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Physical Therapy Paired with Shoulder Pain Massage Therapy @ Bodyworks DW by Meghan Krupka LMT

Tag Team for Your Shoulder Pain: Massage Therapy and Physical Therapy

Meghan Krupka

LMT, Meghan Krupka breaks down the major benefits of receiving medical massage therapy in addition to physical therapy treatments to address your shoulder pain. Check it out!

The newest medical information is now easy to find online and shows that the surgical boom of the 90’s didn’t actually produce better results for patients with shoulder pain. As a result, more patients are turning to alternative, more conservative treatments (ie non-surgical) for dealing with this. These alternative treatments often include massage therapy and physical therapy. 

Surgery frequently relies on images (i.e. MRI, X-Ray) to determine a course of action. However, studies have shown that surgically fixing the anomalies found in these images doesn’t always solve the pain. In fact, for many common pains including low back, neck, and shoulder pain, surgery had similar results to simply doing physical therapy

Pain medication is used to treat your symptoms, but usually won’t address the root cause. Massage and physical therapy look at the whole picture of your history, body alignment, posture, and movements. Both approach the problem from an integrative and comprehensive perspective. They seek to identify the underlying cause of your shoulder pain and give you the tools to move better without pain. 

More About Shoulder Pain and Common Pathologies

Shoulder pain is a common complaint. In primary care scenarios, the reported annual incidence of shoulder pain is 14.7 per every 1000 patients per year. For those with previous shoulder pain, the recurrence rate is about 25%. Additionally, nearly 40-50% of those experiencing previous shoulder pain will still report some pain after 12 months. 

The most common shoulder pain pathology is rotator cuff disorders, accounting for upwards of two thirds of cases. The “rotator cuff” is a group of four muscles. They stabilize and hold your arm bone (humerus) in the socket on your shoulder blade (scapula). The fancy name for your shoulder socket is the glenohumeral joint and the glenoid cavity of the scapula. 

The four muscles are colloquially known as the “SITS” muscles: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. The muscle bellies of these muscles are located on your shoulder blade. The tendons of these muscles (white areas shown in image below) pull your humerus into the glenoid cavity to provide stability and rotation of the arm.

Types of Rotator Cuff Injuries 

Rotator cuff disorders can include: (1) inflammation of the rotator cuff muscle tendons, (2) inflammation of a bursa in this area of the shoulder, (3) impingement of a rotator cuff muscle tendon and (4) partial or complete tears of the rotator cuff muscle tendons. 

Image courtesy of: https://lifesworkpt.com/2017/04/rotator-cuff-injuries-treatment/

Adhesive capsulitis (“frozen shoulder”) accounts for approximately 2% of cases. In this condition, the connective tissue around the glenohumeral joint becomes stiffer, inflamed and potentially thicker. The exact cause is not known. The result of this stiffness and inflammation is restricted motion and chronic pain or discomfort.  

Other common shoulder pathologies include tendonitis, labrum tears and acromioclavicular joint disorders. All of them basically suck in varying ways 🙁 

Why Surgery and Pain Medication Are Not Always the Best Options

In the last decade, medical imaging has taken more of a back seat to more comprehensive assessment. Images don’t necessarily tell the full story. They also don’t always correspond to the symptoms a patient is presenting with. Nor can they necessarily capture the full picture of a patient’s history. 

Surgery primarily relies on this single view of a person’s anatomy to determine an invasive form of action. After a traumatic event, surgery may certainly be indicated as the most viable option. However, research has recently been pointing towards conservative treatment for less traumatic events. For instance, a full rotator cuff tear that completely severs the muscle will require surgery. However a partial tear usually responds better to non surgical approaches. 

Pain Medication Can Be a Useful Crutch But Has Very Negative Long Term Effects

Medication for pain, on the other hand, treats symptoms. Its prescribed for a broad range of symptoms that may not necessarily be specific to your condition or injury. Medication will mask the feelings of pain, but likely won’t resolve them. Pain medication can be temporarily useful if you are having trouble sleeping or performing day to day activities–things you need to be able to do. 

However, it should not be a substitute for receiving comprehensive treatment from physical therapy, massage therapy or preferably both together. Your pain is telling you something important about your body. 

The treatment goals of a physical therapist and massage therapist are to determine a comprehensive approach. We use your symptoms, medical history, daily activities and habitual movement patterns to figure out how best to treat your pain. And we don’t just address your symptoms. We address your whole body to keep them from coming back!

How Massage Therapy and Physical Therapy Go Hand-in-Hand for Shoulder Pain

Physical therapy and massage therapy can complement each other very well. With many shoulder pathologies, shoulder movement needs to be relearned, refined and/or regained. Shoulder musculature also will need to be strengthened in order to protect the structure. Physical therapists are great at assessing your movement restrictions. They will be able to put together a plan for you to gain back your shoulder function from a strength, activation, and motor control perspective. 

A physical therapist’s skill set and education may include some manual therapy but they mainly deal with rehabilitative exercise. Their education on manual therapy is also not nearly as comprehensive as that of a massage therapist. They often prefer to leave any needed in-depth manual therapy  to the hands of experienced medical massage therapists. 

Massage Therapy is best for getting tissue open – PT is best for stabilizing and strengthening

Manual therapy or massage can often be indicated and useful for shoulder pain. Especially in tandem with a physical therapist. Massage therapy is a great way to tell your nervous system to tell it to stop sending pain signals to an area. Massage therapy can also break up and elongate scar tissue and adhesions. And utilize methods such a PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) to slowly gain back range of motion. 

When working based on your physical therapist’s assessment, a massage therapist can be more specific and targeted in their approach and treatment plan. And vice versa. Together as a team they can determine and answer questions. Such as which muscles aren’t firing? Where do you need more range of motion? Which muscles might need to be encouraged to release or “let go”? As the physical therapy slowly be surely builds strength and stability, your massage therapy sessions can catapult you more quickly to increased range of motion and ease. 

Sample Scenario: Partial Rotator Cuff Tear 

Imagine that you are a painter who has been painting interior spaces for over 10 years. Painting requires significant use of your arm in an overhead position. And involves lots of repetitive motion. You started to feel fatigue and soreness in your right shoulder area a couple of months ago. But this has happened before and usually you bounce back in a few weeks. 

Except this time it doesn’t bounce back and gets slowly worse. Now you are having difficulty keeping your arm up and working for extended periods of time.

After consulting with an orthopedic doctor, your decide to get an MRI so they can see what is going on. The MRI shows a partial tear in your supraspinatus tendon (part of your rotator cuff). You decide to explore conservative treatment options that include physical therapy and massage therapy. 

How Massage Therapy and Physical Therapy Get You Back in Action

Your physical therapist works with you to strengthen your rotator cuff muscles, through gentle exercises. Including the one that shows a tear, but also the surrounding ones as well. You work to slowly increase your resistance and load bearing. The goal is to be able to use your shoulder while still remaining pain-free. You also work on your range of motion so that you can comfortably have your arm above your head again. 

In coordination with your physical therapist, your massage therapist works with you to decrease any inflammation and tenderness in your rotator cuff muscles. Your massage therapist also uses stretching and neuromuscular techniques to help complement the strength and mobility work the physical therapist is doing. In addition, they will also identify and help release other areas of your body that may be contributing to your shoulder tightness such as your oblique abdominals. 

Within several weeks, you are seeing significant improvement in your discomfort. After a few months of dedicated work, you feel completely back to normal. You continue to follow exercise and stretching protocols for 10-15 minutes each day and receive maintenance massages about once every 4-6 weeks. This simple and basic routine helps to make sure your shoulders can continue to keep up with the demands of your job for years to come. 

All without surgery and without long term need for pain medication!   

Come Get Your Shoulder Pain Massage and Assessment

Bodyworks DW massage therapists are trained to help with multiple shoulder pain pathologies. They are also trained to work with and understand physical therapists and their jargon. Our therapists are ready to help you find out if massage therapy could be a part of your shoulder pain rehabilitation plan. Already had surgery? Massage therapy can still provide major benefits in your recovery towards normal and healthy shoulder function! Once you’re working with a physical therapist after your surgery, it’s safe to add massage therapy as well 🙂 

Would you like to schedule a shoulder pain massage in New York City? You can schedule sessions for shoulder pain massage in Midtown or in the Financial District. Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at either of our studios!

What to look for in a sports massage therapist

What to look for in a sports massage therapist

LMT, Rachel Simhon explains how to find the perfect sports massage therapist for you in order to enhance performance in your physical training.

New York City can be an intense and high-energy place. It attracts similar sorts of people.

Everyday you see thousands of runners and cyclists making their way up and down the West Side highway training for races. There are thousands of professional dancers performing in the various musical theatre venues in the city each day as well. Physically active types are a big part of the NYC population. Even the folks you see putting in long hours at their desks during working hours often leave to go workout right after work. They swing kettlebells at their Crossfit gym or do handstands at their yoga studio. With all the athletes in the city, it’s no surprise that working with a top notch sports massage therapist is what many of our clients are searching for. 

But what should you look for in a sports massage therapist?

What is sports massage and how can it benefit you?

Before looking for specific qualities in a sports massage therapist, it’s helpful to understand what to expect from a session. Sports massage can comprise any of the manual techniques that a licensed massage therapist is trained in. These techniques are performed with the intention of addressing your specific concerns around your active and/or physically demanding lifestyle. 

Often, our athlete clients will come in with an acute injury they sustained while practicing their activity. Such as an ankle sprain or a torn rotator cuff. The therapist will then work to help alleviate pain. Sports massage can decrease inflammation, assist with proper scar tissue formation, and increase range of motion or stability at the injured joint. 

Other times the concern is minimizing delayed onset muscle soreness during peak training times for a specific event. Or promoting recovery after an event like a race or competition. Frequently, an active person is simply in pain or is having trouble performing at their desired level. And is looking for someone to help them determine the root cause of the dysfunction. These are all issues that our staff at Bodyworks DW can help you tackle.

What to consider when choosing the right LMT

All licensed massage therapists are proficient in basic techniques that can benefit athletes. For best results, look for a massage therapist who has experience working with clients who have physical demands similar to yours. 

For example if you do yoga as your main exercise, look for a massage therapist with yoga teacher credentials. They will immediately understand what you mean when you complain of the side of your hip hurting in Warrior 2. A sports massage therapist who has personal training certifications has no doubt seen other clients who’ve had the same shoulder stiffness as yours. You know, the one that makes it difficult to get the barbell overhead 🙂 

Equally important, why worry about a therapist shrugging off your fears of not being able to compete? Or telling you that they can’t help you unless you just stop running 50 miles a week? Or that you’ll only be okay if you stop dancing in pointe shoes? Taking a short break from these activities may be medically advisable to recover from an injury. But you want someone on your team who is committed to helping you get back to doing them at your peak again. 

You want a sports massage therapist who has a personal experience with your lifestyle. Or who has a proven track record working with folks like you. They will be far more likely to relate to your priorities and values. Finding a therapist that genuinely understands what makes you tick matters just as much as finding one who sees a lot of sports injuries.

Finding the best therapist for you at Bodyworks DW

At Bodyworks DW, all of our therapists on staff are trained in sports massage for both pain or injury management. And have regular trainings with owner David Weintraub to help keep you feeling your best for your active lifestyle. The majority of our therapists are movement professionals or avid athletes themselves. Whether you’re looking for a massage therapist who is also a black belt or a Pilates teacher who helps rehabilitate triathletes

Read through our bios for information about our backgrounds or specialty areas. Or better yet, call the front desk and let them know about your specific concerns. Our front desk staff are not only our colleagues but also our clients. Most of them are also semi-professional dancers 🙂 So they can tell you firsthand about the sort of work we do and how we’ve helped them. 

Whether you are looking for a sports massage in midtown or downtown in the Financial District, know that you have access to a diverse group of therapists. Ones that are experienced working with active people just like you! 

Would you like to schedule a professional sports massage to help keep you feeling, training, and performing your best with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at either of our locations! 

Take a look at your breath

Are you noticing pain in your body? Pain often starts with breathing restrictions!

Christine Maddock, Senior LMT

Senior LMT, Christine Maddock is November’s featured therapist! Check out her blog below to learn about the power of your breath and how breathing restrictions can affect pretty much every system and muscle in your body.

What is the most common issue you see with your clients?

There are many common areas of pain that I see with my clients. Clients will often experience tension in their neck and shoulders. They may also experience low back pain that runs down the side of the leg. But after assessing clients both on and off the table, there seems to be an even bigger commonality. One that affects the whole body. Most of us are experiencing some level of breathing restrictions.

Often this means our core is weak. This can lead to spine destabilization. Although, while the diaphragm is the primary breathing muscle, it’s not always the problem muscle. So, it’s very important to do a thorough intake to get a full scope of an issue.

How do you work to correct issues with breathing restrictions?

There isn’t one right way to treat a client. Everybody is different and can change on the daily. Recently, I’ve been asking my clients do a standing flexion & extension test. The subsequent steps will depend on what has a bigger dysfunction (flexion or extension). Since the body will sacrifice mobility for stability, I check there first. Stability comes from the core. The core includes: the Transverse Abdominals, Internal Abdominal Oblique, Pelvic Floor, Erector Spine group, Diaphragm, Multifidus. 

The primary objective is to maximize internal abdominal pressure & stability for my clients. With a strong core, their functional patterning will start to change for the better. This will hopefully combat the restrictions in breath. If the core isn’t strengthened, the body will correct muscle imbalances by releasing dysfunctionally tight facilitated muscles. And activating weak inhibited muscles. This is a very short term solution and will cause more pain in the long run.

At the end of a session, I’ll provide exercises for the client to do at home. It’ll consist of a supine or prone exercises to optimize internal abdominal pressure. I’ll follow this by suggesting a pendulum exercise for the problematic muscle. In this pendulum, the client moves through the range of motion for the muscle while breathing. The breath will either be from a shortened position to lengthened or the reverse. It depends on where the client is and where they need to go!

What do you like about working on the diaphragm to improve breathing restrictions?

I enjoy working on the diaphragm because helping people learn to fill the ribs through breathe is quite rewarding. So many of my clients have restrictions in breathing. These restrictions in breath can cause a ton of issues, impacting all systems in the body.

My favorite system to work on is the Central Nervous System (CNS) as all body systems are effected by it. My modality/treatment of choice is CranioSacral Therapy.

What inspired you to start a career in massage therapy?

Massage Therapy was actually supposed to be a stepping stone for me as I ventured down a road towards Physical Therapy. Originally an accountant, I realized that the finance field for me. I really enjoy interacting with people and working in a hands on kind of way. I decided to move in the direction of helping people heal. Becoming a massage therapist in New York State is a rigorous path. It requires 1,000 hours of education and hands on experience in addition to curriculum requirements.

About a month into school, I was hooked. I witnessed, first hand, how the power of touch could transform people. The more I worked on people, the more I could see with my hands. I started being able to hone in on palpating texture and tone through touch. I could all of a sudden feel information about a person in their connective tissue, muscle tissue and bone. How incredible!

Do you have a favorite massage therapy success story?

An occupational therapist came to see me after they had an elective surgery. I proposed CranioSacral Therapy as part of the rehab process. We worked on the structural restrictions in the dura mater encircling the brain and spinal cord. I coupled that by working on the fascial and muscle tissue restrictions around the chest and arms. The client was impressed with the reduction in pain, improvement in range of motion and greater mobility.

Another success story involves a tri-athlete. This client decided to work with me every two weeks as a part of his routine. He not only felt better as he was training, but he would continue to personal record (PR) during his races.

The Rise of Medical Massage in New York City at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy by David Weintraub LMT

The Rise of Medical Massage in New York City

How massage is grew out of its luxury spa roots into a respected alternative medicine for pain management

David Weintraub Licensed Massage Therapist and Owner at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy

David Weintraub LMT & Owner at Bodyworks DW writes about how massage therapy has shifted during his career and how he and his colleagues are pushing the envelopes of what’s possible with massage!

A lot has changed in the 12 years since I graduated massage therapy school. And started practicing medical massage in New York City. When I attended the Finger Lakes School of Massage (FLSM) in 2007, I was part of a very small minority of potential therapists interested in learning medical massage. Our school was one of few programs that taught myofascial release as a major part of it’s program. Larger schools such as Swedish Institute focused almost exclusively on Swedish massage and shiatsu (aka acupressure).

FLSM offered direct training in medical massage and myofascial release techniques. This was one of the main reasons I left NYC and moved to Ithaca for 6 months to attend. FLSM’s program was intensive. 6 months straight working 9-5 monday through friday. Plus many additional hours each day of study and hands on clinic work. Here’s a fun fact to give you an idea of how intensive the program was.

We had to learn the names, locations, and bony landmarks of all 206 bones in the body by day 3!

This was so we could spend the next several months of kinesiology class learning nearly 600 muscles. Including their attachment points and functions. All while practicing Swedish, Shiatsu, Myofascial release, medical massage, sports massage, prenatal massage, energy work. And several other massage modalities you’ve probably never even heard of. Basically if you didn’t spend at least an hour a night studying to retain the day’s information dump, you quickly fell way behind.

The Massage Job Market in 2007 = no medical massage in New York City

The basic job market in New York City was almost entirely spa based. Occasionally a therapist could get a job working for a chiropractor or physical therapist. But those were few and far between. And not given to fresh graduates. While some individual practitioners had medical massage practices noone had build a medical massage studio in NYC yet.

When I graduated in late May of 2007 I wasn’t able to work in New York State immediately. Graduating gives you a certificate, but you still need to take a board exam to get a license. At the time, however, not all states required licensing in order to work (they all do now). Pennsylvania was one that didn’t and a spa named The Lodge at Woodloch had come to our school job fair. I figured I might as well work on clients while studying for the NYS boards. That way I’d keep up my hands on skills, gain immediate experience, and maybe even make a bit of $.

I applied at the Lodge at Woodloch in June. Got the job and packed up my car and moved my meager belongings to a new city from Ithaca. I moved to a small rental studio in Hawley, PA, a small rural town with about 5,000 residents. Can you say “culture shock?”

My First Day on the Job = trial by fire

My boss told me she’d keep my first day on the lighter side. Seeing as the most I’d even done in one day in school was three 90 minute sessions. I had four 60 minute session on my schedule when I arrived at work that morning. In the middle of my 2nd one, she called my studio room. And asked, “how do you feel about doing a floor shiatsu session?” I said sure and saw my schedule expand to five 60 minute sessions.

During session three, I got another call asking, “how about prenatal, are you comfortable doing those?” I said sure and watched my schedule expand to six sessions. By days end, another floor shiatsu session was added for a grand total of seven 60 minute sessions. So much for taking it easy on the newbie, right!?

I wound up working 3 days a week with 6-7 sessions per day for the next two months. Needless to say, I had to learn really fast how to manage my body mechanics and technique. In order to not hurt myself and burn out.

All while studying a minimum of an hour a night to prep for the state board. So I could legally work in New York State and get myself back to my NYC home.

Passing the NYS License Exam & Returning to NYC

Obviously, I passed my exam. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here still working as an LMT 12 years later 🙂

The NYS exam is given twice a year, in late February and late August. It’s a 140 multiple choice question test given by proctors with no additional materials allowed in the room except you and a couple of #2 pencils. They were quite insistent on the #2 pencils! The room was freezing cold and you had 2 hours to finish. If you are at all curious as to what’s on the test, click here.

A Brutal Test and a Nail Biting Wait

Once the test is over you have to wait 5-8 weeks for the state board to post results online. Whether you can work in the field or not is entirely based on passing it with a 75 or higher. Failing means you have to wait 6 months to retake it and can’t work in the meantime. If a 75 seems low to you…I’m someone who is an extremely good test taker and studied an hour per day for 3 months for it. I got an 87.

It’s designed so that you only know several broad categories of information to study and you don’t know what specific info from each category will be tested. Nobody gets 100 on it it. Highest score I ever heard of for our year was a 93. She spent 3 hours a day studying!

If it’s late September, anyone you know who has taken this exam will be obsessively checking the state website to see if they have been licensed. And can finally start working in NYS! On October 3rd 2007, my results got posted. Immediately I started applying for jobs. And wound up getting hired by two spas. Equinox in Brooklyn Heights and a place called Providence Day Spa nearby in downtown Brooklyn. I worked 3 days a week at each.

Learning how to Practice Medical Massage in New York City in a Spa Environment

I was lucky to land at Providence Day Spa for my first of two jobs back in NYC. The owner, Providence, was an LMT herself with 19 years of experience. Once she saw that I was retaining clients by trying something different than full body Swedish massage, she let me do my thing with encouragement. I worked on enrolling clients during intake to let me focus on relieving their pain and leave out some areas of the body.

I also learned to explain during outtake that layering focused sessions to work on different areas of the body would yield the best long term results. Not all clients went for it and some simply wanted a full body spa massage. The ones who did though, started seeing their pain go away for the long term. And then sending all of their friends to work with me.

Over the next 3 years I refined my craft. My work is bridge between traditional focused medical massage and Rolfing (aka Structural Integration). Traditional medical massage focuses on deep fascial work to the area of pain and to the surrounding area. Rolfing looks at the body as a whole series of connections and realigns them over the course of 10 focused sessions. I try to be fluid between those two approaches to provide both immediate relief of pain, and a long term solution to it.

Making the Leap to Private Practice

While I was working at Providence, I was slowly building my own private practice at a rental studio in Union Square. As it grew, I added my rental days to my practice and let go of shifts at Providence one by one. At around the 3 year mark I made the scary choice to let go of my last two spa shifts and go fully private.

At this point I would have never imagined opening up my own studio for medical massage in new york city with multiple therapists.

My practice steadily increased over the next several years. I also got tired of sharing a studio space and being locked into the exact same schedule each week. Around the 6 year mark I had a 4-6 week waitlist for new clients. Several were actively pushing the idea of taking on proteges since they couldn’t get onto my schedule if they missed a session.

The First Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy Studio

In order to create and design my own studio space, I needed to rent one. I started with a single treatment room, sub-rented from a psychiatry office. Since I was only planning on being there 4-5 days a week, I had some choices of what to the with the extra time. The safe option was to simply rent it out to another wellness practitioner. The less safe, but more lucrative long term option was hiring and training some therapists to work for me.

Obvs, I went with the less safe option. I started with 3 new therapist hires, including Shiho. All were talented and eager to learn. Shiho has grown into a truly fantastic massage therapist since and now has her own several week waitlist.

A year later we added a 2nd treatment room and hired several more therapists, including Laura and Evana. Both are now some of our best senior therapists!

Opening up our Main Studio in Fidi to Focus on Medical Massage in New York City

By the 3rd year we had grown to the point of needing a third treatment room. I decided it was time for us to get our own lease. Mostly so that we could make the waiting area the same relaxed vibe as our treatment rooms 🙂 After looking at lots of spaces and neighborhoods, we decided on Fidi. I signed a 10 year lease and opened up our main studio in August 2016.

Thank you to all of your kind online reviews and referrals to friends and family! We love working with you and you’ve allowed us to thrive. And to grow into the premier studio for medical massage in New York City. When I started out in 2007 there simply wasn’t a place like this. Now we are part of a small but growing community of like minded therapists. There are only a few other studios in NYC that really focus on medical massage so far. But I notice a trend in the way massage is presenting itself in the area. And that trend is towards massage therapy as great medicine for pain and stress management!

We are proud to be continually growing with your support!

In case you missed it, we just opened up our 2nd location in midtown west!

We’ve got another 7 years on our Fidi lease and 5 on our midtown studio 🙂 So we aren’t going anywhere and will continue to offer the best medical massage in new york city available. For many years to come.

The last 12 years have been quite the ride. Creating something that hasn’t existed before was daunting and there were lots of times when I worried that the whole venture would collapse. Thanks for proving my vision right and my worries wrong 🙂

It turns out that my gamble on offering a viable non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical solution to the pains many experience worked out!

Who knows…maybe in another 12 years my team of super talented therapists will sprout dozens of medical massage studios of their own around the city. Can’t wait to see what they come up with 🙂 – David

Can massage therapy help with low back pain in the long term?

Can massage therapy help with low back pain in the long term?

Rachel Simhon, LMT provides all the information you need to know about the back pain you’re experiencing. Turns out, it doesn’t need to be permanent!

Low back pain: a common complaint

One of the most frequent complaints we hear about from our clients is low back pain. Some clients present with episodes of pain that are acute, which means they came on suddenly. Others describe pain that is chronic: it’s been there on and off for months or even years. And they may go so far as to identify with the pain, i.e. “I’ve got a bad back.” Either way, it can be debilitating and prevent you from fully enjoying life. 

How and why does low back pain happen?

Low back pain can range from a dull ache and tightness to sharp spasms that make movement next to impossible. You might recall a specific incident, like the time you hoisted a heavy suitcase into a taxi after a flight. Or you are not quite sure how or when the pain came on. Sometimes clients come to us with a diagnosis and imaging from a physician. And a medical history that may even include surgical interventions for structural conditions of the spine. More often than not, however, your pain is unknown in cause. 

A costly public health issue

The World Health Organization reported in 2011 that 8 out of 10 American adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives. The consequences of this go far past the individual sufferers. Low back pain is the second most common cause of disability in adults in the US. It’s also the number one cause of missed work days worldwide. And Americans spend approximately $50 billion every year in medical expenses related to back issues!

Contributing factors to Low Back Pain: Not necessarily a structural issue 

Low back pain is obviously a serious problem. But how can massage therapy help? Sometimes pain is related to structural damage to the spine or its surrounding structures. If so, you may really need surgical intervention. However these cases are fairly rare. The overwhelming majority of cases can’t be tied to a specific diagnosis or structural issue. 

Research suggests that a majority of adults have structural damage from acute injuries or degeneration but don’t have any symptoms. Therefore, it’s difficult to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between a bulging disc, for example, and severe back pain. Or prevents you from playing with your children. 

Common Roots of Low Back Pain  

Many of the factors associated with low back pain have to do with your lifestyle and/or habits. As a result, treatments that work long term involve making changes to your habits that could be causing the issue. Here are a few typical factors related to developing low back pain. And how the work we massage therapists do at Bodyworks DW can help address them:

Sedentary lifestyle

Lack of regular movement increases risk for not only the development of pain, but also its severity. Not moving enough has been associated with everything from poor circulation to adhesions in connective tissues and joint capsules. Not to mention weakness in the muscles that help support the spine. Something I hear very often from clients is that they would like to exercise and be more active. But they’re in too much pain. Dr. Ida Rolf, one of the founders of myofascial release techniques, described pain as “sensation accompanied by the motor intention to withdraw.” Something hurts, you don’t want to or are afraid to move, it hurts more, and the cycle continues. 

Massage therapy can help relieve your pain and increase your range of motion in joints. This can decrease your fear of movement allowing you to re-engage in exercise. It can be used to minimize delayed onset muscle soreness and help keep you active once you are regularly moving again. At Bodyworks DW we also recommend exercises you can do at home to make the session even more valuable. And, if we think it will help, refer you to movement professionals. These may include Pilates instructors, personal trainers, and strength coaches who can help you start a regular exercise program.

Excess weight

Excess weight can put strain on your spine. While massage therapy isn’t specifically a weight loss tool, it can help bring about relief. And since weight gain also frequently results from sedentary lifestyle, massage therapy can help remove barriers to getting regular exercise. For nutritional support, we can also refer you to a registered dietician who can assist with changes in your diet. 

Poor posture

Any posture held for a prolonged period can place excessive pressure on the joints, muscles, and discs, eventually causing pain. But sitting for long periods of time can be especially problematic in contributing to low back pain. Sitting for long periods constricts the hip muscles limiting range of motion. 

After a while you can lose the necessary range of motion in your hip joints to stack your spine over the base of your pelvis. In order to sit up straight, you then have to over-engage your low back muscles. This pattern is something I encounter in several clients a week. Deep tissue massage on your pelvic muscles at the hip joint can relieve tension that contributes to low back pain. And help you sit without strain. For homework, I often recommend self-release of the hip flexors in the abdomen using an inflatable ball (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hU5kqpTbynk) and exercises to help mobilize the hip joint (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GImwCsuBLyo).

Stress and other psychological conditions

When you are stressed or anxious, your breathing patterns change. Your body prepares for action (fight or flight) by sending out hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Your muscles tense to either fight or run, which is important for survival. 

Or at least it used to be. Back when our systems evolved and the things that stressed us were planning on eating us. Unfortunately, our body still equates stress to being chased by a tiger. And our systems are designed to deal with that instead of that report that is due by Monday. It would be far healthier if you could sprint down the block every time your boss yelled at you. However, you usually can’t take big physical action to help respond to the source of stress. And just have to sit at your desk and type. 

“Stress changes our breathing and posture”

All that hyped-up tension to act builds up in our muscles over time. Going to the gym can help a little bit but not as much as you would like. Our stress response systems are really designed to be used immediately, not 6-8 hours later. By the time you get to the gym your body actually wants to be resting and digesting. And often you end up denying it that as well. 

Relearning how to breathe naturally can help downregulate your constant fight-or-flight response. Some of the work that we do together is to relieve tension in your accessory breathing muscles. So that you can take a smooth and easy breath. After the session, I’ll always give you breathing exercises to do at home. To promote learning how to drop flight or fight and engage rest and digest systems: https://www.otpbooks.com/kathy-dooley-breathing-core-control/ 

Muscle imbalances

Different muscles support your trunk and help stack your spine. The length and strength of the muscles surrounding your vertebrae both need to be in balance. I often tell my clients that a building doesn’t remain upright simply because we’ve poured lots of cement on it. It stays up due to the placement of the materials being structurally sound and in balance. The human body is no different in this respect. 

Activities such as sitting at a desk all day or even overly strenuous exercise can result in muscle imbalances. An imbalance means that the muscles on one side of your body, for example, may be overactive. While the ones on the other side are weak. These discrepancies can pull the body out of structural alignment. And put strain on the spine and lead to pain. 

Sitting for prolonged periods leads to tension in the hip flexors. And weakness of the hip extensors and abdominals. Which makes it difficult to go from sitting to standing. And walking up stairs without strain in the lower back. 

With my clients, I do a thorough postural and movement assessment, along with manual muscle testing. This allows me to determine what to focus on during the session to relieve the root of your problem. I follow this up with recommendations for at-home exercises: https://tonygentilcore.com/2016/03/6-unconventionally-simple-exercises/.

How we work on low back pain at Bodyworks DW

Low back pain is one of the most frequent concerns from our clients at Bodyworks DW. So the therapists on staff have considerable experience working to relieve it. We are asked daily to help address it effectively and keep it from becoming a chronic issue. Our low back pain-focused sessions include assessments to identify postural and movement dysfunctions that might be causing your pain. 

We also work with you to develop a treatment plan. That includes the number and frequency of follow up sessions we believe would be beneficial. And at-home exercises and lifestyle recommendations to help keep you pain-free in the long term. Curious about back pain massage in New York City? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at either our back pain massage Financial District or back pain massage Midtown Manhattan locations!

Does Massage Therapy Really Work_ Here's what the newest medical studies are saying...

Does massage therapy really work? The newest scientific research on Massage Therapy

Meghan Krupka

Meghan Krupka, LMT talks about scientific research on massage therapy & the studies that show how it can help you live pain-free.

Massage therapy and other holistic health care practices are gaining traction in health care. As they become more popular, so too does the push to support the observed benefits of these practices with scientific research on massage therapy. 

When it comes to the human body, things get complicated and murky pretty quickly. We know a lot about the body. But there is likely much more about its workings and operations that we have yet to uncover. There has long been a large and ever-growing body of empirical and anecdotal evidence in support of massage therapy. Now, massage therapists are looking for these results to be backed by hard science. 

The use of precise massage therapy protocols to measure and show best results are gaining greater interest. We now have a wave of small-scale studies that examine massage therapy in highly specific contexts. The scientific research on massage therapy has begun!

Massage therapy organizations such as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) are working on getting massage therapy accepted as a standard form of health care (hello, insurance companies, we see you…). Getting massage therapy to be covered by insurance the same as other practices will largely depend on what science has to say about it.  

Thankfully, the current scientific research on massage therapy is showing that it can be beneficial for multiple issues. Let’s see what the current research has to say about the most sought after reasons for massage!

Chronic and long term pain cases

People in pain are looking past popping pills and sustained rest for a longer-term solution. Especially one that does not have an endless list of precautions and unwanted side effects. The far reaching benefits of touch, while often noted as positive, are finally being more methodically quantified and qualified. Massage therapy has been strongly recommended for populations with chronic pain, with cancer and with post-surgical pain.

A very recent and comprehensive meta study reviewed literature for use of massage therapy in managing musculoskeletal pain. The scientific research on massage therapy found that massage is the preferred modality for managing this pain. An additional, earlier literature review looked at massage therapy in more specific pain disorders: lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), carpal tunnel and plantar fasciitis. The review found that myofascial release therapy was effective in treating all three!

In the last several years, massage therapy has also been promoted by larger bodies such as the AMTA as a viable option for addressing the national opioid crisis. The Joint Commission, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving public health care, has updated their standards for non-pharmacologic strategies for pain to include massage therapy. 

While massage therapy used to be considered largely a luxury, it is now becoming viewed as a legitimate treatment and pain management option. It’s about time!

Athletic Performance

It is no wonder that athletes and populations placing high physical demands on their bodies have sought out massage therapy. There is ample research on the benefits of massage on reducing muscle soreness, reducing fatigue, improving muscle recovery and increasing physical performance. Small-scale, short term studies have largely supported these conclusions. 

Two recent examinations of specific athletic populations have yielded positive results for massage therapy: triathletes and bodybuilders. In the study with triathletes, massage receivers were found to have lower perceived pain perceptions and lower fatigue post-race. For bodybuilders, a higher recovery rate was found post massage based on the examination of six variables. 

Massage therapy as an immediate post-exercise recovery tool remains a common thread for many professional athletes. 

Currently, answering the question, “did massage therapy reduce post-event fatigue?” is easier than, “did this athlete perform better because of regular massage therapy sessions?” Nevertheless, interest in the overlap between massage therapy and enhanced or optimized performance is making its way into more scientific research on massage therapy studies

R&R and Stress Reduction

Massage therapy has historically been viewed as an indulgence. High stress work environments that are now typical of our culture are flipping this notion around. In response, more people are seeking out massage therapy as a form of stress reduction and relaxation. The effect of massage on the autonomic nervous system is perhaps the most consistent and well-known aspect. 

The current societal emphasis on self care is removing old stigmas against massage being an extravagance. Studies are showing a positive effect on the parasympathetic nervous system (your “rest and digest” system) and the decrease in cortisol (stress hormone). These studies support the notion of massage therapy as a regular form of self care. 

Sleep quality and its improvement through massage therapy have also been examined. Massage therapy has shown positive benefits for sleep quality in treatment of diverse cases–fibromyalgia, back pain, and breast cancer. Given the importance of sleep in overall health, this correlation offers massage therapy as a promising method for reducing stress.

Just the beginning of scientific research on massage therapy 

There is certainly now a large body of research associating massage with positive health benefits. From pain management to sleep quality to muscle fatigue to mental health, massage therapy has slowly emerged as a scientifically viable treatment option. 

The research that has been done so far has created a strong backbone of science. New researchers are interested in looking at massage therapy in even more unique cases. For instance, in one particular study, clinicians studied the effects of massage therapy on academic performance and aggression reduction in young children. 

As massage therapists, we are proud that science now backs up what we’ve known for a while: that massage therapy is a fantastic and cheaper option for pain management and stress reduction when compared to surgery and pain medications. 

How we Use the Newest Science in our Sessions

At Bodyworks DW, a top rated massage therapy studio in New York NYC, our therapists stay abreast of peer-reviewed, current research. These science-backed findings are integrated into your sessions. They also help to provide insight into the pain or discomfort you are feeling. 

The best massage therapists are able to understand scientific literature as it relates to human anatomy. And be able to explain it to you in simpler language that is easy to understand. 

Bodyworks DW therapists are ready to help you find out if massage therapy could be a positive factor in your life as well. The goals of the best massage therapists in New York City are to help you achieve your personal health and life goals. If you see a Bodyworks DW massage therapist in Midtown NYC or in the Financial District, you can be confident you are receiving the highest quality care. 

Would you like to schedule a professional massage with a top rated massage therapist in New York City? In addition to our original Financial District location, you can find the best massage therapist near midtown west now too–our new studio here just recently opened! Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our massage Midtown or massage Fidi studios!

swedish massage & deep tissue massage

Deep Tissue Massage & Swedish Massage: What you should know about their differences

Germain Phanord

Germain Phanord, LMT at Bodyworks DW, writes about the differences you need to know between Deep Tissue Massage and Swedish Massage. Read below!

Swedish massage and deep tissue massage sound like two completely different forms of massage. Surprisingly, they have a fair amount of overlapping techniques. They also have their differences. Knowing these will help you choose the one that works best for you!

The primary goal of Swedish massage is to relax the entire body. Swedish massage uses long gliding strokes, and light to medium pressure. The best way to think of it is like a general tune up.

Deep tissue massage is best for giving attention to painful trouble spots in your body. Generally, it uses slower, more deliberate strokes with medium to deep pressure. Deep tissue massage is used most often for chronic aches & pains such as a stiff neck and upper back, lower back pain, and leg muscle tightness. 

Swedish massage techniques for general relaxation 

Swedish massage is usually a full-body massage treatment. Some exceptions apply such as in areas that are medically contraindicated. Or if the client asks the therapist to steer clear of an area. Depending on the client’s preferences, a Swedish massage session may involve several or all of the following basic techniques.

Effleurage

Effleurage is the most common stroke in Swedish Massage. It’s a free flowing and gliding movement towards the heart. Often times, effleurage is used to begin a Swedish massage. Since this stroke is used to warm up the muscles and relax the body, it’ll calm the nerves, improve blood circulation, & improve lymphatic drainage. 

Petrissage

This technique resembles kneading dough. It involves lifting and rolling the tissue under or between the fingers. Similarly to effleurage, petrissage is designed to release muscle tension, improve blood flow, & increase lymphatic drainage.

Friction 

Friction strokes are great for removing scar tissue. The massage therapist will apply pressure by placing either the pads of thumbs, knuckles, fingers, or forearms on the affected area. The movement will be a continuous back & forth motion or an alternating circular motion.

Vibration

Vibration is performed by gently shaking the body with the palm or fingertips. It will release muscle tension in small areas, such as along the spine. It’s also super relaxing!

Tapotement

Tapotement, or tapping and percussion, is a quick choppy rhythmic movement that has a stimulating or toning effect. You see this often in massage done on TV or in a movie as it looks very dynamic. The effects are similar to vibrational techniques but it’s a bit more vigorous.

Deep Tissue Massage Techniques for Specific Issues  

Although Deep tissue and Swedish massage use many of the same techniques, they have different intentions. The amount of pressure used in these two kinds of massage vary greatly. In addition, deep tissue massage includes more specialized techniques for treating specific issues. The most common two are below:  

Myofascial Release

What’s fascia, you ask? Well, fascia is the connective tissue that glues your muscle fibers together. It many ways, it holds you together, but it can also get stiff and tight, causing you pain. Myofascial Release is a technique involving slow, sustained pressure into muscle tissue. This slow pressure stretches and releases your fascia. In addition, this technique can effectively break up knots and release trigger points. It helps improve movement, flexibility, exercise related soreness, and muscle function. Over a series of sessions, myofascial release will also realign and improve posture!

Trigger Point Therapy

A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. These points are frequently formed as a result of trauma to the muscle fibers. Trigger Point Therapy consists of pressing and holding these points for 5-20 seconds. At first, this can feel intense, but it will then release into major relief. This type of therapy can help clients that are experiencing headaches, low back pain, sciatica, sports injuries and more. You can experience a significant decrease in pain after just one treatment!

How to Choose Between Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage for Yourself

Deep tissue massage is best suited for people who engage in highly physical activities. These include activities such as running, swimming, or skateboarding. It’s also great for those who have an injury or chronic pain. Do you have a lower pain threshold? Start with a Swedish massage. Once you’re comfortable with more pressure, you can venture into deep tissue massage.

No matter which form of massage you choose, undoing chronic knots and tension is best achieved with an integrated program. That includes exercise, working on your posture, body movement, and relaxation techniques. And of course, a program of massage therapy!    

If you don’t live in NYC, find a great massage therapist by searching for “deep tissue massage near me.” Read the reviews! Any good therapist will have 20+ positive reviews from clients. 

If you’re looking for a massage therapist in NYC, we’ve got you covered! Schedule a professional deep tissue massage with one of our highly trained massage therapists. You’ll get the quality you’re looking for at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy! 

Most of the clients who come to our studio experience chronic pain or have a sports related injury. Primarily, we use deep tissue massage techniques to combat your long or short term pain.

Looking to relax and feel better with a Swedish massage? We can do that too, just ask 🙂 

Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our deep tissue massage Midtown or deep tissue massage Fidi studios!

How to avoid a stiff neck and back pain during your flight by Brent Wells DC - Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy

How to Avoid a Stiff Neck and Back Pain During Your Flight: A Guest Post by Chiropractor Brent Wells

About Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractor Anchorage AK in 1998. He became passionate about being in the chiropractic field after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment. Enjoy his guest post on how to avoid pain during a flight!

We all know that feeling after a long flight when you’ve got the worst crick in your neck. No matter how much you stretch and rub it, you just can’t seem to get rid of the pain. Or worse, you have a sharp pain in your lower back and feel stiff as you get off the plane. This kind of pain can really make your travels difficult and put a damper on your holiday.

Before you even take a flight, be sure you’re prepared with these pain-friendly strategies. We’ve put together nine tips to help you stay comfy. 

  1. Stretch before, during and after your flight

    Try and keep your muscles as loose and relaxed as possible. You can do some light stretching as you wait before boarding, on the plane itself and afterwards when you get off. There are plenty of “chair exercises” that can help you keep your neck and back muscles less stiff.

  2. Purchase a neck pillow

    Neck pillows are a great accessory to bring as a carry-on. Neck pillows can support your neck as you rest or sleep during your flight. They are comfortable and can prevent you from twisting your neck or back in an unnatural position. This kind of neck support is critical if you suffer from neck pain.

  3. Pack light and don’t lift heavy bags

    Nowadays, everybody is getting on flights with more and bigger carry-ons. Try to keep it light, so you aren’t overloaded with bags as you get on and off your flight. You can even check heavier bags to avoid putting extra pressure on your lower back. If you find you need help, be sure to ask the airline for assistance, too.

  4. Take breaks from sitting

    Especially if you have a long flight, it’s a good idea to get up every hour or so to walk around the cabin. This will help get your blood circulation moving so that your muscles don’t tense up as much. If you suffer from back pain, try to arrange for an aisle seat so you can easily get up and down during your flight to take a little walk.Try taking breaks from sitting to reduce pain during your flight - Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy

  5. Use self-massage

    If you’re experiencing neck or back pain during your flight, you can also try giving yourself a massage. An easy way to do this is to pack a tennis ball in your carry-on and use it to massage your shoulders and between your lower back and the seat. A tennis ball is all you need to really loosen up your muscles. Many airports offer massages, and it can be tempting to get one before a flight. However, this will only help a bit at the beginning of the flight and disappear by the end of it. Instead, try getting a professional massage the evening that you land. You’ll wake up refreshed and ready!

  6. Try to sleep in a natural position

    It can be difficult to stay comfortable during your flight. Try not to twist or contort your body as you’re looking for a good position to rest. As much as you can, sit with your seat reclined and your body aligned. Here’s where a neck pillow can really help to keep your spine straight and forward as much as possible.

  7. Order your favorite beverage and snack

    Stay relaxed by ordering your favorite beverage and snack, so that you can enjoy the flight. Stress can be a major factor when it comes to back pain, so do whatever stress-free activities you like. Stay relaxed, watched a movie, enjoy a snack – whatever makes you feel comfortable.

  8. Upgrade to first class

    If you’re really struggling with pain on a flight, you can also try to get upgraded to first class, where the seats are wider and more comfortable. You can do this by using your airline points, paying more or bringing a doctor’s note that explains your back condition. Find a way to get a more comfortable seat. Sometimes the investment of first class can make a huge difference to your pain.

  9. Stay hydrated throughout your flight

    It’s easy to get dehydrated on a flight. Be sure to ask for water, or bring an empty water bottle through security to later fill with water. For a long flight, it’s important to continue to drink fluids. This will prevent your muscles from getting stiff or tense during those long hours.

For your next flight, follow these nine tips to keep your neck and back pain away. If you struggle with neck and back pain on a regular basis, you should also consider seeing a chiropractor. A chiropractic clinic can give you professional medical advice about whether you need an adjustment, as well as creating a care plan that involves massage, diet, exercise, and supplements. Don’t just cross your fingers that your pain will go away, make an appointment before your upcoming trip

If your trip takes you to New York City, book a professional deep tissue massage in Midtown or the Financial District with a highly trained massage therapist at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy.

Tight Hip Flexors May be the Root of your Constant Pain

Living in Pain? Hip Flexors Play a Huge Role in your Posture & Could be the Root of your Discomfort.

Michael Bruffee, Senior LMT & September’s featured therapist, dives into the root of your constant pain. There’s a good chance it has to do with your hip flexors.

What is the most common pain issue you see in clients?

The most common pain issue I see in clients is probably neck and shoulder pain, from improper sitting posture in front of a computer at work, and looking down at their phones. The runner-up is probably lower back pain often caused by tight hip flexors (among other things), also from spending too much time sitting down in chairs.

How do you work to correct this issue?

I find it useful to ask myself, “where are the causes of this problem?” Often with the neck and shoulder pain that I see that is the result of poor posture, the client’s head is pushed forward. This causes the body to engage the wrong muscles to hold up the weight of the skull. Normally, the head is held in place by a sling formed by the Sternocleidomastoid muscles and the Splenius Capitus muscle. When the head is pushed forward, the body inefficiently recruits the help of the Levator Scapula muscle. This muscle runs from the superior angle (upper inside corner) of the shoulder blade to the lateral processes of the neck vertebrae. Correct posture uses muscles anchored on the spine and the skull, which is very stable. With head forward posture, the body is using a muscle anchored on one of the most mobile bones in the body. It’s certainly not very stable. No wonder so many people experience neck pain!

Don’t know what all those anatomy terms mean? See images below 👇

I focus on giving the front of the neck some slack by working lower on the body then up towards the neck. First, I’ll release the muscles on the front of the legs and the hip flexors. I’ll then lengthen the vertical abdominal muscles before I release the muscles on the front of the neck. I find that if I don’t do all that prep work first, the gains that a client walks away with won’t be as transformative & lasting. They will have a harder time changing their postural habits.

For homework, I’ll often tell my neck-and-shoulder pain clients to stretch their quads and their abdominal muscles. This gives your hip flexors a break from their contracted position. Dynamic stretching for shoulders can also be a huge help. Pigeon pose and cobra pose in yoga are perfect for keeping the lower anterior myofascial lines long and limber. I’ll often show clients a Qi-Gong exercise to keep the muscles surrounding the shoulder blade mobile. A combination of dynamic and static stretching, within the limits of one’s mobility, is good for preventing further pain.

Do you have a favorite area to work on? What do you like about it?

My favorite area to work on is the hips. Improper orientation of one’s pelvis can create so many problems! I find that releasing the muscles around the hip joints (like hip flexors), and between the pelvis & lower back can provide tons of relief. Since the pelvis is our center of gravity, teaching someone to shift how they stand to reduce their pain, can go a seriously long way. It’s the start of them living a pain-free life. If I’m being honest, I would rather someone have so much success that I never see them again (unless they just want a great maintenance massage). I mean that with love! ☺️

Here’s a quick video on how to stretch your quadricep muscles which will help with hip flexor tightness:

Owner of Bodyworks DW, David Weintraub, explains how you can relieve some on your hip flexor tension by stretching your quads.

What inspired you to start a career in massage therapy?

I took a long, circuitous route to massage therapy. I became familiar with taoist medicine when I started taking a T’ai Ch’i class in high school. In college I studied Anthropology, continuing my fascination with non-western forms of medicine and philosophy. I also studied the Korean martial art, Taekwondo, and began practicing a Korean-American form of Zen Buddhist meditation! All of these practices encouraged me to view health in a more holistic form. Not as an absence of disease but as a practice for life. It wasn’t until I had been living at the Cambridge Zen Center for a few years, that someone suggested to me that I consider a career in massage therapy. Once in school, I devoted myself to learning Shiatsu, a Japanese form of bodywork based in Chinese medical theory. I also studied advanced forms of western myofascial release.

Do you have a favorite massage therapy success story?

My favorite success story is from a client who came to see me with major migraines. When we did a medical intake for the first time, she had a long list of falls that had jolted her shoulders and her neck. As a result, the muscles in her neck & the back of her skull were prone to spasming pretty frequently, causing lots of debilitating headaches.

Migraines are a special fascination of mine. In both Eastern and Western medical perspectives, migraines are a result of really complex causes and conditions. Fortunately, with a program of regular, focused massage therapy much of the symptoms can be greatly reduced. After working with this client for about six months, she went from having barely any pain-free days, to having only one migraine a month! After a year, she had a migraine every two months & was starting to get back into working out and exercising. Her quality of life has vastly improved, and now when she comes in, I see a radical difference. Before, she was miserable. Now she has a smile on her face. And that’s the kind of story that makes me love this job.

Massage Therapy for your Office Injury

Massage Therapy for your Office Injury: Why they occur and how to stop them!

Meghan Krupka, LMT, talks about the demands of your job, the toll it can take on your body, and the office injury it may come with.

According to studies completed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal disorders cost approximately $15 billion in workers’ compensation costs each year. Per data collected in 2013, musculoskeletal disorders also accounted for about 33% of all office injury and illness cases. The most common of these injuries are related to the neck, shoulders and back. In addition, sedentary time and time in front of screens has only increased over the years. 

Today, the work hard, play hard and hustle mentalities are the foremost attitudes adopted by many New Yorkers. We spend a lot of time sitting in front of computers, on phones and handling stressful situations. The pile up is causing more and more office related injuries. What can you do to help alleviate your pain? Seek out a medical massage in New York City!

Our bodies are designed to move and be dynamic!

However, modern day work and office culture emphasizes sitting for long periods of time. Prolonged sitting wreaks havoc on our spines. This creates muscle imbalances and restricts our ability to move easily. Over time poor posture can lead to an office injury and inhibit our enjoyment of daily life. 

Massage therapy, particularly medical massage, offers a holistic approach to combating office injuries and postures. It goes beyond addressing just the symptoms of your pain. Medical massage can also address emotional issues related to pain and stress such as depression, anxiety and poor sleep. These are also commonly tied to office stressors. 

First things: what exactly do we mean by posture? And “good” posture?

Posture refers to how you hold yourself upright. It is how you carry yourself both in motion, stillness, and rest. Posture is dynamic, it is not static. Even when you are still, your muscles are working in concert to keep you upright. 

Posture is also your body’s response to any resistance that tries to disrupt your balance. The most well-known resistive force is, of course, gravity 🙂 Our posture is also a collection of our physical and emotional habits in relation to others. 

Having “good” posture then means your body is able to adapt to the physical and emotional stresses imposed on it. Without causing you pain. It needs to be able to do this dynamically. “Good” posture is being able to move and change your shape to minimize stress. The “best” posture for any given situation is the most efficient. The one that needs the least muscular force and uses the least amount of energy to sustain. 

Therefore, “poor” posture would be highly habitual shapes that overuse muscles and energy to resist outside stressors. The result is an uncomfortable shape. Over time the discomfort will progress to pain or office injury. These “poor” postures frequently arise in an office environment. Let’s face it, our bodies were not designed to sit for long periods. If they were, we’d probably be shaped like a weeble wobble!  

Upper Crossed Syndrome: hunched shoulders, rounded back and forward head posture

Upper crossed syndrome is your typical upper body desk posture after a long day of staring at the screen. You are leaning in close to your computer, shoulders rolled forward, head and neck craning towards your screen and upper back is rounding. In this position, your front (anterior) muscles are in a contracted or shortened position. Your back (posterior) muscles are being overstretched. This postural habit, when prolonged, frequently results in neck, shoulder and back pain. It can even end up restricting breathing. 

Medical massage therapy in New York City is great for lengthening and encouraging the muscles that are shortened to release. Great medical massage therapists will also provide at-home corrective exercises to address the stretched muscles. These often need strengthening and activation exercises to fully address upper crossed syndrome.  These are great ways to combat your office injury.

In an office or desk setting, upper crossed syndrome can often go hand in hand with lower crossed syndrome. 

Lower Crossed Syndrome: sleepy glutes, weak abdominals, tight hip flexors and low back pain

What’s under your desk? Your legs! These also have a typical musculoskeletal pattern that they take on when sitting for long periods of time. In lower crossed syndrome, your glutes and abdominals are not being activated. And your hip flexors (front hip muscles) remain in a contracted and shortened position. As with upper crossed syndrome, there are muscles that are being shortened and muscles that are being lengthened. 

Counterintuitively, it’s the lengthened muscles that usually ache all day. However, it’s the shortened ones that will give you the most relief by being worked on. 

Our medical massage therapists in midtown and the financial district will similarly work to open up and release the contracted muscles. And also provide rehabilitative exercises to strengthen those that are lengthened. 

Both upper and lower crossed syndrome usually won’t present pain symptoms until these postures are truly chronic. Thus, massage therapy treatment will likely take more than one session to correct. Full resolution will also require you to do your homework! 🙂

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Support your wrists!

Typing and using your mouse are repetitive motions. They require your wrist to rest on the desk (a hard surface). This puts pressure on the tendons and nerves running through your wrist.  Considering how many different tendons run through such a small area, compressing this area is taking away precious real estate! 

Inflammation, irritation, weakness and tingling sensations result when the compression becomes too constant. Carpal tunnel is specifically when the median nerve is compressed and results in tingling sensations, weakness and pain. The carpal tunnel is a particularly narrow passageway in your wrist. 

The easiest solutions to alleviate compression is to support your wrists or to change your forearm positioning to be more neutral. A neutral hand/wrist position has no bend in the wrist. A soft support underneath your wrists or bringing the keyboard down into your lap can achieve this. This can prevent an office injury!

However, when symptoms become prolonged changing your typing position often isn’t enough to help with the pain. Medical massage therapy is a very valid form of treatment to address the inflammation, pain and tingling. In a medical massage session you can expect the entire length of your arm, shoulder and neck to be worked to fully address the symptoms and root causes. 

Mental health is Affected by an Office Injury

The stress that can exist in the workplace or office may also result in mental health or emotional imbalances such as anxiety and depression. These can then lead to problems such as disrupted sleep. Massage therapy does not just affect the musculoskeletal system. In fact, it can be argued that its effects on the nervous system are even more substantial. 

Medical massage therapy has the ability to reduce negative feelings because of its influence on your autonomic nervous system. Massage helps your body and mind trigger a state known as “rest and digest.” You literally have a whole different set of nerves for this system called the parasympathetic nervous system. These don’t get used when you are stuck in stress mode.

Over time, being stuck in your sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) can cause cortisol addiction. Which leads to chronic fatigue syndrome and cellular breakdown. Wondering why you are in chronic pain at 27? One reason is you need more naps 🙂 

When dealing with continual workplace stresses that may cause an office injury, regular massage therapy sessions may help to offset the effects. 

“Your best posture is your next posture”

– Morgan Freeman

Our bodies were meant to move. To be dynamic and adaptive.

Variety in movement (and therefore posture) is a good way to combat postural habits. However, sometimes you find yourself in too much pain and discomfort from an office injury to move as freely as you once did. Medical massage therapy is a solid option and place to start. 

One issue is common with many of the previously discussed syndromes. When you try to partake in an activity that demands greater flexibility and strength than you currently have available you can get further injured. For example, when your shoulders are habitually rounded forward, doing overhead activities may be difficult or painful. For some, this can also be as simple as walking to and from work. That’s a big deal to affect such a basic movement. 

Medical massage, frequent movement, and stretching all complement each other to holistically relieve you of pain caused by a common office injuries and postures. 

How we Help you with your Office Injury at Bodyworks DW

At Bodyworks DW, nearly all of our sessions will include a body reading or postural assessment. This is pretty standard regardless of what you are coming in with. We offer both pain management massage therapy and maintenance massage therapy. The number and frequency of needed massage sessions depends on your specific case and how your office injury is affecting you. If you get a Bodyworks DW medical massage in the Midtown area or the Financial District studio, you can be confident of receiving the highest quality care. Would you like to schedule a professional massage for your office injuries with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our massage Midtown or massage Fidi studios!

Prenatal Massage in NYC - A Guide to a Peaceful Pregnancy

Prenatal Massage: A Guide to a Peaceful Pregnancy

Ruth Anselm, Senior LMT, explains what prenatal massage is & why it helps. Read below to find out how we can help you have a smooth pregnancy.

Pregnancy is accompanied by thousands of emotional and physical changes. Even the “easiest” and “best” ones come with an array of challenges. An effective prenatal massage therapist can help with these challenges, both throughout your three trimesters and after pregnancy. In decades past, most women were advised to avoid massage during the first trimester. Medical studies have since found that as long as you are healthy, massage during the first trimester is totally okay!

Whether you’re looking for a massage therapist in midtown or downtown New York, you’ll want to make sure you are seeing a massage therapist who has experience with pre and postnatal massage. One who can help set some of your concerns at ease. There are a tremendous number of things that newly pregnant women are told they “should” and “must” do or not do. These messages can be overwhelming 🙂 A great prenatal massage therapist makes sure that you feel listened to, comfortable, and that lines of communication are open.  

From Finding Out to a New Family: What happens along the way? 

The following is a loose guideline on what to expect and when you’ll likely experience it. As well as how to find massage therapy in midtown, downtown, and the greater New York area to help.  

1st Trimester/Prenatal Massage: “It’s positive!” to “This is really happening!”

This is the first 12 to14 weeks where women tend to feel exhaustion, mild to severe nausea, hormonal fluctuations, headaches and constipation. During this time prenatal massage is helpful for treating headaches and for managing stress levels. However, if you have a high risk pregnancy, massage is not recommended during the first trimester. If nausea is severe you likely won’t be interested in massage or able to travel to it. 

If you’re feeling well, though, this is a great time to start getting into a regular routine of self care. This includes prenatal massage therapy! Keeping yourself as relaxed as possible is very important throughout the entire pregnancy to create a happy home environment for the baby that they will want to stay and grow in. 

2nd Trimester: Mama’s got a whole new body.

Somewhere between 13 and 27 weeks you will start to notice your belly growing. Physically, things start changing very quickly during this time. Many suggest this is the time you will feel your best. It is also when prenatal massage starts becoming more essential for maintaining maximum comfort. 

You may have already started experiencing Round Ligament Pain. This is normal (it’s a sharper pain around the groin and front of the hip area). Unfortunately not much can be done for this except making minor adjustments on your own when standing up. It is, however, a foreshadowing of what many women begin to experience around weeks 20-30. 

Your hips start to widen relatively fast to support your growing belly. A typical complaint may be a deep ache in the outer hips and/or low back and often feels constant! The muscles supporting this area tend to go into spasm in response to the expansion. They benefit greatly from detailed and specific massage to release them. 

Leg cramps are another common issue. They can wake you up in the night suddenly or just be an ongoing tight area. There are some specific points around the ankles and feet that should be avoided. A trained prenatal massage therapist will know about them. Work in the hips and upper legs can help with blood flow to the lower leg. More gentle work can be done in the lower legs to help relieve cramping. 

3rd Trimester: Please give up your seat to the elderly, disabled, and PREGNANT LADY!

This is 28 weeks up to the time you give birth. At this point your body is likely dying for a prenatal massage! Although you’re getting so close, the last 10-12 weeks can feel longer than the rest of the pregnancy combined. You have trouble with shoes and stairs… and SLEEP. 

Sleep is vital and the most important thing you can give yourself is rest. Getting comfortable is what it is all about now. Having a date with yourself and your massage therapist may only bring temporary relief, but often leads to the best sleep you get all week later that evening! The strain on your body tends to be pretty substantial. Some women notice it just in their legs and hips. Others in their neck and jaw, any and all parts of the back, and many times the feet. You name it, we’ve heard and seen it in our prenatal massage clients. 

You never know how your body will respond to pregnancy and it’s always unique to the individual. Working to create as much ease in the areas of discomfort can make more room for the baby to find a comfortable position. Anytime more room is made, that little child is going to find it and take it. If muscles are relatively relaxed it helps with efficiency in the body when moving with that extra weight. Later it helps with the labor!

4th Trimester/Postnatal Massage: Your baby is here! 

Hopefully you have had few to no complications. It is recommended to wait for clearance from the doctor before getting postnatal massage after having a baby. Opinions range anywhere from just a few days to 6 weeks after giving birth. The latter being for women who deliver via C-Section. 

The benefits to having a postnatal massage are: 

  • Providing stress relief by decreasing cortisol levels 
  • Increasing blood and oxygen circulation to help with the healing process
  • Reducing muscle cramps
  • Smoothing scar tissue in cases of cesarean
  • Preventing postpartum depression 
  • Teaching at home techniques to help with the flow of breastmilk
  • Preventing blocked ducts in cases of breast-feeding mothers 

One of the things that happens the most after having a baby is that women tend to forget all about their own self care since they now have someone else to prioritize. What is vital to remember is if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be in very great shape to take care of the ones you love. You might be able to for a little while, but when fatigue sets in, you will really start to notice. Taking care of yourself IS taking care of your little one 🙂 

At Bodyworks DW we Specialize in Prenatal Massage & Postnatal Massage

We offer postnatal and prenatal massage in the New York area, in Midtown and the Financial District. Would you like to schedule a professional prenatal massage with a qualified massage therapist to support you and your little one today? It’s never too late to take care of yourself no matter what stage of pregnancy you’re in. Book it and you’ll see what we mean 🙂 

Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our prenatal massage Midtown or prenatal massage Fidi studios!

Neck Pain. The Real Issue May be Below the Knee...

Working Below the Knee May Help Your Neck Pain

Rachel Simhon, LMT and featured therapist of the month tells us why working below the knee can relieve neck pain. Don’t believe it? Take a look yourself!

Why did you get into massage therapy?

My background as a yoga and Pilates instructor specializing in pain management and injury rehabilitation inspired me to pursue a career in massage therapy. I’ve always been a very hands-on movement instructor. Manual therapy felt like a natural extension of the sort of work I was already doing. I also very much experience the world around me through touch! It made sense to take a step further, seeking formal training in a modality where I could focus on that. Keep reading to learn about the connection between your neck pain and everything below the knee!

Most common pain your clients experience?

The most common pain issue clients report to me is neck pain & shoulder pain. However when clients are on the table, everywhere below the knee frequently seems to be the most aggravated. This isn’t a coincidence. I often find a relationship between forward head carriage and tension in the calf muscles. I always do a thorough movement assessment at the beginning of an appointment. This helps me to see how the client is and isn’t able to move.

Then we may also do some manual muscle testing to investigate where a dysfunctional relationship might exist. I then work to release tension in areas below the knees like the calves that can have an effect on the position of someone’s pelvis. Consequently, it’ll have an effect on their overall standing posture and gait. 

I love working below the knee most of all because so often clients will not notice any issue yet focused work there can yield such dramatic results. After release of these areas below the knee I give clients homework to help activate underactive neck muscles. This paired with breathing exercises will help decrease resting tension in the diaphragm. Often times tension in the diaphragm will place stress on the accessory breathing muscles located on the neck.

What is Medical Massage? - Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy

What is Medical Massage Therapy?

Rachel Simhon, LMT & August’s therapist of the month answers the question, “What exactly is Medical Massage and how it can help me?” Take a look!

Very often our clients point out that the massage we give you at Bodyworks DW is very different than what you experience at a spa. This is because we provide customized, therapeutic work that falls under the classification of medical massage therapy

According to Article 155, Section 7801 of New York State Law, “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.”

Obviously, this is quite a broad definition. It covers a whole host of massage and bodywork modalities. So what is medical massage? 

How Is Medical Massage Different than Spa Massage?

A licensed massage therapist (LMT) is the professional performing the work in both the spa and medical massage settings. To date, there is no extra certification required in New York State to perform medical massage therapy above and beyond a New York State license to practice massage therapy. However, there’s plenty of post-licensure training and mentoring available for therapists who want to focus more on medical massage. The key distinction between spa massage and medical massage lies in the intention of the work. 

What is a Spa Massage?

The intention of a spa massage is generally relaxation, but can also be any sort of non-specified self-care. The spa massage experience prioritizes feeling good in the moment. A spa will often have additional comforts such as robes and aromatherapy in order to heighten the customer experience of pampering. This can have very wonderful results in overall mood, and feel very relaxing. However, the results usually don’t last very long. 

What is Medical Massage Therapy?

Alternately, NYC medical massage therapists focus on helping to manage a medical condition for the long term. We practice outcome-based massage therapy. This can include improving functionality after an injury, relieving pain, or managing a chronic condition such as arthritis or MS. As a result, many of our clients at Bodyworks DW have been referred to us for medical massage by a physician, surgeon, and/or physical therapist.

Medical massage therapy can sometimes feel uncomfortable at points during your session, but that’s often the trade-off. It may not feel as relaxing, in session, as a spa massage. But the results can last much longer. When it’s performed in a series of sessions that build on each other, many conditions can be improved or eliminated for the long term.  

What can medical massage help with? 

  • Physical pain from muscle tension around the spine and major joints of the body 
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Sciatica
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Torticollis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Work-related or repetitive stress injuries
  • Muscle sprains and strains
  • Sports injuries
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Pain from arthritis 
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Scar tissue from trauma and surgeries

At a medical massage session, you can expect a thorough intake. Your therapist will ask you questions. Their intention is to understand what your goals for getting a massage are. With my own clients, I generally lead with “How can I help you today?” The most important details you can provide have to do with the timeline or history of your current concerns. 

Your History is Unique…Your Massage Should be Unique too

A client’s timeline helps us establish if particular issues are acute or chronic. This is important for knowing which techniques would be most appropriate. It also helps in getting a better idea of how many sessions you might need to achieve your desired outcome. 

For example, neck pain that came on suddenly and for the first time two days ago after taking a long standardized test is different than neck pain that has come and gone for the last five years after whiplash from a car accident. During a medical massage, your therapist might also ask questions about your lifestyle. A ballet dancer will have vastly different priorities than an attorney who sits for 12 hours a day at their desk.

Assessment and Planning for the Session

After speaking with you, your therapist will make an assessment of your posture and alignment. This involves you simply standing up so that the therapist can visually establish the location of certain landmarks. For instance, looking at the position of the head in relation to the ribcage and pelvis. It can also include assessment of how certain joints move in relation to each other. 

We may ask you to bend forward and backward, side to side, and rotate in both directions. This helps determine whether or not you have movement available in all three planes. And what your range of motion in those planes is. Sometimes we’ll ask you to walk across the waiting room so that we can observe how you move during walking or running. Or we’ll perform manual muscle testing to assess the strength and function of certain muscles. And of course, every therapist will use their hands to palpate areas of the body to develop a plan of where to focus the work during the session. 

Addressing the Root of Your Issue

The assessment is important so that we don’t simply get stuck rubbing the areas that hurt like at a spa massage session. We want to address the actual root causes of your complaints. Many of you are often surprised to find your low back pain relieved by work on your hips. Or your elbow pain improved by focusing on your neck. While a spa massage might evenly divide time between both left and right sides of the body and front/back, medical massage is an individualized session based on your specific issues. 

Your medical massage therapy session may skip areas of your body, or feel quite asymmetrical. Frequently, pain is caused by asymmetrical posture. So an asymmetrical, customized session is often needed to bring you into balance. 

What Happens After Your Medical Massage?

At the end of a medical massage session you and your therapist will have an outtake discussion together to evaluate how to meet your goals. And to discuss specific follow-up recommendations for you. This may include how many follow up sessions you might need and how long you should wait between sessions. In addition, we’ll suggest exercises or lifestyle changes you can implement between sessions. These will help your body accept changes initiated during the session. And give you the tools to keep pain in check going forward. 

Not all conditions improve with medical massage alone. So we may refer you to another wellness provider such as a pilates instructor, physical therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, orthopedist, etc. We have a wide network of colleagues that we and our clients have raved about. Everyone we refer to has been vetted for excellence in their field. 

Our own staff has a wide array of skill sets. We might also suggest that you work with one of our colleagues in-house. Especially if we feel like they might be able to help you more quickly. We invite you to think of medical massage as part of a healthy lifestyle!

At Bodyworks DW we Specialize in Medical Massage

We offer medical massage in the New York area in Midtown and the Financial District. Would you like to schedule a professional medical massage with a qualified massage therapist in midtown Manhattan or in the Financial District? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our medical massage Midtown or medical massage Fidi studios!

What does a Massage Therapist do? Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy

What does a Massage Therapist do?

Meghan Krupka, LMT at Bodyworks DW, writes about what your friendly neighborhood massage therapist is working on to improve their work when they aren’t working on you:) Read below!

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of your massage therapist is like? Certainly, a majority of our time is spent interacting with and treating you, our clients. In addition, a good massage therapist will also be spending time improving their craft. Staying up to date on current research, and working on your treatment plans!

Holistic healthcare practices have gained significant traction over the last decade. The role of the massage therapist in healthcare is now accepted and integrated into the mainstream. Studies have shown that massage therapy improves a person’s well-being, whether that be physical, mental, or both. Given its growing presence, we believe it is important for you to know a bit more about it. And about how the person who shows up when you search for “a good massage therapist near me” spends their time 🙂 

The main event: massage therapy session

The primary job of a massage therapist is to work with and treat you in a session. We use touch and manual manipulation, also commonly called manual therapy. This affects muscles and their surrounding tissues. Clients may come to a massage therapist for a wide range of reasons. Relaxation, pain relief, injury management, stress relief, general wellness. The therapist aims to relieve pain, assist in healing injuries, provide additional bodily circulation, relieve stress and increase relaxation. 

Let’s say you have made an appointment with a massage therapist in New York and have arrived at the studio. Your therapist will greet you, and take some time to review your medical history, daily routines & activities. As well as any recent or “out-of-the-norm” events such as injuries. You can also expect an experienced massage therapist to check out your posture and how you move. All of this information allows your therapist to carefully create a plan to best address your pain and chief complaints. Even if you are simply coming in for a maintenance massage, general well-being, or relaxation, you can still expect all the above so we can provide you with an optimal session. 

Additional Evaluation Techniques Your Massage Therapist May Use

Depending on the reason for your appointment, your massage therapist may use additional testing techniques to evaluate your condition. These may involve modalities such as kinesiology which tests your relative muscle strength and function. Or looking at specific joints’ range of motion and tissue quality. These all help us to further determine which techniques to use. And which rehabilitative exercises or homework we may want to send you home with so you can continue to reap benefits. 

After talking and evaluating, your massage therapist will lay out your treatment plan for you for today’s session and likely for follow up sessions. More often than not, multiple sessions will be needed to fully address your concerns. And for your body to accept and integrate changes. While we are the experts with anatomical knowledge and training, we always want to make sure you agree with and will be comfortable with our proposed approach before we start the massage. 

Once the session is complete, your massage therapist will discuss with you how you feel and ask if you notice any improvements. They will also take another look at your posture or re-evaluate muscle and joint conditions to see what’s changed. And they will go over 1-3 at home exercises they think might be beneficial for you in between sessions. 

Developing your treatment plan and course of action

Many times during a session, your therapist will find areas on you needing attention that weren’t initially included in the original plan for the massage. This is normal. As current aches and pains lessen, the older underlying roots of it may come to the surface. These can be addressed in future sessions. 

Consider making a commitment to stick with it and work through these seemingly unrelated areas of the body. It will make a huge difference in whether or not your present pains stay away for the long term or come back later. 

We may also discuss your treatment plan with other healthcare professionals you are working with–orthopedists, physical therapists, chiropractors, etc. Or even amongst our own colleagues. This is especially common if you are dealing with chronic pain, a recent surgery or a new injury. This communication is critical to ensuring we are creating the best treatment plan for you and that our work is complementing other beneficial modalities. 

For most conditions, plan on 3-6 massage sessions with two weeks or less between sessions. We’ve found that this is the average range of sessions it will take to both have you feel better in the short term and to keep that feeling for the long term. 

Staying up to date on research and continuing education

Massage therapists in New York are required to complete a certain number of continuing education units every three years. These additional educational units or certifications help keep us up to date. They also offer the opportunity to learn new modalities. And to talk with other professionals about common conditions we see in clients. 

Keeping up with the newest research is also the duty of a good massage therapist. Comprehensive research studies on massage therapy are currently somewhat limited but are growing quickly. We also read literature and research from other healthcare professionals such as physical therapists. Being able to communicate with and understand these other professions is important. And it helps to promote massage therapy as a legitimate and beneficial form of care. 

Reviewing research also can go hand-in-hand with crafting your treatment plan. If we come across a promising study that looks at clients with similar conditions, we may be inclined to incorporate a component from the study to benefit you as well. 

More than just hands-on

We know that being on the massage table is what you look forward to the most 🙂 We, as licensed massage therapists, do a lot behind the scenes to make sure your massage is as effective as possible. As a highly dynamic and unique structure, the body presents infinite areas for us to study and learn about. We spend a fair amount of our time outside the studio on learning and reviewing cases. So that we can make the most of the time we have with you on the table. 

At Bodyworks DW, we offer both pain management massage therapy and maintenance massage therapy.  If you see a Bodyworks DW massage therapist in Midtown NYC or the Financial District you can be confident of receiving the highest quality care. Would you like to schedule a professional massage with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our massage Midtown or massage Fidi studios!

The Benefits of Sports Massage: NYC Client Experiences

The Benefits of Sports Massage: NYC Client Experiences

Germain Phanord, LMT at Bodyworks DW, writes about the immense benefits of getting a medical sports massage at Bodyworks DW. Read below!

Germain Phanord

Benefits of Sports Massage: NYC Client Stories

New Yorkers are a special breed. We pound it out at the office, then pound it out at the gym. Or yoga studio, pool, court, field, etc. Sports massage in New York helps reduce your pain by improving circulation of blood and lymph throughout the body. And especially to sites of current or former injuries that have restricted blood flow (ischemia). This assists your body in removing metabolites and other toxins. 

Your heavily exercised muscles lose their capacity to relax over time. Which requires more of your effort and energy when moving. The lack ability for muscles relax is linked to soreness, and predisposes you to injuries. Especially muscle pulls and tears! 

A regular routine of sports massage therapy is very effective in combating these effects.

Sports massage frees your muscles to move your joints more openly and efficiently. It also introduces new sensory information into your system. A system that is normally locked into its own patterns. 

There are many benefits of sports massage. It can help you recover from injury and prevent new injuries. It helps make your complex human machine perform optimally with less pain in any activities. Running  faster, jumping higher, and hitting balls harder all with greater endurance are just some of the benefits of sports massage. 

There is such a thing as “too deep” 

At the studio we see lots of common injuries like stiff necks, rotator cuff injuries, runner’s knees, and Achilles tendinitis. During your massage, you may find some of the work uncomfortable. It may even have painful moments, depending on your threshold and how tight your muscles are. Keep in mind this discomfort should always be bearable. 

If you have to tense up just to handle it, that’s not actually going to give you a better result. The best work is done at a level that is slightly uncomfortable and you can breathe through it and keep your muscles relaxed. It is not uncommon to find that your muscles ache for a day or two after a sports massage. Keeping well hydrated and mobile will help this pass quickly. You’ll feel more freedom of movement after and see better performance than before! 

Benefits of Sports Massage and Example Client Results

Recovering from ACL and Shoulder Surgeries

We recently worked on client who was recovering from ACL surgery on his right knee. And also had surgery to repair a tear in his left pectoral major. These injuries came from a bad fall while he was skiing. This client is dealing with a lot of scar tissue from the surgeries. He had less range of motion in both areas and was starting to feel the effects of these restrictions throughout his body. 

Within 3 sessions he regained much more range of motion. And experiences less pain in movement. With continued sessions, he’ll be able to integrate the changes to each surgery site and find a new level of balance and performance.

Treating Runner’s Knee

Another client of ours had runners knee. He was in a lot of discomfort. This client was running 6 times per week with only one day of recovery. He is also in his mid 40’s and has been running since he was 19 years old. 

We suggested he cut down slightly on the running and mix in other forms of exercise that do not involve a lot of pounding on his knees. During treatment, we worked below and above to help release all of the muscles connected to the knee. After three sessions the client was able to get results he was looking for and is now able to run again, pain free!  

Saying Goodbye to Lower Back Pain and Shoulder Tightness

A third client of ours came in complaining of lower back pain and shoulder tightness. After evaluating his patterns, we found out that he works a desk job and then power lifts after work about 4 times per week. The pain in both areas began a week before the massage. He said that when he sits for long periods of time his lower back starts to hurt. 

We focused the first massage on the muscles of his back, hips, shoulders and neck. Then we did work a bit on his legs, ankles, and feet. Our third session focused on his trunk, shoulders and arms down to the wrist. By his fourth session his pain issues went away! We advised mixing in some movement workouts into his routine such as a yoga class once a week, and substituting a cardio workout with one of his power lift workouts. Giving the body a variety of exercise allows it time to heal from the heavy workouts and come back to the next lifts stronger than ever. 

Where Can I get a Great Sports Massage Near Me? 

At Bodyworks, sports massage is a modality used often with our clients. We regularly work on mild to serious injuries and chronic pain patterns. Stiff necks, frozen shoulder, rotator cuff issues, clients recovering from ACL surgery, hip injuries, Achilles tendonitis plantar fasciitis, wrist injuries…. You name it, and we’ve got your back 🙂 Literally! 

We offer sports massage therapy in Midtown and the Financial District in New York City. Would you like to schedule a professional sports massage with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our medical massage Midtown or medical massage Fidi studios!

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How to Take the Benefits of Medical Massage Home with You

How to Take the Benefits of Medical Massage Home with You

David Weintraub, LMT and owner of Bodyworks DW, writes about how you can take the benefits of your medical massage home with you. Stay ahead of your pain!

David Weintraub Licensed Massage Therapist and Owner at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy

Medical massage in New York with a NYC licensed massage therapist should be a regular and valuable part of your self care routine. Let’s face it...New Yorkers are not known for doing things gently. We work long hours, slam weights at the gym, and then maybe hit back to back yoga classes. And while this additive approach to health does have it’s benefits, it’s not restorative and our bodies need time to heal. Here are some of our best at home and at work practices for taking the benefits your medical massage home with you! 

A great medical massage helps to relax both your muscles and your nervous system. It gives your brain time to switch out of your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight!). And engages your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) in a way that has benefits for long after the massage. 

In a perfect world we would all get massages every other day and feel fantastic 🙂 Given the reality of time and money this is simply not going to happen. However, there are plenty of practices you can take on to extend the great results of your massage between sessions. These will assist you in feeling great, allow you to go longer between massages, and help keep you from getting injured. 

Restorative practices to take the benefits of medical massage home with you

Lying Down with Your Feet up on a Chair

This is the number 1 homework assignment we give to all of our stressed out massage clients! It’s super easy, and it’s a great excuse to chill out a bit every day. We spend so much time sitting, our muscles get locked up in a sitting position. Which helps us sit, but is terrible for just about everything else we try to do. 

Lying down with you lower legs on a chair puts us in the same position as sitting but without needing to hold ourselves up in gravity. It passively shortens our psoas muscle (main hip flexor), quads, hamstrings, and calves. When you shorten a muscle but don’t make it do any work it gets to completely relax. It usually takes 4-5 minutes for your nervous system to chill enough to truly let go of your muscles. We recommend doing this for 5-8 minutes every night before bed to help you get a really good night's sleep!

All of our clients who have taken this practice on notice really huge results in about 2-3 weeks. Decreased low back pain or tension, better sleep, easier mood. Check out this video to see what it looks like and give it a try!

Contrast Hydrotherapy

Contrast hydrotherapy is a great way to take the benefits of medical massage home with you. It involves alternating applications of heat and cold to an area (or your whole body). The heat opens up blood vessels and tissues and relaxes the nervous system. The cold constricts the blood vessels and tissues and excites the nervous system. Alternating back and forth between them creates a pumping system for the area. This draws out damages such as bruising and brings in new blood with nutrients. The contrast creates a greater therapeutic result than either heat or cold alone. 

Local contrast hydrotherapy for acute conditions anywhere on the body

  1. Apply a heat pack to the area for 5 minutes
  2. Apply an ice pack or rub an ice cube into the area for 1 minute
  3. Repeat this 3 times, ending on ice

Local contrast hydrotherapy for carpal tunnel syndrome or ankle sprains

  1. Get two washbasins large enough to be able to place your whole forearm or feet into
  2. Fill one with hot water (as hot as you can stand)
  3. Fill the other with cold water (as cold as you can stand)
  4. Dunk you whole forearms into the hot basin so that the water is above the elbow (or your whole foot so that the water is above the ankle)
  5. Hold for 5 minutes
  6. Dunk area into the cold basin for 1 minute
  7. Repeat 3 times, ending on cold

Whole body contrast hydrotherapy for general health

  1. At the end of a shower, turn down the hot water and make it as cold as you can stand it
  2. Hold under the cold water for 30-60 seconds
  3. Turn the hot back on and hold under the hot water for 2-3 minutes
  4. Repeat 3 times, ending on cold (unless you shower before bed in which case end on hot to help you sleep) 

Here are some great heat and ice packs to try:

 

Stretching

Incorporate a basic stretching routine when you first wake up into your daily practice. And also a post workout cool down stretching routine. Guess what? The old school stretch as much as possible as suffer the pain as long as you can method we all associate with stretching doesn’t actually help much. Newer methods such as activated-isolated stretching and PNF stretching are much more effective. 

We recommend you change your mindset about stretching. Most of us think of stretching as about how flexible you are. We think of it as a surefire way to get blood moving through your body and to areas that might be restricted. Blood carries with it all the things your body uses to heal itself. These are David's two favorite books on different types of stretching:

You can learn owner David Weintraub’s daily morning stretch routine, as well as a bunch of other stretches and self care tips here:

Working on Form and Posture

Getting a great medical massage in Midtown or our Financial District studios involves a bit more that just what happens on the table. Our therapists are trained to look at your posture and movements for imbalances. We craft a table session to help balance these out, but we also always give easy homework practices to work on in between massages. 

The more aware you are of how your body moves the easier moving will become. Practicing simple form corrections while you are walking, sitting, standing, or exercising will make a big impact on how you feel. Since each of our bodies are unique, these corrections need to be given with thought and care by someone who has experience. Listening to the wrong directions in a group class can lead to injury for someone who doesn’t need that particular correction. For instance, some people in a yoga class could benefit from the direction to tuck your tailbone. However, if you are someone who is already tucked, listening to this may lead to lower back pain. 

Due to this, we aren’t going to give any specifics here as they will just be wrong for some of you. If you are working with an experienced massage therapist, pilates instructor, or Alexander Technique practitioner on a one-to-one basis make sure they give you 1-3 simple corrections to work on until you next session. Then give yourself a reminder in your phone to check in with these daily. 

At Bodyworks DW we always give practices to extend the benefits of your medical massage

When you work with one of our trained massage therapists, we aren’t going to just stick you on the table and give you a routine massage. We analyze your posture, and listen to you history and symptoms during a thorough intake. Then we craft a customized medical massage for you. In addition, we create an overall plan including a series of massage sessions with specific homework practices to help you in between. Our goal is to help you to not need us anymore 🙂 

Of course once you are out of constant pain you can come in for maintenance massage therapy to keep you pain and injury free. 

We offer medical massage therapy in Midtown and the Financial District in New York City. Would you like to schedule a professional medical massage with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our medical massage Midtown or medical massage Fidi studios!

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Tightness in Your Chest & How it Affects Your Back

LMT, Michael Terra Discusses Tightness in Your Chest & How it’s Affecting Your Back

Michael Terra, LMT at Bodyworks DW, is July's therapist of the month!

Read his interview below where he discusses how common it is for him to see people with upper back pain and the effectiveness of releasing the chest muscles to help the back. 

Michael Terra

Most common pain issue you see?

The most common issue I've seen in my clients has been upper back pain. Generally because of bad posture at a demanding desk job.

How do you work to correct this?

For those having issues with upper back pain from habitually poor posture, they can do at home stretches to the chest and strengthen the back. In terms of the work done on the table, the most effective treatment for upper back pain is working on opening up the muscles in the chest. This, however, will have a poor effect if we don't address the discomfort they are feeling in the back. So the first session will likely be on the back, getting into the kinks they feel. I can confidently say it's never something that gets fixed in 1 session. This treatment can range from 2 to 5 sessions depending on the willingness of the client to do their part at home.

Why are the abdominals one of your favorite areas to work?

My clients will back me up on this but one of my favorite places to work on is the psoas. It is a very memorable experience for first timers, and a muscle that when released brings a lot of relief for many people suffering from lower or upper back pain.

Favorite massage therapy success story?

One of my favorite experiences I had was with a client who is a mother of three kids under 13 with a full time job. She came in with excruciating and debilitating low back pain that radiated down the leg. This client had been managing it well with chiropractic and physical therapy for 2 years. 2 weeks prior to our first session it got bad. When she came in, she was limping and hunched over from the pain. She was looking for anything that could help.

At the end of the session, she left my table (still slightly limping) standing up straight and with a lot less pain. The best part was when she came in again a week later for a follow up, she came RUNNING to give me a big hug. She was no longer limping or hunched over or with lower or upper back pain. I now see her monthly for maintenance work. She is so relieved she can live her life in peace now.

What inspired you to become a Medical Massage Therapist?

Massage was something that followed me throughout my life. When I was a kid, my mother used to rub my feet, and I used to rub hers.

In college (during my Bachelor's in Mathematics) I was part of a Latin Dance team that met every single day for 4 hours a day for 9 months. Every now and then we'd take breaks and get together in a massage circle. Everyone always wanted to get in front of me. Some even asked me for private sessions. I did it but I told them that I had no idea what I was doing. Still, they requested that I work on their upper back pain 🙂

After college I had gotten an unfulfilling job and was thinking about a career change. My mother at the time had gone through a pretty serious accident that left her without the ability to use one of her legs, and a ton of muscular pain as a result. I had decided I wanted to do something where I could help her and landed on massage. I have loved every moment of this decision so far. I'm gladly helping her with her pain to this date.

Book an Appointment with Michael Terra!

How Often Should I Get a Massage?

How Often Should I Get a Massage?

Meghan Krupka, LMT at Bodyworks DW, writes about how often to get a massage at Bodyworks DW!

Meghan Krupka Licensed Massage Therapist at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy

In the often hectic & stressful environment that is NYC, having a self-care plan or routine in place is key. A good self care plan can greatly aid in reducing the physical and mental effects of this stress. Deciding to integrate massage therapy into your self-care routine often begs the question: how often should I come in for a massage? There is no one-size fits all answer, but here are some general guidelines depending on your lifestyle and health. Hopefully, these will help you determine an effective frequency to keep you pain free!

General Recommendations: How Often Should I Get a Massage?

First rule: Don't wait for a crisis! Start adding massage therapy to your routine before you get injured. You'll need to come far less often and also vastly improve your ability to prevent future injury.

For any actual pain symptoms we recommend a series of massage therapy sessions with no more than 2 weeks between sessions. Depending on the severity of your pain and the causes the series will be anywhere from 3-8 sessions.

Once you are no longer experiencing pain, you can switch to a maintenance cycle of massage sessions. This is important to keep the pain from coming back. For people who work highly stressful jobs or work out hard regularly, we recommend a maintenance massage every 2-4 weeks. For the rest of you, a maintenance massage every 6-12 weeks usually does the trick of keeping you pain free!

When my job has me sitting at a desk for long hours

With a desk job over time your body starts accepting your sitting postures as your go to posture. Your body adjusts your muscles, nervous system, and fascia to make sitting easier to hold. This can be problematic when you go to do something more active. Like a run or yoga class. Or even something simple such as carrying groceries home. Or getting a heavy object down from a shelf. The long term build up of desk tension in the sitting position often leads to injuries.

Combatting the postural habits caused by sitting at a desk can be effectively managed with a series of weekly or biweekly massage therapy sessions.

A series of 3-8 massages with less than 2 weeks between them is usually enough. It will make a huge difference in your posture. And get you out of the chronic pain cycle. After you are pain free look at the general guidelines above for how often to get a maintenance massage.

A good massage therapist near you should also be able to provide you with corrective cues, exercises, other self-care practices. By practicing these you can lower the number of massage sessions you’ll need overall in the series. And you’ll be able to maintain your pain free life with fewer maintenance massage sessions too!

Getting massage therapy to help recover from surgery

Depending on the severity of your surgery, we recommend massage therapy once every few weeks. This assumes that you are also working with a physical therapist 1-3 times a week. Massage therapy sessions for these cases will help to reduce pain and hopefully reduce the need for pain medication. It will also improve overall circulation, minimize the effects of scar tissue and promote lymph drainage if there is swelling.

Asking your doctor about whether massage therapy is a good treatment option for your particular surgery recovery is also recommended. While massage can help with recovery from many types of surgeries, it can be contraindicated for certain ones. Or particular massage modalities may be better suited for your specific case. Having all health professionals involved and on-board will result in a more effective, comprehensive and seamless transition back to normal activity. Once you are able to return to your favorite and daily activities, massage session frequency can be reduced to a maintenance cycle.

However, sometimes insurance will stop covering physical therapy sessions despite the fact that you are still experiencing pain. If this happens, we recommend continuing massage therapy sessions once a week or at most every other week until you are pain free.

For chronic pain or stress due to autoimmune disorders?

Chronic autoimmune symptoms can range from disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, migraines, depression and insomnia…and many, many more. These conditions often cause debilitating effects that can disrupt your lifestyle. To manage these and work through them, it is recommended to work with a massage therapist every 2-4 weeks. Some conditions that are more serious or are still new for the client may even benefit from weekly or twice weekly massage sessions.

Massage therapy can help support you and keep your chronic symptoms under control. In conjunction with eating an anti-inflammatory diet, regular light exercise, it may also help lower dosages of any medications you are taking.

Have you been experiencing one or more of these conditions, or have been diagnosed with one? it is important to keep an open and ongoing dialogue with your therapist as well as all other involved health care professionals. Figuring out what works and what does not is critical to getting you to a point with fewer episodes and/or flare-ups.

When I have an active lifestyle

For the more casual athlete, gym-goer and workout warrior, sports massage session frequency can range from once a week to once a month. It is largely dependent on how often you are working out and playing sports. And the intensity at which you do these activities. For the average person trying to stay active and in good shape and health, once a month is usually a solid rule of thumb. If you compete in an activity or have periods of higher intensity training, increasing sessions to twice a month is always an option. On the more extreme end of the spectrum, professional athletes may require massage therapy multiple times a week. This helps to maintain their performance and to reduce their risk of injury.

Keep your training schedule in mind when you come in for a session. If you have a big event or intense training session within 24 hours, getting a focused deep tissue massage might not be the best option. Great massage therapists will instead craft a lighter session to complement your training and get you ready and primed for your big event.

Massage Therapy is cumulative...consistency is key!

Having consistently spaced massage therapy sessions at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy will allow you to get the most mileage out of your body. So you can minimize stress and pain and maximize recovery. The effects of massage therapy are cumulative. Your body thrives with consistency when it comes to taking care of it and each session builds upon the last. This is one of the reasons why we encourage booking your next appointment or two after you’ve finished a current one. This helps keep you accountable to yourself when it comes to taking your self care time seriously.

Bodyworks DW therapists want to get you to the point of “maintenance” massage. This means that our therapists have gotten you to a stable point with minimal to no current injuries, and no major pain. We ultimately want your massage sessions to be relaxing and therapeutic tune-ups that will keep your body injury and pain free for the long run.

We offer both pain management massage therapy and maintenance massage therapy in Midtown and the Financial District in New York City. Would you like to schedule a professional massage with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our massage Midtown or massage Fidi studios!

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Top 5 Reasons to get a Medical Massage in Midtown

Top 5 Reasons to get a Medical Massage in Midtown

Evana Class, Senior LMT at Bodyworks DW, writes about why you should receive a medical massage in Midtown with Bodyworks DW!

Evana Class

Bodyworks DW has always focused on the effectiveness medical massage for pain relief. We look for the root causes of your pain, taking care to learn why the pain/discomfort is there. This helps both us and you work together to your continuing a healthy lifestyle. Medical massage in Midtown and Fidi is not just for those of you who are injured or reviving form surgery. It can be a great tool for preventing pain and for preparing for a big event. That 100 meter race, marathon, or that redeye 10 hour flight!

Reason #1: We have the same fantastic qualified massage therapists in Midtown as in Fidi

Each massage therapist in midtown also works in our Financial District Location. Every massage therapist takes part in regular advanced trainings with owner David Weintraub. And combined these trainings with their own talents and skills to create unforgettable medical massage experiences.

Each therapist is dedicated to improving their knowledge to meet the needs of many different kinds of clients. Our large team gives you the flexibility to find the therapist that feels like the best fit for you.

There is also great communication among the team. If you have to change therapists due to a schedule conflict, you’ll be well taken care of by anyone on our team. Our massage therapists share notes with each other, do regular research, and ask advice when they feel like they have hit a roadblock. The entire team is dedicated to finding what treatments will work best for your pain. We work collaboratively to be the most helpful to you.

This has lead to a substantial growth, since our happy clients send us their friends and family to work with. Our FiDi location is often fully booked on any given day. Especially during the popular post-work and weekend times. Which is the main reason we chose to create Bodyworks DW Midtown, so we can help more of you 🙂  

Reason #2: Our Midtown Studio is Super Accessible!  

Whether you live or work nearby or take public transportation, Midtown is very convenient. We’re just a short walk away from Penn Station! There are many subway lines through this major hub. The 1, 2, 3 red lines will take you right into Penn Station. You can also easily get to us from the A, C, E, (blue line). You live in Queens? Take a quick ride on the 7 train to Hudson Yards, walk about ten minutes to our studio and get ready for a fantastic massage. We got you covered!

Coming from Westchester or Connecticut? You can leave the car and take Metro North to Grand Central Station. It’ll take you about 15-20 minutes to get from Grand Central to our studio. Lots of our clients make a stop here after work before heading back North. It’s great place to take a break from the office or after work before the long commute home!  

For those of you working or living in midtown or anywhere North of 14th street, Bodyworks DW Midtown is available for your best medical massage in New York!

Reason #3: Sometimes plans change and you can’t keep your Fidi appointment

Things don’t always go according to schedule. You may get called into a meeting the day before your fidi appointment and just can’t get out of it. If your therapist works in midtown as well, check their schedule there. It’s likely they will have an opening sooner in Midtown than in Fidi to reschedule. And despite the fact that they seem far apart, midtown is only 15 minutes away from Fidi on the A train.

Sometimes plans change the other way around and you find yourself with a free afternoon or evening. That’s a great time to come in for a session! Midtown has more same day and last minute appointments available than FiDi so don’t forget to check those.

Reason #4: Good Eats!

After a great medical massage in midtown treat yourself to some food! Here are our suggestions. All approved by Bodyworks DW 😬 

Try out the delicious Casa Nonna (“Grandmother’s House” in Italian), just one block north of our space on 38th St in between 8th and 9th ave. This spacious and beautiful restaurant will knock your socks off with their authentic flavoring that speak to true Italian cuisine.

Italian isn’t your thing? What about burgers? If you’re intrigued by the thought of a patty placed inside a sliced bread roll or bun, you MUST go to Black Iron Burger. It was voted NYC’s No. 1 burger joint three years in a row by Zagat. What more can I say? This dreamy spot can be found on 38th st. in between 7th and 8th ave. Enjoy!

If you’re looking for a snack, try out Boqueria on 40th st. in between 7th and 8th ave. Their Spanish tapas are to die for! Really beautifully made food that you can share or eat by yourself.

Reason #5: Local attractions (if you are visiting from out of town or simply never bothered)

Do you have some free time to explore? There are some big local sights within blocks of our studio.

Experience the newest interactive sculpture in Hudson Yards! Check out Vessel, made by Thomas Heatherwick before heading home after your massage. It’s quite extraordinary.

While you’re at it, keep your eyes out for a hidden art gallery called The Kaufman Arcade which presents work by local artists as part of the Garment District’s public art program. Anyone and everyone is welcome and encouraged to go!

The Garment District is a super fun place to walk around. The district’s art program makes a point to commission both local and world class artists to create site-specific art installations outside. You’ll find these pockets of artwork anywhere between 36th & 42nd St. and 7th & 8th Ave.

Visit the salad bowl of the World, The United Nations, learn about keeping nations at Peace, promoting human rights and bettering the development of other countries. This is on the east side of Midtown, but definitely worth the walk or bus ride!

The Chrysler Building, an amazing art deco skyscraper built in 1930 was once the world’s tallest. Check out the art deco detailing throughout and get your inner Great Gatsby on! 

We offer medical massage in Midtown from 12 pm to 9:30 pm. Would you like to schedule a professional medical massage with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our medical massage Midtown studio!

Therapeutic Deep Tissue Massage Techniques for Back Pain

Best Therapeutic Deep Tissue Massage Techniques for Back Pain in New York

Meghan Krupka, LMT, staff massage therapist at Bodyworks DW, writes about the most effective kinds of therapeutic techniques for back pain.

Meghan Krupka

One of the most common requests of massage therapy clients is back pain massage. Deep tissue massage techniques can be life savers! Our spine protects and houses a large part of our central nervous system. When trauma or dysfunction happens to your body, it is going to want to protect this region first. One way that your body does this is by sending pain signals to the area. The pain is meant as a signal to rest and heal. Unfortunately, with our busy lives, we tend to ignore this signal. 

The other way that your body protects itself is by “splinting” (contracting) the muscles surrounding your spine. While this can help with an immediate injury, it can exacerbate chronic back pain and tightness.  Back pain massage is a holistic approach to rectify this dysfunction. Therapists communicate to the nervous and muscular systems that the original injury has healed. When the brain processes that it doesn't need to protect anymore it lets your back muscles go. The splinting is no longer necessary.  

Great massage therapists employ many different deep tissue massage techniques. Back pain can be the result of a wide variety of neuromuscular issues and responses to trauma. Therefore, the approach for each client case is unique. Crafting an effective massage requires an understanding of how each technique is going to affect your specific body. Each technique has a specific intention and also produces a different sensation and result. Massage therapists frequently combine techniques to achieve an overall result that includes reduction in pain, tightness, and restriction!

Check out these products that can help relieve your back pain between massages:

Deep tissue massage techniques are most effective for long term back pain relief

Deep tissue massage is a higher intensity group of techniques. To be clear, deep tissue massage techniques should not be used to beat up your body and cause you unbearable pain! The name deep tissue massage indicates that the techniques are going to produce more intense feelings for you. This is due to the higher applied pressure and greater specificity of this pressure. The sensations should always be bearable to be effective. You should be able to breath through the intensity and not flinch or tighten other muscles. The techniques discussed below all fall under the larger umbrella of deep tissue massage.

Here are some of the main effective deep tissue massage techniques for back pain:

Myofascial Release

Myofascial release techniques involve slow strokes aimed at impacting the body’s “fascial layer.” This is a layer of connective tissues that lie between your visible skin layer and your muscles. It connects and weaves throughout our entire muscular system, including tendons and ligaments. Furthermore, at a microscopic level, fascia is the “glue” that connects all of your body’s cells together.

This deep tissue massage technique uses slow and sustained pressure to open up the fascia. For most of you, this will reduce your pain and feelings of restrictions. Fascial release has the ability to restore lost range of motion. Myofascial release is performed either without lubricant or with much smaller amounts than Swedish massage. As a result, your therapist to be able to move very slowly, stretching the tissues apart. 

The most commonly targeted muscles in the back for this technique are the spinal erectors and the quadratus lumborum. Gluteal and posterior upper leg muscles can also contribute to back pain. In addition, anterior muscles such as abdominals, psoas, diaphragm, and pectorals are major players in back pain. They can all be massaged very effectively with myofascial release.

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger Point Therapy is the most specific deep tissue massage technique. It uses only the area of a finger or thumb tip to apply pressure. Trigger points are considered tender areas in your soft tissue. They cause referred pain to other areas of the body. They are colloquially called “knots.” In reality there aren’t actual knots in muscles. Rather trigger points are highly contracted areas—sort of like a tiny cramp. These points can generate very unpleasant sensations.

With trigger point therapy, the points are pressed and held for a sustained time. Pressure on the trigger point can often increase the referred pain for a short period. Then the knots release and the pain goes away. Properly addressing trigger points can result in reduced pain and restriction. Trigger points in your sacral area, thoracolumbar fascia, gluteal muscles and posterior upper leg muscles contribute to back pain. By “calming these down” immense relief can be obtained.

Cross-Fiber Friction

Cross-fiber friction is a technique of rubbing a muscles perpendicular to the direction of the muscle fibers. Issues such as tears, breaks, sprains, strains and other types of damage can affect muscles fibers, tendons and ligaments. When something like this happens, scar tissue forms. Scar tissue, unlike normal, healthy tissue, has collagen fibers that are not neatly arranged and aligned. The aim of this deep tissue massage technique is to help make this jumble of collagen fibers a little less messy. Additionally, it promotes circulation and reduces hypertonicity (the feeling of tightness). Cross-fiber friction can also reduce muscle spasms that occur. It helps tell the central nervous system it no longer needs to relay sensations of pain to the area.

This technique is frequently employed for targeting the spinal erector muscles running right along your vertebrae. These muscles are relatively thin, taut bands so cross-fiber friction works well because of the narrow perpendicular distance.

Muscle Stripping

Muscle stripping is a deep tissue massage technique which is applied along the length of a muscle. We move in the direction that the muscle fibers are oriented. Sometimes, this technique is also called longitudinal friction. Muscle stripping is ideal when the primary intention is to elongate muscle fibers. Particularly within a more concentrated area. Pressure can be adjusted by using forearm, fingers, thumb or elbow.

Similarly to cross-fiber friction, the spinal erectors are a commonly chosen area of the back to apply muscle stripping to. It is also easily applied to wider back muscles since the direction of pressure is with grain of the muscle fibers,. A good example would be the quadratus lumborum. Or other potentially involved muscles like the glutes or quads.

Pin and Stretch  

The pin and stretch technique involves “pinning” down a portion of a muscle while simultaneously moving the rest of the muscle away from the pinned area. The intention of this deep tissue massage technique is to provide a deep stretch to the portion of muscle belly that lies between the pinned point and the attachment that is being moved. It allows a therapist to apply a more intense stretching sensation to a particular region of a muscle. 

This technique can be either active or passive. When active, you will be contracting the targeted muscle and moving the attachment point. You will follow the therapist’s direction while moving a part of your body. When passive, the therapist will move your body for you. The main difference will be that the active approach requires you to engage their own muscles. This will be more intense and less relaxing. However, it will also have a greater effect on reprogramming your nervous system. The passive approach is less intense and more relaxing.  

How Bodyworks DW uses all of these deep tissue massage techniques in back pain massage in Midtown and Fidi

A great massage therapist needs to have a solid arsenal of techniques and tools to be able to create an effective and thorough treatment plan. At Bodyworks DW, we have regular advanced trainings for all of our massage therapists. These trainings are designed to improve each therapist’s skills in assessing the primary sources/reasons for your pain. Our therapists come prepared with a toolbox full of the best deep tissue massage techniques. 

Back pain is a prevalent issue addressed by massage therapists for many of you. Each of your massage needs and cases are unique. Therefore, each of our treatments are uniquely customized to you. Your Bodyworks DW massage therapist will carefully consider your symptoms, history, routine and movement patterns. Then they determine how to provide the most effective treatment. We are dedicated to finding what will work best for you. So that you can get back to moving more freely and without pain or discomfort. We offer back pain massage in Midtown and the Financial District in New York City. Would you like to schedule a professional massage with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our back pain massage Midtown or back pain massage Fidi studios!