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.
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.
For a quick way to help calm your muscles, check out these aromatherapy hot/cold pads:
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.