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!

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!

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!

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!

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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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!