Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: November 2020

Why your neck and shoulders hurt, and what to do about it!

"I said I have shoulder pain. Why is she working on my neck?" you might wonder during a massage therapy session. The truth is, you really can't separate the two. The neck and shoulders are intricately connected through muscles, fascia, joints, and nerves.

Neck and shoulder pain are highly prevalent today, and it isn't surprising given our technology driven society. We are slumped over our laptops and looking down at our phones for hours each day.

One study suggests that texting, especially while sitting, is the worst smartphone activity for the neck. Researchers found that the head flexion angle was significantly larger in participants while texting as opposed to video watching and web browsing.

Over time, our posture adapts to this rounded shoulders/forward head position, leading to muscle pain, joint irritation, spine pathologies, and nerve impingements.

To make matters more complicated, where you feel pain isn't always the site of the injury. Neck pain can refer to the shoulders and even down the arms, or the referral pattern can be reversed.

Can massage therapy help? Indeed it can! For those with neck and/or shoulder pain, I work to lengthen shortened muscles (like the pectorals and the suboccipitals), release fascial adhesions, decompress joints and free any nerve compressions, increase range of motion, and improve daily functioning.

But if in between massage sessions, you were to go right back to your old habits that were causing the pain in the first place, your pain-relief and improved flexibility would probably not last very long. That's why we examine your day to day activity, and make ergonomic and mechanical adjustments to ensure the maintenance of healthy posture, and therefore a happy body. In addition, I teach specific stretches and corrective exercises to ensure that the shortened muscles continue to lengthen, and the weakened muscles continue to strengthen. (Many of these exercises can be found on my YouTube channel.)

Now is an especially good time to take care of neck and shoulder pain. As the outside temperature drops, we tend to tense up our neck and shoulders in an effort to keep warm. And with the pandemic and political stress, most of us are suffering from anxiety, which directly affects neck and shoulder alignment. Cold weather and high anxiety both exacerbate pain and posture issues, and compound the whole neck and shoulder complex with even more tension.

So come on in and let's relieve your neck and shoulders. You'll be happy you did! Oh, and don't be surprised if you report neck pain, and I get to work on your shoulders!

Source: Massage Therapy Journal, Summer 2020

Finding balance in uncertainty

If you read my last newsletter, you would know that I recently pushed myself too hard, and hit a wall. I didn't recognize my body's cues to slow down until I was at the verge of collapse.

Living through this pandemic, I feel that a lot of us are "overdoing it" in some fashion, as if in an effort to regain some level of control over our lives in a world that is troubling and uncertain.

Let's slow down, take a step back, and see how we can balance our busy, stressful lives with rest and restoration - before our bodies shut down.

Join me for a quick discussion, self-massage, and meditation to create a mind-body connection and restore our balance.


What's new with me ...

I had the honor of being a guest speaker for Long Island Jewish Medical Center's grand rounds - a recurring educational event for doctors and other healthcare professionals to learn about the medical problems and treatment of a particular patient.

I presented my history battling anorexia to the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. I described how my eating disorder developed and evolved, and spoke about my tumultuous journey to recovery. I also read an excerpt from my book, Hungry for Life: A Memoir Unlocking the Truth Inside an Anorexic Mind.

I know that my story has helped those struggling with eating disorders and their families, but I was thrilled to have the opportunity to offer insight to a medical community treating this population as well!

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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