Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: October 2017

Discover the joy of massaging your children

Quality family time often gets lost in today's fast-paced, technology driven world. This could result in a lack of nurturing touch. In honor of National Massage Therapy Awareness Week (October 22-28), I've created a video that I hope will inspire you and your loved ones to massage each other regularly.

Watch me massage my 4-year-old daughter, Sienna, for some great ideas you can use and adapt for children of all ages. Research has shown that children who are massaged regularly are happier, calmer, less aggressive, sleep better, have improved respiratory function, have increased body awareness, and establish healthy boundaries. Massage also stimulates a child's motor and cognitive development.

The benefits even extend to parents and caregivers! Massage is an excellent way to bond with your child. Also, massaging your child can reduce your stress. Your child may want to massage you as well. It's a great way for them to learn how to offer nurturing touch to the people they love. Plus, it will make your child feel good to make you feel good.

Always ask permission before massaging your child. Let your child know that they are in charge of their own body. Keep the massage to 15 minutes or less, as a longer massage can be overstimulating for a child.

To learn more about massage for children, check out Tina Allen's book, A Modern Day Guide to Massage for Children.

Massage Myth Busters

Also in honor of National Massage Therapy Awareness Week, I'd like to spread awareness about what massage is, and what it is not. Here are some of the most common myths I hear about massage therapy.

No pain, no gain.
The "no pain, no gain" theory does not apply to massage. Massage is supposed to feel good. It is not a test of tolerance. In fact, if a client is in pain, the treatment is unlikely to be a success. When someone is in pain, they tend to clench their muscles, making it impossible for the massage therapist to do safe and effective work. In addition, pain signals the brain to release stress hormones, which activates the "fight or flight" part of the nervous system. This is the opposite of what we're trying to achieve with massage.

Massage rids the body of toxins.
There is no evidence to support this. Your body has self-regulatory mechanisms for eliminating waste. Your liver, kidneys, intestines, respiratory tract, lymph system, and skin are in charge of detoxification. (This myth also applies to cleansing diets.)

Massage is a luxury and an indulgence.
Massage therapy, like exercise, healthy eating habits, good hygiene, and proper hydration, is an essential component of optimal health, wellness, and longevity. Going for regular massage sessions eases pain, facilitates fast and effective injury recovery, reduces stress levels, lowers blood pressure, enhances immune function, and prevents future pain and injuries. Good health is not a luxury.

All massages are the same.
On the contrary, there are countless different kinds of massages. The type of massage depends on the client's needs, the massage therapist's areas of expertise, and the setting. Examples include sports, medical, prenatal, spa, oncology, pediatric, geriatric, lymphatic drainage, chair massage, Thai, Shiastu, and hot stone. In addition, all massage therapists are not created equal. Each has their own specific style, level of education, specializations, levels of professionalism, level of commitment to the profession, and years of experience, to name a few.

The effects of massage are temporary.
If you get occasional massages, that might be true. Chronic pain and stress sufferers cannot expect a single massage session to cure them. But if you commit to regular massage therapy sessions, your therapist will help you retrain your muscles and develop new neurological and physiological patterns, resulting in improved alignment, reduced pain, decreased tension, increased energy, better movement and flexibility, boosted mood, and improved well-being. So rather than offering temporary relief, massage can truly be life-changing.

A few more worth mentioning: No, massage does not get rid of cellulite (sorry), massage cannot cause a pregnant woman to miscarry, massage does not spread cancer cells through the body, and you do not have to drink tons of water after a massage.

Now go celebrate Massage Therapy Awareness Week and get a massage!

What's new with me ...

I was honored to be invited to speak to two classes of massage therapy students at the Swedish Institute of Health Sciences. I shared a little about my nine years of experience as a licensed therapist, and answered many great questions about what to expect when pursuing a career in massage.

I took a class in osteopathic muscular therapy and found it very informative. I have already been incorporating what I learned into my massage sessions.

Sienna is loving Pre-K. She was especially excited about the books. After her first day of school I asked, "What did you do at center time?" Her answer: "Read books!" Then I asked about her after school program and she told me they went to the dance room. "And what did you do there?" I asked. "I read books!" she answered, "Because I love reading books!"

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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