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World Health Day and Facing the Oversexualization and Dehumanization in Massage

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World Health Day and Facing the Oversexualization and Dehumanization in Massage

2020 was likely the first time many people heard so much news directly from the World Health Organization so it wouldn’t be surprising if this is the first time you’re hearing of World Health Day. It isn’t not marked on many calendars but April 7th 1948 was the day the WHO was established and is now the day they create many campaigns to raise awareness of serious, imminent global health issues. Last year’s theme spurred by the surging number of COVID-19 cases, was to foster an appreciation of nurses and midwives, the people at the forefront of the most precarious and daunting medical situations during the pandemic.

This year’s World Health Day theme is  Creating a Healthier World. WHO’s goal is to have international agenies address inequalities in the perception and treatment of different social groups. This directive can be seen as a lesson learned from COVID-19 and the fallout surrounding the pandemic . One inequality that we see more and more each day (especially as New Yorkers) is a rise in racism and violence toward people of Aisan descent. We here at Body Mechanics emphatically denounce these heinous acts and stand in support of the Asian people and communities who have been affected by this senseless and unjust hatred.

Massage in Media

The world of massage can sometimes contribute to the negative light that paints how society views Asian people, and it is up to us as part of the massage community to push back against these ideas. Racist and sexist ideas often develop because a certain group of people have been dehumanized by another. When we don’t have to look at someone as a fellow human, we don’t have to offer them respect, understanding, or empathy. Without those things, abuse, intolerance, and hate can grow. The media and general culture of American society dehumanizes massage in three major ways: attaching mystic orientalism to massage practice, conflating massage with sexual favors, and minimizing female massage workers as only sexual objects.

Movies, shows, or books that refer to Asian-run massage establishments as “rub and tug joints” or making jokes about getting a happy ending whenever someone mentions massage gives a bad connotation to both sex work and massage. Believing that there’s a secret, dirty code you can give any massage therapist to receive a sexual favor reduces the person and the work they do to being a dirty secret. The people working with our bodies deserve the same respect we’d give any professional.

Respect must also be given to the cultures from which we in the West have taken and commodified certain massage practices. From “namaste” tattoos, to Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, to any stereotypical; Dragon Lady character, the history of stereotyping and other-ing Asian culture runs deep. The same applies for massage techniques of Asian origin.

Discussing Orientalism in Medicine with Nick Ng

Body Mechanics sat down with Nick Ng, founder and editor at Massage and Fitness Magazine and spoke about his personal experience traversing the world of massage education as an Asian American.

Body Mechanics: Why do you think Asian women tend to be sexualized in massage settings?

“Orientalism began in the 13th century, but the fantasies and misrepresentations it provoked stretch through media and text all the way to the present. The fetishization of Asian women in a massage setting has its roots in Orientalism.”

Body Mechanics: In the past, you’ve spoken about how Orientalism is common in health and wellness. Can you explain some of the ways the misrepresentations of Orientalism manifest in massage therapy?

There’s a gap in the understanding of the language between the Japanese and Chinese language to the Indo-European language. Other than my [ethnically] Japanese teacher, everyone else [in massage therapy school] misinterpreted a lot of the meanings of the Chinese narratives and even the language and the characters themselves when they mention about Traditional Chinese Medicine. And I’m just rolling my eyes in class and I try not to voice out, but nobody challenged it. And it gets passed on to clients, it gets passed onto media, it gets passed on to each generation of massage therapists.

A lot of therapists who study these Asian massage therapies or other Indigenous types of bodyworks, they do not understand the culture and the history and the language of the people who first practiced it. And it’s a sign of colonialization. …what [American therapists and educators] don’t realize is that a lot of these techniques and narratives also have their own identity. Like Lomi Lomi has its own Hawaiian narrative, Shiatsu has its own Japanese narrative, Thai massage has its own narrative. And there is an issue with cultural appropriation where they leverage these cultures. They use these techniques to leverage for their own thing.”

Body Mechanics: Is there a way for someone who is not from these cultures to teach or practice in a way that still honors and respects these cultures?

Really spend the time and energy to try to fully understand the history of the cultures from where the techniques come from rather than just using the techniques for personal gain.

We here at Body Mechanics hope that on this World Health Day, this post shows the proper respect to the people and cultures from which many massage therapists derive the skills and knowledge they use to help their clients and patients. A healthier world doesn’t just mean getting medical representation of at risk groups but creating a safer world for the people currently at a higher risk of being attacked, mistreated, stereotyped and taken advantage of.


By Matt Danziger and Ken Douglas

Related reading:
Science-based Educators for Massage Therapy

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

Supporting Small Businesses in the Holiday Season of Covid

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

 

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

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

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


Prime Guide Partners Logo

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

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

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

Photography:

Katie Ward Photography
Katie Ward Photography

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


Yoga Studios:

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


Fitness:

Luisa Noelle

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


Beauty:

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


Florists:

Stems Brooklyn
Stems Brooklyn

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


Cafes:

Mojo Mousse Bar

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


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

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

Header photo by DiEtte Henderson on Unsplash

Continue reading “Supporting Small Businesses in the Holiday Season of Covid”

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

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

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

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

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

2. Protecting your right to privacy

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

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

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

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

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

4. Referring you out

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

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

5. Maintaining your personal health records

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

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

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

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

 

 

We Have Moved to a New Location!

We Have a Fantastic New Location

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

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

212-600-4808

info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks – New York

New York has some great run programs in their Parks.New York run - city park run

This weekend Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage participated in the the City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks. It was a fantastic day for a run and the weather was perfect! While at times you might see massage therapists giving massages at these events, Body Mechanics rarely does it as those are unpaid events where therapists are asked to volunteer in exchange for exposure. Fortunately, we have moved past that model so you are more likely to see us participating. Most of our therapists are trainers or athletes themselves and we certainly do not want to miss out on the fun! The City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks was on April 10th 2016. It is a 4 mile course through New York City’s beautiful Central Park.

The City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks is a platform for City Parks Foundation and its efforts to provide free sports and fitness programs for kids. Support of City Parks Foundation helps provide vital cultural, educational, and athletic opportunities for New Yorkers of all ages, and strengthen community connections to local parks and green spaces. They work in over 350 parks citywide, presenting a broad range of programs in an effort to promote healthy communities. Their philosophy is simple: thriving parks reflect vibrant communities.

 

If you click through to the link you can see some of the pictures from the event that NYRR put together. NYRR puts on a great program for all ages. 3,491 Men and 3,420 women turned out for this inclusive event that also has a shorter run for the ‘wee’ folk. I would highly recommend it as training run for either group.  It was fantastic to see runners of all ages posing together with their well earned bibs.

I am a running coach but I do not get to compete as much as I would like. This event is extremely well-managed so it was a breeze. Picking up bibs was a snap thanks to the great organization of the event, and I simply met my running partner and her group of friends at the bag check. Since it is early in the season and New York decided to give us a cold and beautiful day, we had many layers. Many of us ended up with our bibs pinned to our legs as we knew mid-race we would start shedding cloths as the sun went up and our temperatures followed suit!

 

bib for New York city park run

As with all races, the only rough part is the corral wait! Hurry up and wait is always the way! Though we arrived at 7:50 or so, the corrals were well organized, although we did have a bit of a walk given that we had planned a slow training run just to get some time on legs in preparation for later runs;)FullSizeRender (14) (1)

All in all, this run was a perfect shake out. I think a lot of people ran to the event then ran home, but if your a new runner 4 miles is SOLID.

But best of all, my run friends introduced me to an amazing program called #22kill. So here is how it went down. We ran 4 miles and then at the finish line a big group of us dropped and did 22 push ups for veterans suicide awareness. AND IT WAS AWSOME.

What is #22kill?

#22kill is a global movement bridging the gap between veterans and civilians to build a community of support. 22KILL works to raise awareness of the suicide epidemic that is plaguing our country, and educate the public on mental health issues such as PTS.

We did 22 push ups as a group to honor those who serve and raise awareness, with a goal of getting to 22 million pushups. There were 6 of us so we contributed 132 push ups to the goal. If you want to get involved, you can go to their 22Kill page and see where to post your own vid or donate. It was a great way to finish off a race day.

 

The next NYRR run is the More/Shape women’s half marathon on April 17th! Have fun running!

 

 

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 workweek is a bit over 40 hours a week however a report from The New York office City Controller in 2015  showed that the average workweek 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 workweek in the nation”. This means, “The difference in the length of the workweek 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 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