Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: April 2015

Let go of good posture ...

When I say the word "posture," most of my clients immediately stiffen up and assume a position they believe to be "good posture." You're probably doing it right now. But what really is good posture? Standing up straight with shoulders back as earlier generations would have us believe? And if we fail to meet those criteria, do we have bad posture?

Here's a secret - there is no such thing as good or bad posture. Rather, we are bodies in motion. Movement is the key to good health, not good posture. When we maintain any one position, as so many do in today's society, our bodies accumulate strain and stress, which significantly increases our risk of muscle and joint pain and dysfunction. Doctor of Chiropractic David Allan writes, "Life is movement, and our goal should not be to maintain good posture, but to establish habits that incorporate movements and breath awareness within every position and activity to maximize comfort." He maintains that it's "best to let go of holding an upright, stationary, "good" posture."

Moshe Feldenkraids, Ph.D, who developed the Feldenkrais Method, wrote, "Harmonious efficient movement prevents wear and tear. More important, however, is what it does to the image of ourselves and our relationship to the world around us."

If we practice awareness of our movements, we will be able to use our sensations to determine the most comfortable and efficient positions for our bodies. David Allan explains, "Due to gravity, all positions and movement place a stress load on the body. When we practice comparing how one position or movement feels versus another, we can make better choices and soon become experts in moving with less effort, and greater comfort and power."

I work with my clients to achieve optimal alignment so that movement can arise from a place of neutrality and centeredness. This helps to reduce pain and promote ease of movement. And as I mentioned in my last article, movement is integrated right into my massage sessions. If you have a sedentary job, remember to practice the 30 minute-30 second rule (every 30 minutes take a 30-second break) to keep your body from stiffening up in any one position. And when you're off the clock, make sure you walk, stretch, dance, and move your way through a healthy life!

Source: David Allen, Massage Magazine, December 2014

Hug for your health!

Have you ever seen those people out on the streets offering "free hugs"? Definitely a little weird, but not as crazy as you might think. Hugging actually protects you from some of the detrimental effects of stress.

Carnegie Melon researchers conducted a study on 404 healthy adults who were intentionally exposed to a common cold virus. The infection was then monitored and assessed. Lead researcher Sheldon Cohen explained, "We know that people experiencing ongoing conflicts with others are less able to fight off cold viruses. We also know that people who report having social support are partly protected from the effects of stress on psychological states, such as depression and anxiety. We tested whether perceptions of social support are equally effective in protecting us from stress-induced susceptibility to infection and also whether receiving hugs might partially account for those feelings of support and themselves protect a person against infection."

The researchers found that those who perceived social support and were hugged most frequently had less severe symptoms, and that hugs contributed to one third of the protective effects of social support. Cohen concluded, "This suggests that being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress."

Once again, research illuminates the powerful healing effects of nurturing touch. I'm not suggesting you should wrap your arms around all the hug solicitors on the street, but make sure to get your fair share of squeezes from your loved ones.

Source: cmu.edu

What's new with me ...

Life right now is pretty demanding, but I feel so fortunate to have a busy practice, an awesome husband, and an amazing little girl. Sienna just had her 2nd birthday! She's a very happy (and very silly) 2-year-old, as you can see from her photos.

I am super excited for warmer weather. Can't wait to take Sienna to the new water playground they've been building (for over two years!) right outside our apartment building.

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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