Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: September 2021

What Pain Reliever is Safe and Feels Like Heaven? Massage Therapy - and the Research Agrees!

September is Pain Awareness Month, and if you are one of the CDC's estimated 50 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain, I'm sure you're already well educated on the topic. But are you aware of the growing body of research that repeatedly shows massage therapy to be highly effective for pain relief and management?

Not only is massage beneficial for pain, but it is also the least likely to produce any adverse reactions, as opposed to drugs and other more invasive treatments. In addition, massage therapy offers anxiety relief, improved sleep, emotional well-being, and shorter recovery time. And let's face it - there are few experiences as delightful and relaxing as getting a massage.

As a massage therapist who has been treating people with pain conditions for thirteen years, I can confidently state that massage therapy should be part of any pain treatment program or health regimen.

A study published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork explored the effects of massage therapy on the pain levels of 53 hospital patients in an acute care setting. Patients rated their pain using a 0-10 visual analogue scale. No negative effects were reported.

The average pain level before the massage intervention was 5.18. That number dropped to 2.33 after massage therapy. When asked if they planned to continue using massage therapy throughout the healing process, 67.2% of participants said yes, 14.1% said no, and 18.8% didn't know.

The patients also notably reported emotional wellness, relaxation, and better sleep. Even more, over half the participants said they needed less pain medication after receiving massage therapy!

Another interesting study involved 262 patients with chronic lower back pain. They were divided into three groups to receive either massage therapy, acupuncture, or self-care educational materials. The treatments took place over 10 weeks, with follow-ups at 4, 10, and 52 weeks.

At 10 weeks, massage was more effective than self-care in reducing lower back pain. At 52 weeks, massage proved superior to acupuncture for providing long-lasting lower back pain relief. The massage therapy group also used the least medication, and had the lowest subsequent care costs.

Massage is also great for headaches. In a clinical trial, specific massage therapy on the neck was more effective than cold packs for post-traumatic headaches. A study in the American Journal of Public Health, showed that muscle-specific massage therapy decreased headache frequency and duration in chronic tension headache sufferers. (If you get tension headaches, try my self-massage!)

In addition, several research studies have confirmed that massage therapy significantly reduces pain perception and anxiety in cancer patients.

Whether or not you are experiencing pain, a great way to honor Pain Awareness Month is to take excellent care of yourself. As you are now aware, massage therapy is key, so start by booking yourself a pain-relieving, anxiety reducing, and mood-boosting session today!

Relieve Neck Pain and Stiffness with These Simple Exercises!

Speaking of pain, the majority of people I see in my practice come to me with neck pain. If you are experiencing neck pain, stiffness, or inflexibility, honor Pain Awareness Month by treating yourself to this very effective, easy to follow self-treatment for the neck.

I was asked to do a video on cervical spondylosis, which is basically osteoarthritis of the neck. With age-related wear and tear, the spinal discs dehydrate and shrink. This can cause neck pain and stiffness.

Follow along as I show you how to easily strengthen your neck muscles with isometric contractions, and gently stretch your neck to increase your range of motion. This will help ease pain and stiffness, and work to slow down or prevent further damage to the cervical spine.

Please consult your doctor and get an accurate diagnosis before practicing the exercises in this video.


What's new with me ...

Sienna is off from school for a few weeks, which means a lot of sprinkler playgrounds, LEGOs, stop motion animation, and sleepovers with her grandparents. We are a big LEGO family, but Jesse is definitely the master. He put all 18 of his modular buildings together into one big city, and it looks amazing. Check it out!

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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