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!

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.

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!

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!

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!

Low Back Pain Massage Therapy Treatment by David Weintraub

Lower Back Pain Treatment with Massage Therapy in New York

David Weintraub, LMT and owner of Bodyworks DW, writes about the benefits of massage therapy for lower back pain. And how massage therapy rather than using the traditional approach of surgery or medication can produce better results at a lower cost.

David Weintraub

Why medication or surgery is only masking the root cause of your pain

Massage therapy for lower back pain is an effective alternative treatment to surgery and medications. Additionally, in most cases the results are noticeably better than either of those traditional approaches. This is according to the newest research. (Excerpt from Vox article "A comprehensive guide to the new science of treating lower back pain").

Lower back pain from bulging or herniated discs often seems to come out of nowhere. In reality there are usually other root causes. An older ankle or knee injury can create an imbalance in the body leading to lower back pain. Compensation patterns from older injuries put asymmetrical pressure on the lumbar spine. The lumbar spine is the part of your spine located in your lower back. Eventually this pressure can cause one or more lumbar discs to bulge. If the bulge presses on nerve pathways, light to extreme pain can result.

How Traditional Approaches can Fail

The most common surgical approach is called a laminectomy. This surgery tries to correct pressure on the nerves by shaving down part of the bulging discs. However, the root cause older injury is still affecting your body. The pressure is still there on the lumbar spine. A laminectomy can eliminate the pain symptoms for a short period. However, in many cases a new bulge pops out in another disc later. This usually makes the problem even worse later on.

Medications such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatories mask symptoms. This feels good and sometimes can help you move through the issue by allowing you to stretch into the stuck area again.

However, the root cause is still not being addressed. Pain will likely come back to plague you in the future. Opioids are especially worrisome as they are highly addictive. This can lead to reliance on them to even function. In an increasing number of cases the addiction spirals out of control creating a far worse issue than the pain itself.

How Low Back Pain Massage in New York works differently

With back pain massage in New York, we work to discover why the disc is bulging in the first place. Meaning you'll get a more holistic approach. And of course we'll spend some time massaging the muscles in your low back.

In addition, we'll work to identify and address any older injuries that caused the low back tightness to begin with. Once the older injured joints are moving better, your low back will have less work to do. Pressure lessens on the lumbar spine. This allows pain to decrease naturally without medications or surgery.

This pathway might be slower than popping a pill. But you'll know that your pain is being reduced in a healthy way. And you'll gain the tools to keep it from coming back in the future.

[T]here are perceptions that opioid therapy for chronic pain is less expensive than more time-intensive nonpharmacologic management approaches. [However,] many pain treatments, including acetaminophen, NSAIDs, tricyclic antidepressants, and massage therapy, are associated with lower mean and median annual costs. [As] compared with opioid therapy. (excerpt from CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016)

We offer back pain massage in Midtown and the Financial District in New York City

If you are in acute or chronic low back pain we recommend booking as soon as you can make an appointment.

Are you suffering from lower back pain? There are many advantages to working with our team of trained medical massage therapists.

At Bodyworks DW, we evaluate how the rest of your body and posture is affecting your low back pain. Together we'll make a plan for a series of back pain massage sessions. This will help to unwind any seemingly unrelated issues. As your whole body opens up, pressure on the low back is relieved. This allows the discs to return to their normal shape over time. With less and less pressure on the nerves, pain slowly but surely goes away.

If you would like to schedule a fantastic back pain massage and experience the benefits above, please contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online for back pain massage in midtown or fidi!

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Back Pain Massage @ Bodyworks DW by Logan Medrano LMT - back pain massage midtown - back pain massage new york

Back Pain – What Is It and How can Massage Therapy in New York Help?

Logan Medrano, LMT is a staff massage therapist at Bodyworks DW. In this blog, he writes about back pain massage in new york city. What is it, and how can you benefit from it?

Logan Medrano LMT @ Bodyworks DW - back pain massage new york back pain massage midtown

Back pain is one of the most common issues we experience. The human body as a whole is complex, especially the structures around the spine. Our backs have a veritable maze of muscles, ligaments, tendons, disks, and bones. How those structures move (or don’t move…) is a huge piece of the back pain puzzle. A healthy balanced back supports the body and enables us to move. A stiff and immobile back makes everything else have to work much harder to move us. Thankfully, most types of back pain respond very well to back pain massage. 

Back pain can range from dull aches or throbbing to sharp and shooting. Or even involve neurological symptoms such as numbness and tingling. If you have severe symptoms that do not go away with a few days rest plus light movement, consult your doctor. 

Invest in an aromatherapy hot/cold pad for a quick way to calm your back muscles:

There are various potential causes for back pain and here are several of the most common…

Muscle Strain/Sprain

A strain refers to the tearing of a muscle or tendon. And a sprain refers to the tearing of a ligament. Activities such as lifting something improperly, or lifting something too heavy can lead to strains or sprains. Also impact injuries (think getting tackled or slipping on the ice) may lead to a strain or sprain. Inflammation follows as your body tries to heal the tear. Often there will be muscle spasms as well.

A well trained massage therapist can help a lot with muscle strains and sprains.

Chronic Poor Movement and Posture

Back pain can also result from everyday asymmetrical activities that contribute to poor posture. Examples of this include:

  • sitting or standing for extended periods of time
  • repetitive movements that overuse one side or the other
  • straining the neck and head forward to read
  • long commutes involving tense sitting or driving
  • an old mattress that no longer supports

Your body has to tighten some muscles in order to hold unbalanced postures for any length of time. Eventually it learns to just keep those muscles tight and firing all the time. A great massage therapist can help by first unwinding those tight muscles. Then they can point out which postural habits might be causing pain. And give practices and exercises to help the client improve their posture between massage sessions. 

Structurally Induced Back Pain

More severe causes of back pain may stem from changes to the spine such as ruptured or bulging discs. Each vertebra bone in the spine is cushioned by a disc. Discs are sort of like jelly donuts. The outside is tough made of layers of ligamentous material. The inside is a fluid for cushioning.

If a disc begins to bulge outwards due to asymmetrical muscle pressure it can push outwards into surrounding nerves inducing pain. Left untreated, the disc material may deteriorate and rupture, causing the cushioning fluid to seep out. A bulging disc can be treated by back pain massage therapy that loosens the muscles putting pressure on it. A ruptured disc may require surgery.

Another example of a structural cause is osteoarthritis. This occurs when the cartilage located between the spine's joints deteriorates due to “wear and tear.” As the cartilage wears away a dull, aching, or throbbing pain that worsens with movement may develop. See Massage for Arthritis: Everything You Need To Know About the Benefits article for how massage therapy can alleviate arthritic symptoms. Another degenerative condition called osteoporosis can create compression fractures on your spine’s vertebrae. As bones weaken they often become porous and brittle which can make them prone to breaking.

Treatment With Back Pain Massage in New York at Bodyworks DW

Back pain can be frustrating and at times debilitating. Luckily, most back pain is treatable and back pain massage in New York at our studio is a wonderful way to tackle it. At Bodyworks DW each session is custom tailored to a client’s individual needs. Each massage therapist performs a thorough intake where the client and therapist discuss the symptoms that are present, the pain patterns, an individual’s medical history and everyday activities.

We treat most conditions with a series of 3-8 sessions. The number of sessions depends on the condition’s severity and how long the pain has been present. Each session builds on the last and works on different areas of your body. For instance, you may not realize how much an old ankle sprain can contribute to your lower back pain or upper back pain. Or how much tension in your jaw from teeth clinching will increase your upper back pain and neck pain.

By working on relieving tension in these seemingly unrelated areas, the work done directly on your back pain will be far more effective. And the relief will last much longer for truly long term results. 

It’s never too late to be pain-free and take control your body and in turn your life. We offer back pain massage in Midtown and the Financial District in New York City.

If you would like to schedule an amazing back pain massage experience, please contact Bodyworks DW today or click the button to book online at our massage therapy midtown or massage therapy fidi studios.

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text neck massage therapy neck pain shoulder pain

Save your text neck

David Weintraub, LMT and owner of Bodyworks DW, writes about "text neck," what it is and ways to prevent it.

David Weintraub

The perils of “always on” technology:

Okay, so your "text neck" probably won’t actually kill you (unless you are texting and driving). However, it’s becoming increasingly likely that at some point in the next 5-10 years of tech use, you’ll develop a repetitive stress disorder.

The phrase carpal tunnel syndrome (wrist pain) has been part of the collective conscious for several decades. It's so common as a disrupter of productivity that it has spawned an entire industry of ergonomics solutions. These range from special keyboards to Star Trek styled full desk/monitor set ups. All keep you at your desk longer making trades, typing contracts, writing legal memos.

And then the 2000’s came along. Most of us jumped all in with smartphones and laptops and tablets.

Suddenly we could be productive all the time.

Standing on the subway platform?

Let me check my email.

Taking the train in from CT?

Let me just go over those sales reports.

Date just went to the bathroom?

Let me text my assistant to make sure I’m set up for tomorrow’s board meeting.

Unfortunately, there are costs to constant device use that might change your mind about your phone and tablet.

Looking down at our phone, tablet, or laptop, pulls our head forward and down. This imbalances all the muscles holding up your head (ahem... text neck). These imbalances can cause any and all of the following:

  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain
  • TMJ
  • headaches
  • low back pain
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • anxiety
  • low energy
  • bone loss
  • depression
  • memory loss

Sound scary? Don’t believe it?

Check out this New York Times article: Keep Your Head Up: How Smartphone Addiction Kills Manners and Moods

Like many things that aren’t healthy for us, these costs are not going to suddenly show up tomorrow. They build up over time. In ways that make it hard to track what the changes are doing to your body. However, there is hope for us all!

What can I do about this?

I’m not some Luddite preaching that we should all return to farming. I happen to be a business owner with 20+ employees and have tech in so many screen sizes it’s getting ridiculous. I deal with text neck too. 

I’ve got a smartwatch, smartphone, an iPad for home and one for work, an airbook laptop, an iMac at my desk. Not to mention the 15 other devices I have at the office for the staff to be "productive" on. I’m just as tempted as you to go on my phone on the subway and read articles on Facebook or Twitter to pass the time. So I decided to try something out...

Experiments DW

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve been running an experiment to see just how much I can lighten up my daily commute (see the last blog post on how much we carry around with us and tips to help with that).

I’ve gotten down to just leaving home with the following:

That’s right….NO BAG.

I had to get really clear on what my time is worth to me and what my long term health is worth to me. And I had to spend some extra cash to duplicate certain items at work and at home so that I wouldn’t have to cart them back and forth.

Is it worth it? For me this experiment has been a fascinating eye opener. It’s also reduced my daily stress levels by about 20-30%.

I have less issues with headaches at day end, my back feels better, and my overall mood has noticeably improved.

I’ve got new rules for my text neck, I count em:

#1: I am not allowed to look at my phone during my commute except to choose music.

#2: I am only allowed to work while at the office, or while at my desk at my home office. The couch is only for relaxing and the bed is only for sleeping (and well, you know…).

#3: If I need something both at work and at home, I duplicate that item rather than carry it back and forth. The value in stress reduction and ease of movement on my body is a long-term savings in health and self-care costs down the road.

#4: If I do have to look at a device, I hold it up to horizon level and keep my head up.

#5: When my arm gets tired of holding up the device to eye level rather than looking down, it’s time to take a break and put it away.

You may think I’m crazy for buying a second iPad to keep one at work and one at the office. Really the only reason for me to do that is that it has become my primary note taking device for my life coaching sessions. Sure, I could take notes on paper, but then I’d have to create a filing system for them. The iPad keeps all my notes for each client on the cloud.

Of course, you’ll have to do your own analysis of the following:

- what you can and can’t do without

- how much is your time is worth

- which work can be left until tomorrow or

- what work can be put on hold for the 45 minutes to 2 hours you spend on your commute

You’ll probably come up with different ways to reduce your load and stress than I have. (For instance, maybe it’s spending the extra cash on a monthly gym locker. You can leave your workout gear there most of the time.) Prioritize those ideas and see for yourself how helpful it can be. 

Are you willing to give lightening your load and keeping your head up a try? Yes? Your text neck will thank you.

massage therapy for diastasis recti massage case study

Massage Therapy for Diastasis Recti

David Weintraub, LMT and owner of Bodyworks DW, writes about treatment options and massage therapy benefits for Diastasis Recti.

 

David Weintraub

Getting to the core of the issue

First off, what is this strange sounding condition?

It’s most common among pregnant or postpartum women. About two thirds of pregnant women have it. So why have you never heard of it?
People don’t talk about.

The facts:

Diastasis Recti is a condition where the rectus abdominis splits down the middle causing a vertical gap in the abdominal muscles. It can cause lower back pain, constipation, and urine leaking. It can even make it harder to breathe and to move normally.

How to treat it if you have it:

Massage therapy for Diastasis Recti can be very helpful to rebuild proper abdominal tone as long as you’re also working with a physical therapist who specializes in this issue. An experienced massage therapist can open stuck tissues that are pulling the abdominal muscles outward. These stuck tissues are generally from previous injuries that have left scar tissue behind. In addition to this kind of bodywork, you’ll need physical therapy exercises to knit the torn muscles back together.

 

Why “ab” exercises don’t work for you now…

 

It’s counter-intuitive, but doing “ab” exercises such as sit ups, or pilates, can often make the problem worse. Without proper firing of the correct support muscles, these exercises often pull outwards on the linea alba (centerline where the gap develops). This can either increase the separation, or keep it from knitting back together.

A combination of massage and physical therapy can speed up the healing process considerably. In most cases it will open up the stuck tissues that would keep physical therapy exercises from working. The synergy between the two modalities is worth way more than the sum of the parts.

Why?

Because massage therapy is an “opening” practice. Our training is in releasing tissues that are either tight (ie over-firing) or stuck (ie glued with scar tissue). We also work to retrain the nervous system to allow muscles that are over-firing to relax and settle into a balanced tone.

Physical Therapy is a “closing” practice. It’s based in strengthening and tightening muscles that are weak (ie under-firing). The repetition of certain exercises draw blood flow to areas that need it, allowing the body to heal and reconstruct itself.


Ready to put in the work?

Diastasis Recti is not a one-time fix situation. It takes a coordinated effort, diligent homework, and focused effort for 8-12 weeks. It is next to impossible to self-heal without a minimum of a few guided sessions. Most clients will need the following:

4-7 sessions with a professional massage therapist

3-5 sessions with a physical therapist who specializes in working with Diastasis Recti

15 minutes a day of homework exercises


If you’d like to know if massage therapy for diastasis recti can help you, don’t hesitate to call us and arrange a phone consultation with David Weintraub. Or book an initial session online!