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Omer Unluata Takes on Text Neck

Senior LMT, Omer Unluata talks about “Text Neck”

Omer Unluata, senior massage therapist at Bodyworks DW, is our March therapist of the month! Read his interview below where he takes on "Text Neck" massage, why he decided to be an LMT, and one of his great success stories in this field. 

Omer Unluata

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

Forward head posture aka “text neck”, “reading neck” and related discomfort/pain, by far, is the most common issue that presents itself amongst clients. It is the forward positioning of the cervical spine, resulting in lot of physical problems. This is due to the extra pressure on the neck from altered or weak posture. When you take the subway, you may observe pretty much all commuters in some form of a forward head posture looking down their phones. Text neck is so common that it can be considered normal these days. Text neck massage should be just as common to combat it 🙂

Usually accompanied by kyphosis (hunchback) and rounded shoulders, this is one of the most typical causes of tension and pain in the neck, head, shoulders, and jaw. It can cause tingling and numbness in the arms, headaches and migraines.

How do you work to correct this issue with text neck massage?

With forward head posture, your head shifts forward, closer to your chest. As you still need to look forward, you compensate by lifting your chin up, shortening the sub occipitals, the muscles at the backside of the base of your skull. As well as your scalenes and SCM, the muscles at the front and side of your neck. Accordingly, the treatment involves myofascial release of suboccipitals, scalenes and SCM. This enables the retraction of the cervical spine and brings it back to its neutral alignment.

Non local work includes, but isn't limited to, release of chest, arms, ear, jaw and scalp fascia. It's reinforced by postural work of deep abdominals, hamstrings calves and feet. This will really help clients combat their text neck.

This truly is a case that needs to be addressed head to toes.

One of my favorite parts of the treatment is how most clients state that they feel taller even after the initial session. I end each treatment showing clients easy self care methods that actually resemble the bodywork that was performed to create new & healthier patterns that will prohibit text neck. These are mostly fascia stretches that aim for more functional results compared to local stretches.

What inspired you to start a career in massage therapy?

After I moved to New York 17 years ago, I had a restaurant/bar business which was extremely stressful. I had been longing for a stress free environment for a long time. I listened to my instincts and followed the signs. Having studied Civil engineering in college, I’ve always had an appreciation for physics. My athletic background and education in personal training helped me understand the human body mechanics. Samantha, my spouse, who is also a licensed massage therapist/personal trainer introduced me to massage therapy. It all finally made sense to me. I was able to put all 3 careers in one. It helped me advance pretty quickly while giving me the peace I’ve been looking for.

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

More than any part in particular I have a favorite technique that I like to perform on different fascia lines. Stretching tissue between two different body parts giving it a sheer feeling. Like a simultaneous release on erectors and hamstrings or hamstrings hip attachment and the heel bone. This technique really compliments any local bodywork. It connects the parts making it functional similar to how the body executes a movement.

Do you have a favorite massage therapy success story?

I have a client who takes their marathons very seriously. This person suffered from a knee issue which disabled him pretty badly. He was no longer able to run more than a few miles without any discomfort.

He had never had any serious injuries prior to this which is usually the case for repetitive stress injuries.

You don’t feel any discomfort and all of a sudden you're in trouble. At first, we had minor success but the issue kept coming back. It took us a few sessions to be able to figure out the correct approach. We both were very patient. Finally, we were able to bring him to the desired pain free state. What makes the story special for me is that when he finished the race, he texted me with photos immediately to let me know how grateful he was. I was on vacation in Turkey at the time being. That caught me by surprise. The happiness on his face was priceless. That was a great day!

In my experience, when you're in a healer practice these success stories, no matter how simple they may sound, bring so much happiness to both the healer and the client.

Book an Appointment with Omer!

Shoulder Pain Massage at Bodyworks DW in New York City

Shoulder Pain: What’s Causing Yours and How Massage Therapy can Help

David Weintraub, LMT is the owner of Bodyworks DW. In this blog, he writes about shoulder pain massage in New York City. What causes shoulder pain and how can massage help?

Shoulder Pain Massage, David Weintraub

Shoulder pain is one of the most common issues people face today. The shoulder is a very complex set of muscles and bones designed for a large variety of movements. In order to gain that freedom of movement, evolution had to sacrifice some stability. This makes shoulders especially vulnerable to injury. Both impact injuries such as a torn rotator cuff, and overuse injuries such as a pinched nerve. Thankfully, shoulder pain massage can work wonders on many types of shoulder pain.

How Your Shoulders Work - Two Joints, Not Just One!

The shoulder actually consists of two distinct joints, the shoulder joint and the shoulder girdle.

The Shoulder Joint

The arm bone (humerus) connected to socket of the shoulder blade makes up the shoulder joint. The shoulder joint allows for movement of the arm in many directions. All while keeping the shoulder blade locked in place. Your shoulder joint can move your arm forwards, backwards, sideways. As well as rotating your arm in the socket.

There are many different muscles that attached to the humerus and allow for these movements. The pectoral major, latissimus, and deltoid create forwards, backwards, and sideways movements of the arm. The rotator cuff set of muscles creates rotational movements. Contrary to popular belief there is no “rotator cuff muscle.” The rotator cuff actually refers to a set of 4 different muscles: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres major, and subscapularis.

The Shoulder Girdle

The shoulder girdle is made up of the shoulder blade and clavicle (collarbone) and their relation to the ribcage. The shoulder girdle allow for movement of the shoulder around the ribcage without having to move the arm. When you roll your shoulders without lifting your arms you are moving your shoulder girdle joints.

There are a lot of different muscles that move the shoulder girdle. These include trapezius, rhomboids, levator scapula, serratus anterior, and pectoralis minor. Interestingly, the shoulder girdle bones are basically free floating on top of the rib cage. The clavicle is attached to the sternum by ligaments in the way we think of most joints working. With the bones close together and separated by cartilage. There is a ligament that attaches the shoulder blade to the ribs. However, it is long and allows for a lot of movement. Making it unlike other ligaments in the body. This ligament's basic function is to keep the shoulder girdle from shifting too far in any direction.

Common Shoulder Pain Inducing Injuries and How Shoulder Pain Massage Can Help

Rotator Cuff Tear/Tendonitis

Of all the types of shoulder injuries, we hear about rotator cuff tears most often. The four rotator cuff muscles are especially vulnerable to small, medium, and large tears. Usually due to impact injuries. Slipping on the ice or stairs and catching your fall with your arm is a common way to rip one of these muscles.

Pain usually shows up with certain arm movements and not others and can range from mild aches, to sharp debilitating pain.

I once worked on a mountain climber whose rigging failed and he started falling. Luckily he caught himself with one hand. Unluckily, he managed to tear all four of his rotator cuff muscles. And his labrum (the ligaments holding the humerus or “armbone” to the scapula or “shoulder blade”). The pure adrenaline flood that his body pumped him with allowed him to still pull himself up to safety and finish the climb. Later after he was safe on the ground and the adrenaline wore off, he stopped being able to lift his arm!   

Rotator cuff tears can also happen slowly over time with repetitive motions

Tennis players, baseball pitchers, and football quarterbacks run into this injury a lot. Throwing something over and over can eventually stress out the muscles. And lead to small tears in the tendons. Usually after a few years of this, they push too hard in a game and a big tear opens up.

Shoulder pain massage therapy can help a lot with all kinds of rotator cuff injuries. By working directly on the four muscles, as well as the other shoulder joint muscles, a well trained massage therapist can restore range of motion. With most clients a series of sessions can bring back most to all of the original function.

In addition, massage therapy is amazing for athletes who use their rotator cuff who haven’t had the big blow out yet. We’ve worked on pro tennis players and pitchers and seen immediate increases in top serve and fastball speeds!

Bursitis & Frozen Shoulder

Both of these conditions can cause a total immobilization of the shoulder joint making it very difficult and painful to lift the arm in any direction. While technically different, the two terms are often used interchangeably. Pain is usually severe and the loss of movement has a big impact on daily life.

Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae. These are tiny fluid filled sacs that basically act as ball bearings for your tendons. They allow tendons to slide over bones at places where the bone might grind the tendon down.

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is inflammation of the joint capsule itself. Like the name implies, it’s a “sticky” inflammation that prevents tissues from sliding across each other.

In both conditions, any movement of the shoulder joint causes inflamed tissues to rub against other tissues causing intense and immobilizing pain

Treating either condition may require medication, either a localized cortisone shot, oral muscle relaxants, and/or anti-inflammatories. In addition, physical therapy is needed to build strength back and slowly but surely unstick the tissues from each other. Shoulder pain massage therapy can help a great deal to speed this process along. Massage Therapy and physical therapy compliment each other very well. Done concurrently clients restore movement much faster than with either modality alone.

Nerve Impingement in either the Neck or the Shoulder & TOS (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome)

Another very common cause of shoulder pain is a pinched nerve. This can happen due to repetitive stress conditions that pull the head and shoulders forward. It can also happen due to an impact injury such as whiplash.

The nerves for the entire arm originate in the spine between the 4th and 7th cervical vertebrae. This set of nerves is called the Brachial Plexus. Brachial means “arm” in Latin. These nerves travel down through the upper shoulder underneath the levator scapula muscles. Then they pass under the scalene muscles of the front of your neck.

Next, under the pectoralis minor muscles, then between the subscapularis and serratus anterior muscles. There is opportunity for a nerve impingement by the bones or muscles of the spine, as well as any of the muscles the nerves pass between. Nerves that get impinged in between muscles of the armpit are often called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

Overly tight muscles on one side can be a culprit as well as scar tissue sticking to the nerves due to injury

Impinged nerves can cause dull achy pain that travels throughout the shoulder, to sharp pain, weakness, or muscle cramping. It can also involve tingling, numbness, or burning pain. The pain can be constant or only occur with particular movements.

If the impingement is caused by a structural issue, such as a malformed bone due to a break, surgery may be the only recourse. However, if the impingement is caused due to muscle imbalances shoulder pain massage can do a lot to relieve you. Myofascial release work can unstick scar tissue from nerves as well as create space between the muscles for nerves. Physical therapy to strengthen weaker muscles can help retain the relief.

Treatment With Shoulder Pain Massage in New York at Bodyworks DW

Shoulder pain can range from slightly annoying to truly awful. We forget how often we use our shoulder until simply putting on a coat becomes a painful time consuming affair.

Thankfully, most shoulder pain is treatable and  shoulder pain massage in New York at our studio is here to help. At Bodyworks DW each session is custom tailored to a client’s individual needs. We give you a thorough intake so that we can determine exactly what the cause of your shoulder pain is and how best to treat it.

The number of sessions depends on the type of pain and cause

In addition, we may recommend fewer massage therapy session if you are also seeing a physical therapist. Work usually involves local deep tissue work on all of the muscles of the shoulder joint and girdle, as well as the deeper neck muscles. Follow up sessions will likely also focus on improving overall posture to help the shoulders sit comfortably balanced on the ribcage. This will allow all of the shoulder muscles to relax and heal. And the relief will last much longer with future episodes less likely.

It’s never too late to be pain-free and feel comfortable in daily life again. We offer shoulder pain massage in Midtown and the Financial District in New York City.

If you would like to schedule an amazing shoulder 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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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. 

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.

Book an Appointment

Medical Massage in New York @ Bodyworks DW by owner David Weintraub - offering medical massage in midtown and fidi

Could You Benefit From a Medical Massage in New York?

Germain Phanord, LMT at Bodyworks DW & personal trainer, writes about medical massage in new york city. What is it, and how can you benefit from it?

Germain Phanord

It's likely you will lose mobility as you age

One of the main benefits to medical massage is increased range of motion in our joints, ie regained mobility. So, we can't really highlight the benefits of medical massage in new york without talking about the reasons we lose mobility in the first place.

As most of us age we slowly lose our mobility. We assume it’s aging, but often it’s simply sitting around too much. Office desks, driving, and sitting on the couch binge watching shows are all culprits. No matter what we do at the gym, all this sitting takes a toll. Check out this Mayo Clinic article on sitting risks.

When you sit for long periods your posture becomes misaligned. This results in poor biomechanics and mobility. Other repetitive postures such as leaning to one side while standing or carrying a bag on the same shoulder every day can also decrease mobility.

These unnatural habits limit our range of motion, speed, and power in our walking, running, and sports. Or even worse, they develop into nagging injuries preventing us from enjoying our activities.  

What is the difference between Medical Massage and a Spa Massage?

The ultimate difference is what the massage therapist chooses to focus on during the session.

In a typical spa massage, the therapist will give a full body massage rather than focusing on injuries or specifics. The goal is to provide a relaxing experience, increase blood flow, and provide general maintenance to the muscles.

In a medical massage, the focus is on functional outcomes and medical needs. These may include releasing scar tissue, increasing range of motion in joints, and helping the client learn better body mechanics.

How Does Massage Increase Mobility?

Fascia is a substance in your body which glues all of your muscles together. It can become harder due to inactivity. Or fascia can get filled with inelastic scar tissue due to injury. This often results in poor posture and limited movement. Over time you end up on a downward spiral where movement becomes more and more difficult.

Medical massage improves the elasticity of your fascia. It uses targeted deep tissue techniques to increase blood flow to stuck areas and to lengthen and stretch the fascia. By choosing which areas to work on wisely, a great medical massage therapist can rebalance your posture. And increase range of motion in your joints. You’ll find ease in your movement patterns again and feel much better, especially with a series of 5-8 massage sessions.

How does Medical Massage in New York, NY Compare to other places?

New York State is a special case for massage therapy. Massage therapists must train for a minimum of 1,000 hours. And pass a difficult board examination to practice medical massage in New York State. Most other states in the US require only 500-700 hours. And do not include specific training in medical massage.

In general, you can expect medical massage in New York, NY to include the following training within the 1,000 hour requirements:

  • Medical massage techniques such as myofascial release & trigger point therapy
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Clinical massage therapy principles and modalities
  • Kinesiology
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Pathology
  • Professional ethics
  • Business practices for medical massage therapists
  • 150+ Hours of Supervised clinical practice sessions

New York City makes a really special case for massage therapy. Our citizens tend to have more stressful office jobs, sit for longer hours, and conversely, work out super hard after all that. New York City dwellers have come to expect quality sports and medical massage. If a massage therapist doesn’t seem confident dealing with injuries and pain management, there are plenty more to choose from.

How Does Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy take this the Next Level?

At Bodyworks DW, our owner David Weintraub is a first call massage therapist for several orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists. Including top notch doctors at the renowned Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, NY. He works together with them to increase mobility on difficult cases where a patient has severely restricted motion. HSS doctors routinely send patients to David that are recovering from surgeries or to prevent the need for surgeries. He's worked with clients to recover from knee replacements, torn rotator cuff repairs, hip replacements, spinal fusions, nerve relocations, and other major surgeries. Working together with their team of physical therapists, David uses medical massage in midtown and the financial district to vastly speed up recovery times for their patients.

David has created Bodyworks DW as an advanced training ground for talented massage therapists. He keeps his staff current and growing by offering regular trainings, coaching, and discussion groups. Each of our therapists has been hand picked by David. And then trained to become a top notch medical massage therapist.

We offer advanced medical massage in midtown and the financial district in New York City.  

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

Book an Appointment

Post Race Recovery Post Marathon Recovery Blogpost by Germain Phanord Licenced Massage Therapist @ Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy

Post Race Recovery: Sports Massage for New York City Athletes

Germain Phanord, LMT at Bodyworks DW & personal trainer, writes about building better habits for post race recovery and post workout recovery.

Germain Phanord

Every racing athlete needs a routine for post race recovery: Are you are missing a vital component to your race goals?

My experience with injuries has had its ups and downs. When I do not stay committed to post race recovery, I began to experience pain. Running becomes more difficult and much more uncomfortable. I can feel myself losing range of motion in my stride, due to untreated tightness and overuse.

When we neglect to practice regular post race recovery our bodies pay a price. I have learned this lesson the hard way from experience. It’s a big reason why I became a massage therapist in addition to a personal trainer!

When I began running and increasing my mileage, the repetitive stress built up. Due to asymmetries in my running form, I started to feel pain in my right achilles tendon. This made running for me painful and very difficult.

In massage school I discovered that my hip flexors and glute muscles were overly tight. Also my glutes were not working efficiently due to a facially stuck Sartorius muscle. (Sartorius is a long balancing muscle on the front of your thigh that stabilizes the knee.) These muscle imbalances restricted my stride, creating a feedback loop where each run got tighter and tighter, producing more and more pain.

Luckily, by working with my fellow sports massage therapists, I’ve been able to recover and run pain free again. Now, when I train for a race I’ve learned what I need to do. I have a plan for training, for self care before and after workouts. And for post race recovery to reach my fitness goals.

How Sports Massage Therapy in New York can Benefit your Post Race Recovery

Massage therapy (MAS) and cold water immersion (CWI) had better results than other methods, according to a recent study on the effects of various post race recovery methods on half marathon runners:

"Both CWI and MAS have beneficial effects on the subjective measures of fatigue (i.e. muscle soreness and perceived recovery/stress). And may increase well-being and the perception of better preparedness for subsequent exercise. This feel-better phenomenon may be critical for the restoration of exercise performance. Because performance has been shown to be impaired in the presence of muscle pain regardless of the extent of exercise-induced muscle damage."

One of the the best remedies for post race and post workout recovery is to work with an advanced sports massage therapist in New York. Especially when combined with a great physical therapist or personal trainer who can prescribe corrective exercise. These modalities work together to relieve the pain, and to correct any small to medium injuries that may follow your race. It is important to understand the source of your post race pain to avoid creating chronic conditions. Committing to regular massage therapy will help identify the underlying causes of your pain. Repeated sessions will repair your body so that you can return to a pain-free day to day performance.

At Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy, we help New York City area athletes of all types including pro athletes, weekend warriors, cyclists, runners, and desk jockeys. We give top quality sports massage near you in midtown and the financial district.

For every client we see we always do the following:

  • a thorough assessment to find the source of your pain and discomfort
  • design a custom massage therapy session for you to relieve the pain and increase mobility
  • give you the best massage session for your individual needs
  • a thorough outtake to create a plan that works within your schedule and budget to get you pain free in the least number of sessions possible
  • give you simple helpful exercises for home and work to help you take charge of your own recovery and prevent future instances of pain

Thinking about running the NYC marathon this year? Getting ready for your first Ironman triathlon or Tough Mudder? Are you a seasoned pro athlete wondering why your times are slowing down? Let our team support your recovery and make a plan to keep you in top shape!

If you would like to schedule an amazing deep tissue massage experience, please contact Bodyworks DW today or click the button to book online.

Book Your Appointment!

 

Massage therapy for arthritis in new york city midtown and the financial district

Massage for Arthritis: Everything You Need To Know About the Benefits

Arthritis is a scary word for most folks. It sounds like some kind of point of no return as we get older. Once we have it, the thinking goes, we just have to suffer with it. However, the reality is a lot more complex than that. The good news is that there are many ways to relieve the pain. Both at home, and with integrative medicine such as licensed massage therapy for arthritis. Getting massage therapy in New York for arthritis can be especially helpful. New York State has the highest education requirements for licensed massage therapy of any state. This includes hundreds of hours of training in medical massage.

What is Arthritis and how can Massage for Arthritis Help?

Any time that you see “itis” attached to a medical term it means “inflammation of.” Arth is short for arthron which is Latin for “joint.” Arthritis is simply a catch-all phrase referring to inflammation of a joint or joints.

There are several main types of arthritis…

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degeneration of the structures inside of the joint: bones and cartilage. It is usually due to overusing a joint, ie a wear and tear injury. It develops over time, first with the larger cartilage between the bones breaking down. Eventually the cartilage that encases the bone wears down as well. Then the bones start grinding together. Symptoms range depending on the severity of the degeneration. This can include stiffness and achiness, all the way to sharp debilitating pain.

New Yorkers are especially prone to this type of arthritis. We are constantly pushing ourselves to work harder, exercise harder. New Yorkers spend most of our time walking around on concrete. We designed our advanced massage therapy in New York for you. We pound the pavement too…so we get you 🙂

According to arthritis.org, osteoarthritis responds especially well to medical massage therapy. Achiness and pain cause the body to “splint” (ie contract) the muscles around the joint. Splinting protects the joint. This reaction to pain is exactly what should happen with a bone break or sprained ankle. By keeping the injury from moving, splinting helps prevent further damage.

Sadly, this splinting reaction has the opposite effect with arthritis. The muscle contraction puts further pressure on the joints. And increases the grinding effect. Without treatment, your body goes into a downward spiral that gets worse over time. Pain causes more contraction, which causes more grinding, which causes more pain.

How Massage Therapy in New York Can Relieve Osteoarthritis Symptoms

An experienced New York City licensed massage therapist can use deep tissue medical massage to treat osteoarthritis. Deep massage opens up stiff muscles and interrupts the nervous system to stop the splinting. This helps take pressure off the arthritic joint. Decreasing pain allows the client to use the joint without triggering the splinting. Repeated massage sessions break the feedback loop. In many cases the joint stabilizes and avoids further degeneration. In other cases, the massage work can prolong the life of a joint before requiring surgery.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks its own joints. Your own body mistakes your joint tissues for foreign invaders. Doctors use bloodwork to test for RA. They treat rheumatoid arthritis with medication. RA does not generally respond well to deep tissue massage, unlike osteoarthritis. Deep tissue massage can often make the symptoms worse. And provide little to no relief.

However, lighter massage can be very effective in lowering symptoms. RA also responds well to energy work such as craniosacral therapy. In addition, movement work such as Tragger or Alexander techniques can be helpful. Our team of advanced massage therapists are trained in a wide range of modalities including these. We can customize all of your sessions to fit your exact needs.

Gout

Gout is a build up of uric acid crystals in a joint. This often shows up in the big toes and/or feet. Symptoms will show up as intense pain in the affected joint, then by discomfort after. In addition, the joint may show swelling, stiffness, and/or redness.

A gout attack occurs when your body starts making more uric acid than your kidneys can process. It can be brought on by eating foods high in uric acid. And also by consuming too much alcohol. The initial attack can last from 3 to 10 days. Subsequent attacks may take months but eventually get closer and closer together. If left untreated it can cause permanent damage to joints and kidneys.

How Massage Therapy for Gout Can Relieve Arthritis Symptoms

Treatment of the underlying issue (too much uric acid) is accomplished through medication and diet changes. However, the symptoms in the joints respond very well to massage therapy for arthritis. This includes deep tissue work, movement training, and stretching. Getting the joints to move again helps to break up the uric acid build up and lower the arthritis inflammation. Once the underlying issue is treated, massage can keep the joints mobile and help prevent any future gout attacks.

Arthritis of All Types Responds to Complementary Therapies

In general, most types of arthritis will respond to a combination of lifestyle changes including switching to an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise that keeps the joints moving but does not overdo their use, daily stretching, hydrotherapy (heat or cold), and of course, massage therapy. If you are in New York City, our team of advanced massage therapists have helped hundreds of clients find relief from all types of arthritis. We offer massage therapy in midtown and in the financial district. Come in and see how our customized massage therapy can set you on the road to less arthritis pain!

Chronic Wrist Pain & carpal tunnel syndrome

Chronic Wrist Pain & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Evana Class, senior massage therapist at Bodyworks DW, discusses wrist pain & carpal tunnel syndrome!

evana class lmt senior massage therapist wrist pain carpal tunnel syndrome

In our modern device driven world, wrist pain and carpal tunnel syndrome have gone from rare to ubiquitous. Between typing, holding up our phones all day, carrying bags everywhere, etc. our high paced way of life takes a toll on our vulnerable wrists. Luckily, wrist pain and/or a carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis does not mean you'll wind up in surgery. With a few lifestyle adjustments, more breaks in your routine, and a series of advanced massage therapy sessions, wrist pain can be a thing of the past for anyone.

Elizabeth Dashiell interviews Senior Massage Therapist Evana Class on Wrist Pain & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Elizabeth: What kind of pain do you address in your clientele at Bodyworks DW that you're very successful at treating? 

Evana: I have been really successful at working with clients that have chronic wrist pain and/or a diagnosis for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Elizabeth: How do you tend to address this kind of wrist pain?

Evana: I begin with a range of motion assessment. Is the client able of open and close the hand? Can they move each finger independently, flex and extend at the wrist?

Doing this will tell me which muscles in the forearm and hand are “tight” or restricted. The massage will start at the palm of the hand and moves through towards the elbow on both sides of the arm.

What's different about how Bodyworks DW works on wrist pain?

Elizabeth: Aside from local work, what do you work on when a client lets you know they have this issue? Does that nonlocal work seem to be effective? 

Evana: Yes, definitely! I will address the upper arm, shoulders and neck. In some instances there is usually an unresolved issue in the listed areas that feels better when work is done to alleviate it the original issue.

Elizabeth: Generally, how many sessions would someone need to fully address the chronic wrist pain?

Evana: Each client is different. It depends on how early or late they choose to address the issue. Sessions can rage from 3-5 or 6-8 sessions. 

Elizabeth: Why is this your favorite kind of thing to work through with a client?

Evana: Along with teaching the client self-care tips; this work will help clients have much improved use of hands. Also not being in pain is a plus... Life is stressful enough, if I can help manage or take away some of a client's physical pain it will allow them to be able to focus on other areas of their life that may need attention.

Jaw Tension

Jaw Pain or Tension? Here’s how we combat it.

Laura Sniper, senior massage therapist at Bodyworks DW, speaks on jaw pain and how we can help!

Laura Sniper

Jaw pain, teeth grinding, and teeth clenching are becoming normal parts of our modern existence. With the 24/7 onslaught of new information, notifications, marketing messages, etc. we rarely get much of a break from the stress of the outside world. When problems we are dealing with or just aware of go unresolved, we "chew" on these issues...all night long. It's a primal fight or flight reaction to stress. Basically we are baring our teeth to it. Prolonged teeth clenching can lead to headaches, neck pain, and shoulder pain.

Unfortunately, while this outdated nervous system programming was probably very useful for fending off bears and other predators, it doesn't do a lick of good against the stress of your Facebook news feed. However, with advanced massage therapy, you can break the cycle of tension and let go of the pain and tension.

Elizabeth Dashiell interviews Senior Massage Therapist Laura Sniper on Jaw Pain & TMJ

Elizabeth: - What kind of pain do you most commonly address in our clientele at Bodyworks DW?

Laura Sniper: One of the most common things we address that I really enjoy treating is jaw pain. A lot of people don’t realize how much jaw tension they hold! In my experience, the work can be very transformative for the client. 

We also see a lot of people who experience neck pain. Most people can say they’ve had neck tension at some point in their lives... And when we carry a lot of neck tension, often times that will spread into jaw tension. Over time, we end up teeth clenching throughout the day and in our sleep. When we ignore jaw pain or tension long-term it can potentially contribute to the development of TMJ disorder.

E: What is TMJ Disorder?

LS: - It’s a disorder in the joint of the jaw (TemporoMandibular Joint). The point of this joint is to help us move and open our mouths. It's located in very close proximity to the first vertebrae of our neck so tension in one almost always means tension in the other.

Here’s what I do when someone comes in expressing this kind of discomfort. First, I look at the client’s posture. I see how much of it seems to be coming from a forward head (commonly known as “text neck”). Is the pain one-sided? Is the client leaning one way more than the other? How much of it is from one jaw joint working harder than the other? I start by correcting those imbalances.

Of course, I’ll always do local work. Often, I work the most immediate muscle of the jaw called the masseter. You can feel this muscle if you place your hand below your cheekbone.

Did you know that there are jaw muscles that can only be worked on from inside your mouth?

LS: A lot of people benefit from an LMT working on the inside of the mouth.

Not everyone is comfortable with that kind of work at first, but...everyone that I work on feels amazing afterwards!

E: What exactly are you doing when you do inner-mouth work?

LS: Well, first, we always wear medical gloves. We make sure we have consent and communicate with the client what’s going on. Second, we work on the pterygoid muscles. They are located in sides of the mouth and are used primarily for chewing. In fact, it’s the muscle we use when we clench. Anyone who clenches their jaw regularly, has had lock-jaw, or has had whiplash or a concussion is prone to holding tension here.

E: Is that muscle sensitive?

LS: The work can feel intense but afterwards people feel transformed. I’ve heard pretty much all my clients talk about feeling more range of motion in the jaw and an open neck. People who suffer from chronic headaches will claim to have less headaches or no headaches at all. Of course, this is only the case when the headache was caused by jaw tension.

In my opinion inner mouth work to relieve jaw tension is really important and often overlooked! It’s most definitely worth the time to get addressed.

E: I agree! I think I need it!!

Book an Appointment with Laura!

massage gift card

Massage Gift Cards: A Gift that Keeps on Giving

Why your loved ones who haven't been to Bodyworks DW need a massage gift card

For most of my life, I've been in pain.

Like a lot of us, I've asked my body to keep up with me in ways it might not have expected. I've met what seems like every kind of doctor there is searching for answers.

Here's what I was told by traditional medicine

  1. Stop what you're doing, it's stupid. (I'm a modern/contemporary dancer)
  2. Surgery is the only way to fix this. (surgery, small or large scale, is invasive and generally the most expensive and time consuming route to healing)
  3. Wear a hard cast on both feet (???) for two months to reset them....

 

Basically, I was left living in pain with no ways out that worked for me. I accepted this as reality and continued onward. By letting my pain become the norm.

This experience was shared among my college peers. We ignored our pain. My friends and I didn't have the time to research our options or the finances to invest in our bodies. Money was tight and my shoulders were tighter. It didn't cross my mind once to ask for help (typical college student, right??).

So I trucked along silently. If someone had just validated my pain and set me in the right direction it might have been a completely different story.

Ahem....a massage gift card would have been nice...... 🙂

Here's when my life changed

About a year ago I was searching for a job and came across Bodyworks DW. I didn't know anything about medical massage therapy. I certainly wasn't willing to spend the money to try it out. However, I was hired to work the front desk. One of the perks of working here has been access to heavily discounted massage therapy.

This opportunity introduced me to healers with a different perspective on pain. These massage therapists were actually listening to what I was saying. They offer me solutions that feel considerate of my lifestyle and mental health. It has been a serious game changer.

Since I started my healing journey here, I've been able to revisit and restore old injuries. Ones that I once decided I'd have to live with. I've restored my faith in my body. And I've been able to work out the unending list of muscular kinks that pull my bones in ways they should not be pulled.

I'm not out of the woods yet, but because of this studio, I know that living pain free is possible. Heck, I even deserve it! AND I believe in the work!

This holiday season, all massage gift cards are 10% off

If the work our medical massage therapists have done for you has impacted you in great ways, buy your loved ones a gift card. Be the introduction they may need especially if they don't know how to ask for help.

After all, a gentle nudge towards living pain free has never proven to be a bad gift!

Stay warm this winter, Elizabeth

Buy Gift Card 🙂
holiday stress

Tips for Holiday Stress: How to survive the season

It’s that time of year. And if you are like most NYC’ers, you’ll want these tips for holiday stress.

This year we are sharing our favorite tips for holiday stress to help you identify and plan for the things that usually send our clients into the land of back, shoulder, and neck pain. With so much more on your plate, it’s easy to rush, over do it, carry too much around, etc. Then one or two mornings on a bad pillow and suddenly you wake up to shooting pain. If you read and practice our tips, then maybe we can see you come in for a happy maintenance massage, rather than battlefield triage.

Here’s just a short list of that “stuff” that is adding to your stress levels:

  • Shopping while fighting through tourists
  • Traveling on crowded trains, planes, and buses
  • Crazy traffic if you are driving
  • Sleeping on less than awesome guest/hotel beds
  • Sitting down to a family dinner entirely made from things that you are trying not to eat
  • In fights with family over who’s giving to whom this year and how much you are “allowed” to spend

How can you DEAL??!!

Step 1: Let’s all just actually admit to ourselves that this time of year is stressful. If you are telling yourself that it’s just you and that everyone else seems to have it together…stop. Ask around. We see hundreds of clients who face holiday stress…trust us, it’s everyone.

Step 2: Identify what your stressors are and where/when they are likely to push your buttons. Make a list.

Step 3: Make a plan to lessen the impact for each of the things on your list and practice self-care. If you accept that it’s going to be stressful instead of trying to kid yourself, then you get to do something about it. Choose some ways to handle the stress from our tips list and schedule them in your calendar like you would an important meeting at work.

Top on the list of self-care practices that most people avoid: negotiating with family to create a better experience that everyone can enjoy…including you.

Step 4: Find ways to do more with less. What if we all chose to have the goal this year that everyone gets to have a good time, relax a bit, and enjoy each other’s company?

“My family usually gets into full throated political arguments when we get together….and we are all of the same party!? This year at Thanksgiving we have a new in-law who belongs to the ‘other’ party. So we decided to institute a ‘no politics allowed’ rule to avoid making him uncomfortable. It was fantastic. We had a great time.” – David

To help you make a plan, here’s some of our go to tips for holiday stress

General Tips for Holiday Stress:

  • bring your own pillow
  • pack a rubber ball to use for stress squeezing and for self-massage
  • plan ahead to make sure food is available that is on your diet
  • if you are staying multiple days, plan some “me” time to yourself
  • go with the flow rather than get caught up in arguments…then take that “me” time to de-stress

Tips for Holiday Travel

  • avoid driving if possible, driving is one of the worst activities for your lower back and neck, and you’ll do more of it than normal with heavy traffic
  • when flying, stick to a carry on bag and pack light…several of our clients always throw their backs out around the holidays trying to deal with a way heavier suitcase
  • pack your own snacks for longer waits at the airport or train station
  • download several episodes of that tv show you’ve been meaning to watch
  • learn a simple stretching routine to do while you are waiting or sitting on the plane/train
  • take vitamin C to boost your immune system
  • spend a little extra and take a car service to the station rather than leave your car in parking or taking the subway

Tips for Staying with Relatives

  • book a hotel or Air BnB instead of staying in the guest room on an old mattress
  • if the bedsprings are old at either the family guest room or a hotel, consider putting the mattress on the floor for better support
  • make a trip to the grocery store yourself and pick up food that you can eat on your diet, especially snacks in case food isn’t going to be served when you get hungry
  • decide ahead of time what time you’ll have breakfast, lunch, dinner and have a family agreement on it to avoid getting “hangry”
  • pack earplugs and an eyemask to help sleep in an unfamiliar room

Tips for Holiday Shopping

  • unless you are getting something that needs to be seen in person, shop online
  • pay to have it gift wrapped and shipped to the relatives house…it’s a small luxury you can probably afford that saves a lot of time/effort/back pain
  • buy small stuff that has meaning to avoid carting heavy packages around (yes, there is a theme here)
  • consider giving experiences over “stuff” (museum memberships, tickets to a show, a class on cooking, etc.)…again, it fits into a card, and is super memorable

Have a happy holiday season 🙂

We are sure some of the tips above caught your eye and went ding ding ding in your mind as something to take on this year for your holiday stress. Even practicing just a few new self-care tips this year can make all the difference.

Our favorite last tip. Book yourself a post holiday massage for the last week of December or the first week of January! 

Happy Holidays and we look forward to seeing you at the studio!

NYC Marathon tips 2018

NYC Marathon Tips: How to Heal an Injury That Makes You Want to Drop Out… and Finish Strong

Here we are again about 6 weeks before the NYC marathon. Our medical massage therapy practice is getting flooded with new clients who are in pain training for the marathon. Each year we get an influx of folks worried they’ll have to drop out and desperate to get back on the road. We can’t guarantee that our NYC marathon tips will get every single one of them through the race. That being said, we have a great track record of helping runners rehabilitate quickly from an injury. And get back up to stride even this close to race day. Having learned a few things over the years, we are happy to share our best NYC marathon tips so that you can have the best day ever on November 4th!

My First Marathon Client That Almost Dropped Out

I’ve been in practice for close to 12 years now. Each year I routinely work with a several dozen NYC marathon runners in all phases of their training. However, my first, was way back in 2009, just a couple years after graduating massage school. A friend of a friend was training for his first ever marathon as a first time runner. (He was not a runner before starting training in spring).

NYC Marathon Tips 1

Start training long before you think you need to: My current advice for folks who aren’t already runners is to start training for a marathon 18 months before race day. (Most people start 6-8 months beforehand). He had started in April, just 7 months before the race. And yes, lots of people start training for their first NYC marathon in the spring of the same year and do fine. However, some folks have older injuries lurking in your history. These will tend to come out and wreak havoc on your training somewhere around September/October.

My client, let’s call him Sven (not his real name), came to me with a golf ball sized knot of seized up muscle tissue in his left calf… 4 weeks before race day. It had been getting progressively worse over the prior 3 weeks. It had gotten to the point where he could no longer run a single mile without debilitating, cramping pain.

He was obviously distraught and unsure what to do. Sven was worried about letting all the people who donated to his race down (a common concern). But he thought that he was beyond help. He had been to a physical therapist 3 times with no relief. Sven was highly skeptical that I could do anything to help him but our mutual friend assured him I was “miracle worker.” (no pressure there or anything!)

Ethically, I’m not allowed to make a guarantee that I can help clients. There are always going to be some cases that are beyond what massage therapy can relieve. Sometimes, surgery and physical therapy are a client’s best recourse. And sometimes all of the best NYC marathon tips you can find won’t matter. So I want to get that out there lest folks think that I actually go around touting myself as a miracle worker (no faith healing here, just straight up science at work). I told him this, and that I’d try my best but I thought I might be able to help.

How we got the client through race day in 3 medical massage therapy sessions:

Session One

I spent most of that first massage on the back of his legs. This included some truly intense deep tissue work directly on the bunched up calf tissue (with his permission of course). We also worked to open up his right hip which was not moving well due to an older injury. I theorized that the hip injury resulted from an even older right ankle sprain. This was confirmed by the client, so I also worked to get the right ankle moving with better alignment.

At the end of the session he said the whole area felt better than it had in weeks and he hoped that this would get him back to race form. At which point I gave him some of the best injury recovery advice I’ve ever come up with…

NYC Marathon Tips 2

Start Over Again – When recovering from an injury DO NOT try to jump back into the same level of training you were at before the injury. That is a sure fire recipe for the injury popping right back again and keeping you down. For Sven, I told him to do the following:

  • Wait two days (agonizing for a runner) before running, spend time stretching
  • Run only 1 mile as long as you aren’t in sharp pain
  • Then stop and call it a day
  • If you are in sharp pain during that 1 mile stop
  • If that went fine with no pain, rest the following day
  • On fifth day, try running only 3 miles as long as there is no sharp pain
  • Rest the following day
  • Book a follow up session for the next week on the 7th day after our first session

I can hear your teeth grinding just reading that list. “But, but, but….it’s only 4 weeks to race day and you are saying I should only put in 4 total miles this week?! What about my big 18 mile long run coming up?!?!?!?!”

Trust me, Sven wasn’t going to make it on that long run in the condition he was in. Thankfully, he did trust me and followed the NYC marathon tips to the letter. He emailed me after each of the 1 mile and 3 mile runs. Sven let me know that there was no sharp pain, just a “bit of tightness that opened up during the run and stopped bothering me by the middle.”

Session Two

Sven came in a week later for session number two. His calf still had a ball of seized tissue but it had shrunk down from golf ball sized to marble sized. We worked on it again, then focused more on quads and hip flexors including the all important psoas muscle. We also worked on opening up his ribcage, and diaphragm. In order to bring his upper carriage into a better alignment with his legs, we worked on his neck.

So many runners come in and request that I work on their legs over and over again. What they don’t realize is that their upper carriage tension in the neck and shoulders is a huge factor for why their legs are always so tight.

After session 2, I gave him the following to do:

  • Wait two days (again, totally agonizing for a runner) before running, spend time stretching
  • Then run 6 miles as long as you aren’t in sharp pain
  • Then stop and call it a day
  • If you are in pain during that run stop
  • If that went fine with no sharp pain, rest the following day
  • On fifth day after session 2, try running 12 miles as long as there is no sharp pain
  • Rest the following day
  • Book a follow up session for the next week on the 7th day after our first session

Sven followed the NYC marathon tips we gave him, emailing me to let me know that his whole running form had opened up. This was likely due to the upper carriage work. He felt not just fine but even better than before on the 6 and 12 mile runs. He wondered whether he even needed the third session. I told him to keep it just in case and that we might be able to shave some time off his run by working on his external hip rotators. He kept it.

Session Three

He came in for session 3 feeling good but a bit worried that he was getting to his long run a bit close to the race. The calf knot was almost non-existent. We spent the session working on his side body, bringing the left and right sides into better symmetry. This session is great for getting the ball and socket joints of the hips and shoulders free again which allows the rest of the body to ease up and relax. The session was on a Thursday.

I gave him the following homework:

  • Wait two days before running, spend time stretching
  • Then run the 20 mile long run as long as you aren’t in sharp pain
  • If you are in sharp pain during that run stop
  • If that went fine with no sharp pain, rest the following day
  • After that take it easy in the lead up to the race doing no more than a few short runs just to keep limber

Sven did fine on his long run and took it easy. Race day went swimmingly and he actually shaved a bit of time off his intended pace! He then followed our NYC marathon tips for race recovery and booked a post race sports massage. He came in for a post race recovery massage a couple days after the race and felt 100% normal by day four.

NYC Marathon Tips 3

Book a post race recovery massage: Some experienced runners book a recovery massage for the evening of race day. Unless you have run several marathons and are sure you’ll react well to that, we don’t recommend it. You could wake up the next day feeling like you had been run over by a tank. However, any time between the day after race and 4 days after the race will be super beneficial. Especially if you have to work at the office and sit in a chair all day. For our studio, we tend to book out the week after the NYC marathon in advance, so book early.

In support of all you runners, we are offering 10% off all sessions from October 1 through November 11th for anyone who is an official participant in the NYC Marathon. Simply bring in your entry approval when you come in for a session and we’ll happily apply the discount 🙂

What we have learned since then:

In a way, Sven was lucky that he was so sidelined. He was willing to go against all instinct and take it easy for a few weeks, even with race day approaching. Had he been in slightly better shape than he was, he might have pushed too hard after the first session. And re-triggered the injury.

Most of these repetitive stress running injuries are due to two main factors. One, an older injury that creates an asymmetrical running form. And two, the slow steady pressure that builds up in the muscles compensating for the older injury. As you start piling on the miles, there comes a tipping point when the system can’t handle what you are asking it to do. It starts complaining loudly. Then boom, you are sidelined.

Correcting the form towards a more symmetrical alignment means less work for muscles to do to get you moving forward. Which in turn means an easier run and faster times.

If all of your muscles are working towards propelling you forward you’ll go faster. If some of them are pushing you sideways or up (or even backwards) instead, you’ll lose efficiency and slow down. Other muscles will have to work harder to fight that movement. You’ll also increase the impact with each stride creating the potential for stress fractures in your feet, shins, hips, or spine.

Ideally, we would work with you when you first start training so that you already have an improved running form. Before you pile on the miles. My NYC marathon tip for Sven after he completed his first successful NYC marathon was to cross train over the winter. Then come in for a few sessions next spring to work on his form. And to go celebrate his first completed NYC marathon  in style 🙂

However, as you can see from above, coming in for medical massage work at any point before race day is likely to improve your day. If you are injured, follow our NYC marathon tips and book a session. Also coming in for a post race recovery massage can get you back to normal quickly!

Good luck to everyone running this year!

sports injuries cartoon

Sports Injuries After Age 30

How to readjust your routine to avoid pain

When were your first sports injuries?

If you are into sports now, odds are you started playing team sports when you were young. I remember my first soccer tryout at 9. I also remember my first sprained ankle from getting slide tackled at 11.

There were a lot more sports injuries where that came from between then and now...
Soccer, track, cross country, cycling, swimming, and later aikido (and that one ill fated parkour class during which I sprained my ankle).

Along the way I’ve sprained both ankles more than once, severely torn a hamstring muscle twice, smashed fingers and toes, and torn a rotator cuff. I've gotten a bone spur on my wrist, had shin splints, plantar fasciitis, hip pain, low back pain, and herniated a disc in my neck.

If it weren’t for all the bodywork, acupuncture, physical therapy, and chiropractic work I received since my mid 20’s I’d be taped together with duct tape just to function. And probably would have needed a few different surgeries (currently surgery free at 46).

Like most of you, I’ve got the scars to prove my sports history. Unfortunately, as I get older, all of these old sports injuries make it even more likely that I’ll re-injure myself. So I’ve learned the hard way to be more cautious and create a regular self-care routine.

How scar tissue gets formed:

Each time we sustain sports injuries (or any other injuries) our body has to make a decision. It has to decide whether it has time to heal itself with properly functioning replacement tissue or with scar tissue. The more severe the injury, the more likely the body will use scar tissue.

Why?

Building replacement tissue takes time. If you are bleeding internally (or externally) time is a big factor. Your body has to make a choice:

  1. replace the tissue with beautiful “good as new” skin or muscle and risk bleeding out, infection, death….or
  2. plug the hole with scar tissue and save itself.

We all have scar tissue in our bodies. Those of us with a sports background likely have a lot more of it. Can you list all the injuries you’ve had?!

What makes scar tissue such an issue:

Our bodies are basically a bunch of functional pieces glued together. The glue is called “fascia.” Fascia is non-living tissue that our body makes to stick stuff together. It’s made of mostly water and collagen fibers.

Scar tissue is also non-living tissue that sticks stuff together. And it’s also made of mostly water and collagen fibers.

If they are both water and collagen fibers...what’s the difference?!

In healthy fascia, the collagen fibers are woven together in a cohesive way like fabric. It has structural integrity that allows for some movement and stretching in certain directions and also limits movements in others. When healthy, it acts like an ACE bandage already built into your joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

In scar tissue, the collagen fibers are thrown into place like a pile of pick up sticks. The body has to stop the bleeding from an injury quickly. It doesn’t have time to carefully arrange the collagen fibers for structure and healthy movement. If you have any noticeable skin scars you can attest to the difference. Healthy skin moves and stretches, while a scar feels hard and immobile.

Scar tissue can show up in big ways and also in little ways. Push things too hard and you end up with tiny “micro” tears in the muscle tissue. Most of these will be healed with properly functioning muscle but a few may be just too much for the body to handle without plugging it with scar tissue. Over time these micro-tears add up to restricted movement.

You can’t get rid of scar tissue.

The more scar tissue we have the stiffer and more limited our movements become.

And once scar tissue is formed it’s there for life. The idea that you can “break down scar tissue” and that the body gets rid of it is a modern wellness myth. However, a good massage therapist can help to work into the scar tissue and make it more pliable.

With bodywork and regular stretching the scar tissue can form a better alignment and act more like healthy fascia. So you can usually get most of your range of motion back.

Here’s the really important thing:
The older we get, the slower our body gets at healing, the more likely that injuries are going to be plugged with scar tissue instead of healthy tissue.

Check out this Washington Post Wellness article if you want to read more about this: Click here! 

What can I do to prevent sports injuries as I get older?

The first bit of advice I can give is that we all need to readjust our definition of “injury.” I ask hundreds of clients every year about their injuries and many will say, “oh I’ve never really gotten injured….” Which is interesting considering that they are coming to me because they are in pain.

We think of sports injuries as broken bones, torn ACL ligaments, sprained ankles that lay us out for weeks, etc. These absolutely are sports injuries, and major ones. It’s the minor ones we gloss over.

Pushed too hard at the gym yesterday and are feeling a little pinchy “tug” in you hip when you walk up the stairs? That’s an injury; it needs time to heal. But hey, you’ve got to keep to your exercise schedule or you’ll (insert self judgement here). So you go right back to the gym and do another hard workout.

At the beginning the hip is screaming at you, but it “warms up” during the workout and actually feels a bit better now.

The next day it’s yelling at you even more….. And wouldn’t you know it, but your shoulder feels a bit “off.” Yet most of us go back to the gym again anyway.

When you use your emergency systems just to get through everyday life, what’s left for an emergency?

Your body has some amazing tools to be able to function while injured. These include a handy couple of internal drugs called adrenaline (you know and love this one) and cortisol (it numbs pain).

These tools were designed by evolution to make sure that you could keep running or fighting the bear that was chasing you even if it had already injured you. They gave our species a fighting chance and likely saved your ancestors from a bad scrap or two.

Unfortunately, most of us are overusing and addicted to these life saving internal drugs. We mostly use them to bolster our ego and to avoid dealing with the emotional impact of growing older.

So here’s the unvarnished truth: the older you get, the harder it is for your body to recover, the more likely it is that you’ll injure yourself, the more important self care and good maintenance becomes. You can still go hard. However, you'll need a bit more effort on recovery and maintenance.

We aren’t going to “bounce back” like we used to. We can either accept this or break ourselves against the wall of reality. Your choice 🙂 

New Rules for Preventing Sports Injuries as we age:

  1. If you experience any sharp pain beyond regular soreness and muscle fatigue during exercise, STOP. No really, just stop. Do some cool down walking, then light stretching and/or foam rolling (as long as it doesn’t activate the sharp pain area). Then hit the showers and call it a day. Give your body at least 24 hours to heal itself, then try some light exercise again. If you can exercise pain free, great! If not, stop and give your body another 24 hours.
  2. Don’t do any exercise that involves those specific muscles while you are experiencing pain. All you are going to do is rip up even more tissue in the area. However, if it’s your hip that hurts you could do shoulder presses if it doesn’t activate your hip pain.
  3. Practice good post workout self care. This means a minimum of 10-15 minutes of cool down (walk around until your heart rate decreases) and stretching. This is super important as the fascia get heated and more fluid during exercise but the muscles get shorter due to repeated contraction. If you don’t stretch out after you work out, your fascia cools down and hardens around the contracted muscles making everything tighter.

Helpful Tips:

  1. The newest science proves that for cardiovascular health, 3-4 HIT (high intensity training) workouts of 30 minutes each with at least 48 hours in between is just as effective as 1-2 hour long runs 6 days a week. Bonus: less time needed, and more recovery time for healing!
  2. Variety is healthiest which is why you are starting to hear about major football and basketball athletes doing pilates, yoga, ballet, etc. Create a mix of different activities that you like. Or if you are a dedicated runner or cyclist, mix up the speed or distance of your exercise with short sprints, hill workouts, etc.
  3. A hot shower or bath after a workout is a great idea! For bonus points, douse yourself with cold water for 30 seconds at the end (in the shower you can try going back and forth between 2 minutes hot, 30 seconds cold a few times). The heat opens up the blood vessels allowing more blood to wash the fatigued muscles out. The cold squishes the vessels tighter, squeezing out lactic acids. Going back and forth acts like a pumping system for your muscles and speeds recovery.
  4. If sharp pain persists beyond a few days get thee to either a sports massage therapist who’s experienced with injury recovery work. A great practitioner should be able to get you back to the gym (or class or road, etc.) after a session or two. The longer you wait to have it checked out, the more likely it will need multiple sessions to relieve it. And the more likely that you’ll have injured yourself to the point where you need to take weeks to months off from training to fully recover. And nobody wants that!

If you start following the above and incorporating more self-care into your exercise routine, you’ll feel better overall and be far less likely to experience pain. You’ll also find that a less is more approach will save you time while still meeting all of your exercise goals. Good luck!

Here at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy, all of our therapists are highly trained to handle sports injuries in their many varieties. We’ll be able to look at your form and see if an older injury is throwing your alignment off and really find the source of the current pain so that you can get back to it quickly, with more knowledge of how to prevent a relapse. We’ll also be able to assess when you have a more serious injury that may require seeing a physical therapist or orthopedic doctor.

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physical therapy meets massage therapy

Doing Physical Therapy? Massage Therapy Can Improve Results!

7 Reasons why this powerful combination works

Pain sucks. As a massage therapist, I would know. Almost everyone who comes to see me does so because they're in pain!

Most of the time, my clients have such a powerful response to massage therapy they don't need additional therapies. However, that isn't always the case. I always look for clues that indicate I need to refer a client to another practitioner, such as a physical therapist. 

Physical therapy and massage therapy are both powerful methods for treating pain. By focusing on correcting the underlying muscular imbalances that have caused it in the first place. When used together, they can help clients achieve faster and better results.  

There are several reasons why massage therapy is effective for anyone who is already receiving physical therapy.

Here are the top 7:

  1. Providing pain relief, often times after the first session
  2. Increasing range of motion so that the body can move better
  3. Decreasing local inflammation by working above and below the area
  4. Lessening the pain clients may be feeling during or after physical therapy exercises
  5. Decreasing the pain clients may feel post-surgery
  6. Bringing faster results than just physical therapy alone 
  7. Motivating clients to stick to their physical therapy treatment plan

That's the short version of why massage therapy and physical therapy are a powerful combination. If you're interested in a more detailed explanation, read below! 

The Breakdown: 

1) Massage therapy helps by treating short and overused muscles. 

The goal of many physical therapy exercises is to help strengthen any weak muscles that are causing pain symptoms. The goal is that by strengthening weak muscles, the body will move & feel healthier. But that's only half the picture. 

When it comes to muscles, imbalance happens when one muscle is weak and long while another muscle is overused and short. In order to correct this, BOTH of these problems need to be addressed. This means following the exercises provided by a physical therapist teaching clients how to engage and strengthen muscles that are weak. It also means using massage therapy to address the muscles that are chronically overused.

The right massage therapist will focus on releasing these tight muscles as well as lengthening them when they've gotten short. This can help effectively decrease pain while also improving range of motion and helping the nervous system learn how to move better! 

2) Massage therapy will help with physical therapy. 

Studies show that one major obstacle to physical therapy treatment is that many will stop coming in if the exercises are painful to do, or if their pain doesn't decrease right away. (Source: Read this article) Basically, if the work is too hard and painful, people are a lot less likely to do it. Massage therapy can decrease pain often with immediate results, which will help provide motivation to stick to the physical therapist's treatment plan.  

3) Massage therapy can help post-surgery.

Sometimes people will experience new aches and pains after their recovery from a surgery, even while doing physical therapy. This can happen due to a change in the body alignment and how the body moves after the procedure. If clients are already doing regular physical therapy and still experiencing pain post-surgery, I suggest asking a doctor if it’s medically safe to try massage therapy.

For more detailed information on how massage therapy can help post-surgery, please check out this in-depth article: Click Here!

 

In summary, we see that combining physical therapy and massage therapy help clients move better and feel better by working on correcting any muscular imbalances that can be causing or contributing to pain. 

Want to read more about how we work at Bodyworks DW? 

Click to Learn More about our Massage Therapy
Vacation Goals

Vacation: 7 Ways to Plan Your Way to Relaxation

Sounds counterintuitive I know, planning to relax. Afterall, a vacation is supposed to be “time off” and a reset for our overworked brains and bodies. And yet…doesn’t if often seem like we come back more tired physically than when we left?!

Often mentally we are able to recharge and refocus. But, physically, our bodies can be just as beaten up from a vacation as when we left. If not more so.

So, what can we do? First, let’s define the goal of the vacation - is it to:

  • Recharge and relax?
  • Visit family?
  • Sightsee and learn about new culture?
  • To accomplish a bucket list goal... Mt. Kilimanjaro anyone?

Take note which of these ideas seem relaxing to you and which seem mentally or physically challenging (or both).

Challenges tend to add stress, not relieve it.

If you want to come back from vacation both mentally and physically rejuvenated, (and that’s not what you are currently getting out of your travels) you are going to have to plan differently.

To help and support you in planning an actual relaxing vacation, here are some of our top tips for what to take into account so that you’ll be able to relax, have a little adventure, and come back with a full tank of gas-in you!

Don’t workout.

To workout or not workout, that is the question. As long as you make a solid commitment with yourself to get back into your exercise routine when you are home, my advice is to skip the workouts. You are going to walk a lot more than normal on most vacations, or if you are just relaxing on the beach, you’ll swim a bit. If you really must workout, try something different than normal like a yoga class on the beach, or a bike / walking tour of the area. The point is to recharge from your routine life, not engage in it while away.

Take your pillow.

Pillows and mattresses in most places you stay are going to range from awful to just okay. Even if your hotel has a super fancy mattress the pillows will likely be huge and fluffy which is actually terrible for you neck. Although you can’t transport your bed from home, you can bring a pillow from home that you know is right for you, or a travel size Tempurpedic (my pick while away) which fits nicely in a carry on.

The right tools.

A sleep mask, earplugs, and/or white noise app to play through your phone might help sleep in a new place with uncertain noise and light. I like finding rain storm lists on Spotify.

Sleep in. Duh.

You totally deserve at least a few days to sleep in! Bracket rest days around adventure days so that you get the best of both. When I travel, I usually like to schedule 3-4 half day sight-seeing tours inside of an 8-9 day vacation. I don’t do them on consecutive days and keep other days to light sights. Some days, despite being someplace fantastic like Rome, I still take a 1/2 day to sit in bed and read a book. Again, this is a break from normal life!

Come back early.

After a long flight, schedule a staycation day to recover rather than try to eek out the longest vacation possible. Traveling is tough on the body and arriving home late in the evening only to wake up the next morning and truck off to work is asking a lot of it. Take a day to recuperate and collect your travel photos into a nice post. You’ll thank me on Monday.

Throw money at the travel headache.

How you get there sets the tone for the stay. Travel is usually a lot of headaches. Once you’re there and settle in it’s great, but the trip itself?! Packing, getting to the airport, getting through the airport, being stuck in an airplane seat for a long time, then getting through the other airport and to your lodgings all take a toll and create lots of stress. Give yourself any small favors that you can afford:  taking a taxi to the airport instead of the subway, spending an extra $25 on extra legroom seats if you are tall, arranging for a car to pick you up and take you directly to your hotel from the airport. You won’t be able to take away all of the stressors but every little bit counts!

Get a post trip blues massage.

Of course I’ll say this, but it really does help to book a massage for that staycation day at the end of the vacation to help recuperate and revive. Sure, most people go for the massage at the hotel while on vacation, and we wouldn’t say no to that. However, that one will be completely erased by the stress of the trip back home. Booking yourself a massage after you get back means that you can head into work the next day fully recharged, de-stressed, and ready for action!

text neck massage therapy neck pain shoulder pain

Save your text neck

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

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!

 

Stress Management for Commuting and Conferences: how to make the necessary evils less painful—for your body

Sitting at a desk for long hours in a workplace with poor stress management is probably the number one source of aches and pains for most workers. This professor goes so far as to say it’s the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., ahead of kidney disease!

In our last post we covered some tips for setting up your desk at home to create little to no stress.

In this post, we’ll cover stress management tips for what to do when your job requires time outside of the office. For your commutes, off-site meetings, conferences, etc. All that time you spent optimizing your main work area will go out the window the minute you step away from it.

Here are some stress management tips for commuting without injury

First, let’s talk about how you are carrying your stuff around. I’ll admit that the aesthetic options for over the shoulder messenger bags, purses, and briefcases generally look better. However, they are poorly designed from an ergonomics standpoint. Don’t buy into it? Check out this Time article on purses and bags

You’re likely to spend hundreds to thousands of hours hauling your things around. Investing in a good looking rolling suitcase or backpack will save you money in physical or massage therapy later on.

My list of must haves

  • A rolling briefcase/suitcase with a pull out handle (best) or a backpack (2nd best). Hauling your life around in an over the shoulder bag, large purse, or briefcase with just a handle is asking for a shoulder or low back injury.
  • Get both! If you’re carrying enough stuff around to require 2 (or more) bags, get a rolling suitcase and a backpack. That combo will give you the same “carrying real estate” in the most body friendly package.
  • An iPad with a folding bluetooth keyboard and a light folding stand can handle most computing needs outside of the office these days. Unless you are doing heavy duty photography, graphic design, video editing, or crunching vast amounts of data, invest in an iPad. Your shoulders will thank you for losing the extra weight of the laptop.
  • The right footwear. If I had my way in the world, heels would be completely abolished as footwear. They alter your center of gravity, and do all sorts of nasty things to your spine. The long-term impact of wearing heels is a leading factor for back pain, knee pain, and neck pain. At minimum, switch to a comfortable, cushioned, pair of flat shoes whenever you are going anywhere outside of work. That includes the to and from commute as well. This is one of the few instances where carrying the extra weight around is well worth it.

Additional stress management tips

  • Remember to switch sides when carrying your bag. Give the side you “lead with” a rest.
  • Store as many paper files in digital format that you can get away with. Pound for pound digital files weigh nothing. 
  • If you are hauling around gym clothes everyday, do they fit in a rolling suitcase/backpack combo along with all of your work stuff? If not, it might be time to rethink things. The extra bag is undoing many of the health benefits you are getting out of the gym in the first place. Look into a gym close to home instead of near work. Try switching workouts to first thing in the morning (pre-shower). This is often one of those “best is the enemy of good” situations. The gym near work might be nicer, but you would really be better off with a decent one close to home.

Conferences & Meetings are a Pain in the Butt

For off-site meetings and conferences, the main problem is lack of control over your seating and the expectations for how long you’ll have to sit in session.

Meetings in conference rooms usually have better chairs, so that’s a plus. However, if you need to get up and stretch or even stretch at your seat, you’re going to feel a bit weird with people around.

Your best bet is to try the following well ahead of the meeting:

  • Do 5 minutes of stretching before you get to the conference room. You likely won’t have time during the meeting itself. If you don’t have a good place to do that, honestly, use the bathroom.
  • Request that the meeting take 5 minute breaks every hour (at the minimum) to be able to stand up, stretch, walk around a bit, etc. Best is to bake this into the agenda long before the meeting time. If you’re attending someone else’s meeting, you can always request this at the beginning before it starts. If you feel uncomfortable asking, you can always “white lie” and say that you have a medically diagnosed low back injury and your doctor has advised this. The others in the meeting will probably thank you for the reminder for self-care.
  • Can’t do the above either because you won’t ask, or because the request was denied? Take 5 minutes anyway and go to the bathroom every hour.

At the meeting or conference:

  • When you arrive, play with the settings on your chair to adjust the height to a comfortable level. During the meeting, try adjusting the height slightly up or down whenever you get a bit sore. This will make you use slightly different muscles and give the ones you just used a break.
  • If you find that you tend to cross your legs only in one direction, try switching. Between not crossing, and crossing to the other side every 15 minutes or so you may find some comfort. This will help relieve your muscles from getting stuck into a habitual asymmetrical pattern (which leads to a repetitive stress disorder).
  • For the really bold, take your shoes off under the conference table and/or attend meetings with laceless shoes that are easy to slip on and off.

For conferences, try the following tips:

  • Pick a spot towards the back or the outside of the seating rows. You’ll have an easier time moving around and won’t worry as much about disturbing anyone.
  • If you are in a larger group, less eyes will be focused on you. Feel free to practice some in chair stretching during the lectures. We have a number of useful quick tutorials for workplace stretching on our YouTube channel.
  • Check in with yourself during a lecture. Are you really interested in the topic and material or just going through the motions because someone else thought this would be “good for you?” If you feel like you’re getting little out of it, dropping out and getting a quick snack would be a great self-care practice. Check the list of other available opportunities for something more interesting while you’re out! Nothing is more stressful than boredom or feeling like you are wasting your time.

The more you can be a leader in the workplace and make small changes for your own health and stress management, the better you’ll feel. As people start to notice how much happier you seem, the more likely it will be that people will start following along and practicing their own stress management. Hopefully, over time, the whole culture around you starts to shift and you’ll be dealing with far less stress overall.

In our next post, we’ll cover travel tips for planes, trains, and automobiles!

self care, entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs Don’t Ignore Your Health

Simple Tips for Making the Home Office Work for You

I’ve now been a 10 year self-employed writer, then a 10+ year massage therapist, a life coach, and most recently have grown my practice to have 20 employees. Including 15 massage therapists who train under me and see clients at my practice.

I’ve seen entrepreneurship from a lot of different angles. Both from my own experience and from working with and talking to hundreds of self-employed massage and coaching clients.

Along the way we’ve learned good practices for keeping your business from feeling like it’s all consuming. And ways to actually get and feel the freedom you were looking for going in... And the stability you thought you might never see again.

So, for whatever stage of entrepreneurship you are at, whether just starting out, or building out your third 100+ employee company, here’s some of our best advice for taking care of yourself and de-stressing.

It was a scary leap of faith to quit my “real” job but the benefits were just too enticing to pass by:

  • working from home
  • controlling my own hours
  • making way more per hour worked than when working for someone else
  • different job experiences each time
  • major tax write offs

But with the rewards come stress that can take a physical toll on your body.

  • The feast or famine syndrome (either having too much work at one time or none at all)
  • Managing your own schedule. A skill that none of us realized we lacked since parents, school and “job” handled all of that for us.
  • Learning how to negotiate, create contracts, and stick to deadlines. At least if you want to get paid decently, on time, and keep clients...
  • Saving money for when the work is slow (no more steady paycheck)
  • Beating the learning curve for every new client
  • Doing your own taxes (and they are far more complex)

Unless you’ve got a major investor or a business savvy partner (and often even if you DO), the beginning phase of any new business is a pretty stressful wild ride. Especially if this is your first venture into working for yourself. There are whole sets of systems that are needed that you had no idea were necessary. Suddenly you are building the boat to cross the river to success…… in the middle of the trip.

So, how do we entrepreneurs take better care of ourselves at home?

  1. Ergonomics (ie using the tools of your job in the most body friendly and efficient way) is a lot more important than you’ve given it credit for.

Glad to ditch the desk?…think again…

Desks were invented for a reason. Desks are designed to sit at and be able to write on at a height that is generally good for most people.

Work desks may not have been perfect. They are still light years better than typing at your kitchen table, the coffee table, or (god-forbid) on your lap on your couch.

If you spend more than 1 hour per workday typing,
I highly recommend investing the extra money in a real ergonomic workstation, meaning:

  • an actual desk (pro tip, buy a vintage desk rather than a cheap Ikea one and you’ll be able to sell it later with little to no loss of money and possible make a profit on it)
  • a desktop computer (either as your only computer or in addition to your laptop) with decent sized monitor and wireless keyboard/mouse
  • a good comfortable chair that has the ability to roll and easily change height, and has no arms
  • a convertible sit/stand desk unit to place on top of your desk (especially if you are typing several hours per day or staring at the screen for long periods)
  • a comfortable set of headphones with a mic for phone calls (holding the phone against your shoulder with your head while trying to type is a surefire way to give yourself a cervical spine injury)

However, if you are stuck with your laptop as your main computing tool, try these mods:

  • do at least get a wireless keyboard and mouse (you can find something halfway decent on eBay for $20-30)
  • stack the laptop on several books on your kitchen table (or the desk if you managed to get one) to bring the monitor height up to eye level
  • get the most comfortable chair you can find and get used to switching between typing on the wireless keyboard both on the table and on your lap (the table will be slightly too high and your lap slightly too low so switch every 30 minutes or so to relieve your wrists)

I’ve talked a lot here on at home care. Part 2 of this series will focus on what to do when you have to leave the office (on-site meetings, travel tips, etc.)

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massage therapy for athletes

The 6 Do’s and Don’ts to Avoid Workout Injury

Massage Therapy for Athletes

It’s nearing the end of winter and we are all a bit tired of it! Everyone is recommitting to their health goals, trying to get in shape, keep in shape, improve, etc. Bodyworks DW starts to see a lot more injuries this time of year from pushing too hard at the gym. Here’s our top advice for when to push hard and when to take it easier to prevent injury. We’ll also discuss when massage therapy for athletes is worth exploring as both a preventative measure if and when you do get an injury. 

There are a lot of amazing fitness classes available in NYC. It seems like something new is popping up almost every month. And while the variety is fantastic for helping you zero in on something that really works for you, it also means exposure to a lot of different and opposing opinions on what is good for you and what is not. As massage therapists, we have a unique viewpoint on fitness. We get to see hundreds of different clients and track what activities lead to the injuries that we work on every day, and we get to see what you can do to prevent injury that really works.

Fitness instructors don’t know as much as you would think about injuries.

The instructor of your class has one job - push you to your limits and beyond. The training they have is on exercise routines, form, and leading a class. Most don’t get very detailed anatomy training. Few, if any, are trained to deal with injuries.

Only you can have an accurate read on what your limits actually are.

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t work out to exhaustion such that you lose fluid balance and ability to perform movements cleanly and well (if you find your balance being affected, stop and rest for a bit then try again)

  2. Don’t overdo movement in one area of the body without also working on the opposing side for balance

  3. Don’t keep going if you feel any sharp pain

  4. Don’t forget to drink water and eat

  5. Don’t do any lift or movement that is so difficult that you can barely pull it off (you need to work up to these as this range of difficulty is a surefire way to injure yourself)

  6. Don’t let an instructor push you past a healthy limit

Do’s:

  1. Do challenge yourself to try different movements on a regular basis

  2. Do try to slowly and steadily increase your range of motion, run times, weights, distances, etc. The key here is slowly and steadily over dozens of workouts

  3. Do slow down and concentrate on smooth and easy form for movements. Getting the movement aligned and efficient from the get go prevents injuries later

  4. Do ask for guidance from an experienced and well-trained instructor on form as good form is essential and do your research on massage therapy for athletes! See for yourself how helpful it can be

  5. Do quit while you are ahead as it’s almost always those last few reps or pushing past that last bit that gets you injured

  6. Do know what the common injuries for your favorite class are and how to prevent them happening to you (scroll down for a list of what injuries are common in our experience). 

Common Injuries for Popular Exercise Classes:

We see hundreds of clients engaging in all manner of exercise. The repetitive motions of most forms of exercise lead to common injuries. While the following are by no means the only way you can get injured in class, they are far more common than you may realize.

If you know what the common injuries are to your activity, you can take it a bit easier when you start to feel anything “off” in those areas.

Basic rule of thumb for pain:

STOP exercising for at least 24 hours. Try exercise again. If you feel okay, great, if you don’t wait another day.

Yoga: hamstring attachment tear, SI joint instability, cervical disc herniations, mid back pain

Pilates: plantar fasciitis, mid back pain

Crossfit: rotator cuff tear, biceps tendonitis, hip issues, groin pull

Soul Cycle/spinning: cervical disc and lumbar disc herniation, hip issues, low back pain, shoulder pain

Swimming: rotator cuff tear, hip issues, plantar fasciitis

Running (distance): plantar fasciitis, knee issues, ankle sprains, low back pain

Martial Arts (striking heavy ones like karate or kung fu): ankle sprains, hip issues, wrist sprains

Martial Arts (soft styles like aikido): hip issues, rotator cuff tear

Ju-juitsu: cervical disc herniations, rotator cuff tear, finger injuries

Boot Camp Style Classes: plantar fasciitis, groin pull, biceps tendonitis

Tennis: tennis elbow, hip issues

Kettlebell: wrist sprains, hip issues

Barre: hip issues, mid back pain

Rowing: Shoulder pain, hip issues

Boxing: wrist sprains, shoulder pain, plantar fasciitis

Kickboxing: wrist sprains, plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains

How Massage Therapy for Athletes can help:

If you feel pain during a class or workout and follow the above advice, it will go away for small injuries. After rest with light movement and stretching, try exercising again. If you feel okay, awesome! You are good to go.

If the pain persists and does not go away, it’s not going to heal on its own without at least several weeks of rest. And that just plain sucks if you have specific goals such as running a marathon, losing weight, increasing your times, etc.

Working with our team of experienced and well-trained therapists can kick start your healing and get you back in action much faster. Customized massage therapy for athletes is different than your average spa massage as we target the problem areas and work with you to improve your form, body awareness, and exercise routine so that you can continue to progress without further injury.

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shoulder pain

Winter & Workouts — A Recipe for Shoulder Pain. Here’s How to Fix It!

Your Shoulders and Winter are not good friends...

Have you booked a massage therapy for shoulder pain session yet? If not, you'll probably feel like we are psychics in a few weeks...

It’s that most wonderful time of year…okay, actually it’s not all that wonderful right now.
The holidays are over, it’s freezing cold, and it’s a new year at the office with new projects, stress, and pressure.

And the cold just started….we’ve still got 10-14 weeks to go 😬🤒

Add in indoor exercise to that (weightlifting, yoga, boxing, Crossfit) and you’ve got a perfect recipe for shoulder pain and injuries…..

Winter Shoulder Pain Recipe

  • 1/4 cup “lifting shoulders due to cold”

  • 1 cup “stressing at work” which engages our fight/flight response and lifts the shoulders

  • 1 tablespoon “indoor exercise” which impacts shoulders more intensely (due to the other above ingredients)...

This recipe leads to overuse injuries such as rotator cuff tears, biceps tendonitis, and bursitis. 

What you get when this cake is baked is “I don’t know what happened….but my right (or left) shoulder just started hurting…..HELP!”

Shoulder Pain in Winter: What YOU can do about it

If you haven’t gotten to the pain level yet, congrats!

If you don’t want to get there, come see us for massage therapy for shoulder pain (or any other pains you are dealing with). In the meantime, the following will absolutely help to prevent further injury:

Invest in a good winter coat, hat, scarf (no, really)

  • Fashion is cool and all…and usually cold too. You may not like wearing a parka, or messing up your hair with a hat, but your shoulders will thank you if you are warm enough.
  • Your body is dealing with cold that it’s not insulated against.
  • Our nervous system is hardwired to “protect the important bits” (ie your head and your trunk where all of your important organs are).
  • It raises the arms and shoulders in a self hug to bring more body heat to your brain (the most important bit) and lungs.
  • This is brain stem level instinctual….if your body is cold enough to be scared of hypothermia it will raise your shoulders no matter how much you want them not to.

Warm up inside for a few minutes before sitting down (Desk = Death)

  • After you get inside and take off your coat, hat, scarf, spend several minutes walking around your office or house before sitting down.
  • Give your muscles some time to warm up, acclimate, and loosen up before sitting and staying in one position. Otherwise, they will tighten up into a sitting position even more than during the rest of the year.

Stretch (Desk = Death: Part 2)

  • Do some light stretching and moving, especially hip stretching and twists. These tend to get super locked up walking around in boots and trudging through snow and wind.
  • Swing your arms lightly around and roll your shoulders to help loosen up. Normally this happens while walking, but in winter we tend to keep our hands in our pockets. This holds the shoulders locked in place. Hence your shoulder pain!
  • Check out our YouTube page! We have a bunch of self-care at the office stretches to help you out in quick, easy to watch videos 🙂 

Make sure to warm up properly at the gym before going hard

  • Again, when you first get inside at the gym spend several minutes just letting your body warm up. Acclimate after being outside in the cold!
  • It’s even more important during winter months to spend that 10 minutes doing light stretching and warm up exercises. Try light walking or jogging on the treadmill. Before going full out, try a few reps of lifts with much lighter weight than you intend to lift during your workout. (Of course, you SHOULD be doing this throughout the year 🤔).
  • Does your gym have a steam room or sauna? Take advantage of that! Just make sure to bring in water to drink as you’ll sweat out even more fluids in there.

Hydration is vital

  • Winter means heating, which means DRY AIR. It’s going to take more water and fluids intake than you are used to drinking to stay hydrated.
  • Muscles that are stiff from the cold and under-hydrated are WAY more prone to injury.
  • Do you own a humidifier at home? No? Get one (or two or three….). Fluid loss at night while sleeping under heavy blankets and dry NYC heat is guaranteed. And it's a surefire recipe for muscle injury and getting whatever nasty little flu or cold bugs are floating around the office.
  • Book a massage!
  • Why not take care of yourself? Massage therapy for shoulder pain, hip pain, foot, pain, low back pain, and any other pains that crop up during winter months is a no brainer.
  • And no, it's not going to just wear off the moment you step back outside 🙂  

What WE can can help you with: massage therapy for shoulder pain

Some of our clients disappear for a while during the winter months. It’s harder to convince yourself to get to the studio when it means extra time outside in the cold and snow. We take on a “this sucks and I’ve just got to make through until Spring” attitude in NYC.

Why suffer?

Getting massage therapy for shoulder pain every 3-6 weeks is even more useful in the winter. You are going to tighten up no matter what you try to do on your own. A few massages during the winter means that you’ll far more likely to enter spring training injury free.

And if you are feeling any sharp shoulder pain during exercise now, don't ignore it and hope it will get better. We can work on it to keep it from becoming a full blown rotator cuff tear or torn labrum. Not to mention biceps tendonitis…

The advantage to working with our team is that we customize every session to meet your needs for wherever your body is at that day.

Also, we have heated massage tables and delicious ginger tea 🙂