Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: July 2022

Kiss For Your Health!

Today is International Kissing Day. No joke. It's a great day to acknowledge the healing power of nurturing touch. Originally, this day celebrated romantic kissing, but it is now a reminder that physical affection of any kind is vital to healthy living.

Kissing releases a neurotransmitter made in the brain called dopamine, which is associated with feelings of pleasure. Kissing also lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, reducing stress and enhancing a sense of security.

Hugging is also stressbuster, and an interesting study found that hugs can protect against infection! Carnegie Melon researchers conducted a study on 404 healthy adults who were intentionally exposed to a common cold virus. The infection was then monitored and assessed.

Lead researcher Sheldon Cohen explained, "We know that people experiencing ongoing conflicts with others are less able to fight off cold viruses. We also know that people who report having social support are partly protected from the effects of stress on psychological states, such as depression and anxiety. We tested whether perceptions of social support are equally effective in protecting us from stress-induced susceptibility to infection and also whether receiving hugs might partially account for those feelings of support and themselves protect a person against infection."

The researchers found that those who perceived social support and were hugged most frequently had less severe symptoms, and that hugs contributed to one third of the protective effects of social support. Cohen concluded, "This suggests that being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress."

Of course, COVID-19 is still concerning, and we want to use caution with physical contact. That said, the isolating effects of the pandemic have made nurturing touch even more essential. So reach out to the ones you love, wish them a happy International Kissing Day, and boost your health with a peck and a squeeze.


Impingement Syndrome is a Lot to Shoulder

One of the most common causes of shoulder pain that I see in my practice is shoulder impingement syndrome. This is often caused or exacerbated by compromised posture. When we round our shoulders forward, the space between the acromion process of the scapula (shoulder blade), and the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) becomes narrower, causing these bony surfaces to impinge structures that travel through the subacromial space, which include the rotator cuff tendons, long head of the biceps tendon, bursa (fluid filled sac that allows ease of movement for the rotator cuff), and the coracoacromial ligament.

This can be a very painful condition, and usually reduces the shoulder's range of motion. (Click here to test it yourself!) Shoulder impingement can make it difficult for a person to lift their arm forward, to the side, or reach behind them. It can become very debilitating and significantly limit daily activities.

Poor posture is not the only contributor to shoulder impingement syndrome. Excessive shoulder use and overhead activities are also high-risk factors. These may include tennis, painting, weightlifting, and swimming.

If you have been diagnosed with a shoulder impingement or rotator cuff injury, I recommend asking your doctor about physical therapy. It's very effective for restoring shoulder mobility, strengthening the shoulder and postural muscles that may have weakened over time, and improving alignment and shoulder biomechanics. Combine it with massage therapy to ease pain, reduce muscle tension, lengthen shortened muscles, and calm the nervous system, and you are well on your way to a happy shoulder!

Start treating your shoulder right now by following along with this amazing self-massage designed to target the affected shoulder muscles and tendons, easing pain and restoring mobility.

Click for a happy shoulder

What's new with me ...

Jesse and I took off from work on my birthday to walk around Bushwick and admire the street art, have lunch at a favorite restaurant, and sit outside in the shade and read. It was the most relaxing day I've had in forever.

Sienna begins 4th grade today! She has been enjoying the sprinkler playgrounds, and looks forward to swimming lessons and summer fun with her friends at school.

And I'm excited to announce that my YouTube channel now has over 75,000 subscribers! Are you one of them ...?

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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