Michael Terra, LMT at Bodyworks DW, is July's therapist of the month!
Read his interview below where he discusses how common it is for him to see people with upper back pain and the effectiveness of releasing the chest muscles to help the back.
Most common pain issue you see?
The most common issue I've seen in my clients has been upper back pain. Generally because of bad posture at a demanding desk job.
How do you work to correct this?
For those having issues with upper back pain from habitually poor posture, they can do at home stretches to the chest and strengthen the back. In terms of the work done on the table, the most effective treatment for upper back pain is working on opening up the muscles in the chest. This, however, will have a poor effect if we don't address the discomfort they are feeling in the back. So the first session will likely be on the back, getting into the kinks they feel. I can confidently say it's never something that gets fixed in 1 session. This treatment can range from 2 to 5 sessions depending on the willingness of the client to do their part at home.
Why are the abdominals one of your favorite areas to work?
My clients will back me up on this but one of my favorite places to work on is the psoas. It is a very memorable experience for first timers, and a muscle that when released brings a lot of relief for many people suffering from lower or upper back pain.
Favorite massage therapy success story?
One of my favorite experiences I had was with a client who is a mother of three kids under 13 with a full time job. She came in with excruciating and debilitating low back pain that radiated down the leg. This client had been managing it well with chiropractic and physical therapy for 2 years. 2 weeks prior to our first session it got bad. When she came in, she was limping and hunched over from the pain. She was looking for anything that could help.
At the end of the session, she left my table (still slightly limping) standing up straight and with a lot less pain. The best part was when she came in again a week later for a follow up, she came RUNNING to give me a big hug. She was no longer limping or hunched over or with lower or upper back pain. I now see her monthly for maintenance work. She is so relieved she can live her life in peace now.
What inspired you to become a Medical Massage Therapist?
Massage was something that followed me throughout my life. When I was a kid, my mother used to rub my feet, and I used to rub hers.
In college (during my Bachelor's in Mathematics) I was part of a Latin Dance team that met every single day for 4 hours a day for 9 months. Every now and then we'd take breaks and get together in a massage circle. Everyone always wanted to get in front of me. Some even asked me for private sessions. I did it but I told them that I had no idea what I was doing. Still, they requested that I work on their upper back pain 🙂
After college I had gotten an unfulfilling job and was thinking about a career change. My mother at the time had gone through a pretty serious accident that left her without the ability to use one of her legs, and a ton of muscular pain as a result. I had decided I wanted to do something where I could help her and landed on massage. I have loved every moment of this decision so far. I'm gladly helping her with her pain to this date.