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Neck Pain Massage Therapy_ Designing Effective Lasting Treatments @ Bodyworks DW with David Weintraub LMT

Neck Pain Massage Therapy: Designing Effective Lasting Treatments

David Weintraub, LMT and owner of Bodyworks DW, writes about neck pain and the positive effects of massage therapy to overcome it.

David Weintraub Licensed Massage Therapist and Owner at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy

Why effective neck pain massage therapy shouldn't focus exclusively on your neck

Neck pain is a very common issue. Our phones and devices are constantly pulling our attention. Our head follows our eyes putting us in a "head forward" position. This pulls the muscles in the back of your neck into a constant stretch. And makes them work extra hard to fight the weight of your head. Muscles hate being stretched and working hard. So they yell at you with achy pain. Thankfully, neck pain massage in New York and can be an effective and lasting treatment...when done properly.

Does this sound like you?

a) Sitting at a desk staring at your screen for 40+ hours a week
b) Looking down at your phone multiple times a day
c) Reading your tablet in bed while propping your head up on a pillow

All of these habits tighten your anterior neck muscles (the ones in front). While simultaneously pulling on the posterior neck muscles (the ones in back).

My massage therapist should work mostly where the pain is, right?

Actually, no. That might feel good at the time. But it won't last more that a few hours to a few days if you are lucky.

The next day you may even feel worse. Like you were hit with a bag of hammers. Working only on what hurts won't do anything to relieve pain for the long term. Truly effective neck pain massage has to address what's causing your head to move forward in the first place. And the cause is usually not your neck!

For most common neck pain, the following three areas need to be released together at the same time. This will move your head into a more balanced position on top of the ribcage. When the head is balanced in gravity the muscles in the back of your neck and upper back get to relax. And stop yelling at you with achy pain.

The Three Main Areas to work on in a first session

1) Hip Flexor Muscles (any muscle that helps bring your knee towards your chest...there are more than 12!)

Your hip flexor muscles are tight from sitting all day. This pulls the top of your pelvis forward into an anterior tilt (forward tilt). Basically you can think of it as a small but significant fold forward in your hips. This forward fold pulls you entire upper body forward. If nothing else changed, you would feel stooped over.

2) The Ribcage Position

The position of your ribcage in relation to your pelvis is vitally important to relieving both back and neck pain. With an anteriorly tilted pelvis, the ribcage tilts backwards to compensate. The muscles in the mid back will work extra hard. Basically you will be doing a backbend all day long. You'll have to in order to keep the ribs balanced on top of your forward tilted pelvis. In addition to putting your head and neck in a poor position, this also puts a lot of strain on the low back.

3) The Pectoral & Anterior Neck Muscles

With the ribcage doing a backbend to balance the pelvis, your head needs to move forward to compensate. If it didn't, you'd be looking at the ceiling. As you head pulls forward it overstretches your posterior neck and upper shoulder muscles. Yes, we know that's where it hurts 🙂 However, working back there is not going to make a long term impact. The back of your neck is already over stretched. Releasing it into length even more (which is what massage does to muscles) is not going to help any. To really provide relief, the front side anterior neck muscles need to be released in order to give the back ones some slack.

If your massage therapist only releases the front neck muscles and not the mid back muscles, your neck will feel a lot better. But you'll be stuck looking up at the ceiling. And if they open up the angle of your neck and your ribcage, but not the hip angle, you'll be left stooping over! So, to really release your neck muscles in a way that sticks, we need to make sure all three areas are in better balance. This will allow your head position to float back on top of your pelvis and ribs naturally, without effort. Finally your neck muscles get to rest!

For most neck pain and upper back pain clients, we sequence all three areas in a neck pain massage session. We work on releasing hip flexor muscles, then mid back muscles, then front of neck muscles. By the time we work on those back of the neck muscles, they are already super relaxed and ready for deeper work. You'll leave feeling your neck light and moveable in ways that you had forgotten exist 🙂

What Next? That felt great and lasted weeks! But now that familiar ache is starting to come back...

The above 3 step session is a basic outline of what would happen in a first session. It's going to provide a lot more relief than a standard massage session and it's going to last a lot longer than you are used to. In order to get that relief to last long term we recommend a series of sessions to address some or all of the following (depending on the client):

  • Any old ankle injuries your have that change the angle and shape of the foot: these usually cause hip flexor tightness
  • Your adductor muscles on the inner thigh that may be stuck together due to sports injuries: these also cause hip flexor tightness
  • The position of your shoulder blades on your ribcage: these are often "rolled forward" pulling on the muscles in the back of your neck in a similar way to the front neck muscles
  • Your side body fascia: if the ribcage isn't inflating and deflating while breathing, both the shoulder and neck muscles get "stuck"
  • Your jaw muscles - tension from trips to the dentist or daily unrelieved stress tightens these causing headaches and also neck and shoulder pain

As each of these related causes for neck pain is worked on, it will become easier and easier to balance your head on top of your ribcage. Eventually, usually after 4-7 sessions of neck pain massage, pain becomes a thing of the past.

Effective neck pain massage therapy addresses all of the forces pulling on your head

We've developed truly effective neck pain massage therapy that provides long term relief at Bodyworks DW.

First, we'll address your neck pain effectively by releasing each of the three main contributing factors in the same session. You will feel immediate relief at the end of the first session. And you won't feel sore or beat up the next day.

Next, to have a long term impact, we will follow up the first session with 3-6 custom designed sessions. These sessions will work on more detailed areas in cumulative layers. Each massage allows us to go deeper into the stuck front neck muscles and bring your head into better balance. With your head balanced on top of your spine all of the muscles work less. Less work = less pain!

We offer neck pain massage in Midtown and the Financial District in New York City. Would you like to schedule a fantastic neck pain massage with one of the best massage therapists this city has to offer? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our neck pain massage midtown or neck pain massage fidi studios!

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Low Back Pain Massage Therapy Treatment by David Weintraub

Lower Back Pain Treatment with Massage Therapy in New York

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

David Weintraub

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

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

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

How Traditional Approaches can Fail

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

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

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

How Low Back Pain Massage in New York works differently

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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physical therapy meets massage therapy

Doing Physical Therapy? Massage Therapy Can Improve Results!

David Weintraub, LMT and owner of Bodyworks DW, writes about the benefits of supplementing your physical therapy plan with massage therapy treatment.

David Weintraub

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? 

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Vacation Goals

Vacation: 7 Ways to Plan Your Way to Relaxation

David Weintraub, LMT and owner of Bodyworks DW, writes about ways to destress during your vacation and what to do when you get back.

David Weintraub

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

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

David Weintraub

The perils of “always on” technology:

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

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

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

Suddenly we could be productive all the time.

Standing on the subway platform?

Let me check my email.

Taking the train in from CT?

Let me just go over those sales reports.

Date just went to the bathroom?

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

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

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

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

Sound scary? Don’t believe it?

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

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

What can I do about this?

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

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

Experiments DW

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

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

That’s right….NO BAG.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- what you can and can’t do without

- how much is your time is worth

- which work can be left until tomorrow or

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

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

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

massage therapy for diastasis recti massage case study

Massage Therapy for Diastasis Recti

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

 

David Weintraub

Getting to the core of the issue

First off, what is this strange sounding condition?

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

The facts:

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

How to treat it if you have it:

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

 

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

 

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

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

Why?

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

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


Ready to put in the work?

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

4-7 sessions with a professional massage therapist

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

15 minutes a day of homework exercises


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