Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: February 2016

Healthy Touch Makes Healthy Lives

As a clinical manual therapist, I speak a lot about how to best treat physical pain or injury, but let's not lose sight of what massage therapy is at its fundamental core: touch. Massage offers healing touch to an otherwise touch-deprived society. Without touch, we fail to thrive. Babies can't survive without touch. With nurturing touch, premature babies gain weight and leave the hospital sooner than babies who are not stroked and cuddled.

Adults are no different. Although it's unlikely that touch depravation will cause death, it is linked to depression, anxiety disorders, low self-esteem, and even illness. According to the extensive research of Tiffany Field, Ph.D, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, touch reduces heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. It also increases oxytocin, a hormone that reduces anxiety and promotes psychological stability, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood along with several other psychological functions. In one study, Field writes that massage causes "... increased attentiveness, decreased depression and enhanced immune function ... making massage therapy one of the most effective forms of touch."

Millions of Americans take antidepressants such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which increase levels of oxytocin and serotonin. I have to wonder how these numbers might be altered if we were to make nurturing touch a regular part of our lives. Massage therapy has tremendous health benefits, but that shouldn't be your only source of touch. If we want to be healthy, happy, and fully functional beings, then we need to be hugged, held, patted on the back, squeezed on the shoulder, and taken by the hand on a daily basis. We need to massage and cuddle our children. We need to touch and be touched by our loved ones.

Take the time to give the people you care about a squeeze. If you really want to make someone's Valentine's Day, give them the gift of touch with a massage gift card. Together, we can spread the health!

This Valentine's Day, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to guide you on your journey towards a healthier life. I am in the business of touch, but you have touched me with your faith, trust, and enthusiasm for the wonderful work we do together.

Feel fantastic with ear, jaw, and scalp self-massage!

Don't forget to give yourself some love this Valentine's Day. In this video, I teach you how to give yourself a marvelous massage. Follow along as we melt away tension, ease anxiety, treat headaches, reduce jaw pain, relieve neck and shoulder tightness, and promote overall wellbeing. You might be surprised to discover the power you have to heal yourself and feel great!


What's new with me ...

My new niece, Sadie Rae, was born Thursday morning. My sister, Shira, and her husband, Marc, are the proud parents, and their two-year-old son, Jonah, is a very excited big brother. Congratulations to you all and a big welcome to little Sadie!

I have been working diligently on my book, Hungry For Life, and plan to have it published in the coming months. It is a memoir of my battle with anorexia nervosa during my youth. For those of you who are interested in reading it, I will keep you posted on my progress.

My newsletter wouldn't be complete without photos of Sienna!

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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Available now!

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