Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: August 2021

Massage goes deeper than you think ...

Did you know that massage therapy effects your nervous system, immune system, and hormone production? Research is finding a close connection between the skin, and the inner workings of the body.

It makes sense when you consider how our bodies are formed. Only three weeks after conception, three germ layers, or primary cell layers, are formed. The outermost layer is the ectoderm, which develops into the skin, brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system. In other words, there is a strong, direct link between the skin and the brain.

Tiffany Field has conducted numerous studies at the Touch Research Institute at the Miami School of Medicine, exploring the effects of tactile stimulation on premature babies. The infants who were massaged had increased weight gain, faster-developing nervous systems, and were discharged from the hospital nearly a week earlier than infants who were left untouched in their incubators.

Skin-to-skin contact impacts our mental health, and our ability to form healthy relationships. It also influences mood, behavior, immune function, and hormonal balance. One study found that frequent massage therapy sessions have a significant effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which plays a major role in maintaining homeostasis, or equilibrium, and also the body's stress response. The components of the HPA axis are found in epidermal keratinocytes - skin cells that produce keratin.

In his research, Mitsuhiro Denda, PhD writes, "... the epidermis plays a significant role in adapting whole-body physiology, and also emotional response, to changing environments." He also writes that mind-body therapy "... restores the cellular balance between the skin, nervous system and immune system."

In our touch-deprived society, Claudia Aguirre, PhD recognizes the need for massage therapy - one of the few professions that utilizes "The Brain-Skin-Connections" for better mind-body health. She writes, "With touch, we induce hormonal signals carried via the skin to our brain's cognitive and emotional centers, resulting in positive behavioral changes." She explains that massage therapy decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases oxytocin, which is linked to social behaviors like bonding, empathy, social memory, and trust.

If you've been wondering why you feel so much happier, calmer, and compassionate after a massage, you can now appreciate all the positive cellular and hormonal changes that occur within the body in response to therapeutic touch. I bet you never realized massage on your skin is also massage for your brain!

15 Minute Bedtime Self-Massage - Go to Sleep Relaxed and Wake Up Restored

Join me for a soothing self-massage to help you wind down, put away the day, and relax into a restorative sleep. In this video, we'll address the areas of the body that tend to hold a lot of tension, even as we sleep, including the scalp, head, jaw, face, shoulders, and belly. We'll also visit a few acupressure points as a yummy bonus.

Getting quality sleep is essential for our executive functioning, immune systems, and moods, and substantially lowers our risk of serious injuries and illnesses. But when we bring our work or anxiety to bed with us, chances are we won't sleep as much and as well and we should.

When we go to bed tense, there are tendencies to grind our teeth, creating jaw pain and dental issues. We are more susceptible to pain and spasms - often in our necks and back. We can also wake up fatigued, and have low energy throughout the day.

Make sure to put away the screens at least one-half hour before bed. The light from our devices stimulates the optic nerve, telling our bodies that it's time to be awake. Dim the lights, and make sure the environment is quiet and calm. You can listen to relaxing music, take a warm bath, or read for leisure.

And of course, don't forget to put this self-massage into your bedtime routine. Your body and mind will thank you!


What's new with me ...

Jury duty was interesting. And by "interesting," I mean "went on for way too long." By the end of week three, we were in deliberations. Ten jurors, nine for the defendant (including me, the foreperson), and one who refused to budge. I took a deep breath and prepared to go in for week four, when the court called me Monday morning to let me know the case had been settled. It was certainly a learning experience. I now know a lot about third-party in-store promotions ...

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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