep, strong, sports, etc’ may have lots of meaning, some meaning, no meaning, or a different meaning, depending on who you are talking to. So if you think you are communicating clearly or if you suspect that you’re not, try running through the peanut butter and jelly test and see what you are taking for granted.

 

 

Why Getting a Massage In New York Could be Dangerous-Part Two

Massage in New York: Doors open to a Dangerous Act

Getting a massage in New York might be one of the more dangerous things you do with your life. Coming out of the Ontario massage program where massage is firmly entrenched as a full health care position that requires 2200 hours of schooling, I was, and continue to be, horrified with massage in New York. I want to stress that this is not ALL massage in New York, but the problem is it is such a mixed bag that you can’t really trust any massage in New York. Before we enumerate why there are issues, I want to share some of my experiences working and hiring in New York City.

I have worked in some of New York City’s best spas and medical massage locations and now I own my own clinic. Along the way I have met and worked with many therapists in the city. While a good many of them are competent at what they do, a large majority of them do not know the muscles of the body, do not know general red flags, treat beyond scope, treat dangerously within scope, diagnose, pathologize, and in general have some really weird ideas about what massage does and does not do.  I have had therapist do high grade mobilizations in interviews, had them confess no one explained referral pain to them, that they did not know what muscle group the adductors was, that they are cleansing me, that they don’t know how to tell if something is acute or chronic, and a host of other nasties. In general, even those who are competent still have some strange thoughts on treatment, assessment, and scope of practice. Strange since New York has 1000 hrs of education. So where is it going? And what is happening?

First lets start of with what a scope of practice is:

The Scope of Practice describes the procedures, actions, and processes that a healthcare practitioner is permitted to undertake in keeping with the terms of their professional license.

New York State defines massage therapy as:

The practice of the profession of massage therapy is defined as engaging in applying a scientific system of activity to the muscular structure of the human body by means of stroking, kneading, tapping and vibrating with the hands or vibrators for the purpose of improving muscle tone and circulation.

A huge problem they have is their scope of practice. In looking at the above, it would be hard to stay in scope at all since the information provided makes no mention of movement, tendons, ligaments, and the nervous system, to which all of the muscles are connected. It makes no mention of stretching or movement, or home care. The scope also mentions that it is the ‘scientific’ application of massage, however a large portion of any of the New York schools curriculum might actually be made up of Eastern studies, energy work, and quackery. To further complicate things, while it outlines that massage might use stroking, kneading, tapping and vibrating (all well and good) it says that those techniques should be used to improve muscle tone and circulation, which is fairly impossible. I can no more improve muscle tone and circulation(with a few localized exceptions) with massage than I can levitate. If you want improved muscle tone and circulation you should get some exercise. This leaves New York massage in a state where massage therapists are being taught essentially whatever the person teaching them was taught…and that is one giant game of telephone and degraded science, or non-science as the case may be.

In 2010, after sitting the board test here in New York and realizing how different the US and Canadian programs were I wrote this letter to New York State:

“I am not sure if you remember me but I contacted you some two years ago while trying to bring my Ontario, Canada, credentials to NY. …
The reason I am writing, however, is that after working here for some time, I have really had the ability to compare the two standards and see the difference. I wanted to know if there is not some way to get involved with decision making processes about where massage as an industry is going in New York. Healthcare, especially alternative health care, looks to be a booming future industry. After working here, though, I have some concerns about where things are headed. I have met new grads, at very prominent spas who don’t know their anatomy. It concerns me that a therapist can make a decision to work on the arm rather than the JT sprain (that the client complained about) that clearly needs ice or mobilization because it “feels” energetically right’. I find the whole thing dangerous.”

Since then I have become increasingly concerned that the situation is far worse than it seemed at the time.

Even if we ignore the glaring problems with the scope, the inclusion of the eastern education in the standard has opened the doors to a variety of very dangerous problems. For those of you who do not know how eastern or shiatsu massage works, the actual techniques themselves are simple, it’s a combination of touching and stretching. The way the massage is directed is through an assessment just as a science-based massage would have. The difference being that a shiatsu assessment uses the five element theory to figure out where you have an energy imbalance. The five elements are:METAL (lung, large intestine)  WATER (kidney, bladder) WOOD (liver, gallbladder)  FIRE (heart, small intestine, pericardium, small intestine) and  EARTH (spleen, stomach).

It would take into consideration things such as: when you woke from sleep at night , if your eyes are dry, and your emotional state, and then the practitioner would decide based on the element theory and intuition from that information where your imbalance is and treat the energy line that is associated with it. The problem is, however, that is essentially diagnosing someone.  It is completely out of the scope of a massage therapist to diagnose anything. Additionally, because the elements represent internal organs, it leads therapists into believing it’s within their scope to treat them. It is not. A therapist has no business commenting, suggesting or working with your kidney, bladder or heart. (unless it’s to say get thee to a doctor)

All of those elements also have emotional states. Wood is anger, Fire is joy, metal is grief and Earth is worry.  As a theory perhaps it is fine alone, but it opens therapists up to the idea that they should be asking you about your emotions. Massage therapists are not psychologists. They have no business talking to you about your emotional state in any way, shape or form as part of an assessment, or as part of a treatment, other than to refer you out or if a client offers it voluntarily.

It also encourages massage therapists to overlook red flags for treatment because in the context of an Eastern massage, red flags could easily be ignored as its part of the symptoms picture of a specific ‘energy line’ imbalance. As an example someone waking at night in pain (possible sign of cancer) might be looked over as a significant problem because the therapist is so interested to find out ‘what time’ they woke and diagnose it as an imbalance. Or a patient might express grief over a loss of a family member, but rather than get referred out, the therapist might treat it as an imbalance. 

To make matters worse, you, as a consumer really have no choice in the matter. While you, the patient, should have a choice in how you are treated, because this is part of the core education, for most therapists it’s hard for them to separate the science from the fiction. You may only want medical massage but in the context of New York State it would be just as valid for the therapist to work your meridians to treat your knee pain rather than treat, as requested, your knee where the pain is located. As a consumer do you really know what they are doing? Probably not…but it’s all connected, right? Technically you should be taken through a consent process so you know exactly what you’re getting. (but that is a matter for another day)

So whats it all mean? From my point of view its completely unsafe and permissive. New York State is producing healers, not medical professionals. A huge number of the massage population does not know their scope, and does not care, because it was part of their education to be outside of it, provided they were performing in a specific way.  I realize this blog is not going to win me any popularity contests, so in conclusion, I would like to add that there are therapists out there doing great work every day (in all kinds of modalities not just mine- and that includes energy, eastern and what every you offer ), but as a consumer, you can’t tell which ones are which….and that is a problem. The actual system has set the practitioners up to fail, not the educators or the practitioners themselves.

Massage in NYC, My journey – Part One

I love NYC

Massage In NYC

Part One- My story

This blog likely will not win me any friends, but it’s time to discuss what’s wrong with massage in NYC.
Before we can do that, however, we need to discuss my journey and why I feel comfortable saying New York, with one of the highest standards of practice for massage in the U.S., is doing a terrible job, how I ended up practicing in NYC and what a horrible struggle it was to be able to practice here.

In 2011 I moved back to NY from Canada to be closer to my family. I sold my house in Canada and quit my job where I had been working as an RMT (Registered Massage Therapist) in a pain clinic for insurance claims for four years. The plan was to take a brief two month trip to Thailand, where I could take a vacation, and practice teaching Thai massage while I waited for my New York State massage therapy license to be approved. Knowing that these things take time, I applied for my license well in advance of leaving for my trip. It was a wait that extended my trip to nearly a year, totally unacceptable based on what I learned about New York State licensing requirements. What a waste of taxpayer dollars.

The Ontario Massage Program

First I guess I should explain what massage is in Canada, because it is not the same as it is here in New York. Massage in Ontario is a full medical profession that requires a science prerequisite to even apply. Most candidates are already college graduates by the time they enter the program, and the field is attracting the kind of student that would want to be a nurse practitioner or physical therapist. The program itself is science based, and has a scope of practice similar to that of a physical therapist state-side. We, as massage therapists in Ontario, took blood pressure, temperature and special tests for physical problems on a daily basis. Our place is firmly set as the gateway to the health care continuum. Patients with physical problems are assessed and checked for red flags, and if it is something that can be triaged on-site within the therapist’s scope, we treat. If not, they are referred out to the appropriate professional.

The value in the Canadian program lies specifically not just in the treatment, but in the ability to act as medical professionals who can prevent those with physical problems that do not require a doctors attention from actually going to the doctor, while at the same time recognizing those folks with symptoms such as high blood pressure, early signs of disease, or pre-stroke symptoms and getting them attention right away. In Canada, treatments are designed to fit the problem. We do not specialize in modalities. If you had to give the style a name the best description would likely be classical rehabilitative manual therapy and movement.

When I applied to the Ontario RMT program, which is 2300 hrs of education, I had already been to college and taken pre-med classes, but even for me the school was challenging. It’s not just the content that is difficult, but the methodology of the structure, which forces you into critical thinking patterns. Once you have learned a skill, or piece of information, it is free game to show up anywhere as questions on the test, while about facts, are also about the application of information given outside forces. You must constantly compare what you know to “what if this happens”; always looking at a thousand-and-one possible outcomes….because it might show up on a test.

To give you an idea of the educational environment I can share with you this example: I remember clearly going to my teacher after another girl and I had done poorly on a practical test where we were asked to perform a fifteen-minute treatment for rehabbing an iliotibial band syndrome in a sub acute stage of healing. In such tests we would be asked to show a treatment with massage, exercise on the table, stretching, and also home care broken down into carefully timed segments, always obtaining the appropriate medical consent highlighting the risks and benefits of treatment. We were furious as our school was highly competitive for grades. Our complaint was that we had never learned the particular condition we had been tested on. Our teacher was completely unsympathetic to our issue and let us know that ‘given that we knew the anatomy and friction syndromes in general we should be able to figure it out and that we could not always expect things to go as planned in treatment so we had best get used to thinking about things and doing our best’. So lesson learned in RMT School; you can get tested on things you do not know—and pass—as long as you can critical-think your way out of them. Critical thinking is the passing grade.

The Canadian RMT program teaches college level anatomy, pathology, and clinical skills such as range of motion, charting, medical shorthand, and strong communications skills. It teaches assessment of conditions, and the ability to accurately define an injury into acute, sub acute and chronic. It runs over two years, with multiple internships in clinical settings. The program ends in a 2-day extensive government test (OSCE). Day One is a written exam and the second day is a manual exam designed to test your safety and critical thinking for real world application in a medical setting. It’s the kind of test that makes you weak in the knees. It is a program that prepares you to be able work with stroke patients in hospitals, breast cancer patients, hip replacements and general therapeutic care from day one.

Now: The New York Massage program

The New York Massage program to which I applied for my license requires 1000 hours of education and requires no prerequisite. The classes are not college level (although some might be depending on where you go), and ends in a written exam of 140 questions during which you must stay in the room at least 30 min to complete. It is also a non-scientific program. It includes Eastern massage as well as a number of theories and techniques not backed by science or the medical profession. The New York massage requirements prepare students to work at the entry level of spa work, or in other words, to be able to give a good relaxation massage.
Because I had been practicing for four years in Ontario, rather than five, I fell just shy of being grandfathered in to the New York state system. That process would have simply taken into account my experience as part of my education. Instead of that process, I had to go through a process of ‘educational evaluation’. In my naïveté, I believed that coming from such a high standard of treatment into one that, by comparison, was so much lower that the process would be easy. My point in sharing this is not that I think I should have been allowed to practice without evaluation (remember, I am coming out of a background of high evaluation and heavy government control and regulation), it’s that the standard in New York is meaningless, the process is arbitrary, and does not evaluate in ANY way competency or your ability to practice safely. Getting a massage in NY could be one of the riskiest actives you do…and we will go on to that in another blog.

 

The licensing process, more or less (a lot less because it was way more ridiculous than I will write) and the bureaucracy was absolutely astonishing.

Before I left for Thailand I had submitted all of my credentials and paperwork I needed to get the ball rolling. The first thing “Maureen, my adviser ” from New York state did was request my transcripts….but not just the normal transcripts from school, they want to see a syllabus on every class I have attended for every day of school, for every class I have ever taken, including continuing education. I call my Canadian school and request them and there is extensive paper work and money shuffled back and forth. The registrar of the Canadian school is horrified and angry. She refuses the initial request from me and calls New York to tell them that the classes are college level classes and there is no need to request a daily transcript of the education because the education reads like “anatomy level 1, anatomy level 2, pathology level 1 and pathology level 2 and that the information on what is included can be found on any of the guidelines for education and that those classes would be accepted for transfer to any college”. For a while I am stuck in the middle calling back and forth long distance from Thailand between Maureen and the registrar in Canada. The registrar in Canada finally tells me she has had it, “New York State is unbelievable and, honestly I don’t want to answer the phone when they call”.

 

For a very long time I hear nothing from New York…we are talking months here. Occasionally I email Maureen from Thailand and ask how the process is going and am rewarded with statements like “New York has very high standards, honestly the likelihood that you will be approved is slim, you will probably have to go back to school”. On one of my emails a man named Chad responds and tells me that even IF they decide my 2300++ of medical education meet up with New York States 1000 hour requirements they would still need to see my board exam from Canada to let me practice, a minor detail Maureen has omitted telling me. Again, they do not just want the results of the exam, or what is legally on it, they want to see the ACTUAL exam I took.
Now I start calling the Canadian College of Massage Therapists trying to find someone who will help me. I am referred to someone high up on the chain who basically tells me that I am crazy, and that Canada would never ever let any test be seen by anyone for security reasons. She says that New York State can find out what’s on the test by looking at their guidelines and that is suitable for every other country. I try to arrange a call between the two boards and neither will talk to the other. I keep calling Canada, because I am growing increasingly desperate. It has now been 6 months (not counting the initial set up before I left) with no results. New York will not talk to Canada, Canada will not talk to New York; both say it’s my problem. This goes on for another month or so until Canada officially tells me if I call the office again they will suspend my license. I have not yelled at them or anything like that, although I have cried, but I am desperate to make them understand that if New York does not see the test answers they are not going to let me practice.
After seven months overseas I come home to New York for Christmas and my mom finds someone named Harrison at the New York State office who will talk to her about my case. He pulls my file and says that they do not have all the forms they need, which is what the hold-up is…um no one mentioned this. I had been emailing asking what is going on for months. So we go about getting Form 2b submitted, which shows I had been practicing for 4 years. He also says they still need to see my test…at this point I genuinely become hysterical, because I cannot get that test. I tell him if I call Canada again they will take my license. At this point I guess he feels bad for me and explains to me that NEW YORK STATE WOULD NEVER RELEASE THEIR STATE TEST EITHER. And with a chuckle, he says something like “I know it’s a bit unfair, and it’s a catch 22 but that’s the way it is”. I am dumbfounded, but in my month home they announce that they will at least let me sit for the test, the next round of which is of course not for 6 months since all their stonewalling caused me to miss the test in January. The entire process only took about a year and a few months….

So now I started preparing for the New York State test. I knew I was coming from a higher education to a lower one, but at the time I did not know how much lower it was. I, like many of you, assumed massage was massage no matter where it was taught. So I pulled out all of my books and started to study. The Canadian test covers a huge bulk of information; pretty much anything in human biology is fair game, plus laws and clinical studies. It’s overwhelming, so that is what I studied. The New York test was an unknown quantity, and not having gone to school here I had no idea what to expect. I hired a girl who was a tutor to meet with me and talk about it. She gave me a practice test to look over. New York’s laws and regulations took up one online page, so that was not too hard compared to Canada’s entire book on regulation, but what concerned me was there were 20 questions on the test pertaining to Eastern massage and meridian work. While I have taught Thai massage, I can tell you point blank I have 0 experience with any sort of non-medical massage theory. She drew up a chart for me outlining ‘wood, fire, air and whatever the last one is’, the hours their symptoms appear and all related material. This is what I used to study from for the test.

The test was held downtown at a city college. I remember standing outside. It was pouring rain. I was next to a girl who told me she had failed 3 times…which made me nervous. They divided us into groups eventually and we filed into small school rooms. There was zero security, you could go the bathroom anytime you wanted and I remember thinking, ‘My god, anyone could cheat on this test’, a total opposite from the high security of Canada. At last it began and the proctor told us we had to stay in the room for at least 30 min. It took me about 20 to finish the test. As I read through the questions, I have to tell you, I was downright embarrassed for New York. How low was the educational requirement that this was the test? None of the information I had studied from Canada was necessary. The questions were general and broad.  My impression was that the test was cursory, and that anyone, with ANY training could pass the test.  The only question marks on it were of course the meridian questions…which I had learned by memorizing a chart without ever attending a class…which in turn begs the question, what the hell are they teaching if I can memorize a chart and pass? I left utterly stunned. What on earth is wrong with New York massage? This is what they were keeping me from, what they were SO concerned I would not qualify for? Little did I know that this was just the beginning of a journey that would highlight just how different massage therapy can be.

*I completely realize some people in NY will be upset by this. My stance is not that you did not work hard, its that New York State has failed to do an adequate job. In the next section I will go over what I have seen here that I find disturbing and dangerous by health care standards.

Prenatal Massage in NYC- What New York Mom’s need to know

Getting a Prenatal Massage in NYC? Here are the top five things pregnant working women in New York need to know!

New York city is a fantastic place, full of energy. There is a reason we call it the city that never sleeps! But that same energy may not be so amazing for New York’s expectant moms-to-be.  The average American work week is a bit over 40 hours a week however a report from The New York office City Controller in 2015  showed that the average work week in NYC was 42.40 hours, which is right on par with most other major metropolitan areas.

But the report also showed that New Yorkers are commuting longer than most workers to get to where they are going. With the work time and commute time combined New York City full-time workers spend over 49 hours per week either working or commuting, giving them the longest combined work week in the nation”. This means, “The difference in the length of the work week for people living in New York City and some of the nation’s mid-sized cities is substantial. For example, the average combined work and commuting week in New York City is about 4 hours and 15 minutes longer than in Milwaukee.  The result: for each workday New Yorkers have some 50 minutes less to be with family or engage in other pursuits than their counterparts in Milwaukee.”

So it’s no wonder services like prenatal massage, where working moms-to-be can rest, relax, and manage pain, are popular in the Big Apple. Women seeking prenatal massage are often dealing with balancing an active life, work and possible complications from their pregnancy. For many women it might be the first time they have sought out massage and so they are full of questions. To answer those questions, here are the top 5 things pregnant New Yorkers need to know about prenatal massage in New York.

1.   Can prenatal massage aid in stress and pain management? Prenatal massage offers a lot of benefits to a new or experienced mom-on-the-go. While there are some pretty wild claims out there about what massage can and cannot do for pregnant women, it’s pretty safe to say that having a place to go once a week where they are encouraged to take time to rest, have their achy body rubbed and gently stretch things they cannot stretch themselves, is probably a great plan for stress management. And since higher stress can often amplify pain responses, you might call it a drug free pain management plan too.  It means you get to say “I have somewhere to go if it all gets to be too much”.

2.  Should I check with my doctor? Does insurance cover prenatal massage? For most women massage at ANY time during pregnancy is a-OK but there are a few rarely-occurring conditions that do sideline you from a little massage love, so you should definitely check if that applies to you. Since you are going in regularly for checkups in preparation for your new bundle you might as well ask. Checking with your doctor has some added benefits, too. Some folks have HSA and FSA that covers massage, so if yours does, you can have the doctor write a note and your massage might be covered by insurance. It will depend completely on your personal insurance situation, but it never hurts to ask.

3.  I heard I couldn’t get a massage while I was pregnant, is this true? While we are talking about medical things we might as well mention that there are some pretty interesting myths out there on prenatal massage. The first myth is that you cannot have a massage in your first trimester of pregnancy, but as we mentioned above, so long as massage is cleared with your doctor and you do not have any medical conditions that prohibit it, that’s not true. There are also some funny old wives tales still kicking around that say women should not have their ankles and feet massaged during pregnancy because it can induce birth. Again: not true. If you love a good foot rub after your long train ride go for it. Another big one is that you cannot get a prenatal massage from a male therapist. So long as you’re comfortable with it, there is no reason a male therapist cannot give you the best prenatal massage of your life. If he is available, I would say go for it!

pregnancy table for massage in nyc
Prenatal Massage Table

4. What if I am uncomfortable, need to move or only want my back massaged? Whatever kind of massage you book, know that this is your time. The therapist’s job is to keep you safe and make decisions that keep you out of harm’s way, but the actual massage, and how it is done, is up to you. Deep pressure, light pressure, only wanting your feet rubbed, or only your legs, it does not matter. It is your time, feel free to speak up about your comfort and desires. The therapist may have a fancy table that lets you lie face down, but if you don’t want to, or are not comfortable in anyway, do not do it! The majority of prenatal massages in NYC are done in a side lying position with pillows. If you’re not comfortable, speak up and the therapist will make adjustments-this includes leaving to go to the ladies room. Go ahead, we are used to it!

5. How do I know if the therapist is qualified to do prenatal massage?  New York has one of the highest educational standards for massage therapy in all of the United States. The New York State educational requirements are 1000 hours so you are in good hands.  To see if you are visiting a licensed practitioner who has an education approved by the state you can look up their license here; NY State Massage License look up.  Finding a licensed practitioner is the best thing you can do to make sure you have a safe, enjoyable experience. Once you find someone, continue to ask a few questions. Although New York State has a much higher educational standard than other states, that does not mean your therapist will be experienced in prenatal massage. If the therapist is a new graduate the therapist could be working on a permit (before they get the results of their test) and most schools give only a cursory introduction to prenatal massage. Look for someone who specializes in prenatal services. Just because a spa lists it, does not mean that the therapist is experienced. Ask how long the therapist has been performing prenatal massage and what special training they took. Or you can go to one of New York’s many specialized treatment centers geared to prenatal massage.

To book an appointment with our prenatal specialist, don’t be shy! You can find more information about our prenatal massage here.  Or check our our prenatal tips page or postnatal tips page. Give us a visit at:

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage
315 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017
(212)-600-4808

Science Based Massage Therapy the Opposite of BS

Massage therapy and Science Based Massage
Science Based massage, the opposite of BS

 

Well after being so serious I just could not take it any more and this happened. At my clinic we are science based, we are all well educated massage professionals who believe in massage therapy as a science rather than as a fantasy of our own making. In some cases its easier to define what something is NOT than what it is….and this is one of them. Before we go on to what Science Based massage means to me (and yes this definition is what I believe, because it is my blog and my rant) lets take a look at what the meaning of B.S. is (Bull Shit).

I am pulling this definition from Wiki, which is not normally where I get my information, but considering the nature of it, I figured, why not?



 

This article is about the expletive. For other uses, see Bullshit (disambiguation).

Bullshit (also bullcrap) is a common English expletive which may be shortened to the euphemism bull or the initialism BS. In British English, “bollocks” is a comparable expletive, although “bullshit” is more common. It is a slang profanity term meaning “nonsense“, especially in a rebuking response to communication or actions viewed as deceiving, misleading, disingenuous, or false. As with many expletives, the term can be used as an interjection or as many other parts of speech, and can carry a wide variety of meanings.

It can be used either as a noun or as a verb as in the question “are you bullshitting me?”. While the word is generally used in a deprecating sense, it may imply a measure of respect for language skills, or frivolity, among various other benign usages. In philosophy, Harry Frankfurt, among others, analyzed the concept of bullshit as related to but distinct from lying.

Outside of the philosophical and discursive studies, the everyday phrase bullshit conveys a measure of dissatisfaction with something or someone, but often does not describe any role oftruth in the matter.



Pretty much all of the above definitions sum up the way I feel when I hear someone just make stuff up about how massage works. It of course is not always their fault, they may have been passed down bad information from someone else. I am also not talking about peoples spiritual views on connecting to someone, I would not consider that massage.

Lets look at some of the words they used in that quote “rebuking response to communications or actions viewed as deceiving, misleading, disingenuous, or false“. Yep that pretty much sums it up. No matter what the cause of the deception, it is dangerous and damaging. If you work in heath care it is your duty to seek out the truth, or as close as you can get to it, without ego, and keep pursuing it. As massage therapists we spend more one on one time with our clients than almost any provider, and so we can cause some serious problems if we are not careful.

You might ask, “ok so how does massage work then?”. Well, thats the thing, we are not sure exactly, science changes every day. And that is an honest answer. Every time we see a layer deeper into the information we discover new things, so there is a lot still open to explore. We think we know how some of it works, but what we do know for sure is how it DOES NOT work. We could get really specific about the nitty gritty, mico levels, but here I am talking about basic broad high school science concepts like diffusion, osmosis, physics, chemical reactions, electrical conduction etc….The basic rules of high school science apply to the body. Just because it is inside the body does not mean that those rules do not apply. Lets look at more things that it does not do.

It does not magically suck things, move things, push things through the body. Those ‘things’ are governed by the natural biological processes. See ‘osmosis, diffusion, active transport for more information’

It does not instantaneously ‘fix’ things

It cannot cure disease, no matter how much oregano oil you put on

It does not rid you of toxins aka save you from a horrible death by poison because someone who went to school for 500 hrs interviened and gave you a massage…finally

It cannot move bones that have been fused since child hood, like the bones of your head

It cannot make your blood flow rapidly like the river of the Grand Canyon

It is not going to re-align your x, y, z, put your disc back in, correct the spinal curve you have had since child hood

It is not going to make you run faster or clear your body of lactic acid

It does not unravel knots of any kind in the body

There is ALOT massage does not do (that list might get longer as more things come to mind) but the list of what it can potentially help you do is even longer. Your body and brain are in cahoots and they pretty much run the show on what you touch, see, feel, do and experience. Anytime you interact with someone you have the ability to facilitate change via your nervous system, and that is what happens every time you participate in activities like having a massage, going for a run, or even taking a nap. Each activity has a particular response that internally lets the body do what it does…and potentially do it better (or not).  And that is enough for me. I don’t need any huge claims behind it. What being science based is for me is being honest about what I am doing, and pursuing that honesty with my patients daily.